This Week's Message
Greetings from ACTL, the Augustana Center for Teaching & Learning.
I hope that the beginning of the second half of the first term finds you well, and even more enthusiastic about your teaching than you were five weeks ago!
As you know, I have only recently taken over as director of ACTL. I hope to continue the tradition of excellence established by Mike Green. Because of the high standards he set, I recognize the temptation to try to do too much, and do a mediocre job at best. In an attempt to avoid that I plan to focus the efforts of the center on a few key areas and to do the best job that I can supporting and encouraging excellence in teaching and learning through those efforts. To that end, I would like, one more time, to thank those of you who responded to the recent survey. I am learning a lot from it; your responses will be the main guide that I will use to determine what programming and resources to offer.
In the category of Teaching-Oriented Development the item of most interest, far and away, is "incorporating active learning techniques." I have contacted those respondents who indicated that they would be willing to help in programming workshops [and who remembered to include their names ;-)]. We hope to have workshops scheduled and resources collected in the near future, so watch your email inbox. (If you would like to offer your help in organizing or presenting, it's not too late!)
There was a clear "winner" in the Professional Development category as well-"balancing teaching, scholarship and service" stood out with over 70% of you claiming to be interested or very interested in perfecting that balancing act. (Nothing else even reached the 55% mark!) I have already brought this to Jeff and Margaret's attention and planning has begun in earnest. We welcome your suggestions regarding the best way to go about addressing this issue; possibilities might include Friday Conversations, a faculty forum, an online forum, or.... Please share your thoughts with Jeff, Margaret or me.
Since a significant proportion (almost half) of the respondents were Assistant Professors, I thought it important to look at the responses of that group separate from the rest. In doing so I noticed a strong interest in "developing a course and career portfolios," stronger than was expressed by the group as a whole. Fortunately a workshop on that topic was already being planned for the new faculty and a repeat session will be offered to the community this week (Thursday 1 October at 10:30 in Olin 307; please join us!).
A score of you also included some great suggestions for other programs or resources you'd like to see offered by ACTL. In order to put some of these in motion I have begun planning with
- Educational Technology Services
- The Reading/Writing Center
- The Sustainability Committee
- The Thomas Tredway Library
- The Diversity Initiatives Committee
as well as a number of individuals on campus. But know that ACTL is not a gatekeeper to issues of teaching & learning. While I hope you will think of the center as a great resource for improving your teaching and enhancing your students learning, please don't hesitate to approach these people directly with any ideas you have; I'm simply here to help!
I have put the results of the survey on the ACTL moodle site. There you'll also find a statement of the center's mission, goals & objectives and guiding principles as well as a large number of what I hope are useful resources. If you know of any that have helped in your teaching and your student's learning, please bring them to my attention!
I recognize that there is deep pool of talent here in our community and that you take your teaching and your students' learning very seriously. As I understand it, a large part of my job is, in the words of Dan Bernstein, "making (that) teaching and learning visible." I look forward to working with you on that task.
Augustana Center for Teaching & Learning