Campus-based Educational Development & Professional Learning: Dimensions & Directions
Citation: Randall, N., Heaslip, P., & Morrison, D. (2013). Campus-based Educational Development & Professional Learning: Dimensions & Directions. Vancouver, BC, Canada: BCcampus.
Canadian Cataloguing in Publication Data
Randall, Nancy Elisabeth, 1950-
Campus-based Educational Development & Professional Learning
Includes bibliographic references: pp. 87 to 113
University, College, Institute, Post-secondary, Campus-based, Educational Development, Professional Development, Professional Learning, Faculty Development
I. Randall, Nancy Elisabeth, 1950-
II. Heaslip, Penelope 1945-
III. Morrison, Diane Elizabeth, 1948-
V. Title: Campus-based Educational Development & Professional Learning: Dimensions & Directions
Citation: Randall, N., Heaslip, P., & Morrison, D. (2013). Campus-based Educational Development & Professional Learning: Dimensions & Directions. Vancouver, BC, Canada: BCcampus
Address: 200-555 Seymour Street, Vancouver, BC, V6B 3H6
Available through www.bccampus.ca
What are the purposes and outcomes of campus-based educational development and professional learning? Twenty-one British Columbia colleges, institutes and universities contributed to a study of teaching and learning enhancement structures, practices and directions. Beginning with the end in mind, this report summarizes the purposes and outcomes of campus-based educational development and professional learning. Comprehensive conceptual frameworks illuminate dimensions and models for organizing educational development. Consultation, e-learning, scholarship of teaching and learning and leadership for learning chapters project emerging professional learning directions. Study findings document an invigorating range of teaching and learning enhancement mandates and initiatives that may assist strategic planning in post-secondary institutions. When making decisions about educational development initiatives, study authors recommend that the unique context of each institution be taken into account, in concert with sufficient consultation to enable reasoned and credible programming while sustaining a nimble momentum. As an Open Educational Resource, we encourage redistribution of the campus-based educational development and professional learning report.
Key words: educational development, professional development, faculty development, professional learning, campus-based, dimensions, structures, practices, purposes, outcomes.
Deep appreciation is extended to the many British Columbia post-secondary educational developers who willingly participated in this study, including many members of the British Columbia University, College and Institute Professional Development (UCIPD) Committee who have shared their practices and perspectives. We also extend our gratitude to reviewers who so thoughtfully provided their advice and insights on the draft final study. Their contributions strengthened the final report.
Nancy Randall (Honorary Research Associate, Vancouver Island University) and Penny Heaslip (Educator Emerita, Thompson Rivers University) participated as lead researchers throughout all phases of this study. Heather Smith (University of Northern British Columbia) contributed her expertise to the initial study design and initial data-gathering stages. Bill Owen (University of Northern British Columbia) provided professional advice on wording the current study questions to enable longitudinal analysis at the system level. Grant Potter (University of Northern British Columbia) provided technical advice and design for the initial phase of online data gathering.
Diane Morrison, who was co-researcher of the year 2000 version of this study, provided expert advice on the conceptual framework, longitudinal analyses and relevant educational development literature. Alice Macpherson (Kwantlen Polytechnic University) shared her research on Canadian educational development milestones, organizations, references and the emerging role of educational developers as change agents. Judy Southwell of Southwell Learning Consultants worked with the study researchers on formatting, graphics design and preparation for publishing in the online environment.
Sylvia Currie, through BCcampus, coordinated six online sessions which enabled the researchers to share emerging findings and receive feedback from international participants on the conceptual frameworks that synthesize study findings. BCcampus provided funding for the study through the Online Program Development Fund process. BCcampus encouragement, support and funding were appreciated as this enabled a very comprehensive examination of British Columbia campus-based educational development and professional learning.
We extend our appreciation to all who contributed in a myriad of ways to this collaborative study. We encourage further exploration and development of the educational development dimensions conceptual framework, the purpose and outcomes statement, as well as the summary discussions. We look forward to opportunities to further extend this community of inquiry as it exemplifies the qualities of professional learning.
Preferred citation: Randall, N., Heaslip, P., & Morrison, D. (2013). Campus-based Educational Development & Professional Learning: Dimensions & Directions. Vancouver, BC, Canada: BCcampus.
|Nancy Randall||Penelope Heaslip||Diane Morrison Ph.D.|
|Randall Learning Consultants Inc.||Thompson Rivers University||Email: email@example.com|
|Email: firstname.lastname@example.org||Educator Emerita|
Nancy Randall directed the Vancouver Island University (VIU) Teaching and Learning Centre for ten exciting years, co-coordinated an international learning-centred institutions study, and served on the executive of the International Society for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning as vice-president representing Canada. She taught future teachers in the VIU Faculty of Education for fourteen years, with specializations in principles of teaching and learning, curriculum design, as well as assessment and evaluation. She is currently researching professional learning and sharing these study outcomes.
Penny Heaslip taught nursing education in the Royal Jubilee School of Nursing, at the University of Victoria, and at Thompson Rivers University (TRU). She served as chair of the TRU School of Nursing and was selected as the first coordinator for the TRU Teaching and Learning Centre. Penny worked actively for two decades with Dr. Richard Paul of the Foundation for Critical Thinking.
Diane Morrison served for many years as the provincial coordinator for professional development, first with the BC Ministry of Advanced Education and then with the Centre for Curriculum, Transfer and Technology, managing a wide range of curriculum development, institutional enhancement and network initiatives. Diane was instrumental in development of the Instructional Skills Workshop (ISW) Program and continues to serve on the ISW International Advisory Committee. Her doctoral research focused on peer-based approaches to instructional consultation.
- 1 Chapter 1 : Executive Summary—Purposes and Outcomes
- 2 Chapter 2 : Key Terms—Naming the Rose
- 3 Chapter 3 : Study Design
- 4 Chapter 4 : Dimensions of Educational Development Structures and Practices
- 5 Chapter 5 : Dimensions of Educational Development Structures
- 5.1 Teaching and Learning Centre Models
- 5.2 Duration of Current Models
- 5.3 Roles: ED Coordinators and Directors
- 5.4 Reporting Lines
- 5.5 Advisory Committees: Purposes and Composition
- 5.6 Personnel and Faculty Associate Models
- 5.7 Funding
- 5.8 Physical Location
- 6 Chapter 6 : Dimensions of Educational Development Practices
- 7 Chapter 7 : Leadership for Learning—Enabling and Limiting Factors
- 7.1 Personal and Professional Credibility
- 7.2 Mentorship by a Senior Administrator
- 7.3 Perceived Institutional and Departmental Impact
- 7.4 Acknowledgement by Faculty Members
- 7.5 Active Visibility and Profile
- 7.6 Barriers and Limiting Factors
- 7.7 Time
- 7.8 Nature of Institutional Culture
- 7.9 Budget Allocations
- 7.10 Need for Dedicated Space
- 7.11 Lack of Consultation or Clarity
- 8 Emerging Directions
- 9 References
- 10 Appendices
- 10.1 Appendix 1: Participating Institutions
- 10.2 Appendix 2: Campus-based Professional Development Research Questions
- 10.3 Appendix 3: Needs Assessment Sample
- 10.4 Appendix 4: Evaluation Sample
- 10.5 Appendix 5: Implementing Consultation Programs
- 10.6 Appendix 6: Societies, Organizations, Caucuses, and Committees Concerned with and Supporting Educational Development
- 10.7 Appendix 7: Instructional Skills Workshop (ISW) Network
Chapter 1 : Executive Summary—Purposes and Outcomes
Why might educational development or professional learning be supported by post-secondary institutions?
To respond to this question, we synthesize composite purposes and outcomes that emerged from the data provided by the comprehensive range of British Columbia public post-secondary institutions participating in this campus-based educational development and professional learning study. Institutions that implement teaching and learning enhancement initiatives will benefit in differing ways. Institutional context, mandate and vision will influence the specific structures and practices of campus-based educational development and professional learning programs.
Enhancing high quality learning environments with engaging learning experiences in which post-secondary learners achieve significant learning outcomes
Enhancing high quality learning environments is the over-arching purpose for all educational development initiatives. To accomplish this purpose, educational consultants most often work directly with post-secondary administrators, staff and faculty, who then work directly with learners.
Providing preliminary support as newly minted faculty members launch their post-secondary teaching careers
New faculty members may be veterans of industry or the workplace who are transitioning into academic careers, younger faculty who have completed academic degrees often with limited teaching experience, or they may be those who have extensive teaching experiences in the K-12 system or in community teaching roles. Whatever their prior experiences, the transition into post-secondary academic teaching may be an eye-opening and even traumatic experience. Educational consultants provide guidance and models during these early stages of the academic career to enhance an educator’s transition into post-secondary teaching and learning responsibilities.
Providing catalysts and challenges for mid-career faculty members
Mid-career educators may have effectively mastered the preliminary responsibilities and practices for the post-secondary teaching environment and are now seeking ways to further enhance their capabilities. Educational development consultants encourage and support mid-career faculty by offering them opportunities to share literature on teaching and learning in higher education, research their classroom practices, or share their emerging teaching and learning strengths through conference sessions or institutional workshops.
Providing venues for veteran faculty members to share their wisdom of practice
Leaving a legacy is often a consideration of those in advanced career stages. Sharing the learning and wisdom garnered from many years of extensive teaching and learning experiences, perhaps through mentoring programs, may be coordinated through a teaching and learning centre. Faculty Associate roles offer opportunities for mid-career and veteran faculty members to share their knowledge of effective teaching and learning practices with colleagues.
Coordinating or partnering to provide a range of cross-career support for administrators and support staff
Institutional mandates for professional learning may be inclusive of all within the institution and therefore many educational developers are actively involved with relevant leadership or career advancement initiatives for administrators and support staff, as well as for faculty members.
Providing or coordinating teaching and learning support directly needed by students
Several of the participating institutions define the mandate of educational developers as inclusive of student needs that are specifically related to teaching and learning. Therefore, student support services such as Writing Centres, Math Centres or Graduate Teaching Assistant programs are being integrated within educational development centres.
Participating actively in a range of institutional strategic planning processes and initiatives
Many educational developers network with their colleagues within British Columbia, across Canada and internationally. Therefore, they have access to relevant teaching and learning innovations and approaches that may effectively inform institutional strategic planning. Learning consultants provide timely reviews of alternative practices, challenges to existing processes, and syntheses of relevant teaching and learning literature.
Promoting the significance of teaching and learning initiatives within and beyond the institution
A significant and often escalating factor influencing institutional culture is the perceived tension between research and teaching. To move beyond this tension, educational consultants offer perspectives and expertise for establishing the nexus between teaching and research while encouraging initiatives that value and reward teaching. Educational developers provide institutional, provincial, national and international leadership on a range of teaching, learning and research initiatives.
Partnering with or coordinating curriculum development, program review, Senate or Education Council program or course review processes
Educational consultants may provide expertise and a network to effectively support, implement or enhance curriculum review and (re)development processes as well as provide expertise during the Senate or Educational Council program and course approval processes.
Providing leadership for institutional teaching and learning initiatives
Educational consultants offer expertise and leadership for developing, evaluating, and monitoring institutionally mandated initiatives designed to enhance the teaching and learning environment and perhaps challenge existing practices. They may provide expertise and leadership to institutional teaching and learning initiatives, such as Internationalizing the Curriculum, Aboriginal Education, Learning Outcomes and E-Learning initiatives.
Encouraging inter- or cross-disciplinary approaches that explore common ground and differences
Inter- and cross-disciplinary discussions about teaching and learning questions often evoke realizations of common ground and shared dilemmas as well as substantive disciplinary differences in, for example, key learning concepts and approaches. Learning consultants may create opportunities for these types of inter- or cross-disciplinary explorations.
Honouring discipline-specific teaching and learning approaches
While there are many shared practices across disciplines, there are educational concepts and ways of organizing learning that tend to be discipline-specific. Educational consultants may help structure this focus on pedagogical content knowledge (Shulman, 2004a) and signature pedagogies (Gurung, Chick & Haynie, 2009).
Encouraging reflection and research on teaching and learning
Cogent and thorough syntheses of national and international research on post-secondary teaching and learning identify emerging research questions and distil effective practices. One example is the edited text of Julia Christensen Hughes & Joy Mighty (2010) Taking Stock: Research on Teaching and Learning in Higher Education. Ready access to this evolving research literature is enhanced through online and print journals, such as Transformative Dialogues, the Canadian Journal for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning, the International Journal for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning and Teaching & Learning Inquiry: The ISSoTL Journal, among many fine higher education teaching and learning publications. Educational consultants initiate opportunities for higher education personnel to delve into this research literature and to reflect on applications within specific disciplinary or cross-disciplinary teaching and learning contexts. Learning consultants may encourage and support individual and collective action research or scholarly investigations to examine classroom teaching and learning dilemmas and successes.
Navigating the Study
To assist your investigation of campus-based educational development and professional learning, this report may be read chronologically or as free-standing chapters. The report begins with definitions of key terms, followed by a précis of research methodology to establish the context for data gathering, analysis and synthesis. Next, a conceptual framework is presented that synthesizes key dimensions of campus-based educational development.
Subsequent chapters provide detailed examinations of structures of educational development: models and staffing, director’s roles, reporting lines, advisory committees, personnel and faculty associate models, funding, and physical location of educational development units.
The report then examines educational development practices: mandate, needs assessment, priorities and planning approaches, educational development initiatives, professional development specifically for administrators and staff, professional learning networks, communication, and evaluation of programs.
Specific directions influencing the future shape of educational development are then investigated, including consultation and mentoring, e-learning, the scholarship of teaching and learning, and leadership for learning. Emerging directions and dilemmas are outlined that create future avenues for applications of research to enhance professional learning.
Chapter 2 : Key Terms—Naming the Rose
Campus-based teaching and learning enhancement initiatives in Canada are demonstrating exciting and challenging growth, which is accompanied by an evolution in terms naming these initiatives: professional development, faculty development, academic development, instructional development, organizational development, educational development and professional learning.
In many ways these terms act as synonyms with similar purposes and they are sometimes used interchangeably. On the other hand, these terms privilege different types of mandates, structures, and actions. While acknowledging that all these terms have strengths and weaknesses, it is important to investigate their implications within the current BC post-secondary environment. What are the differences and similarities? Which ones better fit the context of current outcomes of campus-based post-secondary teaching and learning enhancement initiatives?
Campus-based locates the context for this study within the post-secondary system of universities, institutes and colleges. A multitude of professional development opportunities are offered by off-campus academic and professional organizations and increasingly through online commercial and academic providers, all of which offer potentially valuable learning opportunities. Professional development and teaching and learning practices and literature originating in the K-12 system are bridging to and informing post-secondary investigations. However, the focus of this study is specifically on educational development and professional learning initiatives organized within college, institute and university campuses.
Professional Development (Chism & Whitney, 2005) is an umbrella term, applicable to any career area, which encompasses the processes of obtaining and enhancing capabilities, certifications and experiences that enable professionals to progress in their careers through enhancing both professional and personal capabilities. Within the post-secondary environment, professional development implies the dual notions of the individual taking responsibility for enhancing both personal and professional capabilities as well as the higher education institution providing structure and practices in support of teaching and learning enhancement initiatives. It is the second inference that propels questioning of the term ‘development’ as it may carry the perception of ‘developing others’ within a superficial learning environment (Webster-Wright, 2009). The comprehensive nature of professional development encompasses the entire continuum from transmission to transformative learning opportunities. Depending on the context of participants, there may be need for this full range of learning opportunities. The term also has significant longevity and impact. For example, for more than two decades the post-secondary network from which this research project emanated has applied the concept of professional development in their title: University, College and Institute Professional Development (UCIPD) Committee.
Faculty Development is a traditional term widely evident in the post-secondary professional development literature (Schroeder, 2011; Ouellett, 2010; Gillespie & Robertson, 2010). Faculty development carries the rather delightful impulse of developing one’s faculties or thinking abilities. This term focuses the realm of activity within those designated as faculty members, principally those people within the institution who have direct teaching or teaching-related positions. Faculty development encompasses a significant range including institutional and instructional approaches, curriculum development, assessment strategies as well as personal development. The term accurately describes and defines many campus-based professional development programs as their focus, by mandate, is almost exclusively for those with direct teaching and learning responsibilities. Instructional development is a sub-set of faculty development with a focus on “activities specifically connected to enhancement of teaching” (Wilson, 2012, p. 2). Faculty or instructional development therefore may be perceived as being exclusive, in that administrative and support staff, and those not directly involved in teaching, appear to be excluded or have a much lower priority in determining mandates and priorities. Those institutions where there is a defined and institution-wide mandate for teaching and learning enhancement initiatives often elect to apply a more inclusive term.
Academic Development (Blackmore & Blackwell, 2006) puts the spotlight on the teaching and learning functions of the post-secondary system. One argument in support of this term is that all forms of learning are academic. Therefore, academic development applies to all within an institution of learning. On the other hand, for those universities, institutes and colleges that provide comprehensive programming including applied, vocational, adult basic education, and non-credit programs, the term ‘academic development’ may imply an exclusion of these equally worthy programs.
Organizational Development (Diamond, 2002) encompasses a wider vision of processes related to planned, strategic institutional development designed to enhance the organization’s effectiveness and viability. Organizational development, within the post-secondary environment, most frequently is evident within the strategic academic planning processes that guide short and longer-term decision-making related to teaching and learning issues. As is demonstrated by the findings of this study, post-secondary professional development units increasingly are being located at the centre of organizational and institutional change, due to growing acknowledgement of their institutional expertise relevant to leadership for learning.
Educational Development (Tiberius, 2001) is the term that Canadian professional developers, forming a sub-group caucus of the Society for Teaching and Learning in Higher Education (STLHE), decided to apply to their work. An argument may be made that all development is educational in purpose and action. Educational development subsumes the concepts of faculty, professional, institutional and organizational development and therefore is an encompassing term.
Professional Learning is an emerging term (Webster-Wright, 2009) that highlights the evolution of teaching and learning enhancement initiatives. Professional learning incorporates the growing body of literature describing how people learn (Bransford, Brown & Cocking, 2000; Ramsden, 2008; Kuh et al., 2005a; Entwhistle, 2010). Professional learning is interconnected with the notions of communities of practice which are “groups of people who share a concern or a passion for something they do and learn how to do it better as they interact regularly” (Wenger, 2006). Professional learning focuses on incorporating reflective opportunities, as well as scholarly teaching and learning literature within and across disciplinary communities of practice or faculty learning communities (Cox & Richlin, 2004) to foster individual, group or institutional change processes.
To ‘name the rose’, study researchers will apply the term Educational Development (ED) to centrally organized teaching and learning enhancement initiatives that encompass personal, professional and institutional development. Faculty Development (FD) will signify a narrower focus primarily associated with individual and professional development of faculty members. Professional Development (PD) focuses on personal and career development and is applicable to all across the educational community. Professional Learning (PL) signifies emerging directions towards learning communities and networks. The researchers elected to use these terms to:
- create a longitudinal connection, at the system level, with the 2000 Campus-based Professional Development study (Morrison & Randall, 2000);
- emphasize the ‘big tent’ nature of campus-based initiatives to enhance teaching and learning; and
- acknowledge the evolving nature of campus-based professional learning with a greater emphasis on professional dialogue within and across collegial networks.
Terms to describe the physical and online locus for educational development have many permutations: Learning and Teaching Centre, Centre for Academic Growth, Educational Support and Development Centre, Centre for Academic and Faculty Development, Centre for Instructional Development, and Centre for Innovation and Excellence in Learning, to identify a few of a very long list of centre titles. For consistency and to respect the confidentiality offered to study participants, study researchers will apply the term Teaching and Learning Centre (TLC), which subsumes both the physical and online identity of educational development units. We acknowledge that the term staff has differing meanings in international contexts. For this study, the term staff is applied to those in roles such as technician and administrative assistant who may not work directly with students but who make immense contributions to the quality of students’ education.
Active educational development-related organizations are operating in the BC and Canadian higher education environments. Acronyms abound. To clarify organizational purposes and names, we have updated an inventory initially created by Alice Macpherson (2011) and include it as Appendix 6.
Chapter 3 : Study Design
The primary purpose of this research is to investigate how a comprehensive range of British Columbia (BC) post-secondary institutions implement campus-based educational development or professional learning initiatives. The intent of the study is to gather and share models and concepts to inform institutional and inter-institutional discussions to further enhance educational development and professional learning opportunities available within and across BC post-secondary institutions.
Given that many of the educational development structures and practices examined in this study are evident across Canadian and international campus-based contexts, there may be applicability of these findings well beyond the BC higher education context. As an Open Educational Resource, we encourage further extension and application of the conceptual frameworks and models developed in this study, with attribution as noted in the introductory Acknowledgements section.
Selection of Study Participants
The 25 British Columbia post-secondary publicly funded institutions were invited to participate in the study. Representatives of 21 BC post-secondary colleges, universities and institutes responded to study questions. Individuals participating had full or partial responsibility for organizing campus-based educational development.
Participating institutions reflect the full spectrum of institutional types, sizes and geographic areas in British Columbia. Nine of these institutions are primarily two-year colleges. Two are institutes providing a range of undergraduate and post-graduate programming. Ten participating universities provide undergraduate and graduate programming. Of these ten universities, five provide graduate or doctoral programming and five are primarily undergraduate universities.
Based on institutional website information, approximately twenty percent of the institutions had less than 2,000 full time equivalent (FTE) students. Sixty percent were mid-size institutions with between 2,000 and 10,000 FTE students. About twenty percent were larger institutions with more than 10,000 FTE students. All participating institutions provide e-learning options in addition to their geographic campus base. The 21 British Columbia post-secondary institutions participating in this study are listed in Appendix 1.
The central research question posed is: What are current institutional models for campus-based professional development across the British Columbia post-secondary system?
The study question is informed by a comparative study conducted in British Columbia’s post-secondary system (Morrison & Randall, 2000) and by the experiences of Nancy Randall and Penny Heaslip, the lead researchers of the current study. Both have extensive experience as directors or coordinators of campus-based educational development centres in British Columbia. National and international literature related to post-secondary educational development was consulted.
Study design and questions were reviewed to determine their application in a longitudinal comparison, at the system level, to the British Columbia 2000 campus-based professional development study (Morrison & Randall, 2000). Similar questions were posed in both studies for these dimensions: organization, funding, personnel, reporting lines, mandates, involvement in strategic planning processes, physical and online locations, needs assessment, priority-setting, communication, evaluation processes, PD opportunities for administrators and staff, as well as institutional, regional, national and international PD networks. To investigate educational development directions that emerged more strongly subsequent to the year 2000 study, questions relating to the following areas were added: mentoring, scholarship of teaching and learning, e-learning and leadership for learning. To review the complete set of study questions, please refer to Appendix 2.
The study is a scholarship of educational or academic development inquiry (Haigh & Naidoo, 2007; Brew & Jewell, 2012; Felten et al., 2007) as it is a systematic investigation of ED structures and practices in higher education with the intent of enhancing institutional practices which may ultimately enhance student learning. The study was conducted through an action research data gathering process (Sagor, 2000; Reason & Bradbury, 2006). As action research, the process and outcomes of this research project are intended to be of value to the research participants, and beyond to those engaged in any aspect of post-secondary educational development. The two principal researchers were in the role of “involved observers” (Bell, 2006, p. 54) or as participant-researchers as both had directed higher education teaching and learning centres within the BC post-secondary system prior to commencing this study. The study is within the collaborative action research tradition (Kirby, et al., 2006, p. 31) as the team of researchers worked within the community of British Columbia educational developers. Research participants collaboratively provided an extensive data set which was intended to enrich the learning and professional roles of all participants.
Data gathering and analyses were guided by an interpretivist epistemology (Schütz, 1967) through the principles that the reality we perceive is socially constructed and that we cannot separate ourselves from what we know. The study is framed from an appreciative perspective (Cooperrider, 1990; Bushe, 2001; Cockell & McArthur-Blair, 2012) as an inquiry that illuminates areas of strength, considers issues and dilemmas, as well as identifying developing directions. Development of the educational development dimensions conceptual framework was informed by the dimensions identified in the Morrison and Randall (2000) study as well as the dimensions framework created by the Carnegie Academy for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning undergraduate research consortium, as documented by Beckman and Hensel (2009). Researchers invited study participants, and others engaged in professional learning roles, to review and provide their perspectives on the penultimate version of conceptual frameworks and study outcomes.
During phase 1, research ethics review committees at the University of Northern British Columbia, Vancouver Island University and Thompson Rivers University reviewed and approved study design and questions. Anonymity for all participating institutions and representatives was provided as a component of the research ethics review process.
In phase one, data gathering was implemented through an online data response system. During phase one, eleven institutions provided responses. The research team determined that the online response system worked well for some participants; however, it created barriers for others. Further, it was determined that the eleven institutional responses did not constitute a sufficient sample of the 25 BC post-secondary institutions.
During phase 2, study questions remained identical to those in phase one. A minimal change in data-gathering was requested and approved through the research ethics boards of Vancouver Island University and Thompson Rivers University. The minimal change was that institutional representatives completed their responses on a Word® document and forwarded their responses to the study researchers, who then compiled the full database of responses.
Three participating institutions submitted their data in the latter part of 2009. Eighteen participating institutions submitted their study responses during the 2010 and 2011 academic years. In total, 21 institutions of the 25 BC post-secondary institutions participated. At an 84% response rate, this is considered to be a comprehensive sampling of BC post-secondary institutions, representative of the full range of institutional types, sizes and geographical contexts.
All original data were coded by number. Institutional names and identifiers were removed. The two principal researchers independently analyzed specific questions, reviewing key information and determining emerging patterns. Draft summaries for each question were prepared. Then the two researchers met via online Skype meetings to compare emerging themes and patterns and to analyze more deeply the extensive data set. Several face-to-face meetings were held to review emerging directions.
Lead researchers analyzed data, summarized findings, identified cogent direct quotations, and reviewed the most effective means of visually presenting findings through graphs and word charts. Descriptive categories for the over-arching conceptual framework of educational development dimensions emerged from in-depth analyses of the extensive institutional ED descriptions. At this stage, Diane Morrison, who was co-researcher on the 2000 Campus-based Professional Development study and who has a breadth of knowledge and involvement in professional learning, began to participate in discussions to strengthen the longitudinal aspects of the study. Alice Macpherson of Kwantlen Polytechnic University, who was in the midst of completing an educational development doctoral thesis, offered to share her extensive research on Canadian campus-based faculty development milestones, academic developers as change agents, relevant references, and an inventory of Canadian and international educational development organizations.
Reporting back key purposes and outcomes to study participants resulted in valuable feedback and recommendations that were incorporated into the final study. Six webinars were organized by BCcampus in the SCoPE community (see Appendix 6) with lively feedback from multi-national participants. Participant feedback prompted further clarification of key points. As required by the research ethics review process, original data were destroyed at completion of the research analysis stage.
Three online Skype professional learning sessions were organized at the request of a Ghanaian polytechnic to review the educational development dimensions conceptual framework and the statement of educational development purposes and outcomes. Positive responses to these online discussions provide some evidence that the study may have applications well beyond the British Columbia context.
Context for this study is the British Columbia higher education system. Statistical data are specific to the BC post-secondary system, providing an illustration of current educational development as well as comparative data, where relevant, to the year 2000 campus-based PD study. Statistical data also provide baseline findings for a future longitudinal study, should a similar study be implemented in another decade. Models, conceptual frameworks, flow charts and domain inventories may have applications in other educational settings. Readers are encouraged to consider potential transferability and make decisions about applicability of study models and conceptual frameworks in their own contexts.
Because of research ethics conditions, institutional names and identifiers have been removed. Though this may be seen as a limitation to sharing practices, the benefit is that the focus of this study is on models, conceptual frameworks, and exemplars which do not shift as quickly as specific institutional practices.
The initial online survey method of data collection proved to be a barrier for some participants. However, the minimal change in data gathering to Word document submission enabled a strong and representative sample of participating institutions.
Several of the participating institutions were engaged in significant change processes during and subsequent to the study, and that is reflected in the findings.
This study surveys the state of educational development and professional learning across a post-secondary system and includes data from nine colleges, two institutes, and ten universities, of which five offer undergraduate programs and five also offer graduate or doctoral programs. This may be both a strength and a limitation. The strength is that this study provides a comprehensive overview of the current state and emerging directions of educational development and professional learning at a system level across a matrix of post-secondary institutions. A perceived limitation may be that study findings, across the participating colleges, institutes and universities, are amalgamated. Specific data for each of the institutional types are not reported separately. Researchers considered this potential limitation carefully. The factor of institutional type alone did not determine definitively the shape of educational development and professional learning. Many contextual factors influence a specific institution’s educational development and professional learning initiatives including evidence of commitment to teaching and learning enhancement initiatives, personnel, leadership for learning, budget, size and mandate.
Chapter 4 : Dimensions of Educational Development Structures and Practices
What are key educational development dimensions? What do these significant elements or dimensions look like in practice? Dimensions of educational development were informed by the campus-based year 2000 study (Morrison & Randall, 2000) along with review of relevant educational development literature (Amundsen et al., 2005; Amundsen & Wilson, 2012; Colbeck et al., 2008; Levinson-Rose & Menges, 1981; Dearn, 2005; Ouellett, 2010; Rice, 2007; Scarfe, 2004; Sorcinelli et al., 2006; Stes et al., 2010; Tiberius, 2001; and Wilcox, 1997). Researchers also consulted academic literature that bridges the K-12 and post-secondary professional development environments, for example, Bransford, Brown & Cocking (2000) and Guskey (2002). The emerging conceptual framework of educational development dimensions was also informed by the researchers’ prior active engagement in post-secondary educational development.
For each educational development dimension, study authors reviewed study findings, identified patterns or categories, and then created descriptions of the range of permutations or stages, as represented in the dimensions of educational development conceptual frameworks (Figures 4.0 and 4.1).
Descriptive categories are weighted equally and any of the descriptive categories may be the better alternative at some point in time for an institution. Where two models are closely linked they are presented in the same descriptive category. Given our multi-faceted institutions, educational development dimensions structures and practices may be located concurrently in more than one of the descriptive categories.
Each of the dimensions receives an in-depth consideration in a subsequent chapter. To ease connection between the individual chapters and the conceptual framework, the specific chapter is recorded in the left hand column of the educational development conceptual framework. Descriptive categories for forms or structures are presented first, followed by functions or practices of educational development.
Discussion: When considering the dimensions of educational development, it may be argued that several of the dimensions, for example consultation and mentoring, have both structure and practice aspects. The researchers decided that consultation and mentoring are primarily relationship-building and therefore best fit in the practices category. For purposes of clarity, the researchers placed each dimension in either the structure or practice framework. However, the complex interconnections of these dimensions are acknowledged. The dimensions conceptual framework is offered to post-secondary educational institutions as a means to map the comprehensive array of educational development structures and practices. It is important to acknowledge that there is no preferred pathway to the ‘perfect’ set of educational development dimensions for any institution. However, consideration of these dimensions may guide current educational development practices and future evolution of post-secondary professional learning. Dimensions and descriptive categories may be applied in:
- mapping the current state;
- identifying gaps;
- investigating alternative models, structures, and practices;
- providing a basis to set future goals for professional learning, and
- recording evolutions over time.
Chapter 5 : Dimensions of Educational Development Structures
Having introduced a comprehensive framework of key dimensions of educational development, we now will transition to structural organization. We begin with consideration of teaching and learning centre models and personnel adapted from the Morrison and Randall (2000) study.
Teaching and Learning Centre Models
Each reporting institution demonstrates unique and contextualized ways to organize campus-based educational development. Through examining the reported structures, seven distinctive patterns or models of organization emerged. Six of these models are presented in order of increasing support available for coordination and provision of institutional educational development programs, as well as an increasing amount of institutional funding available for ED personnel:
- Volunteer Advisory Committee
- Administrator with 5% ‘off the side of the desk’ Assignment
- Part-time Coordinator
- Full-time Coordinator or Director
- Integrated Team
- Amalgamated Unit
The seventh model represents a decentralized focus on disciplinary teaching and learning environments such as Sciences, Nursing and Medicine or specialized approaches such as Experiential or Integrative Learning or the Study of Teaching and Learning in the Disciplines.
Any of these models may be the right choice for organizing institutional professional learning at a certain point in time as influenced by institutional context, mandate, and funding. Distribution across the 21 participating BC colleges, institutes and universities reflects the full range of these seven educational development models, as is demonstrated in Figure 5.1 below.
Volunteer Advisory Committee
Often the initial foundation of campus-based educational development, this model offers the very best of committed, energetic volunteers who are highly engaged with supporting teaching and learning. It may suffer from the opposite side of volunteerism, that is, multiple responsibilities for participants and, at times, disenchantment with the volunteer role. The ED committee may have advisory, decision-making and/or working roles. The ED committee chair is often provided with an honorarium or a course re-assignment. Committee focus is most often on disbursing and monitoring faculty association or institutional professional development funds, or the organization and implementation of a campus-based Professional Development Day.
Administrator with ‘off the side of desk’ Assignment
An administrator, usually with institutional responsibilities aligned with teaching and learning initiatives, may be given or request an assignment in the range of 5% of total administrative time to coordinate institutional professional learning, often working in tandem with a volunteer advisory ED committee. A variation of this model is that of decanal deans organizing disciplinary professional learning, often in concert with departmental committees.
Personnel Example: Advisory Committee comprised of:
- PT Faculty Development Coordinator with one section course re-assignment
- Designated Faculty Representatives
- Manager of Human Resources representing Administration
Most frequently, a faculty member is seconded, assigned or selected to provide leadership, on a part-time basis, for this initial teaching and learning centre model. Institutional funding is usually on an on-going basis, often on a .5 full-time equivalent (FTE) position. Additional institutional support is often provided through a part-time administrative assistant. Particularly for smaller institutions, a significant financial commitment is required to fund a part-time ED coordinator. This step towards base-funded ED coordination enables a much more extensive program of educational development initiatives. The ED coordinator often works in concert with a volunteer advisory committee or with specialized volunteer or seconded Faculty Associates. An innovative approach is that of an Institute for Teaching and Learning chaired by a part-time Coordinator working with a selected group of Teaching Fellows, who receive honoraria as acknowledgement of their expertise and time commitment.
Personnel Example #1:
- .5 FTE ED Coordinator
- 1 FTE Educational Technology Facilitator
Personnel Example #2:
- . 5 FTE ED Coordinator
- 12 Teaching Fellows, with honoraria
Full-time Coordinator or Director
The distinguishing characteristic of this Teaching and Learning Centre model is full-time ED coordination, either one designated person or through shared roles. The Coordinator or Director often works with a full-time administrative assistant, along with an informal or formalized ED advisory committee, as well as one or two full-time Faculty Associates or Teaching and Learning Consultants. This model leads to sustained professional learning initiatives offered over the length of the academic year. This model often offers a physical and/or online presence for a formalized Teaching and Learning Centre.
- Full-time Director
- .25 FTE Research and Scholarly Activity coordinator
- .75 FTE Faculty Development Coordinator
- Full-time Office Manager
The integrated multi-tasking team, usually working with a full-time Director, creates and implements ED initiatives ranging, for example, from curriculum development to scholarly teaching approaches through to educational media design. Staffing for this model of a formalized Teaching and Learning Centre is usually in the 4 to 8 FTE range, including dedicated full-time Administrative Assistants. Team members are selected for specialized expertise, though they often work together as one unit deciding on ED priorities and creating implementation plans. Team members may coordinate and facilitate Instructional Skills Workshops (ISWs) or extended variations of teaching initiation programs. The Director has responsibility for management of PD planning, budgeting and marketing and may be involved, for example, with institutional teaching and learning policy issues and strategic planning. In addition, the integrated team members may provide organizational and administrative support for educational leave committees, facilitate new faculty orientations, develop online or print teaching resources, partner with institutional units such as Writing or Math Centres, and liaise extensively with provincial, national and international teaching and learning organizations.
Personnel Example #1:
- 5 base funded positions: 1 FTE Director, 1.5 administrative assistants, 2.5 educational technology consultants
- 5 Faculty Associates seconded with one course teaching re-assignments
- 15 volunteer Faculty Associates as workshop and ISW facilitators
Personnel Example #2:
- Full Time Director
- Full Time E-Learning Coordinator
- Full Time Educational Technician
- Full time Administrative Assistant
- Student Assistants
- Faculty volunteers as Instructional Skills Workshop and seminar facilitators
- Temporary special purpose secondments, for example, Learning Outcomes Coordinator
Impetus for creation of this ED model is to amalgamate a diverse and at times competing range of cross-institutional teaching and learning support units into one larger and centralized unit. Each of the smaller units maintains a coordinator or director, often with administrative Dean or ED Director(s) providing overall leadership. The amalgamated unit may provide comprehensive initiatives, for example teaching and learning support, media and graphics design, assessment and program review processes, online and hybrid course development and support, Math and/or Writing Centres, as well as support for institutional initiatives and often scholarship of teaching and learning programs. Bringing together this range of teaching and learning initiatives enhances institutional profile, enables more tightly coordinated ED scheduling and enhances synergies between these related areas. Personnel may range from 8 FTE to 60 or more full-time equivalent positions, with external hiring, as needed, dependent on projects.
Personnel Example #1:
- Co-management: Dean with responsibilities for curriculum and instructor development in concert with E-Learning Director who has responsibilities for media and technology and online support
- 1 Faculty Development coordinator
- 12 Instructional Development consultants
- 2 multi-media developers
- 4 video producers
- Graphic artists (dependent on projects)
- Technical writers (dependent on projects)
- Online technical support personnel
Personnel Example #2:
- Director, full-time, with disciplinary cross-appointment
- Assistant Director, full-time, with disciplinary cross-appointment
- Teaching Assistant coordinator, full-time
- Coordinators, full-time: Writing Centre; Math and Statistics Centre
- Teaching Consultants or Master Teachers, academic year appointments or emeriti
- Assistant to the Director, full-time
- Administrative Assistant, .80 FTE
- Learning and Teaching Scholar, teaching re-assignment
- Work Study Students
Disciplinary or Specialized Centres
The distinguishing feature of this model is prioritization of a disciplinary lens on the teaching and learning context. The impetus is often related to the argument that generic, cross-institutional teaching approaches are not fully attuned to the specific ‘ways of knowing’ of disciplinary learning. These units tend to be located within the physical context of the relevant discipline and may have strong, weak or no connection to a centralized institutional ED centre. These units may be structured as any of the above six models ranging from voluntary advisory committees through to an amalgamated unit. Funding most often is provided directly through the decanal area, though this may be supplemented by institution-wide funding sources. One institution reports that the “primary focus of most of the faculty specific units is to provide instructional support in various ways for their faculty and staff, frequently related to learning technology, and sometimes also to pedagogy or a combination of the two.”
The growth of disciplinary teaching and learning units is intriguing and strongly linked to the ideas of pedagogical content knowledge (Shulman, 2004a) with a focus on the subset of pedagogical initiatives or signature pedagogies (Gurung et al., 2009) that are most particularly suited to the teaching and learning of disciplinary content. David Boud and Angela Brew’s exploration of academic work as professional practice extends these ideas. Boud and Brew (2012) argue that more effective academic or educational development is created through investigation of real dilemmas embedded in disciplinary classroom professional practices, within intact and continuing collegial groups. Variants of the disciplinary model are specialized units that operate at the institutional level and focus on specific approaches such as the scholarship of teaching and learning, experiential or integrative learning, or research on teaching and learning within and across the disciplines. A model similar to the disciplinary unit is in place in many post-secondary institutions with one or more regional campuses. These sub-units of the centralized Teaching and Learning Centre provide initiatives that are reflective of regional campus needs and may be strongly connected to a central campus centre or may operate quite independently.
Discussion: Significant transformations are currently underway. Four institutions are in preliminary discussions about funding formalized educational development. At this stage, the significance of the primarily volunteer advisory committee is emphasized through signalling initial institutional funding support for educational development. In addition, five institutions are reviewing or implementing significant changes to the current shape of institutional educational development.
This is in distinct contrast to the year 2000 study of professional development across British Columbia’s higher education system, which was marked by high degrees of stability with limited evidence of structural changes in campus-based professional development. We now turn to an investigation of the reasons for the many evolutions in the shape of educational development in British Columbia post-secondary institutions.
Duration of Current Models
Discussion: Faculty development initiatives have been implemented across the BC post-secondary system, for several of the participating institutions, for up to forty years. However, the majority of reporting institutions have sustained their current structure for educational development for five years or less. What are significant catalysts for the transformations in campus-based educational development?
Respondents cite layers and levels of review of institutional mandates for teaching, learning and research that provoke shifts in educational development structures. They note many drivers for change: increased responsibilities and expanded roles for curriculum development and review, implementation of faculty initiation and renewal processes, enhanced learning programs being provided directly to undergraduate students, graduate student preparation for teaching, incorporation of media and technology innovations, and more, all evidence of increased institutional sensitivity to teaching and learning enhancement.
One significant shift is that of moving from professional development committees with specific mandates to manage and disburse contractual professional development funds to more complex and comprehensive educational development models that address the complexity of learning needs of faculty members, staff and administrators.
A second shift is clarification and simplification of the lines of reporting and authority for professional development services. One director notes that a significant change in their ED organization was “created to centralize a number of faculty development initiatives (program review, curriculum development, distributed education, teaching & learning enhancement) that have been reporting to a number of different Directors or Deans within the institution.” Another director reports that amalgamation occurred “to create better synergies and more seamless operation between the functions of course review and development, instructor development, faculty/school liaison, e-learning support, web development, and quality assurance.”
Exponential growth in the range of e-learning initiatives along with the need to educate faculty, administrators and staff about the potential of technologies is a catalyst for transforming structures. Closely related is the need to facilitate processes of enhancing pedagogical strategies through incorporation of technology. A strong trend evident is amalgamation of media and technology units with educational development units, often based on program reviews. “The educational technology coordinator was hired when it was realized that Instructional Technology services technicians couldn’t handle the kind of pedagogical questions that faculty had.”
Another driver for change is the evolving mandate of BC post-secondary educational institutions. Several institutions have significantly expanded mandates as they evolved from colleges, to university-colleges, and now are full-fledged special purpose teaching universities. Mandate changes are occurring in regional colleges and institutes. Personnel in graduate and doctoral universities are implementing a range of teaching and learning initiatives at the institutional level, as well as variations of the discipline-specific models of professional learning. Scholarship of teaching and learning initiatives have also brought attention to relevant research and literature.
As a result or concurrent to these changes there has been an emphasis on re-structuring institutional professional development services, amalgamating units, clarifying roles and responsibilities for educational development and creating new professional learning structures. In several of the institutions, directors note that senior academic administrators chose to significantly enhance support for teaching through expansion of educational development initiatives. Senior administrators may be significant champions for integrating educational development into the culture of the institution.
These drivers for change are resulting in a growing recognition that professional learning opportunities enhance effective teaching and learning. The Director or Coordinator is central to successful implementation and achievement of the escalating range of professional learning opportunities.
Roles: ED Coordinators and Directors
What are the specific roles and responsibilities of the educational development coordinator, director, or in several cases, associate dean or dean? There are many career paths that may prepare those intrigued by the profession of being an educational developer or learning consultant. The question of how and why individuals choose this career path is the subject of recent research (Gosling et al., 2007; McDonald & Stockley, 2010). Dawson et al. (2010) are investigating the specific competencies (knowledge, skills and abilities) most needed by entry-level and by senior faculty developers.
A comprehensive pattern of core roles and responsibilities emerged for the coordinator or director’s position through analysis of the campus-based educational development study data, specifically the range of ED initiatives, organizational structures, networks, as well as position descriptions.
A faculty member through secondment, term position or an institutional hiring process most often facilitates the part-time and several of the full-time coordinator or director positions. Director positions for full-time roles, particularly those who are supervising multiple ED consultants and Faculty Associates, may be posted as faculty or, more frequently, as administrative assignments.
Based on core roles and responsibilities, three foundational attributes are evident:
- Abilities to work effectively with people, with evidence of strong interpersonal communication, small group facilitation and effective teamwork capabilities
- Expertise and experience with teaching and learning praxis
- Capacity for vision and leadership in creating positive change in a post-secondary teaching and learning environment
To these foundational skills, we add a composite listing of ED coordinator or director roles and responsibilities:
- Consultation and facilitation of course and program curriculum review, revision and creation
- Consultation and engagement with academic communities in professional development and renewal, in both inter- and cross-disciplinary contexts
- Consultation and facilitation of e-learning initiatives, including knowledge of Open Educational Resources, copyright and social media implications in the academic environment
- Leadership and/or support for institutional development initiatives
- Organization, disbursement and review of professional development funds and grants
- Direction or supervision of Writing Centres, Math Centres and other institutional or disciplinary teaching and learning units
- Capacities to engage scholarly teaching and the scholarship of teaching and learning; current knowledge of higher education teaching, learning and technology literature
- Capacities to provide leadership for educational development personnel including hiring, professional learning opportunities and personnel review
- Capacities for leadership of an educational development unit including strategic planning, implementation of professional learning initiatives, evaluation processes, and budget management
Discussion: Director or Coordinator as dancer, interpreter, collaborator, partner and innovator are a few of the similes evoked by these core roles and responsibilities. The ability to work across multiple disciplines is a special attribute. Taylor (2010) explores how educational developers may utilize their disciplinary backgrounds to work effectively within other disciplinary contexts. Taylor notes, in particular, awareness of disciplinary predispositions to valuing specific models of teaching and learning, the potential for developing collaborative inter- or cross-disciplinary communities, and potential challenges to acceptance of integrative or applied learning opportunities.
ED directors and coordinators, as demonstrated through their roles and responsibilities, are offering institutional leadership for learning. Please refer to Chapter 7 for a synthesis of these opportunities and challenges. We now transition to investigate reporting lines.
This dimension connects professional development units with those who mentor, allocate funding and who often provide approval for proposed ED programs. Reporting lines are significant both as authority and communication avenues, with formal and informal aspects.
In those institutions that have implemented the Volunteer Advisory Committee model, the committee chairperson most often reports to the Faculty Association executive, Finance department personnel, Human Resources department personnel or to a Labour and Management Committee.
In institutions with established Teaching and Learning Centres, reporting most often is to a Dean or directly to an Associate Vice President Academic or Vice President Academic.
Several institutions have multiple lines of accountability based on the Teaching and Learning Centre’s current activities or special projects. Institutions implementing an amalgamated ED centre model may have dual reporting with, for example, an Instructional Technology Director and an ED Director accountable to different Deans or Vice-Presidents, based on their realms of responsibility. Directors or Coordinators may also report to a pedagogical or professional development sub-committee of Senate or Education Council or to a Faculty Association Professional Development Committee.
Both formal and informal reporting occurs. For example, a respondent notes, “Theoretically, all ED coordinators report to the VP Academic however functionally they report to the Centre Director.” Other ED directors comment that the most important component is the institutional profile and commitment to teaching and learning initiatives of those to whom they report.
The trend evident in the majority of participating institutions is towards reporting to an Associate or Vice President (Academic). The significance of this direction is further investigated in Chapter 7 as part of the discussion of educational developers as leaders for learning.
Advisory Committees: Purposes and Composition
Professional Development Advisory Committees provide programming advice, direction and assistance, as well as direct representation of disciplines or departments. Requesting or selecting cross-campus representatives for the Professional Development Advisory Committee helps ensure that educational development initiatives are based on genuine learning needs as identified by those directly involved. “The coordinator of the centre, along with an advisory committee made up of representatives from each unionized employee group, determine the activities.” Professional Development Advisory Committees may be designed on an ad hoc basis providing input to planning processes as needed. At the other end of the continuum, advice may be provided by a highly structured group of institutional representatives, constituted as a formal committee or board who meet regularly to review and provide recommendations for strategic ED planning.
Informal Advisory Process
Where there is no formal advisory committee, ‘word of mouth’ and ‘hallway meetings’ with interested faculty, staff, administrators, and/or students may be the basis for recommended ED initiatives. Any individual, group or committee may request a new initiative. Professional development personnel may create a focus group or an ad hoc committee or rely on interested volunteers for input. In some instances, informal ED advisory committees are comprised of Faculty Associates and/or Educational Consultants, who offer their expertise and disciplinary connections to provide input. Benefits of the ad hoc voluntary advisory process are immediacy, energy, and high levels of commitment. Drawbacks are selectivity, information gaps and lack of documentation.
Formal Advisory Committee
With more formalized advisory committees or boards, membership may be by appointment of interested constituents, decanal or departmental representation, or by an election process as specified by administration or contractual provisions. The advisory committee, in conjunction with the TLC coordinator or director, will collect and analyze feedback on TLC programming and then recommend or make decisions and possibly implement and review the programming offerings. The advisory committee and the TLC coordinator function as a collegial decision-making team. The process of attaining input regarding planning and implementation of professional learning programs can be complex. As one Director notes, Teaching and Learning Centre personnel consult with “members on its ED advisory committee, the Centre for Teaching and Learning Technologies advisory committee, and the Provost’s committee on Pedagogical Practice.” Benefits of more formalized advisory committees are inclusive membership, multiple perspectives and thorough review. Drawbacks often include slow-moving decision-making processes, territoriality and inertia.
Four major purposes for educational development advisory committees were identified:
- Advice and Program Recommendations
- Professional Development Funding Disbursement
- Program Planning and Implementation
- Policy, Procedures and Strategic Planning
Advice and Program Recommendations
Core mandates of all professional development advisory committees are to provide feedback on TLC program offerings and to offer programming suggestions based on faculty, staff and administration needs for professional development. “The ED committee advises the faculty development coordinator about needed programs and services.” In those institutions with unionized faculty and staff, the Faculty Association representatives may report back to their employee groups regarding the outcome of their input. The potential of the monitoring role of ED advisory committees is evident: “Teaching and Learning Centre Advisory Committee will oversee the Centre’s activities and programming. Its membership will be broadly representative of the university teaching and learning community, including faculty, staff and administrators.”
Professional Development Funding Disbursement
The advisory committee may be involved with disbursement of professional development funds. “General professional development is managed by a committee consisting of faculty and management, operating under contractual terms of reference and requiring approval of the reporting dean.” There has been a shift for contractual professional development funds at several institutions to be assigned to individual faculty on an annual basis thus reducing or eliminating the need for an ED Advisory Committee to disburse the funds.
Program Planning and Implementation
The ED Advisory Committee may function as a working taskforce in situations with limited PD programming or when the institution has no PD coordinator. “The Faculty Development Committee as well as the Ad Hoc PD Days Committee determines the activities. The annual PD Days activities change from year to year and are influenced by committee members, general membership, support staff, and administration.”
Policy, Procedures and Strategic Planning
Advisory committees may advocate for institutional funding and personnel support for PD programs. They may review and enhance the design and implementation of PD policies, procedures and strategic planning or may ensure that specific elements of the institutional academic strategic plans are implemented. For example, the mandate for one Advisory Committee is to “support institutional strategic plans related to teaching and learning environments.” Another director notes that their Advisory Committee advocated for “the creation of the Teaching and Learning Centre and its expanding influence at the university.”
These purposes are reflected in Gano-Phillips (2011, p. 228) conceptualization of a triad of benefits of advisory committees or boards: acting as an institutional voice; planning, reviewing and/or evaluating ED programs; as well as advocating and communicating the values of educational development.
Personnel and Faculty Associate Models
Who are the people who are directly engaged in educational development roles? Directors and coordinators provided extensive descriptions of personnel roles. Four categories of ED personnel are: administrators, technicians, educational consultants, and faculty associates.
Administrators: The ED Director or Coordinator, Associate Dean or Dean provides administrative leadership for the Teaching and Learning Centre. Roles and responsibilities of ED directors or coordinators, as summarized in chapter 5.3 above, are key to the profile and institutional impact of educational development initiatives. ED Advisory Committees may provide administrative decision-making as well as direct implementation of ED initiatives. Chapter 5.5 provides a summary of their roles and functions.
Larger ED centres are employing specialized administrative personnel such as Managers of Human Resources, Financial and Contracts, Marketing and Communications, Events and Conferences, Quality Assurance, and Distance and Blended Learning, which indicates the breadth of potential ED administrative functions. In an emerging direction, units providing professional development specifically for students are being integrated into larger ED centres, along with their administrative managers, for example, of the Writing Centre and the Math and Statistics Centre.
Educational Development Office Managers and Assistants often are the first contact for those seeking information or assistance and therefore are a key component of the profile and voice of the Teaching and Learning Centre as well as providing coordination for ED initiatives. Limited information on their roles, responsibilities and professional learning needs emerged from this study. Further investigation may be beneficial to determine needed skills and capacities for Educational Development administrators and support personnel as well as their needs for professional learning.
Technicians: An amazing range of technical personnel who support teaching, learning and technology are summarized in this composite inventory: E-learning Coordinator, Video Producer, Technical Writer, Online Support Personnel, Multi-media Developer, Graphic Artist, Web Designer, E-learning Support Programmer, Service Technician, Learning Management Systems PD Strategist, Copyright Learning Technology Specialist, and Emerging Technologies Analyst. The range of technical support indicates the complex types of expertise associated with ED initiatives as well as on-going strategies to sustain currency with emerging teaching, learning and technology innovations.
Educational Consultants: Offering recognized expertise in learning and teaching, educational consultants may also demonstrate specific technical skills (for example, e-learning) or work within a disciplinary context. Titles and responsibilities of these personnel are transitioning. In response to enhanced sensitivity to (adult) learning theories with a focus on learning within communities, a movement is evident away from a ‘developer’ focus towards ‘consultation and learning’ processes.
An extensive range of expertise is demonstrated in this composite array which summarizes educational consultants’ evolving roles and responsibilities: Faculty Developer, Instructional Development Consultant, Learning Outcomes Coordinator, E-Learning Consultant, Coordinator of Aboriginal Initiatives, International Commons Program Coordinator, Evaluation and Research Coordinator, Learning Resource Design Strategist, Professional Development Coordinator, Facilitation and Process Design Consultant, Community of Practice Developer, Curriculum Support Specialist, Instructional Materials Developer, Faculty Advisor, Voice and Presentation Specialist, Educational Consultants (with designated disciplinary specializations), Instructional Design Consultant, Teaching Consultant, Learning Consultant, and Learning Strategist.
These first three personnel categories (administrator, technician, and educational consultant) are most often assigned on a full-time or part-time continuing basis with the Teaching and Learning Centre as their reporting area. Aspects of several of these roles may be amalgamated for multi-tasking individuals or funded as role-specific positions, based on institutional context and initiatives.
Faculty Associates: Frequently seconded to the ED centre on a term basis, and retaining their disciplinary or faculty home, Faculty Associates provide direct connections to disciplinary contexts while sharing their wisdom of practice and they may consult on signature pedagogies (Gurung et al., 2009). Faculty Associates or Teaching Scholars or Institute Fellows were identified in four different roles: volunteer, part-time secondment, disciplinary focus, full-time term position.
- Volunteer Faculty Associates provide support and instruction through interest or as part of institutional or contractual ‘service’ requirements. These Faculty Associates offer their expertise through facilitating Instructional Skills Workshops, leading teaching seminars, and organizing Reading Circles, among many other roles. Volunteer Faculty Associates may be full-time faculty members or emeriti faculty who are recognized for their teaching abilities and capabilities of working effectively with faculty members. An innovative peer-led Institute for Learning and Teaching operating at a regional college is an example of the volunteer, with honoraria, Faculty Associate model.
- Seconded Faculty Associates usually have part-time roles in the Teaching and Learning Centre, often with a one or two section or course re-assignment from their disciplinary responsibilities over a one to three year term. While continuing to teach part-time in their disciplines, seconded Faculty Associates may focus on institutional teaching and learning initiatives, for example Internationalizing the Curriculum, Inquiry Learning, or Mentorship initiatives.
- Disciplinary focus Faculty Associates may be co-funded between the Teaching and Learning Centre and decanal area, usually with part-time assignments, and are selected because of their recognized pedagogical content knowledge in teaching and learning. These Faculty Associates work directly within the disciplinary or decanal area, for example Health and Human Services, often over a one to three year term, after which they may return to their disciplinary responsibilities.
- Full-time Faculty Associates are seconded by the ED unit or Teaching and Learning Centre and provide concentrated leadership or direction for specific institutional educational development initiatives, for example learning outcomes or assessment initiatives. Other versions are Scholars-in-Residence who are selected because of particular expertise, for example, in accessibility issues or the scholarship of teaching and learning. Secondment term is connected to the length of the ED initiative or project and may be months or several years.
Institutional priorities, budgets, strategic plans and philosophical perspectives will definitely influence the types and range of educational development personnel. Samples of organizational teaching and learning centre models and personnel are provided in Chapter 5.1.
The question of institutional funding for educational development provoked intense interest from respondents who were searching for quantifiable and comparative funding data. Given the extreme range and diversity of institutional funding models for educational development, providing easily comparable statistical funding data is somewhat problematic. However, shared issues and patterns are evident.
A dominant funding pattern is that of relative expenditures allocated to personnel and to programming. For the majority of reporting institutions, salaries and benefits received the largest percentage of educational development budgets, ranging between 75% and 95% of total budgets. Allocations for programming and operations, for the majority of reporting institutions, range from 5% to 25 % through which software, hardware, institutional memberships, conference attendance, honoraria, teaching grants and much more are funded.
The majority of the reporting ED directors and coordinators describe levels of stress with escalating demands for ED programs coupled with challenges to maintain present funding levels. Though this situation is not limited to educational development budgets, it may be beneficial to continue to share processes that illuminate and validate educational development outcomes within internal post-secondary budgetary processes. Sources for funding institutional educational development programs form four categories:
- Institutional base funding designated specifically for ED
- Internal budget exchanges to fund ED initiatives
- Entrepreneurial, project or research funding
- In-kind funding through volunteer service
Institutional base funding for educational development is usually allocated on a continuing basis, though implemented in different ways. To illuminate, four exemplars are provided:
Exemplar 1. “Institutional base funding of $330,000 is provided of which 85% is dedicated to salaries and benefits. The remaining 15% is for programming costs, reading circles, books for circles, subscriptions to webinars, memberships, supplies, equipment, piloting technologies, upgrading Centre’s technology lab, honoraria and more.”
Exemplar 2. “Based on the College Collective agreement, the College agrees to provide funding in support of professional development for faculty…” The yearly allocation is based on a percentage of total faculty salaries, plus a yearly allocation to support a Faculty Development Day, plus a yearly allocation for an Educational Leave fund.
Exemplar 3. “The central <TLC> receives funding from the institution and also retains a percentage of the tuition fees from students taking distance learning courses. Disciplinary faculty specific units are also funded by the institution.”
Exemplar 4. “From central funds, the university supports the TLC director and TLC assistant (approximately $170K), a two-course release for the faculty member chairing the Faculty PD committee (approximately $25K), and a percentage of institutional faculty salaries dedicated to professional development (approximately $70K). In addition, the institution funds an Audio-Visual team of four staff plus a supervisor, and an educational technology team comprised of two staff plus four faculty members each receiving a one-course release. In addition, there are 10 Faculty Professional Development volunteers.”
Internal ED Budget exchanges, as a second means of funding ED initiatives, create extensive and collaborative institutional inter-connecting networks. ED directors and coordinators describe Human Resources personnel and budgets contributing to Leadership Institutes organized by the ED unit, disciplinary units contributing to salaries for Teaching Scholars, and Vice-President Academic budget centres contributing to Course Experience Survey projects, Graduate Consultation Programs, Research Fairs, Undergraduate Research scholarships, all organized by the Teaching and Learning Centre. One respondent notes that these types of budget exchanges are often administered as soft or non-recurring funds for several years. When they have proven value they may be added to ED base budget funding.
The common factor across these varying base funding models is that, for the majority of participating institutions, the value of educational development is recognized with core operating funds. There are, however, concerns voiced about escalating ED demands coupled with static or potentially reduced ED base funding. To secure additional funds, several ED directors are investigating alternative entrepreneurial, project or research funding sources.
Entrepreneurial, project or research sources are being accessed by 55% of participating institutions as ‘soft’ or non-recurring funding for educational development. ED directors and coordinators describe a range of contracts for campus-based events or external projects, operating on a cost recovery or for-profit basis. Faculty Associations or Faculty Unions provide a recognized source of funding, often coordinated through the Faculty Association Professional Development Committee. External sources of ED funding, on a competitive and collaborative basis, are accessed through the BCcampus Online Program Development Fund (OPDF) projects, Ministry of Advanced Education, Innovation and Technology programs, Multiculturalism projects as well as external research grants or awards and pooled financial resources to provide cross-institutional collaborative professional development opportunities.
There is limited evidence of external research grants to sustain ED activities or of donor research grants from private foundations, although several institutions note a focus on a research approach to teaching and learning and the promotion of scholarly teaching. For those ED units supporting programs through entrepreneurial funding, a cost-benefit analysis may help to determine whether these entrepreneurial funding projects benefit or detract from core educational development programming.
In-kind funding through volunteer service provided by many faculty members, administrators and staff personnel is a significant source of ‘gifts in kind’ through extensive voluntary or service contributions for educational development coordination and implementation. For example, an institution is implementing a peer-led Institute for Teaching and Learning that emphasizes collegial and cross-campus initiatives to enhance teaching and learning in all sectors of the college, which operates through a combination of institutional funding and in-kind service contributions. In-kind service contributes immeasurably to the richness of ED programming, though at times limited by issues of sustainability.
The dimension of physical location for educational development initiatives varies widely ranging from a conceptual space, to a physical space with low profile, to a high profile, centralized physical space. In addition disciplinary teaching and learning centres, particularly in the graduate and doctoral universities, are being implemented.
In 25% of the reporting institutions, the teaching and learning ‘centre’ is conceptual in nature rather than being an actual physical locale on campus, though several of these institutions were currently searching for viable physical locations. Conceptual space has, in many ways, great freedom as face-to-face educational initiatives tend to be located throughout the institution, making use of available rooms and spaces and in so doing, often bringing the educational development ideas in closer connection with disciplinary departments. Conceptual space also opens up opportunities for creating a strong network and online profile, which again offers the potential of bringing educational development initiatives directly and immediately to the desk-top or mobile technology. Online ED websites offer extensive access to the best of international ED resources. Online conferencing, for example through Skype and other forms of online interaction, contributes to creation of a conceptual space for educational development communities of practice.
Physical Space, Low Profile
About 28% of the formal Teaching and Learning Centres are located in a faculty or administrator’s office, which often results in low visibility. ED spaces may be difficult to locate or situated on the campus periphery. High visibility campus spaces almost always are in high demand, however low profile locations for Teaching and Learning Centres such as building basements, tend to convey a message of lower institutional value. Several respondents, working in institutions with space limitations, note that they carved out a sphere for educational development by moving their faculty offices so that they were located in geographic proximity to others involved in professional development, which is a cost-effective and innovative solution.
High Profile, Centralized Physical Space
About 47% of the reporting post-secondary institutions describe their location as centralized or located in a higher visibility campus locale with an active profile. Several institutions are creating new or renovated spaces or expansions moving from an ED coordinator’s office to a dedicated professional learning, teaching and resource space. Several directors note institutional provision of a dedicated suite of teaching, conference, presentation, and meeting spaces including several offices and a reception area, as a significant factor in signifying institutional support for educational development. One institution provides a specialized building for teaching and learning enhancement initiatives, including large and small teaching spaces. The direction is towards creating a sphere or constellation of dedicated educational development units near higher traffic areas, media centres, Instructional and/or Educational Technology units, the Library, Writing or Math centres or located within a Learning Commons complex.
Disciplinary or Specialized Teaching and Learning Centres
Growth is evident in the presence of dedicated ED disciplinary units, for example, in Science, Medicine, or Health. These may take on any of the conceptual and/or physical formats described above, with no, weak or very strong connections to an institutional Teaching and Learning Centre.
Post-secondary institutions with multi-campus satellite sites report three types of resolutions to providing physical space for professional development in regional campuses: a virtual presence only, sited in a faculty member’s office, or provision of an Educational Development space in partnership with affiliated departments such as Human Resources or Educational Technology. Study information is limited as to effectiveness and impact. It may be helpful to identify avenues to provide higher profile for educational development initiatives within institutions with multi-campus sites or very large campuses.
Based on longitudinal comparisons at a systems level, there is now a much stronger presence of formal physical spaces for post-secondary teaching and learning centres in British Columbia. Just over a decade ago, 50% of the reporting institutions provided some type of formal ED office space. That has increased to 67% of the reporting institutions, with several more formalized centres in planning stages. This may provide evidence of an increasing focus being placed on institutional teaching and learning enhancement initiatives.
Chapter 6 : Dimensions of Educational Development Practices
We now turn from consideration of structures or forms for organizing educational development to a study of practices or functions: mandate, needs assessments, setting priorities, ED initiatives, networks, communication, consultation including mentoring, and e-learning. We review models and implications of the scholarship of teaching and learning within the framework of professional learning.
Philosophical beliefs about teaching, learning and institutional priorities strongly influence the shaping of these educational development mandate statements. The shared focus is to enhance excellence in teaching, to provide excellence in response to institutional educational development needs and to promote professional learning to enhance professional growth for individuals across their specific institutional roles. “The establishment of the Teaching and Learning Centre is a powerful and concrete example of the institution’s direct investment in the business of excellence and innovation in teaching and learning.” Many statements emphasize a shared understanding that “Professional development is a continuous learning process across all levels of the institution for the entire learning community” and that “Quality professional development expands the capacity of the learning community to realize its vision and reach its goals.”
The majority of institutional ED directors and coordinators report a broad-based professional development mandate inclusive of all institutional faculty, staff and administrators. Several institutions recently expanded their PD mandates to include undergraduate and graduate students. The philosophy, as documented by one participating institution and shared by a majority of reporting institutions, is that “All employees are in some ways teachers and learners and therefore all are responsible for enhancing the learning experience for students.” This philosophy results in an inclusive integration of all employees in the programs facilitated by the Teaching and Learning Centres, thus their mandates tend to reflect a broad approach to professional development. Another director reports their mandate: “We are all about learning. The organization becomes stronger when its individual members develop and become increasingly skilled and knowledgeable. Our <ED team> builds on the strengths of the institutional culture, recognizing the good things already happening and moving towards what we want to become. We combine the best of tradition with the best of innovation.”
There are equally strong arguments for mandates that provide separate and contextualized professional development for faculty, staff and administration. To investigate more fully the question of inclusive versus exclusive professional development, refer to Chapter 6.5 which examines PD specifically for administrators and staff. Articulation of the mandate ranges from informal understanding to specific mandates created during the labour negotiations process to mandates developed during or as a result of institutional academic strategic planning processes. For several institutions, an integrative ED mandate is determined through formal and informal needs assessments, program review and academic strategic plan input.
Informal ED Mandate
A mission statement that was developed informally provides guidance and inspiration in one institution: “to collaborate with academic units and instructors, as well as other university services to create a world-class teaching and learning environment that provides outstanding educational experiences for students.”
Mandate Negotiated in Collective Agreements
Where institutions have Professional Development Committees embedded in contractual collective agreements, clearly stated purposes for the PD Committee with defined objectives are specified. In these contexts, the PD committee mandate is a means of implementing contractual agreements related to organization of PD activities and disbursement of PD funding. For one institution, a collective agreement between faculty and management specifies the number of professional development days per year (in this situation 20) for faculty and processes for disbursement of common and adjudicated PD funds (approximately $250,000). Another institution’s PD Committee has clearly articulated contractual terms of reference:
- “to assist in the provision of faculty professional development including allocation of PD funds;
- to actively solicit and respond to needs, recommendations, and suggestions for PD from the stakeholders including faculty, deans, managers and the College Planning Committee regarding college-wide activities; and
- to provide PD activities to address PD needs to maintain currency, update qualifications and enhance instructional abilities.”
Specific Educational Development Mandates
The majority of responding institutions report ED mandates focused on specific educational development goals or terms of reference, determined through institutional consultation and/or administrative decisions. For example, one director notes that their Teaching and Learning Centre mandate is to “enhance teaching and learning and to facilitate curriculum development and reviews for currency.” Another notes that the “primary mandate is educational development for face-to-face faculty. The mandate is being expanded to include instructors of distance courses.” A more general mandate for another institution’s Teaching and Learning Centre is to “create an organizational development program that enhances personal and organizational growth and employee satisfaction.” Several ED directors and coordinators state that their mandate is to promote and support a research focused approach to teaching and learning through promoting the scholarship of teaching and learning across the institution.
Integrative Educational Development Mandates
For a few institutions, the Educational Development mandate is developed through a complex integration of perspectives based on academic strategic plans, ongoing needs assessments, reviews of academic programs and clearly articulated philosophical beliefs and assumptions about teaching, all considered in the context of institutional educational goals and outcomes. As an example, an ED director describes in detail their institutional educational development mandate based on four principles:
- “Enhancing teaching and learning processes will contribute to student retention, facilitate capacity building within our educational community, promote recruitment of quality professionals, provoke dynamic curriculum development and contribute toward infusing educational technologies in teaching and learning activities.
- Enhancing educational technology and workplace technologies and skills will assist faculty and staff to incorporate technology in keeping with appropriate contexts.
- Professional networks and communities of practice will foster continual professional growth and life-long learning, and promote scholarly activity within the institution, as well as professional connections with other institutions and organizations.
- Investing in scholarly teaching and the scholarship of teaching and learning will provide us with substantive evidence of key elements supporting student learning in and across disciplinary contexts, build on our teaching and learning successes and communicate what we do well.”
In this integrative context, educational development initiatives are organized in conjunction with principles that are reflective of the strategic planning goals for the institution. As one director succinctly notes, “Ultimately, the ED Centre’s goal is to foster a robust and vibrant community of scholar-educators recognized at the community, provincial and national levels for excellence in undergraduate teaching and learning.”
Domains of ED Mandates
Philosophical beliefs are evident in priorities voiced in the mandate statements. Diverse roles and a complex range of educational development mandates are demonstrated through the following composite inventory which is aggregated by domains, adapted from Chism (2006).
Strategic Plan: Roles of Educational Developers
When educational developers were asked about their mandate and roles in strategic plan development, four patterns of response were evident:
- No involvement in the development of the institutional strategic plan
- Marginal involvement in an advisory role or as a representative on strategic planning committees
- Central institutional role in development or implementation of academic strategic plans
- Central institutional role in development and implementation of academic strategic plans
Fourteen percent of participating institutions report no ED involvement in institutional academic strategic planning. One professional developer notes, “The faculty development program is not part of the institution’s strategic plans, but there is a need to incorporate this in a more systematic way to support faculty and student retention.”
Eighteen percent of participating institutions report an implicit assumption and informal responsibility to implement the mandate of the strategic plan as it relates to teaching and learning. One respondent states that the institutional strategic plan likely would be ineffective without the efforts of the Teaching and Learning Centre educational consultants. “A new strategic plan has recently been developed and faculty development is not referred to per se in the plan. However, superior teaching, student engagement and experiential learning are articulated as specific strategic directions.”
Sixty eight percent of participating institutions describe a defined and central involvement between ED initiatives and their academic strategic plans. Some are involved in developing or implementing academic strategic plans. Others are centrally involved in development and implementation. An example of this latter stage:
- To serve the university community, the <Teaching and Learning Centre> incorporates a broad range of educational services and the Institute for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning. This combination enables the Centre to draw upon the research strengths of the university community and provide academic leadership to support curricula, teaching and learning, and educational technology initiatives within and across disciplines. To fulfill this mandate, the Centre partners and consults with Faculties, Departments and other academic and service units. The Centre will implement a research informed service unit that focuses on supporting the university’s commitment to student learning as articulated in the institutional strategic plan.
What processes determine institutional needs for educational development? Securing information is accomplished both informally and formally. Informal approaches to gathering information include hallway conversations and one-to-one interviews, meetings with internal and external committees, retreats, visits with faculties, departments, and campuses as well as anecdotal requests, spontaneous feedback, information gathered via mentoring roles and consultations, drop box suggestions, wish lists, evaluation of specific events with oral feedback and suggestions for areas of further interest, and invitations for input via email. One ED coordinator stated that, “We often ask faculty informally through our broadcast e-mail what types of workshops and resources are of interest.”
Formal methods include annual educational development surveys, participation in studies of students’ perceptions of their learning, such as the National Study of Student Engagement (NSSE), academic and e-learning strategic plans, focus groups, an ongoing review process facilitated through Educational Development advisory committee perspectives, regular assessments of workshops and other events and activities, and validation of program review participation such as of New Employee Orientation or Campus Professional Development Days. Annual online campus-wide or departmental surveys may provide more structured information regarding faculty and institutional learning needs. Several institutions have formalized a process for annual reviews of faculty professional development reports and utilize this information for future ED planning.
Questions were raised about the value of formal needs assessment processes. One respondent notes that they had “not done any formal needs assessment surveys in years because we haven’t found them very accurate and therefore not much use.” Interestingly, ten of twenty-one responding institutions had no formal process for collecting data related to faculty learning needs and tended to rely on informal ad hoc processes. For at least one institution, “the lack of assessment of faculty needs is an issue.”
Discussion: Continued sharing of a wide range of effective needs assessment approaches across the matrix of educational development centres clearly would be productive. Having a repertoire of possible institutional needs assessment approaches would assist individual institutions in clarifying educational development needs and priorities as well as validating institutional funding for teaching and learning enhancement initiatives. As is demonstrated by the above inventory, there are many ways to gather professional learning needs assessment data. A sample needs assessment, adapted from an online survey, is provided in Appendix 3.
Given diverse and at times competing individual, departmental and institutional needs, how are teaching and learning enhancement initiative priorities determined?
Several reporting institutions describe prioritization decisions based on immediate responses to perceived needs and requests for programming by faculty and administration. One respondent notes their process is “primarily ad hoc reactive and established internally by people in the ED unit.” ED priorities may be simply determined through meeting the needs of “as many faculty as the budget allows.”
A minority of institutions report a clearly defined process of establishing priorities that reflects and is built upon annual needs assessments and institutional strategic plans. For example, priorities were “established through core program planning, ED Centre meetings, input from Faculty Associates, priorities from institutional strategic documents such as the e-learning plan, institutional priorities, data from surveys, faculty and staff requests, and responses to executive level recommendations.”
Identified criteria for setting ED priorities include institutional, departmental or individual needs and contexts, application to strategic planning implementation, effectiveness of the proposed initiative(s), evidence or research-based initiatives, internal and external pressures or innovations, availability of appropriate workshop presenters or speakers, employee time availability or constraints, funding availability or constraints and space availability.
Who decides the ED priorities? An individual coordinator or director of a center independently establishes the priorities for the Teaching and Learning Centre in 20% of the reporting institutions. The ED director may consult with senior administrators, faculty associations, human resource officers and other institutional partners such as the chief information officer prior to establishing the priorities.
Senior administrators are directly involved in setting ED priorities that reflect the academic strategic plan in 40% of the responding institutions. In a variation of this prioritization process, the ED Center Director(s) may recommend priorities for ED program initiatives; however, approval is required from senior administration based on institutional priorities. In just over 20% of participating institutions, institution wide Professional Development Advisory Committees establish priorities based on their terms of reference. The Advisory Committee members’ expertise and connections are highlighted here, particularly their ‘ear to the ground’ awareness of escalating needs.
Institutional partnerships are emphasized through integrative decision-making processes applied in 20% of reporting institutions. As one example, the Centre Director in consultation with the E-Learning Coordinator considers faculty and graduate student ED needs and then meets with the Vice-President Academic to rank these identified needs in the context of institutional priorities, in part established through Senate level decisions, as well as through consideration of advice from the Provost’s Committee on Pedagogical Practices. Another ED director provides a balanced model of consultation by conferring with a cross-campus ED advisory committee for longer-term ED initiatives while also providing ‘just-in-time’ immediate responses through consultations with individuals and departments.
The range of philosophic beliefs is evident as directors and coordinators provide a composite picture of current educational development priorities:
- Support new incoming instructors to make the transition from industry professionals to skilled educators
- Support experienced instructors by providing ongoing professional development opportunities
- Design faculty development that improves the student experience
- Support excellence in teaching and learning and student engagement
- Implement initiatives to encourage high quality teaching and learning
- Promote continuous improvement endeavours
- Develop, deliver and evaluate a year round program focused on teaching, learning, curriculum, assessment and educational technology
- Facilitate program review and renewal
- Develop educational and workplace technologies
- Encourage innovative e-learning initiatives
- Enhance online professional learning opportunities for faculty
- Facilitate professional and scholarly networks through peer collaboration
- Foster the scholarship of teaching and learning
Format is of significant importance when setting priorities and making decisions about what types of professional development programs might be offered as funding is highly influenced by personnel and operations implications. Format dimension categories, adapted from the Sorcinelli et al. 2006 framework include:
- one or two initiatives per year, most often offered through an institution-wide Professional Development Day
- one or two sessions offered per month through the academic year
- intensive programs, ranging from short workshops to a week-long institute to year-long learning communities, offered throughout the academic year
- intensive programs throughout academic year plus one or more summer institutes
Discussion: Given the variety of approaches for establishing programming priorities, it may be beneficial to clearly define the prioritization process. “Ultimately the goal is to design faculty development in ways that improve the student experience while supporting faculty along the various stages of their professional journey.” The needs assessment flow chart, presented in Figure 6.3, synthesizes stages and participants in institutional educational development needs assessment. Processes should accommodate the unique context of the institution and incorporate sufficient consultation to enable reasoned and credible programming, while sustaining a nimble momentum.
Educational Development Initiatives: Conceptual Framework
ED directors and coordinators responded with a veritable treasure trove when asked to share their educational development initiatives. Frameworks including those of Morrison (2012b), Sorcinelli et al. (2006), Sorcinelli and Austin (2010), and Amundsen and Wilson (2012) were investigated to create a meaningful categorization of hundreds of educational initiatives.
Amundsen and Wilson’s conceptual framework (2012) evolved from a meta-analysis of doctoral university teaching enhancement literature and presents clusters of educational development initiatives based on stated processes and intended outcomes.
The Amundsen and Wilson framework, because of its comprehensive nature, provides categories that capture the wide-ranging sample of ED initiatives of this study found across the full range of post-secondary institutions: colleges, institutes, undergraduate, graduate and doctoral universities.
The six process and outcome clusters (Amundsen & Wilson, 2012, p. 97) are:
- Skills cluster focuses on the “acquisition or enhancement of observable teaching skills and techniques: voice projection, presentation skills, discussion facilitation skills, etc.”
- Methods cluster focuses on “mastery of a particular teaching skill, for example, problem-based learning.”
- Reflection cluster focuses on “change in individual teacher conceptions of teaching and learning.”
- Institutional cluster focuses on “coordinated institutional plans to support teaching improvement.”
- Disciplinary cluster focuses on “disciplinary understanding to develop pedagogical knowledge.”
- Action research or inquiry cluster focuses on “individuals or groups of faculty investigating teaching and learning questions of interest to them.”
Based on the Sorcinelli et al. framework (2006) we incorporated two additional categories that capture specific responsibilities related to coordination functions:
- Grants and Awards for Individuals and Departments to support research and innovation in teaching and learning.
- Resources and Publications to share through academic articles and presentations the emerging research on teaching, learning and technology.
There is some overlap between these eight categories and, indeed, many of the educational development initiatives may fit within more than one of the categories. To minimize repetition, we recorded the educational development initiative only once and placed it in the category that seemed to best capture its essential attributes, though these decisions may provoke debate. Many of the titles of these initiatives are self-descriptive. Succinct descriptions are provided for specific initiatives when additional information is needed.
Discussion: There are many potential applications for the Educational Development Initiatives Conceptual Framework. Educational consultants may review the framework to identify current practices and consider alternative initiatives, or to plan to incorporate a wider scope of teaching and learning enhancement initiatives. Further investigation through teaching and learning literature reviews, meta-analyses, or through collaborative educational developers’ workshops will provide detailed processes for the initiatives identified in this framework.
Analysis of the Conceptual Framework identifies four types of initiatives, evident across participating institutions, which create a foundation for shared understanding of effective teaching. An exemplar is described for each.
- Orienting newer faculty members to enhance understanding of effective teaching and learning processes
- Exemplar: Liesel Knaack’s (2011) Practical Handbook for Educators creates a framework for designing learning that is helpful for orienting newer faculty members and for enhancing practices of all educators. Knaack, in a lively and idea-rich resource, focuses on supporting student success through course preparation and planning, creating and designing learning opportunities and experiences, and refining and improving teaching and learning strategies.
- Incorporating opportunities for curriculum or course design or redesign, along with peer consultation, feedback and reflection in a community of practice format
- Exemplar: The Curriculum Design Institute was created based on the work of Saroyan & Amundsen (2004). To (re)design curriculum or courses, participants work with concept mapping strategies, learning outcome statements, learning strategies, as well as assessment and evaluation processes. “The key features of the workshop are peer discussion and critique, time for systematic reflection, and the identification of basic assumptions regarding course design and student learning” (University of Victoria, 2013).
- Incorporating opportunities for peer consultation, feedback and reflection within opportunities to practice teaching methodologies
- Exemplar: The Instructional Skills Workshop (ISW) is offered by a majority of the reporting institutions and indeed, is the most frequently identified educational development initiative in this study of BC post-secondary institutions. The Instructional Skills Workshop is categorized in the ‘methods cluster’ as it is based on a specified lesson planning framework or method that participants implement during three teaching experiences during the ISW. The lesson framework includes six recommended components: bridging with prior learning, sharing learning outcomes or objectives, pre-assessment of learning, participatory learning, post-assessment and summary. The ISW might equally be categorized in the ‘reflection cluster’ as the facilitated intensive peer consultation and feedback processes encourage reflection and, at times, re-conceptualization of existing teaching and learning practices. Macpherson (2011) investigated perceptions of the ISW experience and concluded that there are practical, immediate and transformative impacts of the ISW.
- Encouraging professional dialogue through learning communities within and across disciplines
- Exemplar: Reading Circles (Randall & Hammond-Kaarremaa, 2003) encourage investigation, through the learning community structure, of the potentially daunting higher education teaching and learning literature (Zakrajsek, 2013). Through a shared leadership and collaborative structure, Reading Circles promote inter- and cross-disciplinary dialogue. Examining and challenging the theoretical constructs and wisdom of practice documented in teaching and learning articles create opportunities for scholarly reflection and praxis.
Longitudinal comparison between the year 2000 Morrison & Randall study and the current study provides strong evidence of a significant expansion in the number and types of educational development initiatives offered across these reporting post-secondary institutions. In 2000, 65% of the reporting institutions had less than one full time equivalent person in an ED role. The reverse pattern is evident in the current study, with over 75% of reporting institutions describing their ED personnel as one full time equivalent or greater. The year 2000 study demonstrated campus-based learning initiatives across the spectrum of these eight clusters, with a definite focus on short-term, skills-based presentations and workshops. Based on data of the current study and given the increased availability of institutional educational development personnel, the complete spectrum is now clearly evident at many of the reporting institutions, with the focus chosen dependent on participants’ needs and context. There is a definite increase, when compared to similar data in the year 2000 study, of incorporation of learning experiences that encourage reflection, as well as much greater evidence of incorporating scholarly opportunities to investigate teaching and learning literature. As well, there are many more opportunities available for in-depth action research investigations of classroom-based teaching and learning questions. Longitudinal comparisons at the system level demonstrate significant enhancements in the nature and philosophical bases of educational development programs, particularly the movement towards professional learning within communities of practice.
Administrators and Staff
Widening the focus to all involved within the academic community, we asked about professional development opportunities for administrators and staff members, which are implemented in four ways:
- Separate from the Teaching and Learning Centre, most often through a Human Resources department or Vice President's office
- Teaching and Learning community events and special speaker events open to administration and staff by special invitation
- Special programs designed in partnership with specific groups, for example, staff, administrators and/or graduate students
- Inclusive Teaching and Learning Centre offerings based on an open door policy that welcomes all employees to all events offered by the Teaching and Learning Centre
Fifteen percent of study institutions report that any professional learning opportunities for administrators and staff are facilitated by separate units. “Yes, we have several groups involved in professional development. The Human Resources unit primarily organizes personal or career development activities and workshops while the Teaching and Learning Centre focuses primarily on instructional development.” “Each of the employee groups (3 unions plus management) has their own Professional Development funds and provides for educational leaves, tuition reimbursements, specific conference attendance or other activities.” The study identified that several institutions were amalgamating all their professional development within one unit, while simultaneously other institutions were devolving non-faculty activities to separate institutional PD units so that the primary focus of the teaching and learning centre was on instructional development. Strong reasons for separating these PD functions include budgetary focus, differentiated needs, and overload if all PD functions are amalgamated in one unit.
Teaching and Learning Centre, Human Resources and Vice-President (Academic) personnel may share responsibilities for professional development by invitation for faculty, staff and administration groups. The division most often is based on specific purposes or learning outcomes, such as specific job-training for support staff and budgeting seminars for administrators.
Teaching and Learning Centre personnel may work in partnership with a Staff Association PD committee to provide special initiatives such as an Appreciative Leadership program, comprised of seminars and presentations that develop leadership capacities. In other contexts, Instructional Skills Workshops or other teaching and learning enhancement programs are offered in separate cohorts for administrators and staff. As a third example, a Professional Development for Administrators conference and an Academic Leader Development program are hosted in partnership with Human Resources personnel, with support and direction from a senior administrative advisory committee.
Several institutions provide rationales for their all-inclusive professional development. One director notes that “all employees are learners and teachers in their own way” therefore their Teaching and Learning Centre has two personnel who represent support staff and non-instructional employees. Based on a similar perspective, another director notes, “All staff members are invited to faculty development events: (1) to emphasize shared ownership and responsibility for supporting effective student learning; and (2) to reinforce the importance of a broadly-based and inclusive learning community that supports ongoing learning related to effective teaching and learning.”
Professional learning issues and topics for administrators and staff include:
- Human rights issues
- Aboriginal teaching and learning protocols and initiatives
- Internationalization initiatives
- Technology. teaching and learning skills and innovations; sharing relevant literature
- Higher education trends and forecasts, student recruitment and retention strategies
- Job specific training, customer service, negotiations skills, interviewing and hiring skills and processes, budgeting and financial processes, effective meeting planning and implementation
- Relationship building, communication skills, conflict resolution
- Evaluation of teaching, assessment of teaching dossiers
- Leadership concepts, philosophies and skills
- Wellness programs, stress reduction
The majority of reporting institutions are considering how to best implement, within their institutional contexts, professional learning opportunities for the full range of faculty, staff and administrators.
ED directors and coordinators were asked to identify the networks that they accessed connecting ED within their institutions, across the BC post-secondary system as well as nationally and internationally. These networks demonstrate high levels of partnership and shared leadership. The next three pages provide illustrations of the interconnecting spheres of institutional, regional and provincial, national and international ED networks.
The collaborative nature of educational development and professional learning roles as well as extensive relationship-building through leadership and partnership are illustrated in the composite institutional networks of Figure 6.6.1. Also evident are the diverse units and centres operating within post-secondary institutions, with varying types of responsibilities, often resulting in complex interactions. Three different types of (potential) professional learning networks are evident:
- Partnered initiatives with departments such as Human Resources to create career and personal development opportunities
- Partnered with curriculum development and diversity units such as Internationalizing the Curriculum, Educational Technology, Math Centres, or Writing and Reading Centres
- Partnered with institutional processes and units, such as Program Review, Institutional Data office, or the Academic Strategic Planning process
Reviewing institutional educational development networks may assist in identifying potential connections for enhancing professional learning as well as reducing potential overlap and duplication.
Regional and Provincial Networks
The most frequently identified provincial association is the University, College and Institute Professional Development (UCIPD) Committee (Appendix 6) which, for more than two decades, has continued to organize professional learning opportunities for institutional representatives across the BC post-secondary system. This network functions through volunteer and self-leadership to organize cross-campus sharing of processes, contexts and evaluations for a range of professional learning initiatives. The second most frequently mentioned BC organization providing support for professional learning is BCcampus, which is “a publicly funded organization that aims to bring together British Columbia’s post-secondary system and make higher education available to everyone, through the smart use of collaborative information technology services” (BCcampus, 2012) http://www.bccampus.ca/about-us-2. BCcampus is particularly acknowledged for cross-institutional collaborative processes, such as support for the Educational Technology Users Group, as well as encouraging a range of professional learning initiatives and curriculum projects related to e-learning and Open Educational Resources (Appendix 6).
Another way of viewing these regional and provincial networks is to consider gaps. Which existing organizations, with shared professional learning mandates, are not currently identified in these networks? The BC Council on Admission and Transfer which has responsibility for curriculum articulation across the British Columbia higher education system was not identified. There may be shared initiatives of value to both educational developers and BCCAT. The Certificate in Adult and Continuing Education offered through a network of Canadian universities, the Provincial Instructor Diploma Program coordinated through a BC college, as well as a range of undergraduate and graduate degree programs in Higher Education or Adult Learning were not strongly identified within the study data related to these learning networks. However, they offer rich professional learning opportunities for those intrigued by these career directions. Connections with other existing educational organizations in BC might be investigated to enhance efficiency in creating shared professional learning initiatives and collaborative possibilities.
National and International Networks
Based on current study responses, numerous British Columbia educational developers are sharing their initiatives and expertise at national and international conferences and some are taking on leadership roles within these scholarly teaching and learning organizations. Two types of involvement are evident. Educational developers contribute and share their expertise and wisdom of practice. Simultaneously, they build their own capacities through the professional learning opportunities offered throughout these networks. This involvement contributes to providing BC educational developers access to relevant and emerging teaching and learning practices and philosophies as well as enhancing teaching, learning and technology profiles of BC post-secondary institutions. Substantive benefits are realized by these educational consultants who are contributing to, and providing leadership within, institutional, regional, provincial, national, and international professional learning networks. These contributions include service in executive positions, research teams, publishing and editorial boards as well as conference presentations. These are often voluntary roles, frequently requiring substantive time, personnel and travel commitments. Electronic communication modes via processes such as Skype and Blackboard are beginning to effectively reduce travel time and costs. Fraser, Gosling and Sorcinelli (2010) identify three spheres (individual, institutional, and sector-wide) that relate closely to the institutional, regional, national and international networks described in this study. Fraser, Gosling and Sorcinelli also note the promise, across educational development sectors, of effective sharing of scarce resources to effect change as well as acknowledging barriers that may limit engagement in regional, national and international ED networks.
A potential investigation is to document models, including technology applications, of effective inter-institutional and cross-border collaboration, partnership, and leadership. This type of documentation may enable greater clarity when commitments are being considered for formal participation in regional, national, and international teaching and learning networks.
Communication, promotion, and marketing are processes that may not naturally seem to be part of educational developers’ roles. However, putting tremendous efforts into organization of ED initiatives may have limited impact if promotion does not result in sufficient attendance or participation.
Diverse types of communication and promotion initiatives are being investigated for their effectiveness. Promotion of ED initiatives is strongly embedded in e-mail and internet communication modes, with online databases and individualized needs assessments enabling targeted e-mail to specific faculty or departments.
The majority of Teaching and Learning Centres are designing dynamic dedicated websites for both communication and advertising purposes, as well as creating teaching and learning resource banks with hyper-links to provincial, national and international networks. There is a movement away from print-based promotion. Tensions are noted, however. As several respondents report, personnel within educational institutions are bombarded with e-mail messages and many disregard, don’t read, or delete these messages. One respondent recommends word of mouth and personal invitations as ultimately the most powerful form of communication, and also notes that in institutions with hundreds of employees—“that’s a lot of talking.” Being consistently aware of relationship building through face to face communication is both important and difficult.
To personalize professional learning, two ED directors highlight the values of partnering Faculty Associates with specific disciplines or departments. This creates a closer relationship and community surrounding the educational development communication process. In the same vein, others comment that Senate, Educational Council, Faculty Association and/or administrative meetings provide excellent venues to concisely promote ED initiatives. Building on the credibility of Teaching and Learning Centre personnel, another respondent notes that an effective communication process is to consciously build, through coaching, the profile and capabilities of TLC personnel to take on leadership roles on relevant institutional committees. Taking advantage of opportunities for direct profile and visibility of TLC representatives, at meetings and institutional functions, will enhance communication.
Several institutions are investigating varying forms of social media that enable higher degrees of interactivity. Twitter provides immediate communication. Blogs enable more reflective and chronological communication of ED initiatives and ideas, along with opportunities for readers to interact and post comments. Institutions, particularly those with many off-campus and online faculty members, are striving to create dynamic electronic communities to build connections with faculty members who very infrequently visit the physical campus. Opportunities to experience online communications and to enhance their technology skill sets enable faculty members to more effectively integrate these communication modes within their teaching and learning practices. Further investigation of interactive online professional learning community-building initiatives will be beneficial.
Discussion: Conceiving of communication of educational development initiatives from a communications or promotion stance is an emerging direction. One option is the creation of a Communications or Promotion Plan which might occur in partnership with Marketing, Business, Communications or Graduate programs, or perhaps as a Co-operative Program project. What will be most successful is dependent on institutional context. These four questions may help provide structure for a Communications Plan:
- What forms of communication are currently in effect?
- What is the impact of current communication initiatives?
- What are the goals for an enhanced communications plan?
- What are other potential forms of communication? Feasibility? Process?
A higher degree of anxiety was evident when educational developers were requested to describe program evaluation processes. The need to establish firm boundaries for evaluation processes was immediately noted by one respondent: “Formal faculty evaluation is in the purview of faculty associations and administration.” Other tensions identified are finding time, personnel and budget to conduct effective program evaluations and to implement needed changes.
As is demonstrated by Figure 6.8, informal evaluation processes, including smile sheets, anecdotal feedback and invited comments are utilized by about 30% of reporting institutions. Again, about 30% report implementing more formal processes chiefly through online surveys. A minority of institutions report being involved with a formal ED program review, either as part of an institutional internal review process or with both external review and internal self-study components.
Five exemplars demonstrate the range of assessment (gathering evidence and data) and evaluation (valuing or making judgements) processes:
Exemplar 1: “Sessions and events conclude with requests for written feedback. This is compiled and shared with presenter(s) and used to inform process. Faculty needs and availability are solicited through online surveys.”
Exemplar 2: “Evaluation forms are provided at the end of face-to-face events with online evaluations of webinar sessions. Online surveys for regional faculty help to assess their needs regarding instructional design and educational technology. Informal surveys are implemented to assess needs and to evaluate professional development sessions.”
Exemplar 3: “Both informal and formal evaluation are in place, with continuing work to improve these processes. Results of feedback forms are provided to session participants. Results of various program evaluations completed in the past as well as anecdotal reports from participants, facilitators and others are considered. Results from a comprehensive external review as well as a comprehensive formal review of the Graduate Certificate program are underway. Extensive formal review/needs assessment of all graduate student programs is planned. Currently, we are in the process of planning or beginning reviews for all the other amalgamated unit’s programs.”
Exemplar 4: “Informal evaluation of faculty and instruction is provided through Small Group Instructional Feedback (SGIF). Program evaluation is implemented through Small Group Quality Assurance Feedback (SGQAF).”
Exemplar 5: This example demonstrates how ED consultants work with evaluation data when collected. “Our focus is on development and implementation of quality courses therefore ongoing systematic reviews based on established guidelines provide important data on the ultimate effectiveness of these initiatives and processes. Survey data is gathered after events and programs and systematically analyzed in debriefing sessions so that improvements can be made on a continuous basis.”
Based on an analysis of the range of evaluation dilemmas and applications, as described by the participating educational consultants, seven interrelated processes for evaluation are identified:
- Gathering narratives and evidence of the impact of educational development and professional learning initiatives on student learning
- Gathering narratives and evidence of the impact of instructional development and professional learning initiatives on faculty learning or on institution-wide learning
- Gathering evidence of the effectiveness of career and personal professional development opportunities
- Selecting effective teaching and learning enhancement initiatives
- Evaluating the skills and abilities of individual and collective ED personnel
- Evaluating the quality of educational development programs and units
- Inspiring individual, departmental and institutional change processes that enhance the quality of the post-secondary learning environment
Discussion: Deciding which of these seven evaluation processes, individually or in conjunction, are priorities for action involves consideration of purpose. Ultimately the purpose of educational development programs is to enhance student learning. The interaction is often a two-step process with educational consultants, guided by the institutional context and mandate, working directly with faculty members who then work directly with students. Study authors acknowledge that gathering specific and verifiable evidence of the impact of educational development on student learning is a difficult process. Impact and changes in student learning may not be evident in the short-term. There are many mitigating factors between educational development programs and enhanced student learning. There are profound differences between individual faculty members though they may be teaching the same disciplinary content. There are also important differences between two groups of learners, even if they are enrolled in the same disciplinary course and matched on relevant factors for research comparisons. Further, many of these evaluation processes depend on variations of participant-learner self-report, which may be accurate, self-deprecating, or self-aggrandizing.
To help guide evaluation processes, there is a vibrant and cogent higher education literature focused on investigating teaching and learning praxis, of which core selections are cited. Kuh et al. (2005a, 2005b; NSSE, 2012) document evidence-based components of engaging learning environments from the learners’ perspective. Entwhistle (2010) synthesizes a comprehensive range of concepts and frameworks emerging from research on student learning. Christensen Hughes and Mighty (2010) provide a survey of international perspectives and research on teaching and learning. Devlin and Samarawickrema (2010) investigate differing models of effective higher education teaching practices and strongly emphasize the significance of institutional, disciplinary and course level context. They compare the Australian Learning and Teaching Council’s teaching effectiveness criteria with the Student Evaluations of Educational Quality (SEEQ) factors as described in Marsh & Dunkin (1997) and Marsh (2007).
Evaluation decisions about which instructional/faculty development processes may be more effective involve consideration of factors similar to those influencing teaching decisions when creating effective student learning environments. These factors form a context quintet: curriculum philosophy, design and processes of the planned educational development initiative; intended learning outcomes; learners’ priorities and experiences; teachers’ needs, experiences and commitment; and departmental and/or institutional context and commitment. To investigate the literature, Levinson-Rose and Menges (1981) provide a classic review of research on effective college teaching practices. Stes, Min-Leliveld, Gijbels, and Van Petegem (2010) synthesize a ‘state-of-the-art’ meta-analysis of research on the impact of instructional development in higher education. Both these reviews, though separated by three decades, encourage greater attention to the “varied institutional contexts, because these can influence the impact of instructional development” (Stes, et al., 2010, p. 47).
Guskey (2002) outlines an evaluation typology, linked to data collection methodology and questions, which may provide a structure for educational development evaluation processes. This typology was created for use within the K-12 system and with adaptation bridges to the post-secondary system. Guskey’s five levels of evaluation are participants’ reactions, participants’ immediate reflections and learning, organization support and change, participants’ use of new knowledge and skills and, student learning outcomes. Wilson (2012) compares a range of relevant models for assessment and evaluation of instructional development initiatives. Amundsen and Wilson (2012) apply their conceptual framework, as described in chapter 6.4, to create an initial categorization based on a meta-analysis of selected articles describing effective educational development initiatives in doctoral universities. They offer their conceptual framework as a way to “build a better understanding of the variation and complexity of educational development practice and the thinking underpinning this practice” (Amundsen & Wilson, 2012, p. 111). Wilson (2012) extends the concept of applying a meta-analysis of selected research studies to determine potential relationships between instructional development and effective teaching. Wilson’s study results in fascinating themes regarding faculty learning and instructional development. However, Wilson concludes: “We in fact know very little about the connection between instructional development initiatives and improvements in university teaching” (Wilson, 2012, p. 138) perhaps because the sample investigated mainly individual applications. Wilson encourages discussions of the attributes of effective teaching in post-secondary settings as well as investigating how to better support faculty members at various stages of their careers, and in a range of disciplinary contexts.
Descriptions of rich resources of educational development and professional learning initiatives, as implemented across the British Columbia post-secondary system, are gathered in the conceptual framework presented in Chapter 6.4 of this study. Astute and well-informed educational consultants, in discussion with individual faculty members, disciplinary networks and institutional representatives as is relevant to the context, are well placed to contribute thoughtfully to decisions related to selection, implementation and evaluation of more effective educational development and professional learning opportunities.
Cross-institutional, regional or system-wide investigations of educational development initiatives may be beneficial, particularly offering potential for greater impact and significance than provided by most individual studies. A sample evaluation, created to better understand the impact of professional development on faculty learning processes and on students’ learning, is provided in Appendix 4. Macpherson (2011) provides another example of a systematic investigation of the transformative potential of the Instructional Skills Workshop, an instructional development process fully described in Appendix 7. The scholarship of teaching and learning with its focus on investigating student and faculty learning, also offers avenues for investigating the impact of educational development initiatives, as is documented in Chapter 6.12.
We now turn to an in-depth consideration of consultation programs which are interwoven throughout many of the educational development and professional learning processes described in this study.
Provision of consultative assistance, particularly instructional consultation, is one of the earliest services provided in the field initially named faculty development (Bergquist & Phillips, 1975; Centra 1975). Instructional consultation steadily grew in the extent of its use in the US and Canada (Erickson, 1986; Kurfiss & Boice, 1990). It was soon recognized that “[h]elping faculty to develop a capacity and habit for engaging in ongoing systematic reflection on their practice can be seen as critical to the work of faculty development” (Chism & Sanders, 1986, p. 59).
Consultation services are offered within higher education for a variety of purposes including enhancement of teaching and learning, but also for research and scholarly writing, career planning and development, personal counselling, design of curricular materials and instructional products, and assistance for departments as well as for individuals (Schuster & Wheeler, 1990). Consultation practices are based on relationship-building and are generally confidential processes with data and recommendations for the sole use of the participating faculty members(s). Activities that involve video recording, classroom observations, gathering of student feedback or evidence of student learning must be conducted within departmental and institutional protocols.
Educational developers often use informal conversations to provide immediate consultative assistance in an ad hoc manner. The role of the director or coordinator of the Teaching and Learning Centre, as described in Chapter 5.3, includes a wide range of informal and more formal consultation responsibilities. Consultation is also provided by TLC personnel and others through structured approaches that focus on the enhancement of teaching practice. In structured instructional consultation, individual faculty members or teaching assistants request information from students and/or colleagues in collaboration with at least one other person. This other person has completed preparation activities for a particular individual or group-based instructional consultation approach. In group programs, the participants also serve in consultative roles for one another.
Most programs include the following components: the participant reflects on his or her own teaching experiences; information is collected in a variety of ways; video recording is often used as a primary or supplemental information source; conversations between the participant and the consultant and/or co-participants occur throughout the process; the time frame varies depending on the activities included; and the activity is generally voluntary, carried out for developmental rather than for personnel purposes. Whereas programs for individuals generally include feedback gathered in the participant’s teaching environment, group-based programs often involve a workshop setting that can be organized with varying degrees of formality and structure. All consultation programs require support from personnel in a designated coordination role to be sustainable over time.
Instructional consultation may be offered by the TLC director or coordinator, by educational consultants, by faculty associates and also by volunteer peers. Through these consultation services and programs, research about adult learning and development informs professional learning activities; colleagues assist colleagues to learn to be more aware of the assumptions underlying their practice; and individuals benefit from the opportunity for giving as well as receiving feedback on professional practice.
Typology of Instructional Consultation Programs
The Typology of Instructional Consultation Programs (Morrison, 1995, 2012b) provides a template to cluster programs for comparative purposes. When the first dimension (role relationship between the consultant and the participant) is combined with the second one (programs offered for individuals or for groups), a matrix of consultation program types is identified. Peer Consultant Services and Peer-led Microteaching Workshops are offered by individuals who have had intensive preparation to serve as facilitators for the specific services or workshops offered. In the Peer Partner and the Consultation Support Group types of consultation, the participants are oriented to the program activities and then work through these inquiry and feedback activities in pairs or small groups.
Qualitative research on peer-based instructional consultation (Morrison, 1995) identified four outcome clusters including: increased confidence as a teacher, enhanced teaching skills, ongoing instructional inquiry, and enhanced collegial relations. Interviewees reported improvements in their presentation, group discussion and course organization skills as well as the development of new skills such as facilitating participatory learning activities for their students. "Individuals from across the career spectrum commented on the value of rich conversations about teaching that they had with colleagues, not only from their own disciplines, but from other ones as well. Those involved in inter-institutional group programs also commented on the value of intensive workshops. Faculty in group-based programs particularly appreciate the sense of being part of a larger collegial community through active learning experiences shared with other participants.” (Morrison, 2012b, p.105.) Details of the research design and results, including eight case studies of programs offered at 17 colleges and universities across Canada and the United States, are available in an online format (Morrison, 1995).
No hierarchy of programs is implied in this typology and it appears that each of the program types has particular strengths and limitations (Morrison, 2012b). Institutions can offer a mix of program types to maximize the benefits of these various approaches to instructional consultation. It is not anticipated that an institution’s services will evolve over time in any particular order or pattern. In planning new or expanded consultation activities, the Typology of Instructional Consultation can be used as a guide for discussions about whether to offer one or more of the program types for different groups of participants and for different purposes. Appendix 5 provides a listing of local variables to consider in the implementation of instructional consultation. These elements are described in more detail in Morrison (2012a).
Descriptions of Four Types of Instructional Consultation
Four types of instructional consultation are presented in the Dimensions of Educational Development Conceptual Framework (Figure 4.1) and are briefly described below.
Peer Consultant Services: Peer Faculty Associates provide consultation services for their colleagues on an individual basis. An institution may have a preferred set of activities for gathering and analyzing information, for example related to video recording, observations, interviews and surveys. However the specific areas of attention can vary widely depending on the needs and interests of the participant and the knowledge and skills of the peer consultant. These services are usually offered by a small team of consultants who provide assistance to individuals on an occasional basis, with participants most often matched with consultants across departments rather than from within their home department.
Peer Partner Programs: Two colleagues work together, generally using a particular set of inquiry-based activities emphasized in the specific program offered. Through activities such as classroom observations and discussions with students, the partners focus on increasing their understanding of the learners’ experiences in their respective courses. Each partner conducts inquiry activities and also provides consultative assistance to the other person. The process involves the partners being in the ‘participant’ role either concurrently or sequentially.
Peer-led Microteaching Workshops: In microteaching, participants design and teach short lessons for their colleagues within a small group setting. The colleagues then provide verbal and sometimes written feedback describing their experiences as learners in each other’s short lessons. Video recording is a primary or supplementary source of information. The process is facilitated by one or two workshop leaders. The preparatory process for these workshop leaders includes experiences in receiving group feedback as well as guided practice for facilitating group feedback sessions.
Consultation Support Groups: This program type involves participants working together in small groups (3 or more) to support their individual efforts to gather and analyze feedback on their teaching practice. Each participant provides samples of teaching practice such as cases, scenarios, video recordings, observer data and student feedback, which is then discussed with the other group members. The leadership for the group discussion is provided from within the membership of the group.
Offering of these Four Consultation Program Types at the Study Institutions
Microteaching consultation is the most prevalent type of instructional consultation currently offered by institutions of higher education within BC. The Instructional Skills Workshop (ISW) is the primary Peer-led Workshop identified by study respondents and is integrated into educational development programming in 60% of reporting institutions. A description of this program is provided in Appendix 7 and in other literature including Morrison and Wilbee (2012), Macpherson (2011), Morrison (1995), Morrison (1985), Kerr (1980), Mason and Kerr (1980). Both Peer Consultant and Peer Partner programs are offered for individuals at institutions in this study. Many institutions offer some form of mentoring program as described in Chapter 6.10. A number of institutions offer video-recording as a resource for teaching enhancement (Kristensen, 2012). Small Group Instructional Feedback (SGIF) is another service offered at several institutions by peer consultants with experience in this process. The peer consultant is invited by an instructor to visit a class and then to gather and discuss student group feedback, without the instructor being present. The consultant summarizes the group's comments and then meets with the instructor, fairly soon after the class, to review and discuss the feedback and to plan any follow-up activities. There are also examples of Consultation Support Groups offered in BC institutions. Variations of classroom assessment techniques (Angelo & Cross, 1993) are sometimes used by participants to collect information about their students' learning experiences, which is then discussed with other members of a small consultation group. The Great Teachers' Seminar format (retrieved from http://ngtm.net/library.html) provides another example of the use of the Consultation Support Group process in which individuals bring forward successes and dilemmas for discussion and possible resolution within small peer groups. In this model, small group facilitators are coached by the lead facilitator(s) for the particular offering of the Seminar. A rich discussion of instructional consultation is found in Practically Speaking: A Sourcebook for Instructional Consultants in Higher Education (Brinko, 2012).
Distinct Changes in Instructional Consultation are Evident
Since the mid-1970s, several shifts have occurred in the practice of instructional consultation in both Canada and the United States. These shifts are described below and in Morrison (2012b).
The first shift has been the steady expansion in the number of institutions providing instructional consultation, and particularly peer-based consultation, as part of their educational development program. More coordinators, consultants, facilitators and volunteers, across all types of institutions, are now involved in offering these collaborative inquiry and developmental activities. Therefore, many more individuals are now able to access consultative assistance. The expansion of peer-based instructional consultation has also led to more informal consultative assistance, offered by colleagues for colleagues.
A second shift is an increased emphasis on the preparation for those in consultant, facilitator, observer, partner and program coordinator roles. The growth of peer-based instructional consultation has provided a testing ground for initial orientation, on-going development and evaluative activities for individuals providing consultative assistance. These programs often involve a team of consultants or facilitators and developmental activities tend to occur within a group setting. As some of the peer-based programs, such as the Instructional Skills Workshop program, are offered across several institutions, initial and ongoing developmental activities are also provided on an inter-institutional basis. Preparation for those in consultative roles is generally based on experiential learning models emphasizing guided practice with feedback for each of the consultation activities offered within the program. Role reversal is an important feature, with important learning often occurring from being in the role of participant as well as facilitator. Inviting colleagues into the teaching setting also provides opportunities for them to learn about teaching through observation, providing feedback and joining in mutual inquiry into the teaching and learning process. Focused theoretical sessions and supporting materials complement the practical skills-oriented activities. Continuing development of consultative skills is also fostered through formative evaluation activities and by professional learning opportunities to extend one's consultative and facilitating skills and knowledge. TLC directors and coordinators are important resources in the design and delivery of developmental opportunities for others in the institution to serve in peer-based instructional consultation services and programs.
A third change is a shift towards greater use of collaborative inquiry approaches that draw on qualitative research techniques including multiple observations of teaching and individual and group interviews with students, which then serve as prompts for collegial conversations. These intensive qualitative inquiry techniques may be more readily offered in peer-based programs where individuals in consultative roles tend to work with only a small number of participants at any given time.
Peer-led workshops that include microteaching activities also incorporate qualitative inquiry techniques into their design. Verbal feedback is provided within a small group format that can be described as a variation of a 'focus-group' interview. The group feedback discussion is often supplemented by narrative feedback in the form of responses to open-ended questions. Comprehensive peer-led workshops that are conducted over several sessions provide opportunities for multiple observations and extended conversations about teaching and learning. These interviewing and observation techniques can be more 'labour-intensive' for those in consultative roles than are quantitative techniques such as standardized student rating inventories and structured observation protocols.
Multiple observations and interviews usually lead to in-depth conversations and increase the potential for learning about teaching through dialogue with others. Opportunities for faculty to observe and to be observed as teachers are central to the consultation process. Of course, observation activities are dependent on instructors' willingness to invite others into their teaching environment. Similarly, gathering of student verbal feedback is dependent on instructors' willingness for interviews with students to be conducted, within departmental and institutional guidelines. Regardless of the specific activities offered within the program, the process is dependent on the participant and the person(s) in the consultative role engaging in reflective conversations about the information gathered (Smith, 2012).
A fourth trend is that the expansion of peer-based consultation has provided a venue for experienced faculty and teaching assistants to take on greater peer leadership responsibilities, with the Teaching and Learning Centre often drawing on these individuals to facilitate a range of teaching and learning enhancement initiatives. Some peer consultants and facilitators have taken on other leadership responsibilities within their institution and in professional networks extending beyond their home institution. Educators who serve as peer consultants and workshop facilitators often participate in advanced personal development activities as part of their involvement in these programs. They continue to develop their awareness of self through efforts to enhance their competence in interpersonal communication and group facilitation skills.
Instructional consultation can be described as collaborative faculty development (Morrison, 1995, 2012b) and is informed by research on active learning and learning-centred models of education. Participants and those in consultative roles describe enhanced collegial relations as a benefit of involvement in various instructional consultation services, in both institutional and inter-institutional contexts. Perhaps active learning processes that include mutual inquiry into teaching and learning serve as vehicles for the fusion of personal and professional development and for fostering a sense of community and collegiality among those who come together in these collaborative professional learning activities. Instructional consultation activities have also formed a strong foundation in the growing interest of scholarly teaching and the scholarship of teaching and learning, as documented in Chapter 6.12.
In Greek mythology, Mentor was asked by Odysseus to guide his son, Telemachus, when Odysseus left for the Trojan War. Mentor was acknowledged as being a ‘wise advisor’ for Telemachus (Online Etymology Dictionary). The term ‘mentor’ has been adapted in English to mean ‘coach’ or ‘teacher’ and is perceived as someone who helps others prepare or gain expertise.
BC post-secondary institutions indicate interest in the concept of mentorship, a form of peer consultation, through a range of processes of linking newer faculty with those more experienced. Figure 6.10 documents that 20% of reporting institutions are planning or developing mentoring programs, about 40% are currently offering informal programs, and about 40% are offering more formalized programs.
Though the original notion of mentorship implied a neophyte-veteran relationship, several of the models documented in this study build on mentoring as shared learning with both participants equally contributing though perhaps with differing types of expertise.
Reporting from those institutions where mentoring programs are under development, several respondents indicate renewed interest in creating mentorship programs. One professional developer notes the challenges of maintaining a mentoring program, “We have started a project to develop a program. We had a Peer Coaching program in the past, but it just kind of faded away about 8 or 10 years ago.” Respondents note other limiting factors for mentorship programs including time demands for both mentor and mentee, the need for dedicated resources and leadership for mentorship programs, access to appropriate faculty to take on mentorship roles, and at times, unwillingness of neophyte faculty to engage in a mentoring relationship.
Informal mentoring programs rely on volunteers and individual departments or faculties to address the mentoring needs of new faculty. Informal mentoring occurs through professional development programs such as Open Door Week, when faculty members volunteer to open their classrooms to institutional, student and community visitors. New Employee Orientation and Reading Circles offer opportunities for one-to-one discussions and encouragement. In at least one institution, mentoring is seen as “on-going roles of the Chair of Faculty Development and Instructional Designers. Both the Chair and the Instructional Designers create opportunities for veteran faculty members to share expertise, experience, and exemplars with less experienced faculty.”
Formal mentoring programs are represented by four examples:
- “A formal faculty peer mentoring program is in place where newer faculty are partnered with seasoned mentors on the basis of shared interests or expertise in a variety of areas such as teaching and learning face to face, teaching and learning in virtual environments, understanding the college governance system, and undertaking research.”
- Mentoring organized by educational developers in partnership with the Human Resources department provides “support in a variety of ways including planning, identification and encouragement of best practices, developing of guidelines documents, and much more.”
- Faculty Peer Mentoring Alliances are “groups of three or four instructors, usually from different departments, who meet regularly during one academic year to focus on teaching development through collaborative reflection, discussion, and observation.”
- Faculty mentoring is provided through “one to one mentoring facilitated by Educational Development consultants and Instructional Skills Workshop team members. Departmental-based mentoring initiatives are also provided when faculty mentorships are set up within the discipline or school, usually for new faculty members.”
Discussion: Faculty mentorship opportunities span the career trajectory from commencement through to retirement, and beyond, when emeriti faculty members may continue to offer their wisdom of practice. At each stage faculty encounter teaching challenges (Baldwin & Chang, 2006) that educational consultants may address through mentorship programs.
Early career mentoring needs are often focused on induction and introductory teaching elements. At this stage, post-secondary educators may take advantage of a variety of professional development offerings including activities such as instructional skills workshops, new faculty orientations, teaching tips workshops and ‘lunch and learn’ programs as examples. Early career mentorship may be initiated either informally or formally by the department or by educational development consultants. These types of peer coaching and mentoring alliances promote a “focus on teaching development through observation, discussion and collaborative reflection.” It is important to note that these early career mentoring relationships may be reciprocal partnerships with the newer faculty member contributing alternative approaches and innovative ideas.
Mid-career mentoring focuses on enhancing teaching abilities and mentoring others. As faculty advance in their careers, they may seek greater challenges by taking on leadership through faculty associate positions, by facilitating instructional skills workshops and other professional development opportunities to enhance and share their expertise. Mid-career faculty will frequently engage in discussions that enable them to incorporate the literature on scholarly teaching into their teaching practices and may launch scholarship of teaching and learning investigations. As faculty engage in a deeper knowledge of teaching and learning, they may seek ways to share their expertise, for example through the Peer Alliances Mentoring program described earlier in this chapter, through conference presentations, or through crafting academic papers related to teaching and learning issues.
Advanced career mentoring for veteran faculty involves finding rewarding challenges to recharge or reinvigorate the faculty member’s teaching and learning practice. Senior faculty may seek ways to leave a legacy of their teaching careers by taking up specialized roles as professional developers. “Yes, mentoring is a responsibility of the Instructional Development Associates. Faculty members are called upon for their expertise for support and guidance. The Associates develop and deliver activities to support their peers.” Veteran faculty gain institutional recognition and validation of their expertise and experience, often through providing expertise for initiatives such as Leadership Institutes or Graduate Student Teaching and Learning certificate programs. Through these mentoring opportunities, veteran faculty members may reap recognition for exceptional service both within and beyond the institution.
The combination of consultation programs, as described in Chapter 6.9, and mentoring opportunities, as documented above, emphasizes the direction of educational development with movement towards professional learning opportunities enhanced through collaborative and community-building networks.
Across the responding British Columbia post-secondary institutions, all except for one institution report that e-learning is an area of focus. As several directors note, e-learning is a pillar of educational development and therefore explicitly addressed in programming activities. The majority of BC post-secondary institutions now offer face-to-face as well as blended and/or online course offerings. One director notes that “ongoing development and support of e-learning is central to the mandate and operations of the teaching and learning centre, with over 80% of course offerings delivered in an online format and almost 100% of courses featuring some degree of blended learning activities.”
Institutions offer an extensive range of technical and educational support related to technologies: Learning Management Systems such as Moodle™ and Blackboard™, Web 2.0 and Desire2Learn™, Skype™, WordPress™, programs and tools such as e-Portfolios, clickers, pod and vodcasting, Turnitin™, and Elluminate™, programming to understand and integrate social media, as well as pedagogically sound use of Microsoft PowerPoint® and other presentation media. Online communities of learning are burgeoning. Among learning and sharing opportunities identified are the BC Learn Together Collaboratory site, SCoPE (Appendix 6), Second Life® virtual world’s research, and TED Talks™.
Several ED directors caution that ongoing technology development should be coupled with pedagogical design and implementation expertise for more effective application of e-learning innovations. Rapid development and dissemination of e-learning and social media options cause a constant need to scan and research more effective e-learning modes. An ED director reports that, with the support of external funding through BCcampus, they are “engaged in research and development of emergent educational technologies.”
Changes are escalating as institutions investigate effective ways of structuring and implementing technology professional learning opportunities. Differing types of professional learning needs across post-secondary personnel are identified through analysis of the range of e-learning initiatives:
- Educational developers and technicians require constant learning and re-learning to assess, select and apply e-learning innovations, as well as to develop sufficient fluidity with the technologies to be able to provide consultation on technology and e-learning applications and implications.
- Administrators and staff require professional learning opportunities to overview and sufficiently master technology options, along with relevant e-learning literature, applicable in their areas of responsibility. Effectiveness of the proposed e-learning initiatives, as well as implications for budget and infrastructure are related professional learning needs.
- Faculty require personal learning opportunities to understand and master disciplinary technology innovations. Then clarification and guidance may be needed to create and refine curricular applications of technology. The levels of complexity are increasing as courses and curriculum resources are now being reconceptualised given the potential of Open Educational Resources and e-learning innovations.
- Students may require professional learning opportunities to master disciplinary applications of specialized technology. Students may also offer highly complex technological capabilities and expertise that enhance these teaching and learning processes.
How are technology professional learning opportunities organized?
Responsibility for e-learning training and development for specific programs may be assigned to a specific technology resource team or be under the direction of a separate technology unit within the larger umbrella of a Teaching and Learning Centre. Educational consultants may work closely with a separate Instructional Technology unit, although the division of responsibilities tends to be increasingly inter-connected. “We do some work with other departments on the technical development of online communities and educational websites. Another unit takes care of distance and some online education, so the lines between the two units are becoming increasingly blurred.” In a related example, the Teaching and Learning Centre provides “both direct technical support and professional development opportunities for faculty in the area of educational technology.”
Collaborative course creation teams may operate in a learning community model. Faculty member, e-learning technologist, and educational developer collaborate on course design to ensure e-learning curriculum initiatives benefit from needed disciplinary, technological and pedagogical expertise. Each of these experts brings specific knowledge and professional perspectives to the course building process to enhance learning design. For example, the educational developer may offer expertise in learning theories, curricular models, and experiential learning approaches. This approach also provides the potential of a continuing ‘community of practice’ approach during implementation and evaluation of the new course design.
Professional learning in several institutions is now frequently being facilitated via computer mediated technologies. One director describes offering “reading circles online via blog and Elluminate in an attempt to both model and informally teach the use of these e-learning tools.” Others note “an extensive offering of distributed learning workshop sessions (including drop-in) online group and individual support.” Blended professional development offerings provide both face to face and online guidance, particularly valued in times of transition when new technologies are being implemented. PD sessions may include “introductory overviews, a focus on specific tools, and integration with adult learning theory and practices.” Professional development sessions may be webcast and/or video recorded to provide high levels of accessibility. Teaching and Learning Centre personnel provide short and long range strategic planning for institutional online learning in collaboration with the Instructional Technology services. Others report investigations and applications of Open Educational Resources, through BCcampus and institutional funded projects. As an example of the latter, in collaboration with the Research Office and with institutional Foundation funding, a university provides pilot project development grants to teams of faculty members and instructional designers to support an evidence-based approach to adopting new technologies, promote collaboration, and facilitate the university-wide sharing of new teaching, learning and technology practices.
Discussion: Escalating growth in educational use of e-learning technologies across the British Columbia post-secondary system may directly result from BCcampus initiatives. Its strong focus on creating multi-institutional collaboration and partnerships through online network learning communities, such as SCoPE, is advancing this post-secondary system’s capabilities to analyze, design and implement pedagogically sound technology innovations.
Technology professional learning needs interact and overlap, and offer potential for creating significant changes in teaching and learning practices. Randy Bass (2012) discusses the energy of e-learning and the internet as a disruptive innovation, based on Clayton Christenson’s ideas of seemingly insignificant processes through which “a product or service takes root initially in simple applications at the bottom of the market and then relentlessly moves ‘up market’, eventually displacing established competitors” (Christensen cited in Bass, 2012, p. 24).
Bass investigates the positive potential of this disruptive force through the “world of informal learning and the participatory culture of the internet” (Bass, 2012, p. 24) which is offering challenges to the shape and nature of traditional course-based curricula. Classroom based, hybrid and online learning may be reshaped through Open Educational Resources, such as the Open Textbook initiative currently being implemented in British Columbia (BCcampus, 2012). Stacey (2011a, 2011b) illuminates imminent and future visions as the potential of the ‘university of open’ is realized throughout learning organizations. Open access publishing, open source software, and Open Educational Resources are selections of the many innovations that will provoke profound transformations in models of professional learning. Re-consideration of the meanings of ‘campus-based’ may be an implicit shift within the trajectory of these learning innovations.
Scholarship of Teaching and Learning
The Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL) is recognized by Hutchings, Huber, and Ciccone (2011a) as a powerful form of faculty development, significant for encouraging and enhancing changes in individual, departmental and institutional practice and policy. Based on the past decade of Carnegie Academy for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (CASTL) projects, Hutchings, et al. (2011a) identify the connection between the scholarship of teaching and learning and faculty development as an important area of impact, promise, and challenge. “Engaging in the scholarship of teaching and learning’s cycle of inquiry and improvement allows teachers to identify and investigate questions that they care about in their students’ learning and bring what they’ve found back to their classrooms and programs in the form of new curricula, new assessments and assignments, and new pedagogies, which in turn become subjects for further inquiry” (Hutchings et al. 2011a, p. 4). “In short, the scholarship of teaching and learning is a powerful route to professional growth…” (Hutchings, et al., 2011a, p. 5). The scholarship of teaching and learning builds on a long and rich history of investigations of teaching and learning across post-secondary and K-12 environments.
The purpose for educational development is ultimately to enhance learning environments and to support student success. The focus for the scholarship of teaching and learning is the “systematic study of teaching and/or learning and the public sharing and review of such work through presentations, performance, and/or publication” (McKinney, 2006, p. 39). Hoessler, Britnell and Stockley (2010, p. 81) identify the scholarship of teaching and learning as “the litmus test for identifying and sharing the educational development practices that have an impact on teaching and student learning.” Synergies between purposes for educational development and for the scholarship of teaching and learning may provide an explanation for the energetic engagement by British Columbia educational consultants and institutions.
As evident in the McKinney definition, the scholarship of teaching and learning is focused on the systematic study as well as public sharing and review of teaching and learning investigations. Scholarly teaching activities are equally important as they provide valuable insights into relevant literature and research methodologies. Based on study findings, high levels of involvement are demonstrated across the 21 participating colleges, institutes, undergraduate and graduate universities. Fifteen of twenty-one institutions were providing a range of scholarly teaching and scholarship of teaching and learning experiences. Three institutions indicate no current programs however are interested in developing ways to incorporate SoTL initiatives, and one indicated a specific focus on industry-related teaching and learning investigations.
Scholarly Teaching and Scholarship of Teaching and Learning Initiatives
ED directors and coordinators in cooperation with their reporting administrators are integrating the scholarship of teaching and learning as a primary pillar or focus for faculty development. An ED director reports that there is “definitely a desire to advocate and encourage research on teaching and learning” through workshops facilitated with Faculty Associates “to help them understand, and practice SoTL within their positions” thereby supporting the institution’s mandate for evidence-based research.
SoTL flourished at eight of the participating institutions through connections with the Carnegie Academy for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning program, organized through the auspices of the Carnegie Foundation. Activities initiated include the promotion of undergraduate research, scholarly reading circles, SoTL conference presentations and networking, SoTL publications, editing and publishing an online Transformative Dialogues journal focusing on higher education teaching and learning, and hosting a series of collaborative SoTL Institutes. An ED director illustrated the range: “Programming supports the scholarship of teaching and learning in a variety of ways including the provision of workshop sessions highlighting research work of faculty, partnering with a regional post-secondary consortium in hosting annual symposia focused on SoTL, as well as one-to-one support of faculty undertaking SoTL activities (for example, through grant funded research).”
A university hosts a faculty-led inquiry institute which supports investigations that are discipline-focused, initiated by faculty, and related to questions about teaching in a specific course, group of courses or at the departmental or program level. Another university emphasizes engagement in teaching and learning inquiries through an Institute for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning that offers curriculum renewal initiatives, SoTL leadership, and an extended program leading to certification in teaching and learning in higher education.
In partnership with another Canadian university, a university organized an in-depth year-long SoTL Scholars Program which provided selected participants with SoTL capacity-building seminars, sharing sessions, and guidance while developing and implementing a SoTL inquiry. The priorities of the SoTL Scholars Program are to “organize and facilitate a diverse and dedicated community of scholars who are committed to building and sharing pedagogical knowledge, and whose work will advance post-secondary teaching and deepen student learning beyond the individual classroom.”
Several institutions note informal efforts to promote the scholarship of teaching and learning but did not view this as a primary focus. For example, a director notes that Faculty Associates employed by the Teaching and Learning Centre “have all engaged in SoTL through peer reviewed publications, conference and poster presentations. Thus while not a central part of programming at this time, it is recognized that it is an area where at the very least, faculty members at the <TLC> must engage.”
It is difficult to quantify the value of investigations of teaching and learning and their potential to engage faculty and to enhance student learning experiences. Leadership and support from senior administration appear to be essential for successful initiation, implementation and sustainability of a scholarship of teaching and learning program. In several institutions, administrative funding had supported SoTL consultants to facilitate seminars and coach faculty in SoTL. However, due to administrative, prioritization and funding changes, leadership for the scholarship of teaching and learning lost momentum.
How do faculty members engage with the scholarship of teaching and learning? Intrigued by this question, Gayle, Randall and Langley investigated faculty learning (2007, Appendix 4). Their study was further informed by consideration of literature on learning environments and processes (Bransford et al., 2000; Weston & McAlpine 2001; Shulman, 2004a) and the phasing of the continuum towards the scholarship of teaching and learning (Weston & McAlpine 2001). The Faculty Learning Process model for the scholarship of teaching and learning (Gayle, Randall, Langley & Preiss, 2013) is a generative heuristic (Danielson, 2012) that provides a visualization of the complex cycle as faculty members, individually or in community, prepare to research teaching and learning praxis.
The Faculty Learning Model for SoTL (Figure 6.12) integrates three interconnected spheres: ‘Learning about one’s teaching’, ‘Knowledge of scholarly teaching’, and ‘Growth in SoTL’ within the over-arching Teaching Community. Learning gained through one sphere may be a catalyst for action in other components. For example, a faculty member may be puzzled by a teaching dilemma and gather preliminary narrative evidence (learning about one’s teaching), then join a group investigating similar questions (growth in SoTL). The investigation may provoke change in teaching practices (learning about one’s teaching) as well as a desire to investigate more deeply the relevant teaching and learning literature (knowledge of scholarly teaching). Similarly, groups of faculty members at program or departmental levels may investigate shared teaching and learning dilemmas, for example, threshold concepts (Meyer, 2010) in developmental math, reading or biological sciences.
Points of dissonance may provoke movement between these stages and are identified by learning processes (Shulman, 2002) that participants may be experiencing. For example, the intersection between ‘knowledge of scholarly teaching’ and ‘growth in SoTL’ tends to be marked by experiences of ‘action and performance’. The intersection between ‘growth in SoTL’ and ‘learning about one’s teaching’ tends to evoke ‘commitment and identity’.
These components are equally weighted. Given institutional priorities, ‘knowledge of scholarly teaching’ which focuses on understanding and integrating relevant literature about teaching and learning, may be the area that is emphasized throughout educational development initiatives. Institutions that require publishing records for tenure purposes may focus on ‘growth in the scholarship of teaching and learning’. Individual faculty members may decide that ‘learning about one’s teaching’ is their chosen focus for a significant period of their academic career. In some institutions, there may be an integrative process with equal emphasis on the three components of ‘learning about one’s teaching’, ‘knowledge of scholarly teaching’ and ‘growth in the scholarship of teaching and learning’. The Faculty Learning Process for the scholarship of teaching and learning provides a visualization of professional learning.
Reference to the Educational Development Initiatives Conceptual Framework synthesized in Figure 6.4 provides an illustration of potential teaching and learning enhancement initiatives applicable in these three spheres. The skills and methods focus clusters, as well as selections from the institutional cluster, are particularly relevant in developing ‘knowledge of one’s teaching’. The reflection and disciplinary focus cluster initiatives will support ‘knowledge of scholarly teaching’. The action research and inquiries into teaching and learning focus clusters may connect with formal scholarship of teaching and learning experiences. Elgie, Childs, Fenton, Lopes and Szala-Meneok (2012) have created a comprehensive guide, published by the Higher Education Quality Council of Ontario, that encompasses issues, questions and processes related to investigating post-secondary education teaching and student learning outcomes.
Identifying a movement away from professional development and towards professional learning, Webster-Wright (2009, p.728) argues for the value of “focusing on learning rather than development, in a holistic rather than an atomistic manner” through the investigation of real questions and authentic dilemmas embedded in the professional’s career. The scholarship of teaching and learning, given the opportunity to investigate questions and dilemmas embedded in disciplinary contexts and as part of a community of practice, exemplifies the potential of professional learning.
Chapter 7 : Leadership for Learning—Enabling and Limiting Factors
Asking these educational developers about their perspectives on leadership for learning provoked extreme responses. Leadership capacities are either the most rewarding or most frustrating aspects of their roles. As is demonstrated by Figure 7.0 several directors self-identify as central to leadership for learning. Others indicated limited recognition for leadership or felt marginalized from any significant leadership capacity.
In the spirit of understanding ‘What’s working?’ we will first investigate enabling factors that were evident in the study narratives and which provide the foundation for educational consultants to be offered a place at the institutional table (Chism, 2011) of academic strategic planning. Evidence and action examples will illuminate these five enabling factors:
- Personal and professional credibility
- Mentorship by a senior administrator
- Perceived institutional and departmental impact
- Acknowledgement by faculty members
- Active visibility and profile
Personal and Professional Credibility
A campus-based professional developer in a mid-size college succinctly summed up significant attributes contributing to personal and professional leadership: “Through personal credibility, longevity within the institution, their knowledge and expertise, their involvement (input, facilitation) as key members of college strategic initiatives, their membership
Mentorship by a Senior Administrator
Mentoring by a senior administrator is significant, particularly one who demonstrates an active, strong and public valuing of teaching and learning initiatives. Campus-based educational developers in small and mid-size colleges as well as universities emphasize the significant impact of a senior administrator who provides guidance on institutional governance, policy and decisions and who acts as a mentor and/or champion for teaching and learning initiatives. The ED director or coordinator’s professional credibility and sagacity at being represented at key institutional tables, combined with at least one key senior administrator demonstrating strong and visible support for teaching and learning initiatives, creates a powerful partnership. A teaching and learning consultant provided the example of the ED director’s active and valued collaboration with faculty members, deans, Education Council, and senior administrators: “The <TLC> is absolutely embedded in the institution’s strategic planning due to a combination of the director’s skills at being represented at all key institutional tables and the commitment of the senior reporting administrator who strongly and visibly supports teaching and learning initiatives.”
Perceived Institutional and Departmental Impact
A third enabling leadership factor is shared departmental and institutional perception of the value of educational development purposes and outcomes. An example in action is that of an educational developer at a mid-size university taking on a leadership role by providing “facilitation for a variety of group processes including team building, strategic planning and conflict management.” A college-based professional developer notes their active coordination of an institutional initiative to enhance technology up-take, which resulted in a major institutional commitment to advancing technology capacity coupled with the necessary capital investment. Another Director illustrates institutional impact and integration of the Teaching and Learning Centre: “Faculty developers are involved in a regional distributed learning project, sponsored by the provincial government that has the potential to shape both institutional priorities and to function as a model for other provincial initiatives.”
Educational developers emphasize a related aspect, that of active collaboration with institutional deans on campus-wide programs such as formative and summative assessment, industry input, or curriculum reviews, most particularly those initiatives that relate directly to implementation of the institutional academic strategic plan. Providing leadership or partnership on implementation of institutional priorities, through targeted educational development programming, is a significant factor. An educational developer in a large institution notes that their Teaching and Learning Centre coordinates significant curriculum and industry partnered initiatives and indicates that this leadership and coordination role is appreciated and acknowledged by faculty members, administrators and departments. To support the academic plan, educational consultants work closely with departments to meet their unique needs and to identify new areas of needed development. A TLC director notes that “inclusion of the TLC in the institutional strategic vision is a major driver for their expanding influence.”
Acknowledgement by Faculty Members
Being acknowledged by faculty members for enhancing teaching and learning environments through informal and formal associations is identified as an enabling leadership factor. Consulting with individual faculty members on specific curriculum or technology questions, or liaising with the Faculty Association professional development committee, or having professional development funding negotiated in collective agreements, where appropriate, are identified as important recognition factors that encourage faculty support. “Faculty developers and faculty development have influenced institutional priorities from the grassroots. Through a commitment to excellence in support, there is a growing critical mass of faculty members dedicated to teaching and learning excellence and this filters through to the programs, to the colleges, and above. It is essentially the creation of demand.”
Active Visibility and Profile
Active visibility and profile of credible Teaching and Learning Centre consultants is a fifth leadership factor, particularly in leading or contributing to significant and relevant institutional committees. Central to this factor is that the professional developers are recognized for their expert knowledge related to student learning and to professional learning, as well as their abilities to effectively share their expertise. Because of this proactive stance, TLC consultants in one college contribute effectively to institutional aspirations for teaching and learning by taking “a pivotal role in crafting a pedagogical vision that continues to inform the direction of the institution, providing the foundation for future innovations in curriculum delivery.” Educational consultants in another university “are at the fore-front of an institution-wide learning outcomes initiative thus potentially influencing the way faculty think about the skills and values they wish to see in their students.”
In a third example, the chair of faculty development in a mid-size university also provided leadership for the institutional Curriculum Committee, ensuring a “tight linkage between the university’s program/course quality and identification of faculty needs and priorities.” This tight connection helps to ensure “that effective curriculum development is viewed as an important priority across the university.” Further, all programs and courses approved by the Curriculum Committee must be reviewed by the TLC Director and/or designate before final approval is granted by Senate for implementation.
These five leadership factors are most powerful when inextricably linked. A respondent in a mid-size university notes the multiplicity of private and public interactions that contribute to a “place at the table” (Chism, 2011) and the leadership role of key TLC personnel: “Influencing strategic priorities through participating on hiring committees, lobbying, backroom meetings, informal meetings, Senate and Senate sub-committee presentations, creating partnerships across departments, sharing developing trends in higher education, sharing research and literature on post-secondary teaching and learning, hosting visiting delegations, organizing teaching and learning institutes, and contributing to the campus master plan.”
Shifting institutional priorities, changes in senior administrators, and varying abilities of the TLC consultants will impact the perception of educational consultants as leaders for learning. Given the ebbs and flows of institutional life, there may be limited stability to educational developers’ leadership roles. However, sensitivity to these five enabling factors will enhance opportunities for leadership for learning.
Barriers and Limiting Factors
Factors that minimize opportunities for leadership for learning were succinctly summarized by one respondent as lack of “time, space and money.” Though cryptic, this contribution summarizes two of the most frequently mentioned barriers: time and budget limitations. Institutional cultures that are perceived to be not highly supportive of teaching and learning enhancement initiatives caused a high degree of angst amongst this group of educational consultants. Other inhibiting factors included no dedicated physical TLC space or profile, lack of consultation on institutional teaching and learning initiatives, and the perception that the work of the TLC is invisible or misunderstood.
Time was identified as the most frequent barrier to opportunities for leadership for learning, and there were many facets to this factor. Having “no actual person” in a part-time or full-time faculty development coordinator or director role, with time to advance teaching and learning enhancement initiatives, was seen as a distinct disadvantage. Volunteer professional development coordinators and committees provide highly valued and thoughtful institutional direction; however, their voluntary commitment to these roles may result in disenchantment or they may decide to pursue other professional career goals. As demonstrated in the descriptions of campus-based teaching and learning centre models (see Chapter 5.1), intensity and duration of year-round professional development programs distinctly escalates when a designated credible person with a formal institutional role for educational development is identified and resourced, on an on-going basis. Formal time allocation for a PD coordinator/director with access to administrative decision-making processes will enhance the potential for leadership for learning.
A second related facet that minimizes institutional leadership for learning is lack of sufficient time and resources to thoroughly present on teaching and learning issues. Speed of response to institutional requests often makes for reactive rather than proactive stances. One respondent felt that these hurried responses might not enable the Teaching and Learning Centre personnel to thoughtfully and innovatively contribute. On the other side of this coin, a representative of an institution where the TLC was characterized as having high levels of influence and funding notes that a high level of institutional support translates into heavy demands with the same perception of being under-staffed and under-resourced.
Another time related facet that limits TLC leadership potential is that of frequent changes in staffing. This lack of continuity means that some individuals make in-roads within the institution but their impact is limited as they move on to other career roles and responsibilities. Another respondent provides the example of faculty associates who are working within the TLC as part of their campus ‘service’ requirement while continuing to teach full-time which may result in ‘burn-out’.
Nature of Institutional Culture
Pervasive institutional cultures that prize and reward research over teaching were particularly sensitive areas for ED representatives of both doctoral and undergraduate universities. Their perception is that research will trump teaching and learning though institutional rhetoric may support teaching and learning. In contrast, some educational directors strongly commend their senior administrators who are increasing their visible support and commitment to teaching and learning initiatives. Educational developers note that many faculty members continue to believe that research will be rewarded more highly than teaching and learning, particularly in promotion and tenure decisions. Characterized by a range of manifestations, the outcome of this type of institutional culture is that initiatives to enhance teaching and learning may be side-lined.
An unclear institutional vision for teaching and learning or the inability to envisage connections between research and teaching are obstacles to transformed visions of teaching and learning (Bergquist & Pawlak, 2008). One implication is the need to continually justify the scholarship of teaching and learning as a viable and credible form of research, particularly during promotion and tenure decisions. Another educational developer is concerned that absence of a clear teaching and learning stream, complete with appropriate criteria for promotion, limits the message that enhancing teaching and learning practices is valued.
Funding allocations are an on-going concern, with particular sensitivity that educational development initiatives may be considered as expendable as post-secondary institutions face serious budget issues. Representatives in newer centres grapple with the realities of creating new ED initiatives with enhanced mandates, often with very limited funds. One representative notes the concern of inadequate funding when leading innovation, specifically with no or very limited course release or curriculum development time to support complicated design of web courses or innovative teaching and learning processes. An ED director notes that the business funding model implemented in several BC post-secondary institutions relies significantly on engagement of associate faculty, many of whom have external commitments and who are often teaching at other institutions, which limits their abilities to participate in teaching and learning enhancement initiatives. In addition, employment or tax regulations as well as institutional policies further may limit the kinds of ED opportunities that can be offered to associate faculty.
Need for Dedicated Space
A limited physical presence on campuses may create a perception that teaching and learning initiatives are undervalued. On the other hand, those in very large institutions with high profile physical locations comment that their relatively small unit size in comparison to the institutional size often makes it difficult to develop relationships and provide in-depth support with a very large number of faculty members and multiple disciplines and departments.
Lack of Consultation or Clarity
Lack of consultation, in two different forms, causes dismay. Announcing institutional teaching and learning agendas without prior consultation of Teaching and Learning Centre personnel creates discordant visions. Another respondent states that lack of consultation within the Teaching and Learning Centre itself, and how their priorities are identified and implemented, causes leadership challenges. Lack of clarity of educational development mandates may minimize institutional influence which results in the constant need to explain the work of the TLC to others and may be linked to the perception that much of the TLC work is invisible within the academic community.
Discussion: These perspectives and perceptions reveal a fascinating array of factors that enhance and limit educational developers’ capacity for leadership for learning. Leadership roles comprise a complex array of formal (by position) and informal (by credibility) qualities and are contextualized within the priorities and culture of the institution. Reflecting on these narratives of enabling and limiting factors, differing facets of being a leader for learning are evident. Houghton, Neck and Manz (2003) and Pearce and Conger (2003) propose constructs that emphasize three facets that are descriptive of leadership for learning: self-leadership, shared leadership, and super leadership.
Self-leadership is evident when educational developers extend their personal and professional knowledge and expertise so that they can more effectively and credibly contribute as leaders for learning. Schroeder (2011, p. 123) defines three aspects that enable educational developers to prepare for organizational development leadership roles: broad-based knowledge, institution specific knowledge, and professional skills. Using their broad-based knowledge, educational developers demonstrate increasing fluency with organizational change processes, relevant teaching and learning literature, and higher education context and directions. Institution specific knowledge requires a command of institutional governance structures, history and culture. Schroeder also identifies key professional skills such as relationship building, ally cultivating, problem-solving, and strategic planning. Through self-leadership, educational consultants need to self-assess, identify strengths as well as areas needing development, and then create professional learning plans to enhance their capabilities.
Shared leadership is evident throughout the leadership for learning narratives, and is demonstrated in the numerous collaborative and cooperative partnerships necessary to create powerful teaching and learning initiatives that are embedded within the fabric of the campus community. The institutional network of educational development organizations, as documented in Chapter 6.6, provides a rich demonstration of the many ways that educational consultants share leadership with a multiplicity of institutional partners.
Super leadership, though a somewhat grandiose term, is evident when educational consultants encourage and mentor others to become confident and capable leaders for learning. This meta-level skill is demonstrated as ED directors, coordinators and other personnel identify potential for leadership through their many contacts with faculty, staff and administration, and then encourage and enhance that leadership potential through both formal and informal processes.
Exciting and challenging directions are on the horizon for educational development, as is evident in the findings of this study of British Columbia post-secondary professional learning initiatives. Several of these directions are just beginning to emerge. Others have been waiting patiently in the wings and are now taking centre stage. Directions evident are:
- Evolutions in mandate and models
- Professional development and professional learning
- Leadership for learning
- Faculty learning processes
- Communication and promotion
- Stronger emphasis on needs assessment and program evaluation processes
Evolutions in Mandate and Models
Multiple instances of student engagement in a range of professional learning experiences identifies an emerging direction. Professional learning opportunities for students were not a focus specifically investigated in this study. However, students are active consultants and participants in graduate student teaching programs, in undergraduate research programs, Writing, Reading or Math student advising centres, and as teaching assistant personnel directly involved in Teaching and Learning Centres.
Simultaneously, changes in campus-based models for educational development are evident throughout the twenty-one British Columbia colleges, institutes and universities participating in this study. There is a steady migration moving from volunteer or advisory professional development structures to more formalized educational development centres with on-going staffing. The volunteer advisory committee or board is often the initial and fundamental foundation for formalizing educational development initiatives. The institutional impact of these voluntary advocates of educational development cannot be overestimated. A majority of BC post-secondary institutions now are providing base budget funding for educational development.
A related evolution is the bringing together of complementary and formerly free-standing educational development units, such as writing centres and educational technology centres, into integrated educational development centres. Significant purposes are to unify, reduce competition and offer complementary and coordinated programming. Many of these amalgamated units offer professional learning opportunities with multiple participants from faculty members, to administrators, staff and at times students. These amalgamated and multi-functional educational development centres, however, often generate complex reporting and staffing organizations that may become problematic. A few of these larger amalgamated centres are responding to complex and multiple purposes by divesting sub-units and devolving to a high priority purpose, such as a focus on research on teaching and learning or a primary focus on educational development for faculty members.
Another emerging model is that of implementing support for teaching and learning directly through discipline-specific professional learning centres or by seconding Faculty Associates who work directly with their decanal areas.
Escalating changes in educational development models over the past decade are occurring as educational administrators grapple with more effective ways of providing institutional support for post-secondary teaching and learning. A primary driver for this direction is the enhanced institutional profile for teaching and learning initiatives. A related driver is growing awareness of the complex nature of learning about teaching and learning, related to an increased focus on the scholarship of teaching and learning. Other important drivers for these transformations include institutional changes in mandate, administrative changes, multiple demands on institutional budgets, and shifts in perceptions of the primary mandate for educational development.
Professional Development and Professional Learning
Movement continues from professional and faculty development with their focus on individual personal and professional growth, to educational development with its emphasis on professional and institutional development. In the wings is increasing evidence of a strong movement towards professional learning, with its focus on learning within and across personal and professional networks and communities. Will the philosophies and concepts of professional learning evoke further changes?
This second direction provides a distinct comparison to the year 2000 British Columbia campus-based professional development study. In the year 2000 study, two-thirds of the reporting institutions had less than one full time equivalent person in an ED coordination role. Across the BC system, there was evidence of the spectrum of teaching and learning enhancement initiatives. However, at many institutions there was a prevalence of short lecture style presentations, with an initial foundation of reference to, and incorporation of, the literature of teaching and learning.
In the current study, analysis of the educational development and professional learning initiatives being provided across these British Columbia colleges, institutes and universities demonstrates an invigorating range of skills, methods, reflective experiences and action research or scholarly investigations of teaching and learning. Professional development, educational development and professional learning each provide a different and valued facet to enhancing institutional cultures. This range adds layers of complexity to the issues of organization of educational development and professional learning opportunities. This range also enriches dialogue, initiatives, and action related to creating high quality post-secondary teaching and learning environments.
Leadership for Learning
Emergence of educational consultants as leaders for learning is a third and related direction. Several educational developers participating in this study noted their perception that they were either central to institutional decision-making about teaching and learning enhancement, or were more consistently ‘at the table’ as a significant part of institutional knowledge and expertise related to teaching and learning initiatives. This movement is related to a strengthened or reaffirmed emphasis on teaching and learning enhancement evident in many of the participating study institutions.
E-learning initiatives have been offered across this post-secondary matrix for more than twenty years, so the presence of e-learning alone is not an emerging direction. In many of the participating institutions, support for technology may have preceded other types of institutional support for educational development. A significant and emerging transformation is occurring through the influence of e-learning, open resources and textbooks, pervasive internet and social media, which are prompting new modes of organizing and recognizing high quality learning experiences.
Institutional e-learning structures are being re-organized and integrated within educational development centres. One driver for this direction is acknowledgement that technological knowledge alone is often not sufficient for high quality incorporation of e-learning, which benefits from pedagogical expertise available through many educational development centres. Professional learning is being implemented through engaging online spaces that enable community and shared learning in ways that complement, extend, and challenge brick and mortar learning spaces. Coupled with this is professional learning exploration of Open Educational Resources that offer the potential of radically changing the ways that learning opportunities are structured and credentialed. Educational consultants will be attentive to how these transformations influence the shaping of professional learning over the next decade.
Faculty Learning Processes
An emerging direction is that of faculty learning initiatives representing the full cycle of learning about one’s teaching, scholarly teaching, and the scholarship of teaching and learning. Research on faculty learning (Gayle et al., 2013) demonstrates the value of a balanced program. Opportunities to stretch teaching capabilities may be coupled with initiatives to extend scholarly approaches to teaching and learning. Those so intrigued may investigate teaching and learning dilemmas through involvement in rigorous scholarship of teaching and learning studies, as individuals or through collaborative research teams. Consultation and mentoring, both individual and group approaches, are also contributing to the growing emphasis on scholarly teaching and the scholarship of teaching and learning. Several institutions are providing funding, personnel and programs with a distinct mandate of encouraging institutional, disciplinary and/or individual inquiries into teaching and learning questions, with public sharing of the research outcomes. Within British Columbia active sharing of teaching and learning enhancement initiatives is facilitated through the semi-annual meetings of the University, College and Institute Professional Development Committee, particularly encouraging partnered and regional initiatives. Development of the Transformative Dialogues journal, hosted by Kwantlen Polytechnic University, provides a valued venue for sharing research on teaching and learning. The Canadian Society for Teaching and Learning in Higher Education places an emphasis on sharing scholarly teaching as well as the outcomes of the scholarship of teaching and learning. International journals provide publishing and sharing opportunities, including the International Journal of the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning, Teaching & Learning Inquiry: The ISSoTL Journal—as well as a burgeoning range of disciplinary teaching and learning journals.
In what ways involvement in scholarly teaching and/or the scholarship of teaching and learning has an impact on enhancing high quality post-secondary environments is a continuing question, one that will be examined over the next decade.
Communication and Promotion
The sixth direction, an emerging one, is that of increased attention to communications and promotion of educational development programs and initiatives. Promotion may seem to be a marketing rather than academic pursuit; however, one can argue that there is limited value to funding educational development initiatives if those who may value those opportunities are not aware of them. One marketing direction evident is utilization of the best of social media strengths to quickly provide relevant teaching and learning information directly to institutional computers and smart phones. Educational consultants are investigating how to apply more effective promotion processes to enhance the sharing and incorporation of high quality educational innovations. In response to these challenges, educational consultants discussed their intentions to develop communication plans for their professional learning initiatives.
Needs Assessment and Evaluation
What are post-secondary professional learning needs? What are the short-term or long-term impacts of educational development and professional learning initiatives on high quality teaching and learning environments? How do we know? These are rich dilemmas with which educational consultants are struggling, as they identify how to best apply often limited funding to achieve significant outcomes for professional learning programs. This seventh direction is resulting in increased attention to needs assessments, through a range of applications from personal interviews through to online surveys. The other book-end is that of evaluation. What are the institutional outcomes of educational development? Better understanding the short-term and long-term outcomes of institutional funding for educational development initiatives will help to enhance programming. Meta-analyses of evidence-based research may provide preliminary recommendations for more effective programs; however, these must be contextualized by institutional mandates, priority needs and commitment to teaching and learning initiatives.
Avenues for Future Practice and Research
Directions and dilemmas documented in this study offer opportunities for meta-analyses of existing literature to utilize and apply the rich research resources on teaching, learning and technology in higher education. Identified gaps in the literature provide potential for further research. Recommendations for potential research and practice initiatives were identified through study findings and are woven into chapter discussions. Twelve potential avenues for practice and research are synthesized for the consideration of those engaged with any aspect of educational development and professional learning:
- Based on the Educational Development Dimensions Conceptual Framework, map current institutional ED status and document evolutions over time to create a foundation for any subsequent studies
- Investigate the professional learning needs of personnel directly involved in these areas
- Continue to share, on a system-wide basis, institutional policies and processes that structure teaching and learning enhancement initiative funding and budget allocations
- Consider system-wide or regional investigations of the process, design and effectiveness of selected teaching and learning enhancement initiatives, particularly emphasizing the varying contexts of institutional, departmental and individual implementation
- Consider cost-benefit analyses of entrepreneurial funding
- Investigate and share the varying philosophies, purposes and designs of disciplinary focused and/or regional campus teaching and learning centres
- Document effective models and processes for cross-institutional and sector-wide ED collaborative networks
- Further investigate, on a system-wide or regional basis, educational development and professional learning priorities, particularly in relationship to the book-ends of needs assessment and evaluation
- On a system-wide or regional basis, consider how consultation and mentoring ED initiatives may be collaboratively developed or shared
- Consider system-wide or regional investigations of educational development and professional learning implications of Open Educational Resources and e-learning innovations
- Perhaps through case studies or narrative investigations, share leadership for learning philosophies and processes
- Document narratives and evidence that describe the evolution of professional development, educational development and professional learning initiatives in the system-wide, regional or institutional post-secondary context
When asked for their perspectives on future avenues for research, participating educational consultants posed thoughtful and visionary questions. We conclude this study with their voices:
- “How do institutions foster environments where there is respect for challenging and evolving perspectives on teaching, learning and technology issues?”
- “Work that looks at the results of combining faculty development units with technology units: What works? What doesn’t? Are there better practices to be considered for such a process?”
- “How have other regional/state or province-wide educational development units managed to successfully share and deploy resources? How are resources deployed and then used around the system, and how effective is it? What other collaborative regional consortia exist, and how well do they work?”
- “Keep this study active. Discuss one or two key questions at educational developers’ meetings. Share strategies and continuously update the ideas on how to influence change and provide leadership in the academy.”
- “Institutional change: a longitudinal study. It would be informative to take these results and link them to a future study. Then we could see overall changes, changes to individual institutions and better understand how they came about.”
We have included current and classic references to the teaching and learning enhancement literature. The Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association (2010) was used as guidance for formatting the references. Where available the full digital object identifier (DOI) system is used as it provides a means of persistent identification for managing information on digital networks (American Psychological Association, 6th ed., 2010, p.188).
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Appendix 1: Participating Institutions
- Camosun College
- College of the Rockies**
- Douglas College**
- Langara College**
- North Island College
- Northern Lights College
- Okanagan College**
- Selkirk College
- Vancouver Community College**
- British Columbia Institute of Technology**
- Justice Institute of BC**
- Capilano University**
- Kwantlen Polytechnic University**
- Royal Roads University
- Simon Fraser University**
- Thompson Rivers University**
- University of the Fraser Valley**
- University of British Columbia**
- University of Northern British Columbia
- University of Victoria**
- Vancouver Island University **
Note 1: **Participated in both year 2000 and current studies.
Note 2: Three additional institutions participated in the Year 2000 Study: College of New Caledonia, Emily Carr Institute of Art and Design, and Open Learning Agency.
Appendix 2: Campus-based Professional Development Research Questions
Welcome to the Campus-based Professional Development Practices survey. The purpose of this study is to track changes over time in the descriptions of professional development infrastructures, services and leadership being provided in BC post-secondary institutions. This study will build on a previous BC professional development study completed by Diane Morrison and Nancy Randall in 2000. This survey is designed to ask questions about the current structure and nature of professional development in British Columbia. Our goal is to build on the previous research and to update the findings with the goal of providing models of effective professional development.
You have been selected as leaders in educational development in your institution. We have made this determination based on your participation in the University, Colleges, Institutes Professional Development group (UCIPD), the Northern Educational Developers Network (NEDNet), Educational Technology Users Group (ETUG) or through consultation with senior administrators in your institution.
We are asking you to take approximately half an hour to two hours (depending on the complexity of your institutional information) to complete a survey of twenty-three questions. We have this number of questions because they are consistent with the previous survey and thus provide us with comparable data.
The two researchers, Penny Heaslip (TRU) and Nancy Randall (VIU) will have access to the data. Paper copies of the data will be shared between only the two researchers for purpose of analysis. During the time of the research, all paper copies of the research will be kept in the researchers’ offices in locked filing cabinets. All data will be destroyed as of March 2011. The study has received REB approval at Vancouver Island University and at Thompson Rivers University.
Your participation is voluntary and confidential. If you feel you do not wish to undertake or complete the survey you can simply not do the survey or choose not to submit your answers. We do not ask for your names and all named references to your institution or personnel will be removed prior to publication of the results. We will aggregate the data to describe models of educational development, thus removing the focus from any particular institution. You will note that we do not ask for your consent as completing the survey indicates that you understand the terms of the research as we have outlined here.
There are no risks involved in this research to you as a participant but there are many benefits from the information gathered. Potential benefits include access to a summary of professional development models applied in British Columbia post-secondary systems as well as a literature review synthesizing Canadian and international effective professional development practices.
Please respond to the questions in this Word document, save, and then send it as an attachment to Nancy Randall, principal investigator, at email@example.com.
If you have any questions and/or would like a copy of the research, please do not hesitate to contact us.
- Penny Heaslip, Thompson Rivers University (Emerita), 250-828-5438, firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Nancy Randall, Vancouver Island University (Honorary Research Associate), 250-248-6587 email@example.com.
The purpose of this study is to build on the year 2000 Campus-Based Professional Development: A Descriptive Study of Structures and Practices (Morrison & Randall). This study will enable the researchers to track changes over time in the descriptions of the models of professional development infrastructures, services and leadership being provided in BC post-secondary institutions.
A. Organizational Structure
We understand that there are a variety of models used to organize faculty professional development programs. In some institutions there is a central office that has responsibility, in others these programs are highly decentralized, or divided amongst faculty and administrative committees. Other institutions have large steering committees that report to Educational Council, Senate, or to administrators.
- What is the organizational structure of the faculty development program(s) at your institution?
- What are the reporting lines for this structure?
- How long has this structure been in place? If this is a recent initiative, what did it replace? Why did the change take place and when?
- Does the program have a physical location or presence at your institution, and, if so, where is it located?
- Does the program receive funding from your institution, and if so, what is the level of support? What percentage of funding is dedicated to salaries? What percentage is directed toward programming in terms of the improvement of teaching? Other areas funded?
- Other than institutional support, does the program receive funding from any other sources, and if so, what is the level of support? What percentage of funding is dedicated to salaries? What percentage is directed toward programming in terms of the improvement of teaching? Other areas funded?
- Describe the type of personnel available for the organization and/or provision of faculty development. What types of arrangements are utilized to obtain their services (for example, secondment, time-release arrangements, long-term employment, and voluntary assistance).
C. Mandate and Activities
- What is the formal mandate or terms of reference of your faculty development programs? Is the faculty development program part of your institution’s strategic development plans?
- What are your priorities and how are they established?
- Does your program include formal or informal assessment of faculty needs, and if so, through what process are these needs assessed?
- Who or what determines the activities that take place? What types of faculty professional development activities are provided at your institution?
- Does your programming include faculty mentoring? Please describe.
- Does your programming include the scholarship of teaching and learning? Please describe.
- Does your programming include e-learning? Please describe.
- Do you have evidence of the impact of your activities?
- How are your programs and priorities communicated to faculty?
- Does the program include any formal or informal evaluation of the professional development activities? If so, through what process does this evaluation take place?
- In what ways do faculty development and faculty developers influence institutional priorities? In what ways do faculty development and faculty developers provide institutional leadership?
- What are the obstacles/barriers to faculty developers gaining influence in your institution?
D. Professional Development for Staff and Administrators
Are professional development activities provided for clientele other than faculty, such as staff and administrators? If so, how are these organized? What types of activities are provided?
- Do you link with other institutional, provincial, national or international initiatives? If so, how? For example, consider: Educational Technology, Internationalizing the Curriculum, Writing Across the Curriculum, Learning Communities, Instructional Skills Workshops, and any others.
- Is there anything else that you think we should know about the development activities of your institution?
- The UCIPD committee welcomes suggestions for future study projects. Are there any specific research questions that you would like addressed?
Thank you for your participation.
Appendix 3: Needs Assessment Sample
1. What is most important for you in professional development sessions?
(5 point Likert scale: Very unimportant- neutral- very important)
- Opportunity to share teaching and learning ideas with colleagues.
- Diverse input and ideas from colleagues from other disciplines.
- Resources or websites that provide additional ideas.
- Amount of active learning in the session.
2. What are your main interests for professional development in the immediate future?
(5 point Likert scale: Very unimportant- neutral- very important)
- Techniques that will help me in my day-to-day basic instruction.
- Team-based learning (collaborative and cooperative methods)
- Problem-based learning (case study and inquiry methods)
- Ideas for refining or reconstructing course design.
- Different methods of assessing and evaluating students
- Learning ways to work effectively with challenging student behaviours.
- Learning ways of infusing more energy into my teaching.
- Learning ways to maintain balance between my work and health.
- Learning about peer consulting or mentoring opportunities.
- Learning more about the research on teaching and learning.
3. Please note specific ideas that you would like to see incorporated in our professional development programs.
4. Are there any professional development presentations that you would consider sharing and/or facilitating with your colleagues?
5. Respondent characteristics (number of years teaching; discipline)
Adapted from Professional Development Survey developed by N. Randall (2006) (not published)
Appendix 4: Evaluation Sample
This study was designed to gather evidence of the impact of professional learning initiatives on faculty members’ learning and through that on their students’ learning. The questions are adapted from a scholarship of teaching and learning study created by Gayle, Langley and Randall (2006). The complete survey includes the human subjects review process as well as respondent characteristics. The survey begins by investigating memorable professional development experiences:
1. What happened in these sessions to make them meaningful and helpful?
2. How important were the following in the success (for you) of the session. (Responses on a 5 point Likert scale)?
- topic or subject matter
- attitude or interest of other participants
- skill of presenter or facilitator
- your attitude or interest in coming to the session
- timing of session
- amount of active learning
- extent to which knowledge and experience of participants were drawn upon
- task orientation
- relationship orientation
3. To what extent did what you learn change how you approached your teaching? (Anecdotal responses):
- in the short term?
- in the longer term?
- If you said “to some extent” or “to a great extent”, describe how your professional development experiences enriched your teaching. (Anecdotal responses)
5. Describe how your professional development experiences affected student learning? (Anecdotal responses)
6. What were the barriers to applying what you learned during the professional learning experience? (Anecdotal responses)
7. What was the most important thing you learned? (Anecdotal responses)
The next questions investigate the respondents’ reasons for attending professional development sessions.
8. Why did you attend professional development sessions (regardless of whether they were your favorite sessions)?
- I had questions about my teaching that I wanted to explore. (5 point Likert responses)
- List those questions please. (anecdotal responses)
- I had questions about my students’ learning that I wanted to explore. (5 point Likert scale)
- List those questions please. (Anecdotal responses)
9. I participated to improve my teaching. (5 point Likert scale)
10. I participated to engage with my peers. (5 point Likert scale)
11. I participated because it is expected. (5 point Likert scale)
12. My institution’s policies encourage faculty to reflect upon their teaching practices. (5 point Likert scale)
13. Please provide comments or explanation about why you attended. (Anecdotal responses)
14. What were the results of your participation in professional development? (5 point Likert scale)
- I have changed the design of my courses.
- I have changed the kinds of assessments I use in my courses.
- I have become more enthusiastic about teaching.
- I have changed my expectations for my students’ learning?
15. What contribution has professional learning activity had on your classroom teaching and subsequently on student learning? Please be frank and specific. We want to determine what activities or topics seem to have the most impact to influence student learning?
Adapted from Gayle, B., Randall, N., & Langley, L. Faculty Development Questionnaire, 2007
Appendix 5: Implementing Consultation Programs
When implementing consultation programs, Morrison (2012a) cautions that the institutional context will determine viable consultation programs and identifies three themes, each with associated variables that will influence the effectiveness of any consultation model.
I. Program Design
- Institutional characteristics
- Career context of prospective participants
- Information gathering activities, including surveys, interviews and more
- Comprehensiveness and flexibility or degree of latitude in designing and implementing the program
II. Program Leadership
- Program coordination, including personnel and resources
- Selection of consultants and facilitators, recommended to be “broad-based and inclusive” (2012a, p. 140)
- Specialized preparation for the consultation role
- Consultation styles including consideration of privacy and confidentiality issues
III. Program Support
- Implementation schedule including consideration of incremental increases in consultation program support as needs develop
- Administrative support including financial support and recognition
- Evaluation processes particularly consideration of how teaching and learning consultation processes may, or may not, “interface with formal teaching evaluation procedures” (Morrison, 2012a, p. 142)
- Other professional development particularly how the consultation programs connect with other institutional ED initiatives
- Ongoing communication to build the consultation program and to “focus conversations on how the institution can demonstrate it values teaching, and how it can reward the continuing enhancement of teaching” (Morrison, 2012, p. 143)
For a full discussion of these variables see Morrison, D. E. (2012a). Local variables that affect consultation programs. In K. T. Brinko (Ed.), Practically speaking: A sourcebook for instructional consultants in higher education (pp. 138-144). Stillwater, OK: New Forums Press.
Appendix 6: Societies, Organizations, Caucuses, and Committees Concerned with and Supporting Educational Development
Appreciation is extended to Alice Macpherson, Kwantlen Polytechnic University for her generous contribution of this database, initially compiled in 2009. Descriptions have been updated by organizational representatives, where required.
Internationally, nationally and regionally, there are numerous groups across Canada supporting professional development initiatives and providing a platform for discussion and sharing of resources among their members. Each province has one or more groups operational. These are a few examples that indicate the span that is available and the breadth of participation in the field.
Society for Teaching and Learning in Higher Education (STLHE)
The impetus for the creation of STLHE included the formation of new Instructional Development Centres with targeted initiatives. There were many new practitioners from a variety of backgrounds and there was a need and desire for collegial collaboration and dialogue. In 1981, a group of university educators in Ontario decided to launch STLHE, electing Chris Knapper as their first president. The first conference was University Teaching in the 80's at the University of Toronto in 1982 and there has been an annual conference every year since then. (STLHE retrieved from http://www.stlhe.ca/constituencies/3m-council/events/stlhe-2012). This is a milestone for a variety of reasons, including the development of a variety of teaching awards, publications such as: newsletter (Articles related to teaching and learning in higher education); Green Guides (since 1998, relatively short, easy to read handbooks on different aspects of higher education, with a particular focus on teaching and learning issues); Collected Essays on Teaching and Learning (CELT) (since 2008, peer reviewed essays submitted by presenters at the annual conference); and the Canadian Journal for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (CJSoTL) (first issued in 2010).
International Society for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (ISSoTL)
ISSoTL was initiated by one of the CASTL Clusters and from its inception in 2004, this group has been based at the University of Indiana, and is definitely international in scope. Membership is drawn from a wide range of established and new scholars in this expanding field. They now publish Teaching & Learning Inquiry: The ISSoTL journal.
Ontario Institute for Studies in Education (OISE)
For more than 100 years, OISE has been actively involved in the “study of education and matters related to education in a societal context in which learning is a life-long activity.” (excerpt from OISE mission statement 2009). Its mission emphasizes equity and access and the improvement of the educational experiences of people of all age levels and backgrounds. It includes partnerships with others to address a wide array of problems, drawing upon the insights of academic disciplines and professional perspectives. OISE is dedicated to national pre-eminence and international distinction in graduate studies, initial and continuing teacher education, research and field development in education, and to providing exemplary leadership within and outside the province of Ontario.
Association of Canadian Community Colleges (ACCC)
The Association of Canadian Community Colleges (ACCC) is the national, voluntary membership organization created in 1972 to represent colleges and institutes to government, business and industry, both in Canada and internationally. Retrieved from http://www.accc.ca/xp/index.php/en/about
Canadian Society for the Study of Higher Education
The Canadian Society for the Study of Higher Education (CSSHE) was founded in 1970 to provide a means of communication among those persons conducting or using research in postsecondary education. The CSSHE adopted as its purpose the advancement of knowledge of postsecondary education through publications and learned meetings. The mission of the CSSHE is to facilitate and promote, by means of comprehensive partnerships and programs, the creation, dissemination and application of research of exemplary quality in postsecondary education in Canada. Retrieved from http://www.csshe-scees.ca/
Educational Developers Caucus (EDC) of the Society for Teaching and Learning in Higher Education (STLHE)
Constituted in June 2004, this group was an acknowledgement that STLHE had expanded and that the Academic Discipline of Educational Developers was beginning to stand on its own. Besides holding a conference in late winter each year, EDC also funds research projects, and has a Vice-Chair (Professional Development) who is tasked with expanding the concept of professional development for professional developers. More information available at: http://www.stlhe.ca/conferences-events/edc-annual-conference/
The College Sector Educators Community (CSEC) - Special Interest Group of STLHE
“While the goals and strategic directions of STLHE are as applicable to educators in the Canadian college sector as they are to university educators, there are issues and factors specific to the college context that may merit specific collegial support, resource sharing, and targeted publications/presentations. The college sector in Canada has undergone significant change since its inception, and now delivers programming designed to meet the needs of students seeking life-long learning, skills remediation, vocational training, university transfer preparation, liberal arts instruction, four-year degrees, and personal growth. This evolution has presented challenges and opportunities for college educators, and now prompts a greater degree of attention to issues related to teaching, learning, professional development, and scholarship.” More information available at: http://www.stlhe.ca/awards/college-sector-educators-award/
University, College and Institute Professional Development (UCIPD) Committee
British Columbia’s province-wide University, College and Institute Professional Development (UCIPD) Committee is active in sharing expertise and resources across the province. Semi-annual meetings are held in hosting post-secondary institutions. The UCIPD committee is built on the strong foundation initially provided by the provincial Centre for Curriculum, Transfer and Technology —formerly the Centre for Curriculum and Professional Development. UCIPD members have now created a voluntary shared leadership committee with co-chairs representing the university and college sectors. BCcampus provided funding for the Campus-based Educational Development and Professional Learning study which included UCIPD participants.
BCcampus Professional Learning
BCcampus Professional Learning supports the development and sharing of teaching and learning practices through professional learning events and networks, special interest groups, and communities of practice. Some examples include:
- This international online community began at Simon Fraser University (SFU) in 2005 and is now supported by BCcampus. The core activity in SCoPE is scheduled monthly seminars facilitated by volunteers. In addition, members may request public or private space for special projects and interests groups. Each year SCoPE forms collaborating partnerships with organizations to implement and promote community activities and products. Examples of these activities include online conferences, massive open online courses (MOOCs), community field trips, and professional reading groups. This is a mutual exchange of support and services http://scope.bccampus.ca.
- Educational Technology Users Group (ETUG)
- The Educational Technology Users Group (ETUG) is a community of BC post-secondary educational practitioners focused on the ways in which learning and teaching can be enhanced through technology. ETUG’s core value is a commitment to nurturing a vibrant, innovative, evolving, and supportive community that thrives with the collegial sharing of ideas, resources, and ongoing professional development through face-to-face and online events http://etug.ca.
- Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL) Collaborative
- This website is under development by Thompson Rivers University and the University of British Columbia-Okanagan. The purpose is to provide a valued connection between institutions and researchers that will introduce, encourage, and nurture the development of SoTL projects. This project is made possible through support of the STHLE Educational Developers Caucus.
- Learn Together Collaboratory
- In 2008, BCcampus organized what became a series of design meetings among educational developers and technologists across the BC post-secondary system to develop tools and strategies to facilitate professional development and academic collaboration. A key goal for this group was a peer-managed website that would increase access to resources, expertise, and opportunities. The project continues to evolve as the Learn Together Collaboratory http://ltc.bccampus.ca.
Appendix 7: Instructional Skills Workshop (ISW) Network
The ISW International Advisory Committee supports the informally linked international network of instructors and facilitators focused on applying the ISW model and processes to enhance learning. The vision for the ISW Network conveys a collaborative nature: "We are a vibrant, generous community of colleagues engaged collaboratively in enhancing learning through workshops, reflective practice, and the scholarship of teaching and learning."
The mission for the ISW International Advisory Committee is to "provide support, guidance, and leadership to encourage members of the ISW Network to work together to achieve the ISW vision." The Instructional Skills Workshop (ISW) Program was initiated in the late 1970s for the post-secondary educational system in British Columbia, Canada. This peer-based program has continued to grow and is now offered at colleges, institutes and universities in Canada, the United States, and several other countries.
The ISW Program is a comprehensive three-tiered instructor development program that serves as the foundation for several professional development activities. The ISW Program engenders participatory learning and the building of community that can transfer back into the classroom and the institution. Participation in a workshop creates an opportunity for new faculty to learn about the unique culture and value system of the organization and can also be a renewing and revitalizing activity for more seasoned members. Added benefits are a sense of collegiality, team building, self-discovery, and learning new approaches to working with others.
In the first tier, the ISW is offered within a small group setting and is designed to enhance the teaching effectiveness of both new and experienced educators. During the 3-4 day workshop, participants design and conduct three 'mini-lessons' and receive verbal, written and video feedback from the other participants who have been learners in the mini-lessons. The second tier, the Facilitator Development Workshop (FDW) is a five-day event that provides experienced instructors with opportunities to acquire and practice the skills needed to facilitate the Instructional Skills Workshop. The third level of the tier, referred to as the Trainer Development Workshop (TDW) to distinguish it from the FDW, offers an intern experience concurrently with the offering of an FDW. This experience is designed to enable individuals who have completed the FDW and led several ISWs to develop their skills to co-lead the Facilitator Development Workshop.
In British Columbia, the ISW program has been offered continually since 1979. From the time of the program's inception, there has been a strong emphasis on the sharing of ideas, talents, and energies. The ISW Network, coordinated by the ISW International Advisory Committee, provides inter-institutional opportunities for facilitators across regions to work and learn together. For more details about the Instructional Skills Workshop Network and the ISW International Advisory Committee, please visit the website: www.iswnetwork.ca.