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Vision OHIO faculty development will strengthen undergrad learning experiences

May 1, 2006
By Dru Riley Evarts

The need for faculty development in research and teaching support has been identified as a primary Vision OHIO initiative, and this need was echoed in the faculty focus groups that met in April. Underlying the ideas that came out of the initial Vision OHIO strategic planning groups and the more recent focus groups was concern for undergraduate education with purpose, vitality, engagement and life-changing experiences for students.

"Faculty development goes hand-in-hand with enrichment of student experiences," said Provost Kathy Krendl. "Selecting outstanding faculty with a commitment to teaching, then giving them the training and the resources they need will result in their being able to help students develop a lifelong love of learning."

One of the goals of Vision OHIO is an integrated set of resources and services to support faculty development. This concept has taken shape as a Faculty Commons area in Alden Library. A group of interested faculty and staff has been appointed to design the area.

Three groups that would be included in the Faculty Commons are the Center for Teaching Excellence (CTE), the Center for Innovations in Technology for Learning (CITL) and the Center for Writing Excellence (CWE), according to Krendl. All three have already been working with faculty members and graduate teaching associates in order to improve teaching and learning. CWE also works with students directly to help them develop as writers.

All three of these programs were in place before Vision OHIO planning began in the fall of 2004, but expanding their resources, integrating their services and making them more accessible to faculty and students will support the goals of Vision OHIO.

Complete descriptions of these programs, as well as discussions of both teacher and learner experiences with each, can be found on their home pages linked to the Ohio University Web site. This special series for Outlook will serve to highlight some of the successes students have experienced with the assistance of these university programs and to illustrate how faculty members and graduate teaching associates can utilize them for the benefit of undergraduate students.

The Center for Teaching Excellence (CTE), established in 1994, enhances the connection between teaching and learning through programs, workshops, brown-bag discussion series, dissemination of resource materials, and individual consultations. Its main purpose is to develop and maintain a university-wide mission with regard to general education, advising, teaching and learning. It seeks to strengthen the teaching culture at OHIO through sharing of the best practices among its faculty and instructional staff.

Karin Sandell was founding director of CTE, and she remained with it until her early retirement last year. A new director will be in place after a national search, according to Krendl. Assistant Director Tim Vickers can be reached at (740) 593-2681 or vickerst@ohio.edu

The Center for Innovations in Technology for Learning, established in 1998, supports faculty in integrating information technologies to enhance student learning. A faculty member may bring a problem (lack of opportunity for discussion in a large class, need to engage students more directly, etc.) to CITL, and the staff will help design, implement and evaluate a solution. CITL also consults with faculty interested in the scholarship of teaching and learning with technology and offers tutoring and workshops-on-request on how to enhance student learning by using technologies available at Ohio University (e.g., Blackboard, Breeze, student response systems, interactive multimedia, electronic portfolios, videoconferencing and iPods).

Marjorie DeWert, CITL director, can be reached at (740) 597-2703 or dewert@ohio.edu.

The Center for Writing Excellence, established in 2000, is the baby of this family of services for learning assistance, but a very active baby indeed. CWE is dedicated to enriching both learning and teaching through writing.

This center includes Writing Across the Curriculum (WAC) and the Student Writing Center (SWC). Last fall quarter alone, SWC served 476 students in 1,064 face-to-face encounters (not counting online help for others). It typically employs about 16 student tutors who are trained not to write anything for clients, but to guide them carefully in how to improve their information gathering and writing.

CWE presents workshops for faculty throughout the year, offers individual and departmental consultations on enriching the curriculum with writing, and networks with the English Department for freshman and junior English requirements and issues.

In its Writing Across the Curriculum program, faculty workshops and individual consultations are offered to help teachers find ways they could include writing in their courses. CWE strives to develop writing objectives that elicit critical and creative thinking and to raise university-wide standards for student performance.

The Student Writing Center, which offers free writing tutoring for both undergraduate and graduate students, is open on the second floor of Alden Library Sunday through Friday for scheduled appointments over very generous hours. This service is BYOB (Bring Your Own Brain), and students are encouraged to bring their questions, ideas, assignments and papers as well.

Students don't even have to go to Alden for writing help. SWC's Online Writing Center makes help as close as a click away for a student who wants to stay in his or her room and get one-on-one help from an online tutor. It operates like a chat room in which student and tutor can communicate in real time about plans for the assignment, early writing drafts and development of the assignment to the final product.

Sherrie Gradin is director of both CWE and WAC; she can be reached at (740) 597-1857 or gradin@ohio.edu. Jennifer Pauley-Gose is coordinator of SWC; she can be reached at (740) 593-2646 or pauley-g@ohio.edu.

This week, Outlook will run stories showing examples of how students are using these services and how faculty members are both saving time and becoming more effective through using them. These examples will include: Mythology Through Internet Multimedia Learning Modules, Clicking One's Way Through the Student Response System, Making Progress Through Writing and

  • Taking Teaching Excellence to New Heights

  • Dru Riley Evarts is a longtime E.W. Scripps School of Journalism faculty member and was recently appointed University Editor.

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    Vision Ohio

    Published: May 1, 2006 12:00:00 AM
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