The pedagogy seminar is offered as an option to all incoming faculty, and one session each year includes one post-reappointment faculty colleague and one post-tenure faculty colleague.
The seminar does not advocate any particular pedagogical approach nor does it consist only of a series of nuts-and-bolts workshops. Rather, it is intended to be a forum for open, critical, and constructive dialogue about the liberal arts college as a unique educational environment, for developing pedagogical approaches appropriate to this context and to your respective disciplines and personal styles, and for talking about how to balance the various demands on and opportunities for faculty members in this kind of institution. The seminar includes a partnership between each faculty participant and a Student Consultant through our Students as Learners and Teachers (SaLT) program, which enjoys an international reputation (see, for instance, Students as Partners in Learning and Teaching in Higher Education).
In his useful and engaging book, What the Best College Teachers Do, Ken Bain argues for the importance of college faculty members participating in the serious intellectual work of developing as teachers and for creating forums within which they can do so. The Faculty Pedagogy Seminar is one such forum, and in order for it to succeed, all participants must be willing to engage fully in its various components. If you choose to participate, please be clear that the commitments include:
- Attending and participating in weekly, semi-structured, 90-minute discussions focused on what is happening in your classrooms and what could happen there
- Completing weekly written one-page reflections that are posted to a closed Moodle Organization
- Working with your Student Consultant (an undergraduate student who went through an application process for this position, who is not enrolled in your class, and who is there to support you through some or all of the following: visiting your class each week, taking detailed observation notes focused on pedagogical issues you identify, meeting with you weekly to discuss what is happening in your class, and meeting weekly with me and the other Student Consultants to discuss how best to support your teaching)
- Sharing your research or professional work for a portion of one of the seminar sessions
- Taking observation notes (like those taken by Student Consultants) at one of the sessions
- Completing mid-semester and end-of-semester feedback forms (used both as assessments of the seminar and as documentation of our work), and
- Completing a portfolio at the end of the seminar that documents what you have affirmed, revised, and learned.
Please contact Alison Cook-Sather with any questions.
"I have found the seminar tremendously helpful. It serves a number of important functions for new faculty members, including improving their teaching, getting accustomed to new institutional practices, and bonding with other new faculty members."
"The weekly blog posts are useful in forcing me to take time to reflect on teaching issues and gather my thoughts before the seminar. Reading others' blog posts is instructive and helps me to get to know the other participants."
"I have enjoyed the 'hybrid' structure of the seminar: there is always some topic to focus on, but there is also lots of flexibility to discuss what participants want to discuss."
"Working with the student consultant is fantastic. Especially for the first semester in a new job, in a new place, it is great for getting instant feedback from someone who is already familiar with the norms and practices of the college. It has made the acclimation process so much easier."
"The seminar is a wonderful experience. It is educational, thought provoking and relaxing, informal and fun. It makes acclimation to the College much easier and more rewarding than it would have been without the seminar. It feels very good to be in an educational context where education itself is seriously reflected on."