Arts & Sciences Center for Instructional Technology (ASCIT)
For over a decade, the Center has partnered with the Arts & Sciences Center for Instructional Technology to bring effective new technologies to faculty and GTAs, especially those teaching foreign- language courses. Award-winning teachers from the Center’s NEH Distinguished Teaching Professor group and University Academy of Teaching have collaborated with the directors of the Teaching Resource Center and ASCIT to design and present hands-on workshops through the Foreign-Language Roundtable seminar series and other events.
Arts & Sciences Director for Technology Strategy
In an effort to support teaching excellence across the university, the Center has partnered with the new Arts & Sciences Technology Strategy group to provide an open, collaborative forum for engaging faculty in the exploration, testing, adoption and integration of innovative pedagogies and learning technologies. This annual event has been tentatively titled “Summer Tech Camp”. It will target faculty participating in the Center’s Hybrid Challenge and also be open to faculty across Arts & Sciences. Special features include faculty presentations, in-depth technology training workshops, and one-on-one consultations for faculty with both Technology Strategies staff and Center staff. The event will focus on the design or re- design of courses, use of innovative pedagogies, leveraging mobile devices in the classroom, strategies for flipping the classroom, digital media for instruction, and application of web 2.0 tools.
Arts & Sciences New Learning Technologies Committee
Since Fall 2013, a Center faculty member has served on the School of Arts & Sciences New Learning Technologies Committee. This committee serves to establish and promote technology resources available to faculty and students and to explore new ways of integrating technologies to support teaching and research. The Committee meets regularly to discuss instructional technology initiatives, best practices for using teaching tools, and emerging teaching and learning trends in higher education. The longer term goal of this Committee is to advise the Dean of Arts & Sciences broadly on a strategy, consistent with the College’s mission, to design and implement a state-of-the-art educational technology culture and structure for Arts & Sciences.
The Center for Advanced Study of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education (CASTL-HE)
Teaching & Learning in Higher Education Seminar (TLHE)
The Teaching Resource Center and CASTL-HE collaborated as CO-PIs to design and assess the TLHE seminar and received funding from the Teagle Foundation and the Office of the Provost. The seminar is designed to introduce advanced graduate students to evidence-based teaching and learning practices. The seminar was first taught by Center faculty in the fall semester of 2012. As a collaborative team, the Center and CASTL-HE have worked closely throughout the project to assess the impact of the seminar on teaching beliefs and practices. In consultation with the instructional team, CASTL-HE developed assessment instruments, collected data, and have begun preliminary analysis.
Course Design Institute
The Teaching Resource Center’s Course Design Institute (CDI) is an intensive, multi-day, hands-on seminar that guides instructors through the scholarly process of learning-centered course design. From the beginning, Center faculty have envisioned a multi-faceted approach to measuring impact of the CDI experience on teaching beliefs and practices and student learning outcomes. The Center’s initial efforts focused on participant satisfaction. Now Center faculty partner closely with CASTL-HE staff to measure changes in teaching beliefs using a novel pre/post protocol that was jointly developed, and a syllabus rubric that the Center developed. This syllabus rubric allows raters to quantitatively measure where an instructor is on the instructor-centered and learning-centered continuum. Together, the Center and CASTL-HE are also beginning to measure changes in teaching practices using an in-class observation protocol developed by CASTL-HE (soon to be implemented as an iPad app). The observation tool will allow experienced observers to quickly and accurately produce a running timeline and second-by-second snapshot of an instructor’s course and their use of evidence-based teaching practices. Eventually, we anticipate that CASTL-HE will be able include direct measures of student learning into the assessment of the Institute.
Assessment of Hybrid Challenge Courses
The Teaching Resource Center encourages recipients of the Center’s Hybrid Challenge grants to work with CASTL-HE to assess student learning in their flipped courses, and requested and received funding from President Sullivan to support these studies in 2013-14. During the initial year (2012), CASTL-HE consulted with Emily Scida and Alison Levine and helped develop pre-tests and questionnaires. This year (2013-14), the Center invited CASTL-HE Director Karen Inkelas to meet with all grant winners. She developed a variety of protocols applicable to their various course situations. Currently, CASTL-HE is working with all 11 grant recipients, using a variety of mechanisms. In most cases, faculty and CASTL-HE staff are assessing student learning with pre/post- tests. In assessing the program’s overall impact on teachers and on student perceptions of their learning experiences, Center faculty consult with CASTL-HE staff about relevant methodologies.
In-class Observation Projects
CASTL-HE has developed an observational protocol that quantifies the use of evidence-based teaching practices in classroom instruction. This observation protocol will allow CASTL-HE and Teaching Resource Center staff to systematically assess the teaching and learning landscape at UVa. Specifically, using 4-VA funds awarded to the Center, observers trained by the two units plan to visit the approximately 100 sections of introductory STEM courses taught on Grounds during the 2013- 2014 academic year. (4-VA is a collaborative of George Mason University, James Madison University, the University of Virginia, and Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University that an environment in which the four universities work together to achieve more.) The observers will use the observation protocol to document use of evidence-based pedagogical practices by the instructor, student activity and engagement, and overall course climate, each of which is known to correlate positively with student retention, persistence, and learning. Both units will utilize the observation protocol to support other activities as well. For example, the Center will be able to document how interventions (e.g., the Center’s Course Design Institute, Nucleus program, and Hybrid Challenge program) lead to changes in classroom learning environments.
Contemplative Sciences Center
Created in 2012, UVa’s Contemplative Science Center’s (CSC) mandate is to pursue research, learning, and engagement related to contemplation across all schools and organizational units of the University of Virginia. Together with the Center for Contemplative Mind in Society, CSC co-sponsors the TRC’s Contemplative Pedagogy Program that supports faculty interested in integrating contemplation into their courses. TRC staff has recently joined the CSC directorate to further the collaboration with its ambitious Learning Initiative that focuses on “the development of new models and practices of integrative learning that address three circles of knowledge and development in synergistic fashion: (i) personal well-being and character development, (ii) intellectual pursuits and abilities, and (iii) social relationship and engagement capacities.”
Center faculty have collaborated with the University of Virginia Faculty Senate on various initiatives to promote innovative, effective teaching since the Center director served as a member of the Senate Executive Council (1994-2000). Projects include the University Teaching Initiative (1998-2001) and, currently, the Hybrid Challenge for Engaged Learning, on which the Center also collaborates with President Sullivan.
Information Technology Services (ITS)
Since 1999 the Center has worked with ITS to jointly administer the Teaching + Technology Support Partners (TTSP) Program to provide enriched training to graduate students who work with faculty in their departments to foster integration of technology in teaching.. A particular challenge in recent years has been staying abreast of the new financial model for graduate student support initiated by the Graduate School of Arts & Sciences, and working with departments to consider its impact on TTSP funding. Since the program’s beginning in 1999, more than 25 UVa departments, schools and centers have participated.
A Center faculty member is also normally an active member of the University Committee on Information Technology, which brings together ITS staff and faculty interested in effective uses of instructional technology, along with other information-technology issues.
Institute for Faculty Advancement
Since 2009, the Center and the Institute for Faculty Advancement have jointly planned and delivered the new faculty orientation, with the Center’s refocusing its attention to the teaching portion of the orientation since 2011. The Center’s Excellence in Diversity Program annually coordinates its program events with Getting Started offerings. Center staff also offer workshops for the Getting Started series on topics such as course design, life balance, and public speaking.
Institutional Assessment & Studies (IAS)
The Center collaborates with the Office of Institutional Assessment & Studies in their work assessing University- and school-wide programs and activities.
Learning Assessment Grants
Between 2008 and 2012, Center faculty co-administered with IAS this annual small grants program designed to support assessment efforts at UVa. Specific goals of this program included these: 1) help faculty assess student learning, wherever their starting point; 2) help faculty incorporate assessment and its results into on-going program management; 3) identify and use programs’ assessment experiences as models of best practice for others.
SCHEV Competency Committees
Center faculty serve on the IAS University Assessment Advisory Committee and have regularly participated in other IAS-led committees focused on assessing SCHEV competencies, including the following: Scientific Reasoning, Oral Communication, and Written Communication. They are currently working with IAS and the Director of the Writing Program in Arts & Sciences to design and offer the daylong session “Faculty Leadership for Student Writing.” In February 2014 approximately 50 faculty from all Schools who are especially interested in and concerned about students’ ability to write well will begin a pan-University conversation about teaching practices to develop students as writers. The workshop is supported by grants from the Virginia State Council of Higher Education for Virginia (SCHEV) and the Office of the Provost.
SERU Survey Research Group and Commendations Project
Center faculty currently participate on IAS-led committees tasked with gaining the most benefits from the University’s participation in the national SERU (Student Engagement in the Research University) Survey. With other committee members, Center faculty help define the most useful questions to assess what UVa students gain from their multiple residential-learning experiences and consult with IAS colleagues on how best to promulgate students’ and alumni’s commendations of faculty.
International Studies Office
Since 2008, Center faculty collaborate with the International Studies Office (ISO), and, within it, the Education Abroad Program, to support faculty and students teaching and learning abroad. Activities have included designing and delivering intensive course design workshops for faculty teaching study abroad courses, consulting with ISO staff on designing a curriculum to prepare students for cross cultural experiences, co-sponsoring and organizing workshops with outside speakers, and participating in a taskforce charged with developing assessments to measure education abroad learning outcomes.
Jefferson Public Citizen Program
Between 2008-11, Center staff collaborated with Director of the Office of University Community Partnerships to build faculty capacity for the emerging Jefferson Public Citizen Program. They jointly offered workshops on designing Academic Community Engagement courses, facilitated regular meetings for new and veteran teachers of service learning courses, and individually consulted with faculty about their courses. To create a repository of resources Center staff co-authored a success learning grant proposal and built an interactive website. This work led to a conference presentation “Supporting Faculty in Educating Global Citizens” delivered at Professional and Organization Development (POD) Network in Higher Education Conference. Because of dwindling resources and the departure of the Director of the Office of University Community Partnerships, Center staff have temporarily discontinued special programming for service learning courses.
MOOC Research Group
Since the fall semester of 2013, a Center representative has served on the Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) Research Group. In response to the growing interest in MOOCs among UVa alumni, faculty, leaders, and students, the University has created a MOOC Research Group charged with addressing the international academic community’s debate over the viability and educational value of the MOOC model by creating an assessment model capable of evaluating MOOC student learning. In addition, the Research Group will develop a series of “best practices” for UVa faculty wishing to teach a MOOC. During the past two academic years, UVa has scheduled 19 MOOCs in conjunction with Coursera.
Provost’s Office and the Office of the Chief Information Officer
With funding from the 4-VA initiative, the Center has partnered with the Office of the Provost and Vice President and the Office of the Chief Information Officer to develop a suite of STEM Initiatives:
Nucleus is a three-year program designed to help faculty improve STEM education in introductory-level courses at UVa using research-based pedagogies and assessment—and to help faculty and departments sustain improvements. Participants in this year-long program engage in ongoing ways with colleagues at the Teaching Resource Center and in other STEM disciplines, including these: attend the Center’s Course Design Institute (CDI) and redesign an introductory STEM course based on the science of teaching and learning; continually improve their course through systematic assessment of student learning; participate regularly in a science faculty learning community; peer-observe other participants in the program; consult regularly with Center faculty.
To expand the reach of Course Design Institute (CDI), Center staff are developing c3Design, an interactive online course design tool tailored to STEM instruction. Like the CDI, c3Design will help instructors learn to create more robust, epistemologically-based learning objectives; develop a variety of learning-centered assessments; and choose and implement research-based pedagogies such as peer instruction and problem-based learning.
Quantifying the use of Evidence-Based Teaching in STEM Disciplines
The goal of this self-assessment project is to quantify the current status of the use of evidence- based teaching practices in STEM courses at UVa. Center staff are using survey-based data collected by Institutional Assessment & Studies (IAS) and the Center for the Advanced Study of Teaching & Learning in Higher Education (CASTL-HE), as well as direct observations of classroom teaching, to examine the teaching-and-learning environments for all introductory courses taught in UVa’s 16 STEM majors (approximately 100 sections).
Sciences, Humanities, and Arts Network of Technological Initiatives (SHANTI)
Center faculty have tapped the knowledge and experience of the SHANTI group in many ways since SHANTI was established, most recently by asking the SHANTI associate director to serve on the Hybrid Challenge selection committee and to consult with faculty integrating new technologies into their courses. In addition, a Center faculty member and a SHANTI faculty member co-facilitate learning communities on contemplative pedagogy, regularly co-teach an undergraduate course and jointly experiment with and publish about using of technology in the classroom.
Since 2010, the Teaching Resource Center has partnered with the UVa Student Council to support CavEd, a student-led initiative which allows UVa undergraduate students to design and teach their own courses to their peers. In addition to providing general guidance for the program, we also run the associated pedagogy seminar that supports the student-instructors. This semester-long course, led by a graduate student in our Tomorrow’s Professor Today program, provides student-instructors the theoretical underpinnings of teaching in higher education and practical suggestions on ways to implement the ideas and address specific challenges.
As of the writing of this self-study, Center faculty are working with the Chair of Student Council to launch a study and then pilot program of Student-Teacher Partnerships, inspired by a Fall 2013 workshop from Alison Cook-Sather.
Dating back to the Center’s founding, University librarians have regularly requested Center workshops to facilitate the creation of integrated lesson plans, improve adoption of interactive learning techniques, and create learning goals and objectives for university libraries courses. Due to the success of this collaboration, the librarian for first-year students recently requested a new workshop series for the Spring of 2014.
Vice Provost for Faculty Recruitment and Retention
The Vice Provost for Faculty Recruitment and Retention serves on the Teaching Resource Center’s Excellence in Diversity Fellows Program Advisory Board. A Center staff member serves on the Vice Provost’s NSF ADVANCE grant implementation team and co-ordinates ADVANCE stakeholder engagement activities such as faculty/ leadership development opportunities for Women in STEM and SBE fields and their allies.
Writing Program and Writing Center
After a long history of collaborating with various graduate-student Writing Center directors, Teaching Resource Center staff recently began conversations with the newly hired Director of the Writing Program, Jim Seitz, and the new co-director of the Writing Center, Patricia Sullivan, to collaborate on supporting faculty in developing students’ writing.