Faculty Development Program: Piloting of a Mixed Model

Yelin SU
York University, Canada


Recent dramatic global political, social, and economic changes have brought fundamental changes and challenges to the universities around the world. One result has been the recent increasing attentions and calls to enhance teaching quality in the higher education. Literature suggests that being an effective instructor requires not only subject matter knowledge but also pedagogical knowledge and pedagogical content knowledge (Persellin & Goodrick, 2010).Universities in Ontario, similar to many of their domestic and international counterparts, do not require faculty members to have formal trainings in teaching. However, it is a common practice in Ontario that the university offers formal faculty development programs via its teaching and learning centre. While the faculty members generally have positive opinions towards the benefits of the existing programs, there is a consistent under-utilization of these programs across the universities (Office of the Auditor General of Ontario, 2012).

The literature suggests two systematic barriers to the participation of the professional development programs: the wide spread perception of research being valued over teaching and the unawareness or skepticism of the effectiveness of the program (Knapper, 2013). At York University, to encourage faculty members’ active engagement in these programs, a mixed educational development model has been developing and piloting since 2012. This model is mixed in its being largely based on a centralized systematic support system to define clear expectations for faculty and offer significant and convincing incentives while encouraging and facilitating de-centralized professional learning communities among different groups of faculty members. Currently, the program has been focused on providing pedagogical, technological, and administrative supports in eLearning and experiential learning to tenure tracked and contract faculty members via courses, workshops, user groups, and one-on-one consultations. And we’ve being collecting some base-line data to initiate a long-term research study on the impacts of the program on the faculty perceptions toward teaching and research and ultimately the quality of teaching. In this showcase presentation, the current professional development program at York will be presented. The experience, lessons learned, and the initial base- line data collected in the last two years will be shared and discussed with the participants.

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