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Re Engineering Faculty Development: Lessons Lea/R Ned

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1998 Annual Conference


Seattle, Washington

Publication Date

June 28, 1998

Start Date

June 28, 1998

End Date

July 1, 1998



Page Count


Page Numbers

3.474.1 - 3.474.9

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Paper Authors

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Carol Fulton

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Barbara L. Licklider

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Section 1213

Re-engineering Faculty Development: Lessons LEA/RNed

Carol Fulton and Barbara L. Licklider

Iowa State University

Increasingly, over the past two decades, industry, government leaders and the public have decried the state of affairs in higher education. The general consensus is that institutions are not preparing students to meet the demands of the next century. In response, faculty on college and university campuses nationwide find themselves in the midst of efforts to re-engineer their curricula1 and re-engineer the conduct of instruction.2 Frequently overlooked in this sea change of re-engineering efforts, however, is the vast amount of knowledge now needed by faculty to bring about the complex outcomes now desired for students. Hence, realizing the hopes of current restructuring efforts hinge on a major investment in faculty development - yet not just more of what we’ve always done - a different kind of faculty development is needed. This need led to the creation of Project LEA/RN (Learning Enhancement Action/Resource Network), an innovative faculty development project designed to improve learning and teaching in the College of Engineering at Iowa State.

Project LEA/RN traces back to the year 1993 and to the efforts of 18 faculty in the Department of Mechanical Engineering. Noticing discrepancies between the characteristics of students the program was graduating and the attributes demanded by industry seeking to hire those graduates, this group of faculty formed a study group to develop and implement instructional strategies to better prepare graduates for industry. To this end, group members met regularly to read articles and discuss issues pertaining to engineering education.

In the spring of 1994 their quest to transform engineering education brought several members of the study group to a university-sponsored faculty retreat about teaching and learning. While at this retreat, they met and solicited the assistance and expertise of a professor in the College of Education who shared their vision for student learning and agreed to facilitate the group.

Now with a stronger sense of identity and renewed commitment, these faculty next sought recognition and support from the administration. In particular, they approached the university with a bold proposal to test three simple hypotheses: 1) that faculty want to be effective teachers; 2) that faculty will devote time and effort to improve the effectiveness of their teaching; and 3) given the proper opportunity and support faculty will make rapid progress. The university response was favorable and in the fall of 1994, TAG, The Teaching Action Group (soon to be called Project LEA/RN) was launched with nominal financial support of the College of Engineering and Education as well as the Center for Teaching Excellence and the Provost office.

Four years ago no one would have anticipated the multiple roads down which Project LEA/RN would travel nor the impact the project would have. Project LEA/RN has grown in numbers from 18 to 150 faculty and has expanded from the Department of Mechanical Engineering to include faculty from nearly all colleges across campus.

Fulton, C., & Licklider, B. L. (1998, June), Re Engineering Faculty Development: Lessons Lea/R Ned Paper presented at 1998 Annual Conference, Seattle, Washington.

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