Virtual On line
June 22, 2020
June 22, 2020
June 26, 2021
Faculty Development Division
This lessons learned paper focuses on a set of faculty development groups that were active in STEM departments over a multi-year period. These group operated based on the SIMPLE Design model for faculty teaching development, which provides a structure in which instructors meet on a regular (anywhere from weekly to monthly) basis to learn about research-supported teaching strategies and receive support and feedback as they try those strategies in their classes. A central element of these SIMPLE teaching development groups is that they are discipline based; groups are centered within a single department or anchored by a shared program or curriculum. This characteristic of the model was motivated in part by the fact that STEM instructors often find it challenging to translate general teaching advice and strategies to discipline-specific contexts. We hypothesized that grouping instructors by discipline would facilitate “translation.”
As part of the project studied in this paper, SIMPLE teaching development groups were formed in six STEM departments at a single large, research-focused institution. Some groups were active for only one academic year, while others were active for up to three academic years. Group members were interviewed yearly to learn about the structure and functioning of their groups, their motivation for participating, what they found most (and least) valuable about being part of the group, and if/how participation was impacting their teaching practice. As participants discussed the activities and discussion that took place within their groups, the impact of having a shared discipline among the participants within each group became evident. One benefit was that participants were familiar with the courses taught by other members of their group and could easily map prerequisite knowledge and skills through the curriculum. This allowed for more in-depth discussion of challenges and potential solutions in a course-specific context. A related benefit was the discipline-based group’s familiarity with standard teaching approaches for disciplinary content and their ability to assess potential advantages and disadvantages of an alternative teaching technique for that content.
This paper will present lessons learned about formation of teaching development groups around a particular discipline. It will discuss the impact of a shared discipline on the functioning of the six groups studied and on the value group members gained from participation. Data from interviews with participants will be used to provide concrete examples and support the conclusions drawn. We suggest that this lessons learned paper be presented as a lightning talk in order to support discussion with other participants who are also developing communities of practice.
Hjalmarson, M., & Nelson, J. K. (2020, June), The Benefits of Discipline-based Communities for Faculty Teaching Development Paper presented at 2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual On line . 10.18260/1-2--35293
ASEE holds the copyright on this document. It may be read by the public free of charge. Authors may archive their work on personal websites or in institutional repositories with the following citation: © 2020 American Society for Engineering Education. Other scholars may excerpt or quote from these materials with the same citation. When excerpting or quoting from Conference Proceedings, authors should, in addition to noting the ASEE copyright, list all the original authors and their institutions and name the host city of the conference. - Last updated April 1, 2015