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Innovations in Conversations About Teaching

Beyond the Workshop

Edited By Maria B. Hopkins and Rachel Bailey Jones

Centers for teaching and learning all face the same dilemma: In a context where faculty are not required to partake in our services, how do we provide transformative learning experiences to which faculty willingly give their limited time? The answer, Maria B. Hopkins and Rachel Bailey Jones propose, is to move away from a workshop model of faculty development and toward a model that supports the kinds of connections among faculty that lead to self-sustaining growth and development. This edited book provides a breadth of innovative alternatives to fixed-schedule faculty development workshops that faculty are rarely attending due to the increasing complexity of their professional lives. The audience for this book is higher education administrators, faculty, and staff responsible for faculty development related to teaching and learning. Each chapter provides a detailed description of a faculty development initiative in practice that provide opportunities for creativity, adaptability, and collaboration among faculty. Public, private, and community colleges, small and large, research-focused and teaching-focused institutions are represented. The editors have taken on this project because this is the resource they wish they had when they began their work as directors of the teaching lab at their institution.

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3. Please, Please Participate! Designing and Offering Effective Faculty Development Workshops


Kimberly McGann

Getting students to participate in class—most often operationalized by giving a correct answer in class or making an insightful comment—is one of the biggest challenges that plagues professors, from the newly minted Ph.D. to full professors. A class that will not participate can dishearten even the most seasoned teacher, and many of us have stories of particularly squirm-worthy moments in class where we were the only one who seemed to have the slightest interest in what was going on. Indeed, just getting students to come to class, never mind participating and learning, can be a challenge. Faculty often resort to elaborate schemes of types of absences and associated penalties, all carefully spelled out in the syllabus in the hopes that students will engage for fear of consequences.

Like classes, attendance and participation in faculty development workshops is often less than stellar. Sometimes it is because the workshops offered do not feel relevant, but other times workshops are virtually empty, those attending are not having their needs or expectations met, or the information and ideas shared are quickly forgotten or ignored. “Death by PowerPoint” is sadly not a foreign concept to many who attend teaching-focused workshops.

In both the case of students’ class participation and faculty development workshops, the key to maximizing participation and effectiveness lies in addressing the elements of culture that shape people’s behavior. In particular, setting conditions for formal and informal norms that support the behaviors and values...

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