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Instructors Sharpen Their Skills at Faculty Development Day

by University Relations

Those at the pinnacle of any profession get there by keeping abreast of the latest research, exploring new techniques, and continuously honing their skills. Nowhere does that ongoing education play a more important role than on college campuses, where instructor preparedness and state-of-the-art teaching methods directly impact the trajectory of virtually every profession. As the next generation trains to make a difference in the workplace, much of their learning lies in the hands of their teachers. To ensure APU faculty members stay at the top of their fields, the Center for Teaching, Learning, and Assessment (CTLA) provides resources and support that help them reach their full potential as educators and scholars.

Specifically, the center aids those looking for creative ways to integrate faith into their curricula, realize God-honoring diversity in their classrooms, improve faculty evaluation processes, and find the best ways to facilitate student success. One of CTLA’s most popular offerings, the annual Faculty Development Day, draws more than 150 faculty members to interactive workshops where they collaborate with colleagues from various disciplines and gain a fresh perspective on their approach to teaching. This year’s event, held May 16, emphasized the theme “Pursuing a Culture of Academic ­­­­Excellence,” and comprised 16 sessions. “This is an event for faculty by faculty,” said Stephanie Juillerat, Ph.D., associate provost for CTLA. “It promotes best practices and creates a community of scholars where teachers move beyond their daily sphere of influence and discuss what works, what’s new, and how to incorporate innovative methods into their own classrooms.”

Highlighting the lineup of workshops, Adrien Lowery, Ph.D., associate professor of English, presented “Plagiarism-resistant Assignments That Your Students Will Enjoy.” She not only offered her fellow professors ways to catch plagiarism, but also ways to prevent it. Her emphasis on strong classroom communities and building relationships between programs and students laid the foundation for the strategies in her handbook that included examples, handouts, and instructional materials.

Thomas Wilson, curriculum specialist in the Office of Innovative Teaching and Technology, addressed challenges to online learning. In his workshop titled “Point-and-Click Pedagogy: Could Your Online Students Achieve More?,” he emphasized the human side of elearning with a focus on pedagogy rather than technology. Participants received research-based strategies for overcoming obstacles that impede online student achievement. Diverse activities enabled participants to identify and prevent challenges to student retention, master techniques for improving participation, and gain online faith integration ideas.

These, along with the remaining workshops, including “Utilizing Rubrics as an Act of Academic Excellence,” “Going Beyond Rote: Training and Testing for Explained Thinking,” “Right from the Start: Thriving in the Classroom,” and “What the Best College Teachers Do: Guidelines for Natural Critical Learning Environments,” shared a common purpose. “The ultimate goal of CTLA, and this event in particular, is to positively impact student learning,” said Juillerat. “The better we equip our teachers, the better they equip our students.”

Originally published in the Fall '13 issue of APU Life. Download the full issue (PDF).