Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Taking Teaching Seriously: Meeting the Challenge of Instructional Improvement

Taking Teaching Seriously: Meeting the Challenge of Instructional Improvement. I know I have work to do if I want to improve my teaching. I think I am pretty good already but there is room for improvement. However, it is hard work to find ways to actually get feedback and make changes to the teaching style I have. This essay has some ideas for improving teaching.

From the site:

"Taking Teaching Seriously" is drawn from a celebrated address by K. Patricia Cross at the 1986 AAHE National Conference on Higher Education in Washington, D.C. In her address, Cross emphasized the importance of efforts to increase the quality of college teaching. This report uses a model that views various strategies for improving instruction as helping motivate individual faculty members to improve their teaching by changing (and maintaining) certain of their instructional attitudes and practices (through the process of unfreezing, changing, and refreezing certain attitudes and behaviors). This model focuses on the varieties of informative feedback--from such sources as colleagues and consultants, chairs, students, and oneself--that are facilitated by a supportive teaching culture and that drive the process of instructional improvement.

WHAT ARE THE PRIMARY CHARACTERISTICS OF A SUPPORTIVE TEACHING CULTURE?

The presence of a culture that is supportive of teaching clearly enhances the effectiveness of all strategies for improving instruction. The literature consistently identifies the following characteristics of cultures that support teaching and its improvement: unambiguous commitment to and support of teaching and its improvement from senior administrators; shared values about the importance of teaching between administrators and faculty, with widespread involvement of faculty in planning and implementing activities and programs to improve teaching, thus creating a sense of faculty "ownership" of these activities and programs; the presence of effective department chairs who are supportive of teaching and its improvement; frequent interaction and collaboration among faculty and a sense of community among faculty regarding teaching-related issues; a faculty development program or campus teaching center; a broad, expanded view of scholarship and scholarly activities; decisions about tenure and promotion connected to rigorous evaluations of teaching; and a requirement that some demonstration of effective teaching be part of interviewing and hiring new faculty (Massy, Wilger, and Colbeck 1994; Rice and Austin 1990).

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