School of Education - Accreditation Self-Study Report

Standard 5: Continuous Improvement

The education unit sustains high faculty performance through a number of ongoing learning opportunities.

The Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning (CETL) provides a wealth of opportunities for faculty growth and scholarship. The mission of CETL is to “foster, support and celebrate communities of scholars engaged in collaborative inquiry to achieve shared intellectual and personal growth”. It was first established in spring 1995 and leadership is provided by a faculty member with reassigned time. The current CETL director is rostered in the teacher education unit.

The goals of the Center for Excellence in Teaching are to:

  • teach and promote collaborative and active learning
  • develop and promote teaching and learning communities
  • facilitate and promote exploration and productive dialogue about faculty work including teaching, scholarship, ongoing professional and leadership development and service
  • facilitate University-wide conversations about students’ academic success, holistic student growth and achievement among academic and social support offices, academic departments, the University’s colleges, and the administration
  • develop and support communities of knowledgeable peers and peer tutoring across the discipline

Each year since the Center began, a specific area of need has been identified and addressed. Issues addressed reflect local and national concerns of faculty. The theme for 2013-14 was “Using a Critical Lens to Engage with Technology in Teaching and Learning” (Exhibit 5.4.g.4). CETL sponsors workshops and roundtables throughout the year, particularly during convocation week, on days designated in the calendar for professional development (faculty duty day but no classes).

One of the recent opportunities for faculty and staff is participation in Faculty and Professional Learning Communities (FLC). There will be six active FLCs in the coming academic year.

  • Anti-Racist Pedagogy Across the Curriculum (ARPAC), designed to develop assessment tools to analyze how faculty members who have received ARPAC training integrate anti-racist pedagogy in their courses.
  • Flipping the Classroom, designed to revise the strategies for instruction and delivery to create an effective flipped classroom. This FLC is led by a member of the education unit.
  • Meta-Assessment, designed to create, evaluate and support the implementation of a meta-assessment toolkit for use in academic and co-curricular programs.
  •  Common Reading Program, designed to explore the use of the 2015-16 Common Reading Program book and develop and conduct book talks and faculty development workshops for those who wish to adopt the book.
  • Social Media and Communication Technology, designed to explore how to help students use technology to effectively and appropriately communicate with peers, professors, teaching assistants and professionals in their chosen career fields.
  • Designing Courses for Greater Student Engagement and Learning, designed to assess courses using “integrated course design” principles to increase student engagement and learning.

Nine FLC’s were available for faculty and staff in the 2013-14 academic year on the following topics: Co-Teaching, Flipping the Classroom (part 1), Backward Design, Lab Pedagogy, Collaborative Learning, LGBTQ Issues, Service Learning, Anti-Racist Pedagogy and Contemplative Practices.

In addition to the vast array of learning opportunities available through FLCs, CETL offers:

  • Book Talks - providing opportunities of rich discussions and sharing of perspectives around books of interest to the campus community.
  • Chairs’ Wisdom Collaborative – providing opportunities for department chairs to discuss issues related to teaching, learning and their unique positions.
  • Faculty Professional Development – providing new faculty workshops on the faculty professional review and evaluation process, including one-on-one mentoring with informal peer consultants.
  • Technology Institutes – enhancing faculty use of technology in teaching and learning in blended, face-to-face and online settings.

Symposium Series. Generally speaking, the first Monday of the month, from 3:00 – 4:30 p.m. is a time when the School of Education comes together to share scholarly work and have in-depth conversations about national and regional trends or concerns in education. The following topics have been included in our Monday series in the past three years.

  • Can Critical Thinking Be Taught? And Why Should Educators Care? April 2014.
  • Reflections from a Public School Board Member. March 2014.
  • Tk20 Training for Teacher Education. December 2013.
  • Board of Teaching Program Review. November 2013.
  • Preparing for NCATE. September 2013.
  • Gnosis, mindfulness and sentience: An exegetical fugue of sentience, cognitive neuroscience, and artificial intelligence. February 2013.
  • Reading and Math Camp: Our Achievements in Central Minnesota. December 2012
  • Using Rubrics on D2L. November 2012.
  • Classrooms for Today’s Learners. October 2012.
  • Instructional Design Model for Higher-Order Thinking Skills in Asynchronous Online Discussions. April 2012.
  • Options that Add Up: Quantifying Teachers’ Influence on Students’ College Goal-Setting. April 2012.
  • Text Sets in the College Setting. February 2012.
  • The Assessment, Evaluation and Programming System (AEPS). November 2011.
  • Diversity in Higher Education. November 2011.
  • Response Prompting and Stimulus Manipulation: Effective Procedures for Teaching Individuals with Learning Problems. October 2011.
  • Is Your Online Life a Breeze? Reflections on the Instructional Use of Synchronous Tools for Online and Blended Courses. September 2011.
  • A Web-Ex with Innovative Learning Assessment Technologies. March 2011.
  • Value-Added Assessment in Education. February 2011.
  • Mindful Procedures for Stress Reduction. November 2010.
  • Reorganization and the College of Education. October 2010.
  • An In-Depth Look at Reorganization. September 2010.

Common Professional Development Day. Educational leaders in six school districts and the teacher education unit committed to a common day of shared learning, held on June 11, 2014. The featured key note speaker was Kathy Flaminio, who led participants to discover the impact of stress on both educators and students and facilitated the development of practical interventions to enhance overall well-being. In addition to the keynote, participants enjoyed two break-out sessions in the morning and two in the afternoon. Sessions covered a wide range of interests and grade levels (Exhibit 5.4.g.4).