Interdisciplinary coteaching as a model for faculty development

Monday 3:00pm REC Center Large Ice Overlook Room
Oral Presentation Part of Course Design and Interactive Learning


Hannah Scherer, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State Univ
Megan O'Rourke, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State Univ
Rachel Seman-Varner, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State Univ
Peter Ziegler, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State Univ
Modern post-secondary faculty are increasingly challenged to implement student-centered pedagogy in their classrooms. The lack of training to do this is a considerable hurdle that must be addressed. We implemented a coteaching model that emphasizes learning to teach in the praxis of teaching and, through the use of a "broker" of knowledge about reformed teaching practices and education research, redesigned a significant portion of our interdisciplinary course, Ecological Agriculture: Theory and Practice. The course introduces students to the principles of ecology and how they inform sustainable agricultural practices through in-class activities, experiential learning, a long-term farm planning project, field trips, and current event debates. These components existed in previous semesters, but were not highly integrated and the primary class format was lecture-based. Changes were precipitated by: a new lead instructor with an expressed interest in learning non-lecture based strategies, an existing member of the teaching team with experience in teacher education and implementing student-centered pedagogy in geoscience courses, and the position of the course within an interdisciplinary minor that employs an innovative model for collaborative teaching within all courses. Concurrent with the design and implementation of the new classroom activities, we examined our practice by conducting an ethnographic action research study. Data sources include: fieldnotes and in-process memos, teaching reflections, interviews, artifacts, and classroom observations of instructor and student engagement. Analysis indicates that: the team has good rapport, suggestions for student-centered teaching made by the education faculty member were welcomed and often enacted, modeling of the planning process and student-centered teaching techniques was highly valued, historical knowledge of the course was useful in planning, and the education faculty member was able to provide input on planning student-centered activities with a minimal level of subject-matter expertise. These findings inform our understanding of how interdisciplinary teams can function to improve post-secondary education.