Improving Teaching and Learning
Part of the InTeGrate Claflin University Program Model
Impact on Teaching and Learning
Impact 1: Through cross-disciplinary faculty collaborations the program helped incorporate Earth Sciences content into classes that would not have included it otherwise.
Teaching and learning in the 8 infused courses improved in the area of Earth Sciences. Still, the fact that it cut through the regular course material and used two-weeks of infusion without connecting it to the discipline specific content it negatively impacted the overall course layout.
Impact 2:Teaching and learning of Earth Sciences will be institutionalized as an 8-hour training offered outside of regular classes.
Having the training offered outside of regular classes will help reach a broader and more motivated student audience as well as allow for co-teaching and more student interaction during project development (limited in class by time assigned to infusion). This will increase the time allocated to InTeGrate from 6 credit hrs to 8 hrs.
The initial 9 faculty involved with the project participated in 5 workshops, 2 during Spring 2016 semester, 2 during Summer 2016 (June and July) and a final one during Fall 2016 semester. Each faculty member was selected by the PI/team lead based on prior working experience with the individuals. While this is a biased approach at first it is the best way of making an engaged and strong team. A few other things were taken into consideration as well: keeping a good balance between STEM and non-STEM faculty members; selecting faculty from different disciplines (we had faculty from Criminal Justice, Psychology, Business, Biology (different branches), Public Health, Political Science, Chemistry/Geology, and Geography (PI)) and; target individuals who also had administrative positions on top of their teaching loads to insure a smooth implementation and expansion beyond course infusion (the Director of Auxiliary Services and Chair of the Sustainability Committee, the chair of the Biology department, the Director of the Online Programs, and the Director of UNIV 101).
Before each workshop an agenda was disseminated via email and a title matching the items on the agenda was given so that each faculty would be able to account the workshop as professional development. Minutes were written after each workshop along with reports where applicable and sent out to all participating faculty for approval. Two faculty members left the University in May 2016, but we managed to replace them with two other faculty from the same departments and teaching the same disciplines. The new faculty additions became very engaged in the process and participated in the remaining three workshops. The June workshop served as a transitional phase where the two new added faculty exchanged materials, information, ideas with the two who left who agreed to still participate in the workshop. There area few important lessons to learn from this process:
- It is very challenging to have a multidisciplinary group of faculty match their semester schedule to attend a full day workshop. Weekends are also problematic as many faculty at my institution live in other nearby cities and commute to school. Summers seem to be the best solution (at least in our case) for having workshops. The way we adjusted was by allowing faculty to leave the workshop or come after class if there was a conflict. In general, the planning was based on the highest number of people having classes on MWF or TR.
- To keep communication flowing we created a separate InTeGrate "class" in Moodle (same can be done in Blackboard) where all the materials to be used in infusion were organized in order and made available for import to all the faculty members participating in the project. each faculty had instructor rights and the class was monitored by team leader. The page was also used to upload course syllabi containing the infused InTeGrate section, announcements, additional materials, etc. It was very beneficial in keeping things organized. Still, there were some challenges such as: email still remained the best rapid communication tool as most faculty do not utilize Moodle forums and; some faculty needed help with importing and using Moodle material, but this was easily addressed by peer InTeGrate team members working in their departments.
- Organizing the workshops under different themes and presenting them as professional development opportunities was a good approach allowing faculty to use this experience for their yearly portfolios. This can become a good incentive for faculty outside of the group and a smart way of broadening participation.