About this project

Higher education devotes significant resources to faculty training, assuming intuitively that better preparation yields better teaching and improved student learning. However, outcomes are not generally well understood, and no one has examined how faculty choose (or choose not) to participate in development programs. We have failed to find published evidence identifying or systematically testing the mechanisms for changing faculty practices to improve student learning in post-secondary settings. To test the relationship between a curriculum for faculty and student learning, we ask:

  • Can we design a model for faculty development to deliver consistent, statistically significant linkage among faculty development, participant self-selection, and institutional structures that promote participation, curricular effects, and student learning?
  • Can a model based on a theory of change for faculty development be robust and cost-effective enough to be transferable to a variety of institutional types and missions?

In order to understand how faculty development affects teaching and learning, we will study three cross-cutting literacies prominent on the Carleton and WSU campuses. Both schools have well-established WAC programs. For each institution, WAC has served as a platform for faculty development related to teaching, responding to and assessing student writing. Whereas dozens of higher education institutions can make the same claim, these two institutions offer two unique features: (1) the WAC model of faculty development informs and augments programs for faculty in quantitative reasoning (QR) at Carleton and critical thinking (CT) at WSU; and (2) assessment protocols yield a research base for designing and implementing additional cross-cutting literacies.

Project Collaborators

Principal Investigators

Carol A. Rutz (Writing Program, Carleton College)

Beverly Nagel (Dean of the College, Carleton College)

William Condon (Department of English, Washington State University)

Cathryn Manduca (SERC, Carleton College)

Project Director/Contact

Gudrun Willett (SERC and Writing Program, Carleton College)

Evaluation Director

Ellen Iverson (SERC, Carleton College)

WSU Research Assistant

Erin Mae Clark (Department of English, Washington State University)

Project Consultant

Mary Taylor Huber (Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching)