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Wednesday, June 18 • 4:00pm - 5:30pm
POSTER.20 – Initial Findings of a Teaching Skills Workshop Program: The Power and Potential of Learning Groups

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The Teaching Skills Workshop program was developed and piloted within a Faculty of Science at a large research-intensive university to help faculty members build their teaching skills and knowledge with a community of learners.  The program was initiated in January, 2013 in response to a teaching and learning needs assessment where the need for opportunities to learn about teaching and to interact with peers across the Faculty was identified. The goals for this workshop program were:

  1. To provide an opportunity for teaching knowledge and skills development
  2. To create opportunities to work in learning groups
  3. To give and receive peer feedback on teaching ideas and materials
  4. To promote and encourage reflective teaching

This program consisted of two- or three-hour workshops offered monthly from September through April and biweekly from June through August. Workshop topics included student motivation, assessment, conducting mid-course evaluation, and writing a teaching philosophy statement. Topics were selected based on common teaching situations faculty members faced during the semester, as well as topics suggested by workshop participants. Workshop activities were aligned with the program goals and provided participants with opportunities to reflect on their practices and beliefs about teaching, develop teaching and/or curriculum materials relevant to their own practice, and participate in learning groups where they would give and receive feedback and discuss their ideas about teaching. Workshops were developed and facilitated by teaching experts who are also faculty members in the host Faculty.  The workshop goals follow recommendations for STEM educational development programs where activities focus on developing reflective teachers and changing faculty conceptions of teaching, take into account the teaching culture and do not assume a ‘one size fits all’ model (Henderson, Beach & Finkelstein, 2011).

Preliminary findings indicate that participants in these workshops were satisfied or very satisfied with the workshop format, information, activities and facilitators. To date, 1/3 of academic staff members from the Faculty have participated in at least one workshop and 15% of those participants have attended more than five workshops. Analysis of feedback found that the most valuable aspects of the workshops for participants were: activities, discussions/feedback from peers, support materials and knowledge gains.  These findings were consistent with participants across disciplines, teaching experience and workshop topics. The most commonly reported suggestions for improvement by participants were: more time, more examples and more structure to the learning group activities.

Next steps are to determine the extent to which participants transfer knowledge and skills learned in the workshops to their teaching practices and whether participants are enhancing or practicing reflective teaching. We also want to explore ways to transform the learning groups formed in the workshops to learning communities outside of the workshops where participants can receive additional support and follow-up on ideas they developed within the workshops.

Wednesday June 18, 2014 4:00pm - 5:30pm EDT
McArthur Hall

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