The Teaching Fellows Program was recently laurelled as a finalist for a Professional and Organizational Development in Higher Education (POD) Innovation Award. The honor was presented at the POD National Conference in Houston, Texas on Oct. 31, 2009 in recognition of the Teaching Fellows Program’s innovation in faculty and instructional development. Hobart and William Smith Colleges were the only small liberal arts schools out of seven finalists.
Associate Dean for Teaching, Learning, and Assessment Susan Pliner and Ruth Shields, Assistant Director of the Center for Teaching and Learning (CTL), submitted the program for the award and Shields created a poster for display at the conference. At the National Conference, Pliner, William Smith Dean Cerri Banks and Assistant Professor of Psychology Jonathan Iuzzini co-led an interactive workshop titled Intersectionality and the Practice of Teaching and Learning.
“It was a great success!” remarked Pliner. “We had a full room of faculty and developers during our session, and afterwards we were asked to submit an article to Improve the Academy and to write a chapter for another journal, New Directions for Teaching and Learning.”
The goal of the Teaching Fellows Program is to facilitate students’ learning of course concepts and understanding of assignments using a collaborative approach to teaching and learning. Teaching Fellows are nominated by the department faculty and selected jointly by CTL and the participating department, which includes anthropology/sociology, biology, chemistry, economics, geosciences, philosophy, physics, psychology, and Spanish.
The many responsibilities of the Teaching Fellows include discussing course concepts and ideas, assisting with homework assignments, creating of a collaborative study space, supporting students of multiple course levels, promoting academic interaction between students and faculty, honing problem-solving skills, developing questions for class discussion, and implementing study strategies.
Analysis suggests that the program reaches students across all years and assists four times the number of students who previously received one-on-one tutoring at CTL.
According to Associate Professor of Physics Steven Penn, “The program is versatile, helping students to the extent and at the time that they need it, and it is easy to access, with no appointments, no stigma of mandated tutoring, and a comfortable location. It is teaching-on-demand from your fellow students: effective and accessible.”
Pliner lauds the program for the “symbiotic relationship” created from the collaboration of professors, Teaching Fellows, and students. “The program’s greatest strength lies in the connection between student development and faculty development,” she explains. “Faculty work together to articulate what learning looks like in their respective disciplines, and the TFs use this to support the work of students.”