With support from the Office of the Provost, this semester the Center for Teaching and Learning established the HWS Teaching Fellows program. The Teaching Fellows program was designed to create a learning environment different than one-on-one tutoring, to disprove the notion that learning is solely the responsibility of the individual. The idea is to create a culture and community of engaged, active learning, says CTL director and Teaching Fellows program creator, Susan Pliner.
CTL was given funding to train several HWS students majoring in the following disciplines: chemistry, geoscience, philosophy, physics, and Spanish & Hispanic studies. Faculty liaisons from those departments helped plan the curriculum and selected and interviewed the Teaching Fellows, who went through training prior to the start of this semester. The Fellows report progress and activities to the faculty liaisons to discuss the effectiveness and significance of their (the Fellows’) office hours.
The Teaching Fellows hold office hours several times per week which students are encouraged to attend even if there are no immediate questions, if only to read or study in an environment fostering similar ideas. One of the main objectives of the program is to help students engage the course material for long-term comprehension, not simply to obtain the answer for the moment. The Teaching Fellows attempt to help students learn how to go about asking questions and articulating pertinent ideas in order to gain a deeper understanding of the material. And, among other things, the Fellows have an opportunity to extend their own knowledge of the subject matter.
Thus far, approaching its fourth week of operation, the Teaching Fellows program seems to be flourishing. It has “brought a new student energy to the introductory courses, says Assistant Professor and Geoscience faculty liaison, Neil Laird. “There have been 20 to 30 students in one evening during Teaching Fellow office hours.
Because of its promotion of peer teaching and learning, utilization and creation of student insight, and apparent popularity, the Teaching Fellows program seems to be blossoming into another valuable and indispensable extension of CTL and the HWS learning community.