LeagueTLC Innovation Express
Innovations, and New Developments with Information Technology
New Faculty Institute at Bellevue Community College:
Targeting Teaching and Learning for New Faculty
I was so
honored by this process. It is the first time I've been
welcomed and respected for my scholarly interest and expertise
in teaching and learning.
-- Dr. Margaret Harada, English Instructor, Bellevue Community
In an effort
to focus and instill learning college principles, that is
"learning first" through student-centered, teaching-centered,
and learning-centered values, Bellevue Community College
(BCC) looked at new ways to create professional development
opportunities for faculty. Noting the five underlying objectives
The Learning College Project-Organizational Culture,
Staff Recruitment and Development, Technology, Learning
Outcomes, and Underprepared Students-the challenge was creating
the time and space for faculty to focus on their own commitment
to learning and foster the kind of institutional change
necessary to impact these five targeted areas. After years
of new faculty orientation and fall faculty days being filled
with paperwork, processes, and college policy issues, it
was time to make academic discussions about student, teaching,
and learning the priority of professional development. When
BCC's Director of Faculty Professional Development Helen
Taylor and BCC Curriculum Design Specialist Suzy Lepeintre
approached the college administration with the idea of a
New Faculty Institute focused solely on teaching and learning,
they found enthusiastic support.
With college support, innovative ideas, and allocated resources
in place, the major challenge, again, was time. Like many
colleges, BCC schedules a full week of pre-fall activities
for faculty with all-campus issue days, division retreats,
and statewide conferences. Existing scheduled agenda items
left only two days for the BCC New Faculty Institute to
hold face-to-face activities focused on teaching and learning.
Carving out this limited time took extraordinarily creative
measures, but the greater challenge loomed-How do we
allow faculty to explore their own ideas and issues related
to student learning and become a learning community themselves
in 14 hours spread over two days?
Developing The New Faculty Institute
Planning The New Faculty Institute from scratch
was a great opportunity in designing project outcomes. However,
in addition to outcomes, we wanted faculty to come into
the two days with a level of understanding about ideas and
expectations at the college:
· A sense of BCC's respect for new faculty expertise and
ability to conduct inquiry into teaching and learning
· Some ideas formed around learning issues BCC considers
· Respect for each other's expertise
· A sense of what their colleagues were thinking about and
researching in teaching and learning
To meet these value-based goals and offset time constraints,
we created a 3-week online course within WebCT for new BCC
Faculty. In a letter signed by our Dean of Instruction,
new faculty were asked to participate in The New Faculty
Institute which included the three week online course running
from August 15 through September 10, 2001, a two-day face-to-face
session September 10 and 11, and follow-up meetings throughout
the year at all-campus issues days and professional development
days. The New Faculty Institute participants received a
$250 stipend for the additional time and commitment.
Ten new full-time faculty were targeted as first participants
for the Fall 2001, but when the announcement of the New
Faculty Institute was made, a number of current full-time
and part-time faculty ask to participate. Of those inquiring,
seven actually signed up for the institute, making our opening
year attendance 17.
Upon selection, participants received letters of welcome
describing the Institute along with instructions on how
to access the online portion of the course through WebCT.
The BCC Curriculum Design Specialist, who also serves as
one of the campus WebCT Administrators, offered helpdesk
assistance via anytime email service for those who needed
help navigating website functions; however, few faculty
encountered problems with the New Faculty Institute Website,
corresponding chat functions, or posting comments and responses.
The New Faculty Institute in Motion
Helen Taylor and Suzy Lepeintre planned a curriculum for
new faculty centered on the scholarship of teaching, and
also included key tips and techniques for immediate use
in classroom learning sessions. Through informal polling
of faculty colleagues and input from BCC Disabled Student
Services staff, the curriculum turned on four sets of questions:
1. Why do we teach? What is the value of our work?
2. What do we know about students at Bellevue Community
College? What else would we like to know? How do we find
3. What do we know about our own teaching? What do we want
to achieve? How do we know when we've achieved it? What
do we assume about our work? How do we test our assumptions?
4. What have our faculty at Bellevue Community College found
works in their classrooms, both face-to-face and online?
These four questions were then categorized into three topic
areas for online discussion:
1. Talking About Teaching (Why do we teach?)
2. Bellevue Community College Students (What do
we know about our students?)
3. Teaching and Learning (What do we know about
our own teaching?)
The Teaching and Learning category also included
best practices shared by BCC faculty, and experiences developing
course syllabi, lesson plans, and other classroom activities
that illustrated each participant's teaching philosophy
Talking About Teaching
The online portion of the Institute opened with a
series of quotes from our current humanities faculty
on what teaching and learning is all about.
The first task for our seminar participants was to share
their own feelings about teaching and learning. Within WebCT,
each instructor read through the online series of quotes,
posted their own feelings to the bulletin board (Discussions)
and then responded to each other's posts.
The following is an example of one new faculty member's
post to the bulletin board:
My main discovery has been a realization, at semester's
end, that I have learned as much as my students!
What continually surprises are students who bring
entirely new, and altogether fresh, perspectives to bear
on a topic, ones that hadn't occurred to me despite my
intimate connection with the subject matter. (This is
delightful, of course, since it provides evidence of
higher order thinking.)
A major value of Talking about Teaching and the
shared discussion among colleagues is that it opens the
dialogue and new dimensions for learning. It is the prologue
and initiation of new ideas, new opportunities, and new
innovations that nurture growth and development within college
Bellevue Community College Students
The student category provided the meat of the online portion
of the New Faculty Institute. Faculty read profiles of BCC
students and participated in scenario-based discussions
of typical classroom situations encountered at BCC. In addition,
this section included references and resources focused on
disabled students' needs, with a quiz related to disabled
student services. Participants read various articles illustrating
ways syllabi can help faculty communicate with students,
wrote their own syllabi and exchanged feedback.
One particularly enjoyable activity included live online
chats that introduced new BCC faculty to BCC students and
provided opportunities for initial conversations between
the two groups. The conversations are facilitated by a New
Faculty Institute instructor. In one typical exchange, for
example, after the new faculty member introduced himself
and mentioned the courses he teaches, the facilitator asked
the three participating students to introduce themselves
and provide a sentence or two on their backgrounds. The
students discussed their major programs and progress toward
completion, talked about where they are from, and mentioned
their plans for continuing their education after completed
programs at BCC. Some students also described active learning
opportunities that have been particularly beneficial in
helping them understand important concepts and processes
in their courses.
Teaching and Learning
The focus on teaching and learning proved to be the transition
point. We hoped to have faculty come into the first face-to-face
portions of our institute ready and eager to share their
own best practices, linked to their philosophy of teaching.
In advance of the meeting, we asked faculty to complete
an online survey of their own teaching methods based on
Angelo & Cross's Classroom Assessment Techniques.
In addition to the online survey, they were also asked to
share their teaching philosophy and an activity or lesson
that worked well within that philosophy. With so many advance
activities and time being the perennial restraining factor,
new faculty were only able to touch on these things through
the online venue; the real work in this area was to occur
during the face-to-face meeting September 10 and 11.
By the time the seminar participants met face-to-face on
September 10, they had already affirmed their own passion
for teaching and formed a community of inquiry into teaching
and learning. After spending so much virtual time together
during previous three weeks, the participants enjoyed seeing
their colleagues for the first time!
New faculty were greeted with an inspirational video of
veteran BCC faculty talking about teaching and learning,
and then welcomed by the BCC President. Motion was the word
for the day of the Institute. New Faculty Institute staff
employed every active learning technique to further explore
issues related to BCC students: learning styles, disabled
student services, collaborative learning techniques, student-centered
activities, and classroom management strategies.
As with the rest of the world, the New Faculty Institute
was disrupted by the tragic events of September 11. Participants
and staff arrived that morning, consoled each other, and
committed to covering some topics at later dates throughout
the year-the regularly scheduled new faculty 'orientation',
the college issues days, and professional development days
scheduled throughout the quarter. The full orientation day
scheduled for September 11 was scaled down to just half
a day, and, as designed, the majority of the day focused
on teaching and learning.
On the October 19 Fall College Issues Day, the college hosted
a 'reunion' lunch for The New Faculty Institute participants.
During lunch, we discussed our classroom experiences to
date. Every instructor reported the use of at least one
approach discussed during the Institute, especially the
active learning activities and the classroom assessment
The follow-up to College Issues Day occurred on November
12 with a two-hour session on professional development.
Participants shared ideas related to issues the faculty
had brought up during the October 19 lunch: strategies for
breaking up lectures with discussion, techniques for getting
students to work well in small groups, and specific information
on classroom assessment techniques and Small Group Instructional
Diagnosis (SGIDS) in which a facilitator is invited by the
instructor to interview the class regarding their perceptions
of what works well and what doesn't.
The first thing BCC New Faculty Institute developers learned—and that we've actually heard again
and again from our peer learning colleges—is that when faculty receive the respect
they deserve for their commitment to teaching and learning,
they are more than willing to volunteer their personal time
to come together and share their work and their passion.
Even with a limited budget and limited time, we were able
to symbolize the respect we have for our faculty with stipends,
well-designed websites and multimedia presentations, guest
presentations, and quality curriculum centered on celebrating
what our faculty do.
Other notable lessons were identified directly by the project
· It is very hard to create curriculum, publish it in a
course site, and run the course itself at the same time.
There was a great feeling of chaos at times; it's amazing
to look back now and see that the site actually looks pretty
· It is very difficult to recruit students to chat during
the summer. Next year we will begin recruiting in the spring.
· Faculty presenting their best techniques to other faculty
worked extremely well face-to-face.
· Having two trained facilitators and curriculum designers
fully committed to preparing such an endeavor is essential.
An administrative assistant for a few hours here and there
would have been great.
Summary & Results
With only one year to measure results, we have had 15 faculty
donate at least 60 hours of their own time to participate
in the Institute, and they are eager for more. We have follow-up
meetings and sessions planned for the rest of the year and
will ask this year's New Faculty Institute participants
help us to improve next year's Institute.
It is hard to measure how the student's experience of the
teaching and learning process has changed because of the
Institute. Some of the new BCC faculty recruits are very
experienced teachers. They come in with perspectives and
well-developed philosophies of teaching and most probably
would have employed these principles in their own classroom
practice regardless of their participation in the Institute.
What is changing, however, is our culture as a college.
BCC is moving from a perception that the bottom line is
numbers and statistics, and trying to reaffirm, as a college,
that the real work we do and our accountability is about
teaching and learning. The first experiences our new faculty
had on this campus communicated that we are a college that
values teaching and learning above all and respects faculty
for their ability to help us continue our excellent work
in this area. That is significant.
Part of that desired change in culture also involves technology.
Our college has been remarkably successful in securing technology
resources and developing programs that support technology
assisted teaching and learning. The large amounts of money
moving in these directions has left many on the campus feeling
the quality work they do in their face-to-face classrooms
and the issues they have been researching there are being
forgotten. This Institute has shown that the communicative
power of our instructional technologies can be used to amplify
and celebrate the quality work our instructors do in all
of their teaching contexts.
Our response from our college administration was amazing.
Our Dean of Instruction independently approached our President
for more funding and was granted the ability to give five
credits of release time (15 credit quarters are a full load)
to the faculty attending the Institute starting next year.
While the budget freezes associated with recent economic
downturn have put this project on hold for the moment, the
fact that our administration is so eager to support this
project is significant.
Currently we have invited the professional developers and
curriculum designers involved with the
Teaching and Learning Network of Washington State to
share and help improve the curriculum and online environment
we have created. We plan to begin planning for fall 2002
during the winter quarter and finalize the program in the
For more information contact
Curriculum Design Specialist
Director of Faculty Professional Development