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Promoting Success for Faculty and Students

4faculty.org is an online professional development network of resources and learning modules designed specifically for the needs of community college faculty. It allows faculty members to gain the knowledge necessary to succeed from their first day in class by providing tools and teaching techniques. 4faculty.org leads faculty through the maze of issues they will address, such as how to establish learning objectives, create informative syllabi, make a positive first impression, address various learning styles and use technology effectively. It provides advice for dealing with the heterogeneous student bodies of the community college system, various legal requirements, and district policies. 4faculty.org also includes technical and pedagogical advice and information about how people learn and how to communicate effectively with large groups and individual students. It familiarizes faculty with the need to be sensitive to all types of diversity, including learning differences, ethnicity, disabilities, new immigrants, and more.

Creating a Pathway

Developed by topic area experts, 4faculty provides comprehensive professional development modules and tools to help faculty reach students more effectively and enhance their learning experience. Faculty of member institutions can set up a personalized account and select from 26 content modules, or they may opt for one of two set tracks: a full new faculty orientation or a series of modules for veteran faculty. They can also choose a three-hour quick introduction to their college and community college teaching. Additionally, six modules are specifically designed for new clinical nursing faculty .

Each module includes a pathway for learning via the DREAM system. D stands for Discover, where readers find a brief introduction to the topic and its relevance, as well as learning objectives that form a study list.

R indicates the Read section. In this section, users find reading materials, interactive items, or video presentations designed by an expert or team of experts in the topic area. These materials are presented using the best practices in online course design:

  • Information in a user-friendly format employing numerous headings, lists where applicable, boxes with definitions, and graphics to make it easier to remember the information;
  • Context provided by illustrating how knowledge of the subject may be useful to life outside the class, today or in the future; and
  • Accommodation of various types of learners by using visually stimulating materials and audio readings for each lesson.

Because of the amount of information contained in modules, there are often multiple sub-pages within the Read section. Many Read sections also contain Dig Deeper links to more in-depth information written by the course authors.

The third section, Explore, includes recommended books, journal articles, and websites . The authors have carefully selected these references and they represent only works for which they offer a strong recommendation.

The Apply section offers tips on how to apply what was learned in each module into the classroom, lab, or on campus. Users are encouraged to make contributions to this section.

Finally, in the Measure section, users are asked to pause and ref lect on what they have learned in the module, and to respond to a set of multiple-choice questions that assess knowledge acquisition based on specific references in the Read sections, as well as broadly assess general understanding of the module's content . Many member colleges offer professional development credit (in California this is often referred to as FLEX credit) based on successful passage of the Measure section tests.

Modules

100 - Quick-Start Guide for Community College Faculty
101 - History and Mission of Community Colleges
102 - Introduction to Your College
103 - Characteristics of Community Colleges and Their Students
104 - Preparing for the 1st Day of Class
105 - Building Your Syllabus
106 - Assessment
107 - Grades and Testing
108 - Effective Class Management
109 - How People Learn
110 - Learning Theories
111 - Approaches to Teaching
112 - Technology in the Classroom
113 - Technology and Distance Ed ucation
114 - Legal and Ethical Issues in the Digital Information Age
115 - Increasing Effective Communication and Student Resiliency
116 - Helping Your Students
117 - Student Support Services
118 - Focusing on Diverse Needs
119 - How College Governance Affects You
120 - Surviving the Journey
201 NURSING Role Transition
202 NURSING Getting Started
203 NURSING Teaching Clinical: The Process
204 NURSING Evaluation
205 NURSING Legal/Ethical Issues
206 NURSING Promoting Critical Thinking in Clinical Settings

How 4faculty Serves Individual College Needs

Colleges join 4faculty as member institutions. Membership includes full access for all faculty and staff. Fees are based on college size and include access to all site materials and administrative features. Customized to fit state, district, and college needs, the site makes it easy for colleges to offer more than 100 contextual references to their resources and policies. Typically, a one-hour training session with the campus contact is sufficient to learn how to set up 4faculty on a campus. Set-up and maintenance can be done with a minimum amount of time and little technical know-how.

4faculty began in the fall of 2000 as a response to the dramatically increased demand for new adjunct faculty in the community college system. Through grant funding from the Fund for Improvement of Post Secondary Ed ucation (FIPSE) and the California Community College Chancellor's Office Fund for Student Success, 4faculty was originally designed to provide a cost-effective and convenient approach to orientation and professional development of adjunct faculty.

The project was a collaboration with Riverside Community College , a cohort of 11 colleges in nine districts (College of the Desert, Diablo Valley College , Pasadena City College , Mt. San Antonio College, Rio Hondo College, San Diego College District, Santa Barbara College, Santa Monica College, and Riverside Community College District), and debuted online in fall 2001. The original 10-lesson course provided orientation for new adjuncts. More than 300 faculty began the first course and provided feedback to researchers regarding their needs and the value of the course for them.

Original Research Findings

4faculty is independently evaluated by the Institute of Applied Research at California State University San Bernardino. The new adjunct faculty (defined as new to their college) reported that they needed help in the following areas:

 

Percent

In knowledge of support services available to you

81.6%

In techniques for motivating students

76.8%

In knowledge of support services available to students

75.6%

In the use of technology as a teaching tool

74.3%

In dealing with various student learning styles

72.7%

In college policies and procedures

72.1%

To use a variety of teaching methods

69.5%

In methods to evaluate student learning

69.2%

In dealing with students who are underrepresented

63.2%

To organize delivery of the curriculum

57.1%

To deal with various student classroom disruptions and emergencies

56.2%

In techniques for structuring class time

54.3%

To construct a syllabus

37.5%

In communication skills

33.0%

Interestingly, faculty seem to be suggesting that they are prepared for the mechanics of teaching: syllabi construction and communication with their students. Yet their post-4faculty.org feedback would suggest otherwise. After completing 4faculty, 80 percent said they would modify the way they teach or planned to teach based on the information received from this online course. More specifically, they will clarify learning objectives, improve syllabi design, expand communication skills, and enhance assessment tools as a result of their experience with 4faculty.org. Early results from 4faculty.org's beta test found that 96 percent of faculty reported the course to be "very helpful" or "somewhat helpful."

4faculty.org's research project revealed some other interesting results related to adjunct faculty's level of connectedness to the college. More than 75 percent of faculty reported an interest in knowing about student services, suggesting that they want to support the comprehensive learning needs of their students, not merely their work in their course. The majority of adjunct faculty (63.7 percent) also expressed an interest in faculty social activities and other campus activities such as sports, musicals, and plays (64 percent). Even more (87.3 percent) expressed interest in curriculum development, and 78.5 percent expressed interest in committee and department activities. This finding disputes the notion that adjunct faculty are not deeply interested in the academic programs at their colleges. Adjuncts may be thought of as freeway flyers, but clearly they have an interest in the academic health of their college and departments and are interested in participating.

Expansion to Serve All Faculty

4faculty now represents the collective knowledge of over 200 faculty, administrators, and technical staff from more than 20 colleges. Interactive, learner-centered, and contextual, it has become a lifelong resource for all faculty members. It now contains more diverse content, expanded technology modules, more practical tips, and dynamically driven pages allowing for greater customization.

Given the project's growth (membership now includes 41 California Community Colleges), it is apparent that 4faculty fulfills a substantial need for professional development and orientation. This is particularly true in these difficult economic times when very low-cost opportunities for professional development may be the only alternative available. 4faculty also provides comprehensive face-to-face professional development by serving as a resource or stepping-off point for discussion.

Additionally, 4faculty is working with many colleges to share content, including reusable learning objects, to enhance 4faculty's resources. Content expansion plans also include

•  An introduction to faculty leadership positions,
•  Additional ideas for helping basic skills students,
•  Modules for occupational education faculty, and
•  An introduction to the accreditation process and issues.

To see a demo module, go here. Or, if you would like to take 4faculty.org for a test drive, you can create a 90-day free demo account by clicking on the Set Up an Account link on the 4faculty.org home page. Fill out the information and select Demo as the participating college, then select a user ID and password. Click the Sign Me Up button at the bottom of the page for full access to the site.

For more information, contact
Dean of Faculty and Project Director Kristina Kauffman
or
Project Manager Mark Knight
Riverside Community College District
909-222-8360

 
 

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