Course Design Institute reinvigorates, connects faculty

October 30, 2015 | UToday, Natural Sciences and Mathematics
By Samantha Watson



Over the summer, faculty members at The University of Toledo were given the chance to take a step back and re-evaluate their courses, and more than 20 took the opportunity.

They participated in the Course Design Institute, a professional development workshop for faculty interested in creating a new course or re-designing an existing one. Over the summer, the University Teaching Center hosted two different workshops with 12 faculty members in June and July.

One of the participants, Dr. Michael Weintraub, had nothing but good things to say about the program.

“It really helped to cement some of the principles of good teaching,” said Weintraub, an associate professor of soil ecology in the Department of Environmental Sciences. “The biggest thing I got out of the Course Design Institute was not a single moment, but more of a permanent shift in my perspective and a broader view of how to teach effectively.”

Those who participated in the program met each day from 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. for a week. They discussed what they wanted to teach and how they wanted to teach, as well as what best practices existed.

“The goal is to have faculty take some time out and really think about a particular course that they want to do something new with,” said Dr. Connie Shriner, vice provost for assessment and faculty development. “Take some time for planning and revisions in order for them to improve the quality of what they’re providing for students.”

Since the workshop, Weintraub said he’s already made changes to his course based on what he learned. The whole cohort plans to meet later this semester to discuss what changes they’ve made or plan to make.

One of the best parts of the program, according to both Weintraub and Shriner, was the chance for faculty to work with people they may not ordinarily collaborate with.

“It’s not that often that we have the opportunity to spend a lot of time interacting with our colleagues from other departments and colleges,” Weintraub said. “It was nice to hear different perspectives and approaches from people who teach different subjects and work with different student groups than I do.”

The University Teaching Center plans to offer more workshops next summer, and faculty who wish to participate can find additional information and apply at utoledo.edu/offices/provost/utc.

“I encourage other faculty members to take advantage of this great professional development opportunity,” Weintraub said. “I think the more training we get, the more effective we can be in the classroom and the more efficient we can be with our teaching as well.”