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Five CoAS Faculty Tapped for Inaugural Drexel Teaching Academy

By Tom Durso

CoAS Faculty - Drexel Teaching Academy


May 5, 2020

Five faculty members from the College of Arts and Sciences are participating in the Teaching and Learning Center’s first Drexel Teaching Academy, a 10-week program designed to develop pedagogical experts across the University and foster an interdisciplinary community among faculty who already hold this expertise.

The CoAS faculty members selected are:

Through their participation in DTA this spring term, they are exploring a wide range of literature and research on teaching in higher education. The program's goal is to enhance the faculty’s knowledge of how people learn, expand and diversify their toolbox of teaching methods, and explore models for designing effective courses. They will also consider how to apply this literature to the development of their own courses and advance these best practices among faculty and administrators at Drexel.

The inaugural DTA group includes members of the Teaching and Learning Center’s advisory board along with faculty who are already supporting teaching in a formal way. According to Johanna Inman, director of the center, enhancing the skills of such a group and empowering them to share what they’ve learned with their colleagues will strengthen teaching across the entire University.

“The vision for the Drexel Teaching Academy is to create a program for mid-career to senior-level faculty who are known as great teachers,” Inman said. “This is a place where great teachers go to get even better. We’re really trying to improve our craft.”

“I feel privileged to be welcomed in a community of passionate and dedicated teachers from different colleges and disciplines across the University, whose methods and aspirations match my teaching philosophy, while also giving me the opportunity to fruitfully exchange experiences and learn new valuable teaching tips and tricks,” Ilies said. "Our virtual weekly meetings are inspirational, lively, varied, content-rich and fun. I hope to bring this rich experience back to the chemistry department and to put into practice many of the things I've learned.”

DTA activities include:

  • Participating in weekly two-hour workshops during the spring term
  • Completing readings, videos and/or short assignments each week
  • Provide a reflective statement upon completion of the program
  • Promoting excellence in teaching at the University
  • Submitting a proposal for supporting the mission of the Teaching and Learning Center in the following academic year

“Every meeting has had meaningful content and activities as well as deeply important, thoughtful and impactful conversations among the faculty as we break out into small groups,” said Hunte-Brown. “I am very pleased to be a part of this amazing group of faculty."

After completing DTA, participants will be asked to apply what they have learned to mentoring faculty colleagues, facilitating teaching discussions in their departments or colleges, or contributing to a larger initiative such as leading a faculty learning community or engaging in a Scholarship of Teaching and Learning project.

“The Drexel Teaching Academy is a way to engage the best of the best and create a community of people who already have pedagogical expertise,” Inman said. “We want to bring them together as part of a community so they’re not so isolated and can develop a shared language and a shared literature.”

Dolph agrees, saying DTA has helped him stay connected during the isolation fostered by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Now more than ever, I feel a sense of urgency to think critically about how I approach my teaching in a way that centers the student experience and situates their vulnerability,” he said. “At a time when we're compelled to completely reassess our strategies in the context of the virtual classroom, this community of dedicated professionals has been a vital lifeline.”

Rickards echoed the theme of engagement and collaboration.<

“The readings, activities and conversations have already impacted how I am facilitating learning this term,” she said. “The Teaching Academy has created a community of educators committed to their students, teaching and learning during a time when connecting with others is more valuable than ever.”

“An unexpected bonus from being a part of this cohort is that I am able to experience what it is like to be a student in an online course right now at the same time that I am teaching one for the first time,” she said. “As a participant, I have gained many ideas for organizing my own courses in real time. I feel so honored to be a part of this group.”