In collaboration with colleagues at the University of British Columbia’s Okanagan campus, I designed and facilitated, again and again, a series of discipline-specific workshops called “Foundations of Teaching and Learning in X” where X is Health and Exercise Sciences, Digital Literacy, Nursing, Engineering, and others. In this series of blog posts, I describe the motivation, how the content was made discipline-specific, the format of the sessions, the process for organizing the series, and the outcomes. This final post is about some of the outcomes and consequences of the series.
Has the series been successful? If the number of participants is the only measure, then at first glance, maybe not. In the Series, we had about 10 people from Health and Exercise Sciences, 10 from the Library, 8 in Nursing, about 30 in Engineering. Remember, though, each of these participants attended 6 sessions and invested about 15 hours into the series. Ten participants at 15 hours each is like 100 people attending a 90-minute workshop! That would be considered a huge success in any Centre for Teaching and Learning. It’s important to measure success by more than just bums-in-seats. In hindsight, some kind of pre- and post-survey of the participants would have been a great idea.
One of my goals for Foundations was to create a cohort of colleagues who could continue to talk about teaching and learning in their Department, School, or Faculty after the series was over. I’m thrilled the people I worked with did that, and more:
In Health and Exercise Sciences, my local champion, Greg duManoir, and another teaching professor, Tanya Forneris, created a 2-term, for-credit graduate course about teaching and learning. In the Fall, students learn about teaching and learning in HES with materials based on the ones we used in Foundations. In the Winter, the graduate students are embedded in a particular HES course. They help the course instructor develop materials and have some opportunities to teach some classes.
Sajni Lacey, my workshop partner in the UBC Okanagan Library, adapted Foundations of Teaching and Learning in Digital Literacy into a 10-week orientation for new Library staff.
I’ve run the series twice in the School of Nursing. The first time there were about 8 Nursing instructors and clinical teaching staff. The second time was in Spring 2020 after everyone had pivoted online because of the COVID 19 pandemic. In collaboration with my colleagues Jackie Denison in Nursing and Janine Hirtz in the Centre for Teaching and Learning, we updated the series to the Foundations of Online Teaching and Learning in Nursing. We also managed to open up the series to Nursing instructors from nearby Okanagan College (a cohort of Nursing students start and Okanagan College and transfer to UBC Okanagan after 2nd year.) I say “managed” because it required getting non-UBC people into the LMS, which is takes a quite a few extra forms and signatures.
In the School of Engineering, Ayman Elnaggar used the Foundations series as the anchor to successfully pitch and then organize “Engineering Education Week”, a week of teaching and learning workshops and discussions that runs over Reading Week. (We adjusted the format of Foundations to account for participants having less time before the sessions to prepare.) With the promotion and endorsement from the Director of the School, we attracted close to 30 participants, ranging from graduate students to full professors. The Director also paid for coffee and lunch!
Impact beyond the classroom
The local champions I worked with – Greg, Jackie, Ayman, and others – are Associate Professors of Teaching in UBC’s teaching professor stream. Sajni is the Learning and Curriculum Support librarian. Each of them must demonstrate “impact beyond their own classroom” as part of the merit, tenure, and promotion process. Organizing and co-facilitating the Foundations series is an opportunity to do that. This is another component deliberately built into the series to make it valuable to the participants.
To me, the biggest indicator of the success of the Foundations series was that busy, exhausted course instructors and graduate students returned week after week to the sessions. With so many competing requests and tasks, they judged these workshops were a valuable use of their time and attention.
The series wouldn’t have developed, evolved, and improved without Greg duManoir’s support and enthusiasm. I’m grateful to Rob Shave, Director of the School of Health and Exercise Sciences, for supporting Greg and I. It was a privilege to work with Jackie Denison in Nursing, along with School leaders Manuela Reekie, Sheila Epps, and Marie Tarrant. I always enjoy working with Sajni Lacey in the UBC Okanagan Library and I thank Associate Chief Librarian, Robert Janke, for creating time for the staff to participate. My thanks to Ayman Elnaggar for championing the series in the School of Engineering and to School Director, Mina Hoorfar, for her ongoing support for teaching and learning. Thanks also to my Centre for Teaching and Learning team, especially Janine Hirtz, for skillfully fulfilling the mission of Centre while giving me the time to develop and teach the series.