Creating a Faculty Excellence in Teaching Program

developing faculty excellence

Isn’t it about time that faculty expand their famed trio of responsibilities—i.e., teaching, scholarship, and service—so as to include professional development (PD)?  (Tweet this quote.) By PD, we mean something beyond staying current in one’s discipline, and probably the two areas most faculty need PD in are pedagogy and technology.

faculty excellence quote

In our Teaching Applied Creative Thinking (2013) we devote a chapter to “A Proposal for Professional Development” (XXV, 145-148). What we’d like to offer here is a specific program aimed at pedagogical improvement. (Tweet this quote.) Recently on our campus we began the mandatory professional development of all new faculty (and the Class of 2014 contained 61 new faculty, or about 10% of our total faculty) with something we call the Faculty Excellence in Teaching Program (FETP).

Components of the Faculty Excellence in Teaching Program

The upcoming EKU Strategic Plan will highlight “academic excellence.”  Indeed, EKU has traditionally focused on the primacy of instruction as embodied in the motto “Excellence in teaching is Job One.”  To perpetuate this high-quality pedagogical environment, the University proposes a Faculty Excellence in Teaching Program (FETP).

Beginning with the Class of 2014, New Faculty will be required to participate in this program through the following elements:

1. New Faculty Orientation (8/6-8/8/2014):  New Faculty Development Day (8/6/14) kicks off with an emphasis on teaching with Fink Workshop (8/8/14)

2. Provost Professional Development Series

  • Fall Event:  Dee Fink Workshop (8/8/14, 1:00-4:00)
  • Spring Event:   McGuire, Metacognition and Learning Workshop (2/19-20/15)

3. MENTOR (Modular Educational Network for Training with Online Resources)–College Teaching:  Becoming a More Effective Instructor.  Each new faculty member will be enrolled in this interactive BlackBoard module that takes less than an hour.  At the end of the module is a quiz, and, after a successful score (to be determined), participants receive a certificate.

4. Conferences:  Each new faculty member will attend a conference that devotes a substantial amount of its program to teaching.

  • Lilly Conference:  Miami of Ohio, 11/21-3/2014
  • Kentucky Pedagogicon:  one-day state conference held in Richmond, KY, on 5/22/2015 for a registration fee of only $50.
  • Kentucky COMPACT:  state conference on service learning pedagogy held in November
  • Approved Disciplinary Conference (determined by chair)
  1. Possible Campus-wide Events (Colleges and Department Chairs will determine number and distribution)
  • Teaching & Learning Center Fall Series:  16 sessions
  • College Events:  TBA
  • Department Events:  TBA
  • Scholarship Week (4/13/14, Library, 11:30-1:00) Events
  • Noel Studio Series:  TBA
  • Instructional Development Center:  TBA

6. Self-Evaluation:  at the end of the academic year, each new faculty member will write a reflection that includes a list of one’s major faculty development activities, what—if any—new strategies/techniques were implemented in classes, and how these approaches affected teaching/student learning.

As the FTEP is currently constituted, items 1-3 & 6 are applied to all new faculty regardless of discipline, but, just to emphasize, each department/college decides on the specific events as well as the number of events from items 4 & 5 it wishes the faculty member to attend.

How We Created the Program

This program was created by a campus-wide workgroup that wanted chairs and deans to have some leeway in determining specifics for their units, and the deans displayed great willingness to launch an experiment that truthfully is still in its beta stage.

Obviously, at the end of the academic year we will assess the program and doubtless make some tweaks. If we can refine the program, we’d to expand it to include all faculty, not just new members. Ultimately, our desire is to make academic professional development a seamless part of the institutional fabric. (Tweet this quote.) 

Achieving Excellence in Teaching book


author Hal BlythePh.D Hal Blythe writes literary criticism to mystery stories. In addition to the eleven books he’s published with New Forums, Hal has collaborated on four books on a variety of subjects, over 1000 pieces of fiction/nonfiction, and a host of television scripts and interactive mysteries performed by their repertory company. He is currently co-director of the Teaching and Learning Center for Eastern Kentucky University. Meet Hal Blythe.