The Center for Teaching and Learning has introduced a new executive director and launched programs geared toward promoting classroom engagement, technology, and inclusivity.
Founded in 2015, CTL works with faculty and graduate student instructors to improve teaching quality through programs including workshops, evaluations, and online teaching resources. Last year, CTL served over 2,000 faculty members and instructors, and is implementing programs to improve outreach.
Executive Director Catherine Ross began her work at CTL in July and kicked off the year with open houses on the Morningside and Columbia University Medical Center campuses on Wednesday. Previous director Kathy Takayama stepped down in the fall of 2016, leaving the position vacant for almost a year.
“Right now I would say I’m focused on … developing new and creative ways of engaging with faculty and graduate students, and expanding offerings for departments and faculty to engage with specific disciplinary and school needs,” Ross said.
CTL offers both one-on-one and group sessions, as well as orientations and multi-day immersive institutes.
One of the most intensive programs is the Teaching Observation Fellows, which gathers faculty and graduate students into small cohorts to observe and reflect on their classroom teaching. Some activities of the program include observing other instructors and working collaboratively on lesson plans. Fellows are also awarded $2,000 upon completion of the program.
“Graduate students want to become better instructors. [Our program] gives them the training and qualifications to run as a teacher … and be reflective about how to act in the classroom,” Assistant Director of Graduate Student Programs and Services Ian G. Althouse said. “It is intended to help them reflect on their own teaching and grow from that process.”
Assistant Director of Faculty Programs and Services Amanda Jungels said that CTL introduces strategies for instructors to break away from the traditional lecture course.
“I think part of it is just thinking about their teaching,” Jungels said. “I think a lot of people just teach the way that works for them, and that’s not necessarily what feels best for them or what feels natural for them. So it’s getting them to think about what really works in the classroom.”
Besides expanding ongoing programs, the CTL works with faculty and graduate students on incorporating innovative technologies like augmented reality, virtual reality, and sites like CourseWorks and Canvas into their teaching.
“I’m interested in the DIY media station because my leadership class is going to be a hybrid class, which is partly online and partly face-to-face,” Senior Lecturer for the Communication division of the School of Professional Studies Rebecca Heino said. “There might be things from this that I can use for the online portion of the class.”