President's Teaching Scholars Program


Spring 2005 Retreat

“Free Speech, Professional Responsibility and Tenure at CU”
Friday, March 4, 2005
University Center, Room 303A/B
CU-Colorado Springs

I. Introduction

Mary Ann Shea welcomed the group, noting that the retreat had a “remarkable title for what we hope will be a remarkable discussion.” She thanked Huber for his work in planning the retreat and Cummings and Morris for being flexible and gracious during the fall retreat about their presentation and allowing President Betsy Hoffman additional time to speak with the Scholars. She also noted that she has a new student assistant, Lindsay Weaver, who is a member of the President’s Leadership Class, a Boettcher Scholar and a political science major who says she wants to be a faculty member some day. “She is a future leader,” Shea said.

She reported that the call for nominations has gone out to find two new President’s Teaching Scholars. Shea also referred to the agenda for the morning and the planned discussion on Teaching Scholar projects. “The panel will introduce you to a reinvigoration program plan specifically for President’s Teaching Scholars projects on teaching and learning,” she said. “We believe this might be a turning point in the program.

Shea then spoke about the history of the PTS program. “This program was developed as an honor and designation and as a way to contribute to the University. It was designed with those program visions in mind. Fourteen years ago, the program began with the notion that all of Teaching Scholars would be actively contributing to CU by mentoring an assistant professor on their campus in growing in the professoriate with a particular focus on becoming a teacher.

“This principle of action embodied in the designation University of Colorado President’s Teaching Scholar made public that this designation is not a static award but rather one where scholars would be active participants, both reflecting on teaching in the two retreats a year and cultivating learning and teaching.

“The project idea to mentor was broadened in the first year, 1990, to include Teaching Scholars working on any project to enhance, enrich and strengthen innovation in learning and teaching in classrooms, departments, colleges or schools and one’s campus.” She pointed to the two volumes listing the Scholars’ projects to date.

In 1999-2000 the project on student engagement took hold as an area of interest in student learning that seemed to capture many issues of pedagogy. Education researchers and scholars in the field of engaged learning joined us on a number of occasions. They were: Carol Dweck, Josh Aronson and Uri Triesman. Subsequently, Richard Light, author of Making the Most of College: Students Speak Their Minds, visited and taught the Scholars more specifically about an interview process, using a protocol, what the interviews revealed, Harvard University’s analysis, and subsequent policy changes for undergrad education introduced at Harvard by virtue of the assessment seminars. By the way, Light’s book was published 14 years and hundreds of interviews later.
“In the fall of 2003, the Teaching Scholars as a guild signed on to have the Colorado Learning Assessment Studies (CLAS) be the program’s signature initiative — after your reading of the work of our education researcher guests and a stunning and riveting interview by Mitch Handlesman of a CU-Denver student.

“The CLAS initiative today is active in a variety of ways. The program has two publications in refereed journals by Handlesman and Bill Briggs, emanating from their survey, analysis and fine research on engagement. (Jim Burkhart, Fred Coolidge. Bob Camley and Gene Abrams made several attempts at survey construction, data collection and analysis and in each case no relationship was found between engagement and learning.)

“In 2003 a PTS CLAS protocol was prepared and approved on the Boulder, Colorado Springs and Denver campuses. The Boulder campus now has an active research program with one undergrad and one graduate student at CU-Boulder; a short report of very early findings is in your packet.

“The engaged learning projects on the campuses have had some failed attempts, but attempts nonetheless that taught you useful lessons and gave you new directions. A new direction was the insight and realization that possibly what is most needed is an understanding of the many dimensions of education research.

“In the meantime, we looked for possible funding from the Spencer Foundation, FIPSE (Fund for the Improvement of Secondary Education), Ford Foundation, Carnegie Foundation and Pew Charitable Trusts and more recently the American Association of Colleges and Universities. But a lot of education research funding has dried up.

“Regarding taking new directions, the focus of our panel today, five scholars and I went to the Carnegie Foundation for Teaching and Learning two weeks ago in search of advice, a process and a model for inquiry for conducting projects on learning innovation.
“Why Carnegie? Because they have a nationally active program consisting of faculty from across the country making a serious commitment and investment into the scholarship of teaching and learning with three broad rationales for advocating this serious investment. We came to believe these rationales and we bring you this information today.

“They are: professionalism, pragmatism and policy. (An article written by Lee Shulman, Carnegie’s president, is in your packet. (“From Minsk to Pinsk,” Carnegie josotl, vol. 1 number 1 (2000), pp. 48-53).

“Briefly stated professionalism refers to opportunities associated with becoming a professional scholar in one’s discipline, as well as opportunities associated with the profession of educator. It means exchanging our insights in learning and teaching with other professionals. Pragmastism refers to pursuing the scholarship of teaching and learning by engaging in purposive, reflective, documentation, assessment and analysis of learning and teaching. Policy refers to new forms of institutional research developed from activities undertaken by faculty educators, such as the Teaching Scholars, that are learning-focused, domain-specific and oriented toward analysis of education studies that institutions can support such as the CLAS initiative.

“We learned some processes and made plans that we bring to you today as ideas and a possible model. We took this step in order to: one, broaden an understanding of the inquiry into teaching and learning through projects and two, to examine ways to assist President Hoffman in some of her plans to enhance teaching and learning systemwide. We believe one of the plans she might have in mind is focusing on assessing student learning.

“We look forward to a discussion today that might reveal two things: In a practical way, how to improve what goes on in classrooms and courses at CU, and in a professional way, to know more about how the Teaching Scholars will undertake projects to bring new knowledge about learning to a variety of disciplines to bear on the work of all CU faculty.”