The Faculty Fellows program began with an emphasis on describing and documenting the value of colleagues and community towards the development of excellence in teaching. Our first activity involved each Fellow listing people that contributed, in some manner, to their development as an educator. Furthermore, fellows were also asked to differentiate among identified interaction partners with respect to the perceived value of their peer’s contribution to their development as an educator. The first network looked like flowers, some growing on a vine and some growing on their own (see network below left). Fellows were asked to report on their community during the period between Jan 21 and Feb 7th and the structure of the community changed and became more integrated, suggesting that educational networks are dynamic entities (see network below right).
***Note that the social network of the Fellows community coalesced into a single component network because we specifically paired faculty members from across the divisions of the College.
The Fellows engaged in a comparison of learning goals between the natural sciences and the humanities/social sciences and discovered, not surprisingly, that both groups have the same overarching learning goals, including an emphasis on developing critical thinking skills and being able to make sense of the world. One Fellow noted that he found the process of comparing a learning goal between different divisions in the College “..really enjoyable”...and that he liked “..discussing our own personal strategies, goals, successes, and challenges around these issues.” He went on to write “I found a great deal of overlap in our general hopes for students: we all want them to be able to identify and use evidence! I also found myself thinking about authentic assessment. Some kinds of goals are especially amenable to authentic assessment, such as when production of a tangible product is all the proof needed to show that a student has some proficiency with the goal. Other kinds of goals require the professor’s interpretation of student work. My partner pointed out that the latter may not feel as “useful” or “real world” to students, pointing out the need to ground our students in the “why” of our goals.”