By Jody Greene
As the Center for Innovations in Teaching and Learning (CITL) wraps up the first year of campus programming, I extend gratitude to the entire CITL team, including the leadership in Academic Affairs, Assistant Director Kendra Dority, and our stellar team of Graduate Student Researchers. I also want to thank our many campus partners, including the Academic Senate, the Graduate Division, the Graduate Student Commons, and the Division of Student Success.
With the help of these and many other allies, we were able to achieve our twin goals of making a measurable impact on campus instruction and making real our mission to support and sustain a vibrant culture of teaching and learning on campus. We placed inclusive teaching and engaged pedagogy at the center of our efforts, and found ourselves inspired by the many groups on campus committed to delivering an outstanding education to each one of the students we have now, using the tools we have now.
2017-18 was a year of many, many firsts for us. Our inaugural cohort of 22 Faculty Fellows, with representation from all divisions and every academic rank, acted as advisors, ambassadors, and fellow travelers throughout the year. The Faculty Fellows exemplified the true meaning of “learning community,” as we supported each other to become more familiar with both the challenges and the opportunities facing our campus and the substantial research available to help us tackle those challenges and opportunities. With a team of Faculty Fellows, we delivered a forum on inclusive teaching to the Academic Senate and presented a “teach-in” at Alumni Weekend.
We stepped into the task of enhancing the professional development of our graduate student population with commitment and resolve. 18 Graduate Pedagogy Fellows (the first half of a two-year program to put a trained Teaching Assistant (TA) trainer in every department on campus) completed a 10-week course in active and inclusive pedagogy, designed a TA training for their department or division, and will deliver that research-based training beginning in Fall of 2018. We offered two other graduate certificates—in Teaching with Technology and in Inclusive Teaching and Universal Design for Learning—each of which filled with a long wait list. And for the first time this summer, all Graduate Student Instructors (GSIs) teaching in Summer Session had access to a CITL-trained pedagogy mentor to support their teaching goals.
In addition to completing more than 50 individual consultations with faculty and graduate students, the Director and Assistant Director delivered more than two dozen workshops and presentations in department and staff meetings on topics as wide ranging as inclusive teaching, TA/faculty relations beyond the contract, universal design for learning, supporting students facing personal challenges that interfere with their academic performance, and how to document teaching development for the Academic Personnel process. We are excited to expand our workshop offerings next year with new programming on mentoring, academic integrity, and addressing the needs of multilingual and international students in our courses.
The highlight of the year was the visit to campus of Cathy Davidson, author of The New Education and revolutionary thinker about the challenges facing higher education today. In a public talk attended by approximately 200 guests and a series of workshops, Davidson challenged the campus to rethink the meaning, purpose, and delivery of a graduate or undergraduate education for the 21st century. We gave out 150 copies of Davidson’s book, in the hopes of sparking a conversation that will continue on campus in the years to come.
These are only a few of the activities we engaged in this year, and just the beginning of the work we hope to do with our colleagues and partners on campus in the years to come. Exciting developments to watch out for in 2018-19 include the release of our new CITL Teaching Resources website, which aims to be a one-stop resource for everything from course design to conducting effective teaching observations, and the convening of the STEM Teaching and Learning Community, a new Faculty Learning Community made up of the instructors of the gateway courses to all of our STEM majors. We can’t wait for the arrival in Fall 2018 of the first cohort of CITL Undergraduate Fellows, who will study the science of learning and develop projects to support their peers to become outstanding learners while at UC Santa Cruz.
We warmly welcome a number of new part-time additions to the CITL staff, including Associate Director for Teaching Nandini Bhattacharya, Associate Director for Learning Jessie Dubreuil, and Academic Affairs Administrative Assistant Hillary Schalit Bennett. We are also beginning our long-anticipated search for a full-time professional developer with expertise in STEM equity, a position that is co-funded by the CITL and the Hispanic Serving Institution Initiatives. And we are thrilled to announce that our 2018-19 convocation speaker will be scholar, visionary, and activist bell hooks, discussing the long history of “active learning” and its relationship to social justice.
As all of this should make clear, our little start-up is growing quickly. We look forward to seeing and working with you in 2018-19!