Every year, UBC welcomes hundreds of new faculty members. Many are seasoned instructors with years of classroom experience and yet some are completely new to teaching. To help new faculty build a foundation for their teaching careers, UBC’s Centre for Teaching, Learning and Technology (CTLT) is piloting the Teaching Development Program (TDP) for New Faculty.
Currently hosting its first cohort of 38 faculty members from UBC Vancouver and UBC Okanagan, this pilot professional development program creates opportunities for faculty to connect across the university and to develop the specific skills they need to thrive. This is one example that supports Catalyst #2 (I can grow my career) of the Focus on People 2025 framework.
We sat down for a conversation with Emily Renoe, Senior Educational Consultant at CTLT and a member of the TDP for New Faculty’s consulting team, to learn more about the program and the experience so far.
Q. Why did CTLT decide to create the Teaching Development Program for New Faculty?
Emily Renoe: We looked at the group of faculty that have up to two years of teaching experience and saw a need for them to engage with their peers and build a stronger teaching skills foundation. So, we came up with this nine-month pilot program that aims to fill any gaps that they might have, and help them thrive in their careers.
What we expect is to really make a shift in their teaching practice. We want to encourage them to think about effective teaching practices, how their students are feeling, cultural differences and backgrounds, etc. It’s much broader than just a matter of being a good instructor.
Q. What are your first impressions from the pilot?
Emily: There are a lot of different skills and experiences within the 38 people participating in the first cohort. We have participants from Applied Science to Arts to Medicine. It’s been amazing to see them network with peers from across the UBC community, outside of their departments. Also, to see them taking a variety of professional development workshops and building their program portfolio.
It’s worth emphasizing that, like most we do at CTLT, this pilot is a hugely collaborative effort. The consulting team is composed of people from multiple areas – we have contributors from the Indigenous Initiatives team, from the Equity and Inclusion Office, and people like myself from CTLT, whose day-to-day work includes supporting faculty development with learning technologies. It’s a very diverse group of consultants that makes the program relevant for faculty members with different backgrounds.
Q. What content does the program cover?
Emily: The TDP for New Faculty is an intentional way of supporting new faculty to think about their teaching and learning environment, and, ultimately, enhance it in a meaningful way. To achieve that, the program’s curriculum has core and elective pieces embedded, which are delivered both in person and online.
An example of a core component is the Instructional Skills Workshop, a three-day program that offers approaches to become a better instructor. It covers from active learning strategies to developing learning objectives and much more. Another example is the Classroom Climate Series, which is run by the Indigenous Initiatives team. This series introduces participants to the context of Indigenous engagement at UBC and encourages them to challenge their own assumptions about it.
In addition to attending workshops, group meetings and individual check-ins with their consultants, TDP for New Faculty participants develop a portfolio on Canvas – this can be made up of reflections or even a course syllabus revision.
Q. What excites you the most about program?
Emily: There are so many things that excite me about the TDP for New Faculty! The first being the overwhelming response that we received, and support from department heads and university leadership for the program. There is a great appetite for the program, which encouraged us and showed that we’re on the right track.
Additionally, it was very exciting to be in the community meetings, especially in the kickoff session that happened in August last year. It was great to see people from across campus interacting, exchanging shared wisdom, challenges, opportunities and even fears about teaching. I believe that really gave participants a sense of community and showed them that they’re not alone – even if they work in completely different fields and different parts of campus.
A third thing that excites me a lot is seeing their progression through their portfolio. We saw a little bit of it in December, but we’ll see their final presentation at the capstone meeting in April. A particularly interesting component will be participant’s reflections around their place and positionality on campus with respect to unceded Musqueam lands and the cultural values and teachings of this place. We are encouraging them to deeply reflect on how to integrate this piece into their thinking and into their portfolio, and I’m looking forward to seeing the results.
Q. How does the program support UBC’s strategic goals?
Emily: The development of the TDP for New Faculty was informed by UBC’s strategic plan to start. Our program aligns with the plan’s three themes of inclusion, collaboration and innovation, as well as with the core areas People and Places and Transformative Learning. Just to enumerate some of its outcomes that relate to the plan; the program fosters connections and builds a more resilient community at UBC, enhances diversity, encourages innovation, provides greater support for instructors and immerses them in real-life learning to improve their teaching effectiveness (Strategy 11: Education Renewal). In addition, it supports indigenous engagement as emphasised by Strategy 17.
Check out CTLT’s website for updates and more details on the program, as well as to access other resources available for new faculty members at UBC.