Active Learning Faculty Development Adventures: Reflective Teaching Partnerships and Students Assessing Teaching and Learning
James Zimmerman
UC Merced

Individual faculty mentoring and consultation activities constitute some of the most transformative, but also time-intensive, work that is typically supported by a learning and teaching center. Indeed, the methodology applied here - a series of individual consultations - has been shown to be a powerful means to help faculty members reflect on their teaching presence (Piccinin, 1999), increase their pedagogical content knowledge (Shulman, 1986), incorporate active learning activities, and modify course materials in a way that aligns with student learning outcomes (Biggs, 1999). Yet, programs to develop active learning teaching skills (especially those involving classroom visits) typically encounter faculty resistance. Frequently, faculty are hesitant to participate, believing that the formative assessment process is covertly connected to summative evaluation of teaching, promotion decisions, and ultimately tenure. Participating faculty may be embarrassed to admit misgivings about their teaching to a colleague, and whoever is asked to conduct the classroom observations will have to deal with yet another demand on their time. To address these issues, two programs have been developed utilizing distinctly under-utilized resources as partners: a mentorship program utilizing motivated emeritus faculty, and a Students Assessing Teaching and Learning (SATAL) program that trains interested undergraduate students.