Give Students a Compass

Give Students a Compass
Ideas About Faculty Development Next Steps: May, 2013

California State University Foundation
“Give Students a Compass”

The recent work at the March 2013 "Compass" meeting has helped focus the direction for some aspects of Compass GE reform and faculty development. The first section summarizes relevant themes and issues. The second section identifies some ideas for consideration for faculty development approaches to support GE reform.

Relevant Faculty Development Themes and Issues

Faculty Development Investment/ Priority: California CSUs and CCs are in the early stages of recovering from the recent economic crisis, and this includes faculty development. One example of the depleted resources and commitment comes from Meg Gorzycki from SFSU. In the last five years, SFSU transitioned from 6.5 to 1 faculty development FTE.  Meg reported her concern that most current workshops focus on reappointment, tenure and promotion (RTP) and research and publishing instead of teaching, and that new faculty orientation activities have been significantly reduced over the last five years without plans for reinstatement.

My impressions from attending one full and one partial Faculty Development Council meeting, and having had conversations with Jessica Weiss and Eileen Barrett at CSUEB and Meg Gorzycki at SFSU is there is frustration over the low investment and limited priority given to CSU faculty development efforts. Additionally, they are not "invited to the table" by leadership as partners to discuss campus faculty development needs or recommendations.

Faculty Development Director Role: Another aspect of the investment is the limited time commitment of ITL/Faculty Development director position when they work part-time in the position in exchange for course release time. When executed effectively, faculty development activities include conducting a needs assessment, designing, scheduling, communicating, implementing, evaluating, and meeting one-one-one and in groups with faculty.  Quality development takes time and a commitment by the institution including being a partner at the table for decisions about resource allocation.

It appears Faculty Development is managed in a variety of different ways at the 112 community colleges typically in a part-time role.

Faculty Requirements for Faculty Development Activities: Requirements to complete faculty development activities vary.  At the CSU's, tenured faculty need to demonstrate for RTP..."scholarly teaching, scholarly research/creative activities, and scholarly service." CSU Lecturer development differs by the college they are teaching in; my experience is that lecturers are directed to remain current in their field.  

In the CC's faculty development is driven by the Chancellor’s Office. “The Flex program consists of staff development activities “in lieu of” regular instruction.  Flex activities (Title 5, Section 55724, Item A-4) can be, and are not limited to, training programs, group retreats, field experiences, and workshops in activities such as course and program development and revision, staff development activities, development of new instructional materials, and other instruction-related activities.” The requirements vary by contract (e.g. three days annually at Mt. San Jacinto College and ten days at Santa Barbara City College).

Attendance to Faculty Development Activities: At CSU East Bay, while funded faculty learning communities are well-attended ($500 over 2 quarters for an FLC), many unfunded workshops have just a few attendees - often two or three. Eileen Barrett, the previous CSUEB Faculty Development director, stated that most people attend a workshop when they are new or to solve a problem. I am unaware of the degree to which tenured faculty at CSUs and CCs attend conferences and symposiums. Two CSU faculty development directors, Meg Gorzycki  (SFSU) and Amy Strage (SJSU) reported the difficulty of getting lecturers to attend faculty development activities. 

Tenured Faculty and Adjunct Access to Development: There seems to be agreement that both tenured and adjunct faculty need access to, support for, and encouragement to engage in faculty development activities. With the lecturer population appearing to be in the increase at the CSUs (e.g. CSUEB, 42% tenure track and  58% Lecturer) and with adjuncts proportionately teaching more of the undergraduate GE courses compared to tenured faculty - at least at CSUEB, it is important to include both populations.  I do not have the publication reference from 2012 that estimated California CCs may be as many as two-thirds adjunct. 

Faculty Development Ideas for Consideration

With the transition of the Compass initiative planned over the next 18 months into the day-to-day work of GEAC, limited funds available, and limited project support, the work of faculty development may be best served in discreet and strategic ways leveraging activities already taking place and/or which are more likely to be self-sustainable.  

1. Continue Strategic Leadership Advocacy:

  • Link to strategic initiatives such as the CSU Graduation Initiative, (includes the innovative online technologies funding for online and hybrid classes), GE Program Review, GE Affinity group, Project Kaleidoscope (PKAL), LACCD Achieving the Dream, and CCC Student Success Task Force.
  • Link to campus visits and communications to GE related campus leadership including CSU GE director, AVP of Undergraduate Studies, ITL directors, provosts. Would a formal communication on behalf of the Compass project to CSU presidents on student success that includes the value of faculty development in GE reform be appropriate towards the transition of the project?

2. "General Education & Student Engagement" Multimedia Educational Resource for Learning and Online Education (MERLOT) Website

Our "General Education & Student Engagement" partner community website hosted through MERLOT provides a significant opportunity to continue to build the GE reform community online starting with sharing related resources and materials.  Our first prototype includes tabs with materials and website links for: Thematic GE, HIPs, ePortfolio, Outcomes Assessment, Faculty Development, and Compass Initiative.

There is also a section to Connect with People and Organizations and the ability to make some sections public and others private that also make MERLOT a space designed for digital ambassador(s) to sponsor moderated online discussions, for posting professional profiles including accomplishments (a brag board) and optional email links, or to market events, and to provide kudos.  

3. Funding Support for Related Conferences Workshops/Events

  • Debra has already agreed to help Elizabeth Adams on September 27th at CSUN for their one-day meeting focusing on thematic GE.
  • One idea that came out of the meeting with Debra, Amy Strage, and me at SJSU was a Bay Area  "Showcase" hosted by SJSU open to CSU's and CCCs on one common strand of GE (rather than a variety of themes).  This idea included a 1/2 day planning meeting and a one-day showcase.

4. Marketing Support for  Existing Compass / GE Reform Related Campus Workshops: Where we can get permission and support, we can provide intersegmental marketing for some especially relevant campus workshops led by experienced faculty. For example, related workshops at some of the CSUs and one CC  reviewed in August 2012 included:

  • CSULA: High Impact Practices for Beginners
  • CSUM: Teaching in the new GE/Otter Model, and Assessing Critical Thinking in Area A
  • Cabrillo College, Strategic Planning for Interdisciplinary Creative Education
  • SFSU:  Sustaining the Relevance of General Education Courses
  • CSUN: Developing and Assessing Students' Critical Thinking Skills: Practical Strategies

5. Leverage Faculty  Development Efforts

  • Faculty Learning Communities: As Faculty Learning Communities are an established best practice for faculty growth, we could consider ways to leverage their impact.  This could include funding a limited number on GE reform topics such as thematic GE, learning outcomes assessment, high impact practices, eportfolios, or performance tasks (specific student work that will reveal proficiency in the LEAP Essential Learning Outcomes).  Another approach would be to provide some GE reform related suggestions to faculty development directors for designing their own campus faculty Learning Communities to give them discretion deciding the detail. 
  • 2014 CSU ITL Summer Institute: Participate in the discussion during the early planning of the2014 CSU ITL Summer Institute to identify  possible  GE connections.
  • Faculty Development Center Scholarship of Teaching and Learning Activities: As publishing efforts in new and evolving pedagogy are appealing to many faculty for RTP and professional purposes, we can encourage Faculty Development Centers to include Compass/GE reform topics. 

6. Sponsor or Co-Sponser Online Wiley Workshop
One ambitious idea is to collaborate with Wiley to sponsor or co-sponsor (Kevin could find a partner to share costs) a California or nationwide  workshop with Wiley in fall, 2013 or spring 2014 on a topic that is considered to be the "brightest shining star" of this initiative such as designing thematic general education. Advantages include the relationship with Kevin Kelly, the reputation of Wiley, 2,800 national college and university online members, and the ability for participants to attend live or later view recorded workshops.