Teaching Fellows Report
June 23, 2015
The Teaching Fellows Program has been in operation since the spring of 2013. There have been a total of three groups of Teaching Fellows, with approximately 45 students and faculty members participating. Each group was comprised of a cohort of students participating as mentees, who worked on a project(s) designed with a faculty member in a specific discipline, to experience the world of the teaching profession. The program is campus-wide and has served a diverse group of students from many disciplines, from the Liberal Arts to the Natural Sciences. Each year, participating faculty mentors have designed the content of topics and the sequence of presentations for the monthly sessions of the two semester program.
A Steering Committee comprised of an appointed Dean, the President of the Academic Senate, a representative of the All Faculty Association, a faculty member (with experience as a mentor), and a representative from the Scholarship Office meet on a regular basis to provide leadership, planning and facilitation for all processes and policies related to the program. Some examples of tasks include, but are not limited to:
- distribution of information for the recruitment of faculty and students
- selection of the participants
- setting policies and supporting the program processes throughout the year
- attendance at monthly Teaching Fellows Program meetings
The program has continued to improve as evidenced by student feedback and surveys. The faculty engagement has increased and improved over the past three semesters. The processes set by the Steering Committee promote continuous improvement, which includes consistent communication with individual faculty and students by the Dean, and shared decision making and responsibility for tasks that come before the Steering Committee.
The goals of the Teaching Fellows Program are:
- to inspire SRJC students interested in teaching or a related career in the educational profession, and
- to provide them with real life practical experiences to enrich their understanding of the joys and challenges of being an educator.
Outcomes of the Program
The outcomes of the program benefit both the individual Teaching Fellow and the group of fellows that comprise a cohort. The faculty mentors plan sessions and agree on specific topic areas to be delivered to the group of fellows; the method of instruction or delivery is decided upon, and faculty teams are formed for each presentation. Each faculty member is required to participate in two of the eight group sessions throughout the year. A few examples of content delivered by faculty to the cohort this year included Cultural Diversity, Tenure Process, Academic Freedom, Active Learning, Socratic Method, Developmental Psychology, and A Path to Teaching.
Individual Teaching Fellows apply with a Faculty member, and a project is proposed for their discipline. Many of the fellows included the presentation of a lesson, lecture, or leading a laboratory experience (whichever was appropriate for their discipline) in their project(s).
The Results of the 2014-15 Program
The 2014-15 year was an extremely successful program with 100% participation of the Teaching Fellows and significant engagement of faculty. Some faculty are eligible for Professional Growth Increments (PGI) for their participation, and others can claim flex credit, however whichever they claim, all invest more time than is required. The Faculty Mentors dedicated at least 10 hours per week to the individual projects with their Teaching Fellow, which added up to approximately 350 hours of individual time invested over the course of the two semesters.
The cohort of Teaching Fellows and Faculty started with 13 teams. Two students had serious family issues (caring for ill parents and/or grandparents), and unfortunately had to withdraw from all their classes at SRJC. The remaining 11 Fellows finished the year.
The program was campus-wide and various disciplines were represented. Some examples of the disciplines included History, English, Natural Sciences, Chemistry, Biology, Mathematics, Natural Sciences, and Anthropology.
Next year we will begin the 2015-16 fall semester with a cohort of 16 Teaching Fellows and Faculty Mentors. The disciplines include Geophysics and Space Physics, Natural Sciences, Mathematics, Biology, Human Services, Environmental Studies, Anthropology, English, Spanish, Psychology, History, Material Science, and Child Development.
Influence on Students from Participation
The influence on students from their participation in the Teaching Fellows Program is best exemplified in their own words. In May, the fellows are asked to fill out a survey prior to the final cohort session. The following examples are taken from the fellow surveys.
Teaching Fellows Individual Experiences
A question is asked, “what has been your most memorable learning experience in the Teaching Fellows Program and why?” This question is related to the experience with their mentor. A few of the answers follow:
“This experience has been extraordinary, I have gained confidence in public speaking. I can’t really pick the most memorable because the whole program has been.”
“I have truly enjoyed the entire program! My mentor has included me in entire aspects of her teaching….I have knowledge of how to prepare lectures, assisting in the execution of exams, and creating assignments. I enjoyed the challenge, and it taught me the importance of an organized and detailed class structure and material.”
“Being able to convey material to a group of people is an exciting thing to do and fulfilling. I was able to sit in on interviews for new faculty.”
“My most memorable learning experience has been the process of learning how to be a teacher….learning to write syllabi, creating exam questions and assignments, to grading papers, which taught me about education from the other perspective: the teacher.”
Cohort Meetings Feedback from All Teaching Fellows Participants
When asked “what worked well for cohort meetings?” Some examples from the group’s experience follow:
“I found the cohort meetings very valuable. I learned from other fellows and mentors…I noticed common themes from group sharing, which provided an excellent learning experience to help solidify what works and what does not work.”
“It was good that professors from different departments were able to present on same or different topics as it allowed for a breadth of information to be presented.”
“The student participation was fun and helped all of us as we were able to talk about our experiences, successes and failures, and evaluate different possible outcomes as a team.”
“Every mentor that led the meetings brought their own perspective or recommendations regarding the topic of discussion, which was very helpful in gaining a wide spectrum of insights about what teaching is and how to be a ‘good’ teacher.”