About the UWGB Teaching Scholars Program
The Teaching Scholars Program has one central focus: to provide an opportunity for faculty to engage in discussion and activities that enhance teaching and learning. The main activity is the development of a teaching and learning project. Simply put, the project asks Scholars to identify a strategy that may successfully address a common teaching challenge. During the first semester, each Scholar identifies a teaching challenge. The Scholar then explores strategies that may successfully address the challenge. At the end of the first semester, Scholars refine their strategies and then employ them in a class in the second semester. Each Scholar evaluates how well the strategy worked, and presents his/her findings during a campus-wide presentation.
Teaching Scholars meet about once a month to discuss books and other readings about teaching and provide a forum to talk about on-going projects. Sometimes, Teaching Scholars II, senior faculty members recognized for their teaching excellence also join the discussions. Meetings are informal, with lots of free-flowing conversation. Past participants have found the program to be an enjoyable experience, and have described it as a supportive environment filled with great conversation and wonderful guests.
The Teaching Scholars program began as a conversation in the fall of 1999. At the time, few activities related to teaching existed on campus, especially for our most promising new faculty, who were increasing significantly in number as senior faculty members retired. The originators of the program, Denise Scheberle and Fergus Hughes, saw an opportunity to interact with new faculty members who share a desire to become great teachers and to engage in the scholarship of teaching and learning. They believed that a program dedicated to encouraging new faculty members to excel as teachers would benefit the Scholars, students and the campus as a whole. Teaching Scholars would become leaders in faculty development, and in turn, become role models and mentors for other faculty.
The idea became reality when the Teaching Scholars Program was funded by a grant from the UW-System’s Office of Professional and Instructional Development (OPID) for the 2000-2001 academic year. OPID also supported the Teaching Scholars Program in 2001-2002. The Provost agreed to fund the program in 2002-2003, 2003-2004, and 2004-2005, based upon positive evaluations from Teaching Scholar alumni. Teaching Scholars observed that their participation in the program resulted in a more positive classroom teaching and learning experience, and that the program created a supportive network of faculty members interested in enhancing the craft of teaching. To date, 34 Teaching Scholars have completed the program, and many of them have achieved recognition as excellent teachers who are committed to faculty development.
The Teaching Scholars Program seeks to:
- recognize faculty who have made a commitment to excellent teaching and to continuously improving the quality of their teaching
- create a community of assistant professors who share a strong interest in pedagogical issues
- provide a climate in which there is mutual support for and exchange of information about classroom teaching
- encourage faculty to develop an interest in the scholarship of teaching
- provide an opportunity for faculty members to try new teaching techniques and address specific teaching challenges in a teaching and learning project
Regan A. R. Gurung