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Archives for Bush Faculty Development Committee 1993-2002

New faculty 1993-2001

Faculty Development Grant

from the Bush Foundation

Nov 2002 - Nov 2005

Augustana College
Sioux Falls, SD


Faculty Development Grant Proposal

IV: On What Problems or Opportunities Does The College Wish to Work?

The overriding objective of Augustana's faculty development program is to systematically explore student learning in at least four ways: (a) understand better the relationship between teacher and student, and find ways to improve that fundamental relationship; (b) explore and apply familiar and unfamiliar enhancements of the teacher-student relationship, e.g., opportunities for an intensive internship/practical application component for students, an emphasis on technology and its implications for the teaching and learning processes, and "placement" of students in an appropriate diverse, international or intercultural context; (c) apply the latest research and methodology to the assessment of student learning and develop functional ways to apply what is learned directly to the curriculum; and (d) explore the ways mission and vocation of the college impact student learning.

These objectives are grounded in strategic planning efforts within the institution and within the generalized concern about the role and place of institutions such as Augustana College. Obviously, the landscape of higher education is changing. The number of for-profit institutions is increasing along with the number of traditional nonprofit colleges offering on-line degree programs. Students have more educational options today than ever before. At the same time, parents and students have shifted their perspectives on the role of higher education. Higher education is often perceived as professional training that is measured solely by the quality of the job on completion of the degree. In South Dakota the perspective is even more complex given the projected declines in population (particularly college-aged persons) across the next ten to twenty years.

Questions have shifted from "What will I learn?" to "How much will I earn?" Liberal Arts institutions are finding it more difficult to convince parents and students that there is more to an education than professional training. This changing landscape is further motivation to better understand teaching effectiveness and student learning and to find ways to make the learning process more relevant to our students. We need to ask ourselves regularly, "What is the place of a liberal arts institution in a ‘vo-tech' world?" This proposal reflects our concerns about student learning and the future of the faculty-student learning relationship at Augustana College.

In the planning process, both the luncheon and the forums solicited conversation and input from the faculty that revolved around several key themes: (a) mission-related activities - this could be a focus on liberal learning, inter-disciplinary teaching, learning advantages in a residential college (key referent points coming from our academic master plan); (b) information literacy and technology assisted instruction; (c) vocation, which means to be actively involved in the world, and by doing so, to become sustainers (as involved persons) of the world4; (d) faculty development activities that might help shape the future direction of the college; (e) a desire to explore the possibility of developing new and productive expressions of the teaching-learning relationship; (f) a focus on the utility of liberal learning in developing important and marketable job skills and advancement opportunities for graduates; and (g) a focus on the development of new campus leadership options and/or campus administrative structures that will enhance student learning. The information from these sessions was synthesized by the committee into specific problems that we wished to address in the proposal.

In 1998, Augustana College received a planning grant from the Bush Foundation for funding in faculty development. The resulting proposal to the Bush Foundation was developed in collaboration with faculty on campus, and as a result of input from focus groups, surveys, and suggestions from individual faculty. In March 1999, the College received its current three-year faculty development grant from the Bush Foundation and began offering programs soon after. Augustana College requested from the Collaboration5 a consultation on its faculty development project. The goal of the consultation was quite broad. The college was just completing the first year of its new three-year Bush faculty development grant and sought an outside opinion on the extent to which the activities of the college matched those that had been described in its grant proposal. The basic question was, "Are we doing what we said we would do?"

The consultant, Dr. Vicki Littlefield, provided a report on the project. From that report we read, "Because most evaluation plans for the current round were developed after the proposals had been written, and because there was considerable time constraint on their development, they typically consist of surveys that focus on students' perceptions or opinions about their learning."6 Dr. Littlefield pointed to the need to heighten the focus on assessment of student learning resulting from the various teaching innovations. She suggested a more aggressive "marketing" approach to promote applications in the less popular areas. Littlefield encouraged the college to find ways to get faculty involved in the technology grants, to think in terms of "value added" for student learning and argued for some more structured use of the instructional technologist's time to facilitate this.

We also requested outside evaluators to appraise the success of the faculty development program over the last three years. Ken Jones and William Mangan were selected, and visited Augustana College May 16-17, 2002. The primary goal for the consultation was to assess the impact of the faculty development grant sponsored by the Bush Foundation that will end in fall 2002. In addition, the consultants were to comment on how the lessons learned from the current faculty development program might shape the college's application for Bush funds in the future. Two prominent lessons emerged. First, while the original proposal listed a number of evaluation goals for the entire grant, many of the specific evaluative questions were "filed and forgotten." Second, it is now obvious that the necessary shift from project outcomes that emphasize faculty and instructional development to those that emphasize student learning never occurred.7

As a result of these reviews, the members of this planning committee have attempted to closely co-mingle project activities with the assessment of student learning. This change in orientation was noted in the last round of individual projects in spring 2002 focused on assessment. This proposal contains many emphases on student learning and the assessment of that student learning. The faculty members who choose to become participants in the activities identified in this project will be held to strict standards of student learning assessment. Support and help for faculty will be available from the Office of Academic Affairs (the Director of Academic Assessment, and the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs.) This project calls for components similar to those in the 1999 project, but strengthened in a number of ways. For example, we have restructured the administrative component of the grant. Thematic workshops were proposed and the role of instructional technology has been expanded to include consultation on the use of technology to enhance student learning. Finally, this proposal is more "grounded", i.e., there is a stronger tie to the mission and vision of the college.

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4   Simmons, E.L. (1998) Lutheran Higher Education. Minneapolis, MN: Augsburg Fortress Press.

5   The Collaboration for the Advancement of College Teaching and Learning.

6   Littlefield, Vicki, May 2000 "Consultant Report On First Year of Bush Grant."

7   Jones, Ken and William Mangan, Report on the Augustana College Faculty Development Grant. May, 2002.


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Send comments to Faculty Development Committee
klindell@augie.edu
or Arlen Viste
e-mail: viste@augie.edu