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‘Common purpose’

Chairs in teaching and learning building a community of practice

Teaching and Learning |

By Jennifer Batten

The 13 educators appointed as Chairs in Teaching and Learning at Memorial University this year know a thing or two about the importance of collaboration and innovation in teaching and learning.

For this new group, working together to champion, model and support a vibrant, progressive teaching and learning environment across Memorial’s campuses forms the basis of their plans for the coming months and years.

The chairs have been meeting regularly this fall, sharing their project ideas and discussing how to best implement their plans to achieve their teaching and learning objectives. In October, the group collaborated on a presentation of the Chairs in Teaching and Learning program at the Atlantic Association of Universities Atlantic Universities Teaching Showcase which took place on Memorial’s St. John’s campus. The chairs worked with DELTS’ video production staff and Kim Myrick, manager, Teaching and Learning Framework, to create a video to showcase the role of the program and the work they are doing to promote excellence in teaching and learning. View the video below:

Away from the group setting, the chairs are moving forward with projects to address unit-specific goals with the support of the manager of Teaching and Learning, DELTS and other units, including the Centre for Institutional Analysis and Planning.

“Each chair is working on their own initiatives within their units, but they know that to be successful, they must also focus on the common purpose of creating a university-wide community of practice for teaching and learning,” said Ms. Myrick. “Individually and as a collective, their priority is to help to further promote a learner-centered university culture and foster the development of highly engaged, motivated, and effective graduates.”

Some projects involve student engagement in teaching and learning outcomes. For example, in her role as Chair in Teaching and Learning for the School of Social Work, Dr. Delores Mullings led a project this fall to identify factors in the teaching and learning environment that support social work students in becoming successful graduates. A unique focus group approach was designed to bring students together and brainstorm ideas on what supports their success, including staff, faculty, facilities/space and technology. The results were positive and will be used to enhance the learning experience in the School of Social Work.

Other ongoing projects engage educators with a desire to expand their knowledge of best practices in teaching and learning. Experiential workshops, speaker presentations, and discussion sessions organized by individual chairs are generating interest not only within their units but also across other units at Memorial. Topics include teaching technologies, evaluation methods, social justice and diversity. In the Faculty of Education, for example, Dr. Karen Goodnough recently offered an experiential workshop that involved participants working together in a talking circle to explore the nuances of dialogue education.

These are just some examples of the new teaching and learning projects being led by this enthusiastic team of educators. Further details on all projects will be shared in the coming months.

The unique Chairs in Teaching and Learning program is intended to enhance the student learning experience by promoting the development of innovative approaches, teaching capacity and competence across the university, within academic and support units, and at the level of individual faculty members. To learn more, visit here.


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