It’s an age-old question in higher education: how do you equip university instructors to be effective teachers?
Dalhousie’s own Centre for Learning and Teaching (CLT) has proven invaluable over the years to new and experienced educators alike seeking to develop their skills in the classroom, virtual or otherwise.
Now, CLT, in partnership with the Provost’s Office and the Faculty of Graduate Studies (FGS), is expanding its professional-development support for graduate students and others who are interested in teaching development. It’s doing so via its membership in the Center for the Integration of Research, Teaching and Learning (CIRTL).
CIRTL is an international network of 42 institutions across the United States and Canada committed to exploring and sharing findings related to teaching development and implementation.
At Dal, the program is aimed primarily at graduate students and postdoctoral fellows across all disciplines, but faculty and staff are also welcomed to participate. Enrolment is free to all graduate students and faculty.
“The CIRTL program embraces flexibility in its design, allowing individuals to participate in different ways and to different ends depending on what they are interested in,” explains Dr. Suzanne Le-May Sheffield, acting executive director of CLT at Dal.
Proritizing professional development
Those driven to participate more often in CIRTL can work their way through different levels of learning in pursuit of letters of completion that build upon certificate programs at Dal. Others might jump into a one-off online course about a topic that’s relevant to them.
Another key selling point of the program: networking.
“The opportunity for our graduate students and other instructors to access workshops outside of Dalhousie, to hear what people at other universities are doing, and to network with people outside of Dalhousie will be incredibly valuable,” says Dr. Angela Siegel, faculty co-lead for CIRTL at Dal..
Connections made during the program could prove valuable down the road to graduate students when they are seeking employment, she says.
The CIRTL workshops and course offerings add to the already rich professional development opportunities for grad students at Dal found within CLT and Dal GradPD, an FGS-led hub for skills and career development at the university.
Dalhousie and other universities offer their own programming to other participants across the network as part of the program, contributing to a community of practice that stretches beyond borders. The result: a rich and diverse learning environment.
Those who choose to delve deeper into the CIRTL program levels have the chance to build on CLT programming to take further workshops and courses through the CIRTL network, engage in reflection on their teaching practice, and develop their own scholarship of teaching and learning that they can then share back with other participants. Projects can focus on everything from pedagogical approach at the course level to broader inquiries into disciplinary curriculum.
“It offers one more layer of credentialing for those people who want additional credentials beyond what we offer at CLT,” says Le-May Sheffield. “It gives our graduate students and instructors another chance to learn and illustrate their commitment to teaching and learning.”
Learn more about the CIRTL program and how you can participate.
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