• QA Units: Teaching and learning development centers worldwide

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    WE focus on quality assurance (QA) units in this issue. QA facilities support academics in the teaching and learning function. The process of teaching and learning embed social realities that we, as academics, have to contend with. Adapting instruction to our learners’ diverse “abilities, learning styles, personality traits and needs,” we employ differentiated teaching strategies. Meanwhile that we also manage scarce resources within our workplace, whether for teaching, research or extension services or a mix of these, we find different activities occurring at the same time. We undergo multiple tasking assignments to save on manpower and try coping with unexpected events. Beyond all these, we have to be current in our disciplines, be aware of developments in “key related disciplines since the nature of knowledge and the problems facing humanity are cross-disciplinary and global.” We try “inter-disciplinary collaborations and cooperative sharing of information from different fields” “to find pragmatic solutions to global problems.” We approach the disciplines not as bits and pieces of information. Rather, along with our students, we strive to incubate and gestate cross-disciplinary perspectives to reflect the patterns, interactions, and interdependencies of the different fields. We strive to view concepts as less disparate or disconnected. We foster in our students to study and attempt to comprehend the world around them. In pursuing this, we, including those among us who are non-digital natives, maximize the effective use of high-tech resources such as multimedia technology, computer programs, telecommunication, the internet and audio-visual techniques. In our lectures, we integrate topics to prepare our students for study-and-travel cum on-the-job-training locally and abroad, to further enrich their learning through “interaction with people of different cultures, different geographical areas; different occupations, different ways of life; different outlooks.” We try providing “a variety of experiences and alternative strategies” to adapt to our learners’ characteristics.

    <http://www.necsi.edu/research/management/ education/teachandlearn.html>
    Given these realities, how are we academics being supported to ensure quality in our teaching and learning function? A number of us in our universities are non-doctoral degree holders; a greater number strive to complete a master’s degree, more so that a masters is at present CHED’s minimum requirement for collegiate teaching. In our universities, sending academics for advanced studies, attendance to seminars and workshops— all these, if affordable — are the better known mode of “faculty development,” or “continuing professional education” (CPE). As understood, faculty development is “both a comprehensive term that covers a wide range of activities ultimately designed to improve student learning, and a less broad term that describes a purposeful attempt to help faculty improve their competence as teachers and scholars.” (Eble & McKeachie, 1985).

    How do our counterparts in advanced economies fare? We note that academics employed in cross-border universities in most cases have doctorate degrees. Hence, these counterparts need not be sent for further studies. Instead, their universities make available to them a facility for teaching and learning development which, according to a UK survey, is responsive to increasing expectation of “work-based education and training” the provision of which has become, over the years, “more coherently organized and less ad hoc and reactive.” This support is meant to match expectations of academics for “employment-related study to be credit-bearing and leads to recognized awards . . .” such as “initial teacher training programs for new teaching staff.” Such a facility provides “professional development opportunities for all academics in the areas of teaching, learning, and scholarship.” Some of such programs include “assistance with teaching, mentoring, promotion and tenure, grant writing, scholarly writing, teaching observations, and instructional technology.”

    Hoping our universities have something similar, I searched the web but which did not yield much information. There are, however, similar and equally important facilities but are largely more to support students – such as the Center for Language and Lifelong Learning at the De la Salle University and the Teaching and Learning Resource Center of the University of the Philippines Cebu. Not in the web is the Teaching and Learning Resource Center at the now Bukidnon State University (BSU) with similar functions as those in the Centers for Teaching and Learning in cross-border universities, where instructional seminars, workshops, lectures by the academics themselves and by invited experts have been regular modes of Continuing Professional Development (CPD) sessions tailor fit to update BSU’s academics.

    My web search for units to support T/L development rendered the following examples world-wide: (1) in Asia and the Middle East: Hong Kong Baptist University Centre for Holistic Teaching and Learning; Malaysia – Universiti Teknologi Malaysia Centre for Teaching and Learning; Singapore – National University of Singapore Centre for the Development of Teaching and Learning; University of Tokyo Center for Research and Development of Higher Education (provides a Teaching kit for new academics); King Fahad University of Petroleum and Minerals Teaching and Learning Center (provides grants through the office of the Dean for Academic Development “to enable individual faculty or faculty groups to pursue projects in fields related to academic development.”)<http://www.kfupm.edu.sa/deanships/dad/SitePages/en/ContentDetailsPage.aspx?
    CUSTOMID=17&LinkID=GetNestedMenus30>; (2) Australia and New Zealand- University of Canberra Academic Staff Development; Victoria University at Wellington University Teaching Development Centre; (3) Canada – University of Toronto Centre for Teaching Support & Innovation; (4.) Europe – University of Hamburg Inter-disciplinary Center for Higher Education; (5.) South America – Universidad Católica de Chile – Centro de Desarrollo Docente (Faculty Development Center); (6.) United Kingdom – University of Southampton Learning and Teaching Enhancement Unit; St. Andrews University Centre for Transformative Teaching and Learning (7.) United States – California State University – Faculty Center for Professional Development; University of Hawaii Center for Instructional Support. (To be continued – a closer look at these centers)

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    Teresita Tanhueco-Tumapon, PhD, is one of the Philippines’ most accomplished educators and experts on institutional management in colleges and universities. Her studies have included not only education and pedagogy but also literature, general science and history.

    She has studied not only in the topmost universities in the Philippines but also in Germany, Great Britain and Japan. She headed chartered institutions, had been vice-president for academics and for external relations and internationalization and editor-in-chief of the Liceo Journal of Higher Education Research accredited by the Commission on Higher Education (CHED). At present, she teaches in the Graduate Studies of Liceo de Cagayan University (in Cagayan de Oro City). She holds a Lifetime Professional Achievement Award from the central office of the CHED.

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