The University of Saskatchewan is paying particular attention to teaching and learning this fall as it prepares for the release of what the Provost believes could be one of the most influential foundational documents yet produced by the Integrated Planning process.
Michael Atkinson, sponsor of the Fall 2006 Provost’s Series on Teaching and Learning, said as consultation on the document continues, the events that will take place until late November are expected to not only inspire participants but also to spark discussion that will help with the document’s development.
“Teaching and learning happens at all levels of this institution, not just in the formal classroom setting. So we need to nurture a culture of learning centred squarely on our students and their success. This series is intended to help build that culture and provide our faculty with both concrete tools and broad inspiration for the challenge ahead.”
Teaching and learning were formally identified as a priority for the University in the Integrated Plan which states, “the University of Saskatchewan must dedicate itself to excellence in teaching…” That document also identified a New Learning Centre, now called the University Learning Centre (please see related story Page 3), as being pivotal to meeting the goals of the foundational document. Those goals include outlining expectations for faculty, describing best practices in teaching, and detailing evaluation systems.
The fall events organized jointly by the Provost’s office, the Gwenna Moss Teaching and Learning Centre, the University Learning Centre (ULC) and the Instructional Development Committee of Council cover the myriad aspects of teaching and learning. Topics include learning outcomes, interdisciplinary undergraduate programs, community service learning, accreditation and supporting students with learning disabilities.
“In terms of teaching, we know there are many, many individuals on this campus who do an outstanding job,” said Atkinson. “We want to see them at these sessions because many of the events we’ve planned are specifically designed to highlight their exemplary practices. But we also want to see others, people like me who have been away from the classroom for awhile and people, again like me, who are searching to improve their teaching performance and the quality of the experience they provide to their students.”
Atkinson added that likely in January, the central focus for teaching and learning on campus will be the Main Library where renovations are already underway to create space for the ULC. Designed to provide support for both students and faculty, the new entity “will ultimately assist in increasing our knowledge of effective teaching and learning practices in higher education.”
The University’s math and writing help operations now located in various spots on campus will be consolidated in the ULC, he said, as will the Gwenna Moss Teaching and Learning Centre. “Each will play a role within the ULC to improve the learning environment for both teachers and students.