Minutes of the Advisory Council on Instructional Excellence
Wednesday, June 2, 1999
2 PM, 817 CL
In attendance: Albrecht, Bartholomae, Bean, Beckman, Bell-Loncella, Beratan, Davis, Flechtner, Greenberg, Harris-Schenz, Lesgold, Lillie, Maher, Marsh,VanLehn
Absent: Manfredi, Scaglion, Schor, Whitney, Wilkins
Handouts: Job Descriptions of Faculty Development Coordinator and Instructional Designer in CIDDE
1. Report of the Chair
Provost James Maher said that the Council's overall agenda had been divided into three parts, with its Sub-committees focusing on the separate portions. He said that the long-term goal of the Advisory Council on Instructional Excellence was to oversee the instructional development of faculty and graduate students at the University. He invited Dr. Lesgold's Sub-committee to focus next on the services that the Center for Instructional Development and Distance Education (CIDDE) should provide on an ongoing basis to ensure that faculty have the instructional support they need. He also said that the Council's agenda for the next academic year would include discussions of what CIDDE should accomplish.
2. Report of the Sub-committee advising Diane Davis on appropriate staffing in CIDDE
Dr. Alan Lesgold said the Sub-committee members had reviewed Dr. Diane Davis' proposed hiring plan and found it to be fundamentally sensible. Their recommendations focused on how positions were labeled, organized, and deployed. He noted that CIDDE's organization had been a holdover from the past, and it was not always apparent from the current job titles which individuals should be contacted for specific services. The Sub-committee also recommended that CIDDE reexamine its approach to faculty development and consider adapting materials to readily address specific problems of departments or individuals; e.g., short modules could be developed on various topics in faculty development to serve faculty unable to commit to CIDDE's current offerings, which required large blocks of time. Dr. David Bartholomae suggested students could be trained to serve as consultants on call to assist faculty with specific technical problems. Council supported this addition to the report.
The Sub-committee recommended that CIDDE issue reports summarizing the results of Dr. Davis' interviews with deans to assess the future instructional development needs of each school. This needs analysis could be reviewed by the Council annually and emerging themes could be explored. Provost Maher said that Council should be mindful of the importance of its ongoing role in examining unit specific information, which may be anecdotal, and use it as the basis for providing a broader University perspective on issues, based on its greater diversity of understanding. He added that resources must be accessible to regional campuses as well, where issues may be campus specific. He noted that definitions of "faculty development" vary by school or discipline. CIDDE should help each unit reach their goals in faculty development, and Council should focus attention on providing opportunities for schools to support their faculty's advancement in instructional development and teaching excellence.
Dr. David Beratan expressed concern that faculty have modern computers. Provost Maher assured him that funding for faculty computers was an institutional priority. Council briefly reviewed job descriptions for the five positions Dr. Davis proposed to fill. Dr. Lesgold suggested there was a cadre of faculty within the University devoted to faculty development, experimental instructional methods, and innovative course design; he hoped their knowledge and interests could be connected to staff within CIDDE. Dr. Beverly Harris-Schenz agreed and suggested a program for fellows associated with teaching and learning or faculty development should be explored. Provost Maher proposed the matter should be further considered during the coming year as a means of encouraging excellent instruction.
The Sub-committee's report was unanimously accepted by the Council with the understanding that Dr. Bartholomae's suggestion that students be trained as on-call consultants to assist faculty with technical problems would be included. Provost Maher said he would invite comments on the report from the Senate Educational Policies Committee.
3. Update from the Sub-committee on establishing a systematic summer
program for faculty development in instructional technology
Dr. Bartholomae explained the Sub-committee had reviewed and endorsed the courses planned for the current summer. They did, however, question spending resources on refreshments for participants and recommended that those funds would be better spent on programmatic offerings. Professor Harry Flechtner expressed concern that CourseInfo instruction might not be sufficient to the needs of all faculty, preferring greater variety of support based on school specific needs. Dr. Lisa Bell-Loncella said it was a hardship for regional faculty to drive to Pittsburgh to participate in the summer programs. Provost Maher requested the Sub-committee cost out a distance education component for the summer program. Dr. Kurt VanLehn questioned the policy of offering CourseInfo only to those receiving technical training, suggesting costs could be reduced. Provost Maher agreed that support costs are increased when such policies are uniformly enforced, and he applauded Council members' careful attention to such serious issues. However, he cautioned that abandoning the training requirement could have serious ramifications due to current provisions in the copyright law. Dr. Susan Albrecht suggested an incentive was needed to encourage faculty participation in instructional technology programming. Provost Maher said some institutions provide training and send faculty back to their offices with the equipment they trained on.
Dr. Eric Beckman announced that the Sub-committee on planning a small grants curriculum development program for the fall term would meet soon to begin its work in earnest.
The meeting adjourned at 3 PM. The Provost announced that Council would next convene in September.