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Advisory Council on Instructional Excellence Meeting

November 16, 2009


826 Cathedral of Learning




Present:A. Blair (Chair), N. Day, S. Deitrick, A. Godley, R. Venkataramanan, C. Wilcox, and C. Golden (Staff Liaison)



Approval of the Minutes (A. Blair):


Dr. Blair asked for a motion from Council members for approval of the October 16, 2009 meeting minutes, which was offered, seconded, and accepted as written.  The minutes will be posted to the ACIE website.


Report of the Chair (A. Blair):  


Dr. Blair briefly discussed the TES 2009 report, mentioning attendance and the time and effort on the part of CIDDE staff and presenters.  He then asked if there were any other issues Council members wished to discuss and  opened the meeting to the reports from the Best Practices and Faculty Development Committees. 


Reports of the Committee Chairs

  a.       Best Practices (C. Wilcox):  The Best Practices Committee met on Wednesday, November 11.  Prof. Wilcox briefly reported on the Teaching Excellence Showcase.  For the TES, the goal is to help CIDDE with next year’s event by reviewing the evaluation forms and possibly suggesting changes.  Council members agreed that considering an alternative venue may resolve the attendance problem.  Possible venues include the University Club.  The Committee has had a chance to review the report for this year’s event and will discuss options for improving this event at the next meeting on November 30.

The second committee topic was the Faculty Diversity Seminar, an annual seminar held in early May.  Prof. Wilcox reported that the Committee focused on the measurable effectiveness of the Diversity Seminar, with discussion ranging from attendance, application numbers, as well as the format of the current Seminar.  Prof. Wilcox mentioned that the Committee is not ready to make any recommendations at this time, but CIDDE will be contacting several “best practices” universities to establish some benchmarking data to help the Committee come up with a plan for enhancing effectiveness.
Ms. Golden noted her initial meeting with the Diversity co-directors and reported that while they believe the current format to be useful, they will most likely be open to discussion on how to improve the Seminar and incorporate other ways of educating faculty on diversity.

Prof. Wilcox reported that an additional action item would be for CIDDE to draft some questions to address to the Faculty Diversity Seminar Advisory Board for feedback on the current Seminar and ideas they might have for improving this initiative.  The co-directors may be invited to an upcoming Best Practices meeting.

b.       Faculty Development (N.  Day):  The Faculty Development Committee met on November 10.  At that meeting, the committee discussed the Faculty Focus Groups from the previous year and concluded that the Council and CIDDE had gained useful information and that there is no need to continue this initiative in the Spring.  Instead, CIDDE, with the committee’s help, will focus on how to promote, market, and disseminate its workshops in order to provide service to more Pitt faculty.  One idea is to create a package of workshops tailored specifically to the needs of schools and departments.  As a pilot project, CIDDE will focus its efforts on identifying and working with one or two schools or departments in order to use these as a model for other interested schools and departments. 

Prof. Day also shared some of the data CIDDE collected on attendance at the Summer Instructional Development Institute (SIDI), including overall attendance, who attends, tenured vs. non-tenure stream faculty.  Linda Wykoff provided faculty tenure status information and helped to compile a spreadsheet showing attendance trends over the past three years.

Further discussion focused on the effectiveness of the current methods of evaluating teaching.  Prof. Day questioned how useful OMET evaluations are in determining whether or not someone is actually a good teacher, and would like to examine how evaluations could be used to build teaching skills.  Dr. Blair suggested touching base with Dr. Patricia Beeson, who he believed is forming an OMET advisory committee.


Report of the Staff Liaison (C. Golden):


Ms. Golden reported that CIDDE and CSSD have been working together to handle Blackboard support calls from students in an effort to cut down on the number of support calls received by faculty and to improve overall service.  So far, this initiative seems to be working well, and CSSD and CIDDE have found a better way to get problem calls to CIDDE staff, while more straightforward questions can be handled by CSSD’s Help Desk.  Prof. Deitrick asked if CIDDE could send a message to faculty each term to let them know that basic Blackboard assistance is provided by the help desk.  Ms. Golden briefly discussed the progress of PittOnline, mentioning that two new online certificate programs have been approved for development: one on MBA Essential and one in Gerontology.  Two virtual open houses will be held this week, and there has been an increase in the number of prospective students registered for these events.  Ms. Golden also discussed the continuing process of reviewing CIDDE’s mission and goals.  She will have more to report at the December 8, 2009 meeting.




With no further business, the Advisory Council adjourned at 12:00 pm.  The next Council meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, December 8, 3:00 pm, 826 CL.



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