The inaugural Conference on Faculty Excellence, with the theme of “Stronger Together: Collaborating for Faculty Excellence,” brought together more than 150 faculty, staff and students from across NC State and other area colleges and universities.
A Collaborative Effort
NC State’s Office for Faculty Excellence (OFE), Digital Education and Learning Technology Applications (DELTA), and the NC State University Libraries invited faculty, postdoctoral scholars and professional staff from all six member institutions of the Cooperating Raleigh Colleges (NC State, Meredith College, Saint Augustine’s University, Shaw University, Wake Tech Community College, William Peace University) to attend the event held March 9 at the Hunt Library.
The event replaced OFE’s long-running Teaching and Learning Symposium and DELTA’s Summer Shorts, and engaged campus partners who have an investment in faculty excellence. Leading experts from these units offered workshops throughout the day focused on the following subjects: Mentoring and Career Mapping, Creative and Critical Thinking, the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning, Online and Hybrid Education, and Library Support of Teaching and Learning.
“Colleagues from all three units collaborated on everything from the conference theme to reviewing proposals to logistics, space and technology support,” said Maria Gallardo-Williams, senior faculty development specialist for OFE. “It was truly a team effort to organize and run the conference.”
Each of the coordinating units presented two workshops:
- OFE: Make the Most of Mentoring: A Workshop for Folks in Mentoring Relationships (Katharine Stewart, senior vice provost for faculty and academic affairs) and How to Prepare a Successful Award Application (Kyle Miskell, director of external awards)
- DELTA: Customize Learning Experiences for Students: Adaptive and Personalized Pathways (Kerri Brown Parker, instructional technologist, digital learning, and Arlene Mendoza Moran, lead instructional technologist, digital learning), and Accessible Course Design (Caitlin McKeown, instructional designer, digital learning and Jill Anderson, lead instructional technologist, digital learning)
- The Libraries: Welcome to the Teaching and Visualization Lab! (Hannah Rainey, associate head, research engagement), and Setting Students Up for Success in Research Assignments: Observations from Librarians (Alison Edwards, librarian for digital teaching and learning; Sojourna Cunningham, librarian for undergraduate teaching and learning; Anne Burke, associate head, learning spaces and services; and Shaun Bennett, research librarian for business, education and immersive pedagogy)
One of the Libraries’ workshops, Welcome to the Teaching and Visualization Lab!, focused on orienting faculty to the Teaching and Visualization Lab, an immersive teaching and presentation space at the Hunt Library. Presenters discussed real-world examples of how instructors have used the immersive technology to create unique learning experiences. They shared student projects and discussed the power of multimodal/multimedia presentations, and the workshop also demonstrated how Libraries staff collaborate with and support faculty in exploring new ways of engaging learners.
“This workshop immediately sparked new ideas for utilizing the shared spaces and technologies at the Libraries to enhance learning experiences for students,” said Rainey. “We have already received a request to utilize the space from one workshop attendee.”
Another Libraries’ workshop, Setting Students Up for Success in Research Assignments: Observations from Librarians, focused on sharing examples of librarian interactions with students through chat reference and one-on-one research consultations. These interactions and the questions that prompted them reveal foundational misunderstanding of research assignments and information sources. The group also discussed opportunities for faculty to scaffold assignments and build in checks for understanding that should help address those foundational misunderstandings and help more students succeed.
“We offer 1:1 help for students in a variety of ways: in-person and online via chat, or by making appointments to talk about finding research,” said Edwards. “We can also support faculty by coming into their classrooms to talk about research assignments or just meeting with them 1:1 to talk about how we can support them. There is a lot of library support available that we didn’t touch on, so we hope faculty will reach out to learn more and work with us to innovate and support their teaching.”
Kim Duckett, the Libraries’ department head for research engagement, agreed with Edwards’ message, adding, “We hope that faculty understand the broad ways in which the Libraries can support teaching, learning and research through our staff’s rich expertise and our spaces, technologies and services. The conference also showcased how faculty can seek support from the three units in a collaborative way.”
Thirty-nine groups of faculty, staff and students also presented at the Conference on Faculty Excellence’s poster session. Attendees got to experience a new, green format: instead of printing posters, each presenter used their laptop screen to display them. Knowing that the print on a laptop screen might be too small for some attendees, the conference provided each poster presenter with an acrylic plaque which contained a direct link to their posters, and attendees could scan the QR code with their own devices and enlarge the poster to their satisfaction. Judges chose Caitlin Stuckey and Carlos Goller’s “Podcasts in the classroom: Beyond passive listening, multiple opportunities to engage students” as the event’s Outstanding Poster Awardee.
“Caitlin and I have been introducing what podcasts are and using examples in the courses we teach for several years,” said Goller. “Our courses and assignments are different; in both cases, students learn about the value of podcasts to engage and inform. In the biotechnology programs’ metagenomics class, undergraduate and graduate students develop and often share their podcasts. They still research and write papers… AND they now get to practice or learn how to share their work creatively. Jason Evans Groth from the Libraries helps each student create mixes of sounds and words. It has been fun! In other courses, we are learning how to incorporate podcast listening and then analysis of content through in-class activities.”
Stuckey’s “Communication for Science and Research” online, asynchronous course is a different experience for students who may not have access to campus tools. To ensure students have an entry point for podcasting, they have resources for using at-home devices and apps for recording, editing, and integrating music and sounds.
“The experience is intended to help young scientists think about how they interact with science in varied ways,” said Stuckey. “And we hope the experience provides students, as young professionals, with additional tools to be nimble and confident communicators.”
With the success of this year’s event, organizers are already looking forward to what’s next. An evaluation form has been sent to the participants from this year to gather feedback and inform planning efforts for future conferences. Together, OFE, DELTA and the Libraries have plans for an even bigger conference next year, as they seek to open the event to a wider participant audience.
This post was originally published in Provost's Office News.