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UW Ellbogen Center for Teaching and Learning Launches New Programs

March 26, 2018
people at a whiteboard
UW Associate Lecturer Rachel Watson’s general microbiology class participates in an active-learning exercise that promotes collaborative work among students and instructors. UW’s Ellbogen Center for Teaching and Learning recently launched new initiatives to encourage and reward the scholarship of teaching and learning. (UW Photo)

The University of Wyoming’s Ellbogen Center for Teaching and Learning (ECTL) has launched new initiatives and funding opportunities focused on the scholarship of teaching and learning.

The new programming aims to improve the effectiveness of teaching, therefore boosting learning outcomes.

“We really want to promote and reward good practice in teaching that’s scholarly research-based,” says ECTL Instructional Designer Janel Seeley.

UW’s new strategic plan, “Breaking Through: 2017-2022,” includes goals for incentivizing revision and development of courses and curricula that include technology-enhanced learning, online delivery and high-impact teaching practices. It also prioritizes embracing informed and innovative approaches to assessment and improvement of student learning. These goals inspired ECTL’s two new initiatives.

Faculty and graduate assistants can apply, and the programs encourage designing, implementing, analyzing and disseminating research that assesses teaching and the resulting impact on student learning.

First, the annual John P. Ellbogen Summer Institute will focus on “Developing Research through the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning” May 21-23 and will kick off a multiphased, two-year project. Interested participants were encouraged to apply by March 26 in teams of two to three from the same or different departments, and enrollment will be capped at 20.

“They will apply as partners who want to look at a big question in their field or overall concepts in teaching and learning,” Seeley says. “For example, they can look at broad questions like what motivates students or whether a particular teaching methodology is effective across disciplines. They’ll design the project together and work as a team as they go through the process.”

In addition, past and current members of the UW Science Initiative Learning Actively Mentoring Program will work in teams on similar teaching and learning projects.

The second major program is “Designing and Implementing Research through the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning: A Partnership with UW and Tashkent State University of Economics (Uzbekistan).” This international learning community, bringing together UW and Tashkent faculty members, begins this spring and will continue through spring 2020.

The inspiration for the virtual learning community came when Seeley did faculty development work on active learning at Tashkent. About 15 UW faculty members will partner with 30 Tashkent faculty members in the same or similar disciplines to look at big questions in their fields, such as concepts students get stuck on or particular teaching techniques.

“They will be in contact through email and Zoom,” Seeley says. “They’ll work together on designing a project that they’ll both implement at their universities, and compare their findings and then write a paper or a presentation. Part of the partnership on teaching and learning is disseminating your information.”

Participants who complete either program will receive a $1,000 stipend.

By spring 2020, Seeley hopes to host a symposium at UW where all the various participants can share their work and outcomes. ECTL also is involving students in the process.

“We’re really hoping to make this an ongoing thing and really make this a campus that not only promotes research in disciplines but also promotes research on scholarly teaching,” Seeley says.

About the Ellbogen Center for Teaching and Learning

The mission of the ECTL is to promote, support and evaluate the active pursuit of teaching and learning excellence for UW’s teaching community through a broad range of research-based programs, services and resources. ECTL supports instructors on and off campus by:

-- Highlighting “best-practice” pedagogies.

-- Encouraging innovative and transformative teaching.

-- Supporting the development of sustained reflective practice.

-- Fostering university-wide dialogue and collaboration among colleagues.

In service of that mission, ECTL creates a broad array of programs that include workshops and seminars for new and experienced faculty and graduate students, learning communities, book discussions and grant-supported projects. ECTL consults with individuals and provides classroom evaluations. The website provides a vast collection of teaching tips and resources. ECTL welcomes suggestions for programs, and is pleased to collaborate with university departments and to support teaching and learning events.

All services and programs are free to the university’s instructional community, both in and outside of Laramie, including faculty, lecturers, graduate teaching assistants, postdoctoral fellows and anyone else involved in teaching at the university.

To learn more, visit www.uwyo.edu/ctl.

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