Posted July 22, 2009

First Provost's Teaching Academy raises the bar


“It’s my first day back at school,” said Shohreh Amini, a biology professor in the College of Science and Technology. And while there’s nothing unusual about the 2009 Lindback Award winner being in the classroom, this time she’s there as a student, rather than a professor.

Amini is one of 17 faculty members selected from across the university to participate this summer in the first Provost’s Teaching Academy, a five-week course that prepares faculty to instruct graduate students focused on teaching and academic careers.

The “Teaching in Higher Education” seminar the selected faculty will teach is part of a newly approved certificate being implemented through Temple’s Teaching and Learning Center (TLC) and awarded by the College of Education.

In welcoming participants to the first day of the academy, Provost Lisa Staiano-Coico said the initiative is the first step in an ongoing program of faculty development that is now being designed.

Photos by Joseph V. Labolito/Temple University

In an interactive exercise about “Aligning Learning Objectives with Assignments,” participants in the Provost’s Teaching Academy post learning goals for the courses they teach. From left are faculty members Dan Kern, theater; Jean Boyer, educational psychology; Justin Yi, computer information systems; Shohreh Amini, biology; and Alistair Howard, political science.


“We already have a great faculty,” said Staiano-Coico. “Now we can learn and improve and be even better by advancing both teaching and learning outcomes and Temple’s competitiveness."

The potential impact of both the academy and the certificate are huge, added Pamela Barnett, associate vice provost and director of the Teaching and Learning Center, who is teaching the course along with center Associate Director Carol Philips and Assistant Director Baris Gunersel.


Pamela Barnett, associate vice provost and director of the Teaching and Learning Center, leads faculty participants in the first Provost’s Teaching Academy in a discussion about different types of learning goals.

New Teaching Certificate at a Glance

For Temple Graduate Students
Requirements: Teaching in Higher Education Seminar taught by Provost Teaching Academy faculty, and offered by each school and college plus reflective practicum, which can be fulfilled through TA meetings with disciplinary mentors, reflective teaching circles led by TLC, or through a one-credit module on a specific teaching topic, such as assessment and feedback offered by the College of Education.
Start Date: Certificate coursework offered in College of Liberal Arts, CST, SCT, ED and CHP in 2009-10, and in other schools and colleges over the next two years.

For Community College Faculty
Requirements: Teaching in Higher Education Seminar taught at community college by TLC staff plus three one-credit College of Education modules in specific teaching areas, such as inclusive teaching and teaching with technology, taught by College of Education.
Start Date: Spring 2010

“Graduate students teach 25 percent of our courses (in some capacity),” said Barnett. “Now, we’re bringing them research-based methods that are best practices. We’ll be preparing approximately 20 faculty members a year, and each will prepare 20 students a year. More universities will want Temple-trained teachers."

The academy is a university-wide initiative that will be carried out in all schools and colleges that use teaching assistants.

“We have a real mix of schools here, which is great since different disciplines approach pedagogy differently,” said Staiano-Coico.

Since teaching business is different than teaching science, for example, each academy participant will design a “teaching in the area” module. That module will become part of a Higher Education seminar that graduate students will need to complete, along with a reflective practicum, before earning Temple’s new certificate. Another version of the certificate will be offered to faculty from nearby community colleges. (See “New Teaching Certificate at a Glance,” at left. )

Overall, the certificate program and the Provost’s Teaching Academy will not only enhance the teaching expertise of faculty, but also will create an incubator for best teaching practices and new ideas.

“It’s an opportunity for a small group to raise some questions and start a dialogue that will go up; an opportunity not just to come together, but to come up with ideas,” said Rickie Sanders, a professor of geography and urban studies who is part of the first cohort.