In late spring semester, the Provost Teaching and Learning Fellows (PTLF) held their final meeting of the 2018-19 academic year. As part of the program, the fellows are charged with leading discipline-based teaching and learning initiatives in their respective colleges. At the meeting, each of the cohorts discussed challenges, as well as goals and action plans, for the 2019-20 academic year. The following outlines observations and areas of focus for fellows from the respective colleges.
COLLEGE OF COMPUTING
The PTLF cohort from the College of Computing – Polo Chau, School of Computational Science and Engineering associate professor, and Santosh Pande, School of Computer Science associate professor – set a goal to enrich the graduate computer science curriculum by offering cross-cutting courses with topics that integrate multiple areas of research. Pande shared his thoughts on addressing issues through such an approach.
“While cutting-edge research in the field requires the expertise of experts from multiple areas, graduate students traditionally focus on building expertise in one primary area,” said Pande. “These cross-cutting courses will enhance graduate education in the College of Computing by helping graduate students see how they can use their area of expertise to contribute to these emerging research topics.”
The courses will be team-taught by multiple professors with expertise in different research areas. In the spring, the fellows hosted an event at which those who have taught crosscutting courses discussed how to make these types of courses most effective. Several faculty members interested in the initiative have been identified to foster dialogue as they plan and teach courses next academic year.
SCHELLER COLLEGE OF BUSINESS
The PTLF cohort from the Scheller College of Business will explore opportunities to apply a blended-learning approach to courses. The group is examining how peer business schools, as well as other colleges within Georgia Tech, have incorporated digital platforms into their courses. A second focus area will look at ways to integrate more leadership topics into the curriculum, in addition to the leadership programs already offered. Toward this end, the fellows have gradually begun to infuse leadership topics into their own courses.
For example, D.J. Wu, professor and Ernest Scheller Jr. Chair in Innovation, Entrepreneurship, and Commercialization, recently invited Lalit Dhingra, founder and CEO of EnSignis, to address leadership in his course on Electronic Commerce (MGT 4056). The fellows also participate in the Dean’s Advisory Board, where they contribute to discussions about other ways to integrate leadership into the curriculum.
COLLEGE OF DESIGN
The College of Design’s PTLF cohort plans to increase awareness of excellence in teaching within its college through a teaching award. Specifically, it plans to collaborate with student organizations within each school in the College of Design to select and honor the winning faculty member at an annual event. This award will be funded by the dean, but winners will be chosen by students.
COLLEGE OF ENGINEERING
The PTLF cohort within the College of Engineering found that its increasing enrollment numbers have made student experiences in lab courses more difficult. For example, students are not getting enough hands-on experience with the experimental platforms that are representative of realistic and complex engineering systems because there is simply not enough equipment to go around. The College of Engineering cohort of fellows plans to address this problem in the coming academic year through the integration of an augmented and virtual reality (AR/VR) platform into select courses.
IVAN ALLEN COLLEGE OF LIBERAL ARTS
The PTLF cohort from the Ivan Allen College of Liberal Arts will address the challenge of teaching the liberal arts at a technology-focused school. In the spring, the fellows hosted a panel discussion titled Controversial Topics in Contentious Times: Teaching the Humanities & Social Sciences at Georgia Tech. Moving forward, each fellow will develop a separate project to address the challenge. Associate Professor Narin Hassan in the School of Literature, Media, and Communication will explore strategies to create a more mindful, empathetic, and just environment in which to discuss social justice issues. Associate Professor Carla Gerona in the School of History and Sociology will write an essay that analyzes the pedagogies of digital history. Associate Professor Gordon Kingsley in the School of Public Policy will focus on the integration of online education into the liberal arts.
COLLEGE OF SCIENCES
The PTLF fellows from the College of Sciences will identify opportunities to improve the professional development of teaching assistants (TAs) to help them become effective teachers in today’s learning environment. To do this, the cohorts are collecting information about teaching resources offered by the Institute, what is currently being done for TA professional development in other institutions, and surveying graduate TAs on what they believe could be added to improve TA training. They will use this data to develop a TA competency model to set a clearer standard of performance for training students to be teaching assistants.
During the 2019-20 academic year, the Center for Teaching and Learning will partner with the cohorts to support their initiative and update the campus community on the progress of these efforts.