15:48 PM

New professional development program at Ohio State looks to incentivize great teaching

The Ohio State University is unveiling a new plan to boost excellence in teaching across the university.

On Thursday, President Michael V. Drake and Executive Vice President and Provost Bruce A. McPheron visited representatives from the College of Arts and Sciences to discuss the new Teaching Support Program.

The program, offered through the University Institute for Teaching and Learning, is a voluntary professional development program to provide additional support for teaching faculty and their work in the classroom. The program is available to tenure-track faculty, clinical faculty and lecturers.

“Why are we doing this? We’re doing this to help us as a university to be better teachers and to help our students have better experiences,” Drake said. “That’s the goal.”

The program features three parts:

  • The Teaching Practices Inventory, a self-directed survey asking faculty members to analyze their own course learning goal, assignments, testing and other criteria to provide a baseline for faculty members as their teaching practices evolve.
  • Teaching@Ohio State, a series of online modules focused on key elements of effective teaching and a supporting UITL Reading List. The goal is to equip faculty with tools to explore new approaches in the classroom.
  • A five-year pilot instructional redesign program asks faculty members to rethink how they teach courses and use the redesign to evaluate the impact and effectiveness of their teaching.

Each of the parts of the program features a monetary incentive to boost the pay of the faculty who volunteer. Faculty can earn base-salary increases of between $400 and $1,200 to complete each part of the program.

Exceptional teaching and learning is the first pillar of the university’s strategic plan. The Teaching Support Program is believed to be unique in the nation for implementing a research-based survey instrument on effective teaching practices across the whole institution.

“It really is, at the end, about what our students learn,” McPheron said. “As proud as we are of our teaching, that’s just our tool to get learning to happen.”

Faculty members were encouraged following the presentation.

“So it’s a challenge at a university level to roll out any type of programming that satisfies every single department at such a large university,” said Matthew Stoltzfus, senior lecturer in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry. “But one thing that I believe is clear from both the president and the provost is they value teaching and they’re not just standing up in front of the faculty saying they’re valuing teaching – they’re actually putting their money where their mouth is.”

Melissa Beers, program director for Introduction to Psychology, is a teacher of teachers. She said she was pleased to see Ohio State incentivize good teaching.

“To be a teacher you have to have both content knowledge and you have to know some basics about teaching,” Beers said. “This university is full of incentives to enhance your expertise in your subject matter. So I’m glad to see that it’s being met now with efforts to enhance your teaching skills.”