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Teaching Support Program exceeds goals in first two years

Initiative offers evidence-based approaches and strategies to support faculty in the classroom

New numbers show The Ohio State University’s effort to support teaching and learning is yielding results.

The University Institute for Teaching and Learning (UITL) implemented the Teaching Support Program in autumn of 2018 as a signature professional development opportunity. The program was built with strategic partners across Ohio State and designed to use evidence-based approaches and strategies in all classrooms and educational contexts.

Since the program launched, 3,529 full- and part-time faculty have completed at least one component, making the Teaching Support Program one of the most comprehensive teaching excellence programs in higher education.

The program is open to all faculty, but the university has placed particular emphasis on improving undergraduate education. Among this subgroup — full-time faculty in colleges that serve undergraduates — 83% have participated in the Teaching Support Program, exceeding the university’s 70% goal.

“We are so grateful that so many faculty committed themselves to this important work, even at a very challenging time,” said Kay Halasek, UITL director. “By applying evidence-based approaches to the classroom, our faculty are substantively enhancing their ability to help students succeed.”

The Teaching Practices Inventory, part one of a three-part program, is a survey asking faculty members to analyze their goals, assignments and other criteria to understand their own teaching practices and to see how they evolve. Part two includes Teaching@Ohio State, a series of online modules focused on key elements of effective teaching, and a reading and self-reflection. So far, 69% of full-time faculty in undergraduate colleges have completed the second part of the program, far exceeding the university goal of 50% completion.

In a little less than two years, faculty across all six campuses of the university have been learning about and deploying evidence-based practices in their teaching. Teaching faculty were offered financial incentives to participate in the voluntary program.

“Ohio State has made teaching and learning a strategic focus, and the Teaching Support Program is one of our key initiatives to promote teaching excellence,” said Executive Vice President and Provost Bruce A. McPheron. “Our faculty are dedicated to helping all of our students prepare for a lifetime of learning.”

Halasek acknowledged the significant shifts in instructional approaches required and the personal and professional challenges instructors at the university have faced this spring due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

She said reaching the participation goals set by university leadership is particularly satisfying because the first two parts of the program are the foundation for an ongoing commitment to continued teaching improvement and excellence through part three of the program, the instructional redesign initiative.

In part three, faculty test new instructional or redesign strategies they have used in the past to improve student learning outcomes or experience. Halasek said the redesign program also encourages instructors to reflect on their practices, promotes classroom assessment and builds a community around the pursuit of teaching excellence.

The Teaching Support Program will be integrated into the experiences of all new faculty and will continue to be available to anyone who teaches at the university in the future. UITL and university instructional partners plan to continually refine and update the program in response to new educational research.

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