09:29 AM

Teaching the teachers: Preparation underway to help new faculty succeed

Instructors praise university for bounty of resources

The start of a new academic year is just weeks away at The Ohio State University, and students aren’t the only ones getting ready for school. New university faculty are also preparing to engage their students in the classroom.

For Maggie Jackson, it’s preparing to teach an online class on the subject of reading women writers. Jackson is a graduate teaching assistant in the Department of Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies.

She is a new instructor but not new to the classroom – she spent four years as a high school teacher. This semester her class is online, and that will be a new experience for her.

“I have been exceptionally well resourced,” Jackson said. “I feel like at Ohio State, so far, I’ve been able to take advantage of some really good professional development. That’s really helping me reduce my stress in this brand new environment of online learning.”

Part of the professional development is workshops for new faculty to help them develop a syllabus or navigate the university’s learning management system, Carmen Canvas. Last week, Jackson worked through a course on Carmen taught by instructors from the Office of Distance Education and eLearning.

“After taking this crash course in Carmen, so to speak, I feel really well prepared to design a course in such a way that learning is still going to be happening. People can feel supported in the online environment instead of just shouting into the void, which is the thing that I often get concerned about in that situation,” she said.

That training commitment is a priority at Ohio State. The university’s new strategic plan sets a goal for Ohio State to be among the best in the nation in teaching and learning – which involves researching, adopting and creating the best practices for classroom success.

I feel like at Ohio State, so far, I’ve been able to take advantage of some really good professional development. That’s really helping me reduce my stress in this brand new environment of online learning.
Maggie Jackson Women's, Gender & Sexuality Studies

For Kristin Paulus, that support system has helped her translate a 25-year career in the fashion industry into her new role as a lecturer in fashion and retails studies in the College of Education and Human Ecology. She said guidance from the University Center for the Advancement of Teaching helped keep her students engaged last year, her first as a lecturer.

“I was fortunate to go to the Course Design Institute, actually take my coursework and really make sure I was looking at it correctly and designing it effectively,” Paulus said. “That included things such as in-class activities. Because the biggest piece that I’m super excited about is getting these students engaged in the learning process.”

As Paulus enters her second year as an instructor, she said she feels supported as a teacher by her college and the university.

“I am blown away with the amount of resources that I don’t have to kick over the rocks and go find. They are in my inbox every day,” she said. “So whether it’s UCAT, whether it’s the Office of Distance Education and eLearning, they are there saying: ‘Here we are. This is what we have coming next. Please join us.’”

The effort to teach the teachers will continue as the first day of classes approaches.. New faculty orientation take place next week. In addition to an introduction to Ohio State’s culture as a land-grant institution, new faculty learn about inclusive teaching techniques, the latest in evidence-based instruction and the university’s faculty mentor program.

“Everyone here truly wants you to succeed,” Paulus said. “And that is something that absolutely is so refreshing. That’s something I hope to give to what I say is my customer: the student body. That’s why I’m here. I want to see them succeed.”