New Trends in Teaching

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poolFrom two  LERN events this month, one a conference and the other our online Certificate in Teaching Adults,  it’s clear instructors in lifelong learning and continuing education programs will soon be subject to three big interrelated trends in learning and teaching:
1. Focus on student learning outcomes
2. Different, and better, teaching practices
3. Assessment of teacher instruction

The Certificate in Teaching Adults has new material on learning styles and helping participants to learn more. And this month’s North American Faculty Development Conference in Ft. Lauderdale provided leading edge information on what’s happening in higher education, which undoubtedly will be happening throughout lifelong learning and continuing education programs as well.

Societal pressure on higher education to produce more graduates and better learning outcomes is being felt by faculty developers at the second annual North American Conference on Faculty Development sponsored by LERN.

Driving these trends is not so much internal or faculty led efforts as pressure from external sources, including business, government, students and accrediting agencies.

“Assessment of faculty instruction is going to increase,” said Andy Stanfield, a vice president with Florida Institute of Technology.  The pressure is coming from people outside of the university, including people in government and in accrediting agencies, he notes.

“Faculty are going to more educational conferences than subject matter conferences now,” reported Liz Hagell of Red Deer College in Red Deer, Alberta.

“The pressure on faculty in higher education to focus on student learning outcomes is extreme,” said Susan Blackwell of the University of Indianapolis.

“Student engagement is the new mantra,” reports Blackwell and her colleague Toni Morris. Gen Y, who learns more by being engaged, is driving the change.  The research also shows that the more someone is engaged, the more learning occurs. Student engagement fronts include engaging with the content, engaging with the instructor and other students, and even engaging with assessments and evaluations.

“We are not necessarily organized with learning in mind,” she notes, pointing to data showing that 70 percent to 80 percent of faculty still rely on lecturing.

“Many higher education faculty are not trained to focus on student learning outcomes,” Blackwell and Morris note. “Faculty performance moving forward will also be evaluated in terms of contributions to the quality of the institution’s practices,” they say.

In his opening state of faculty development message, and his closing Nine shift presentation, LERN President William A. Draves said the drive for better learning outcomes, more graduates, and pressure for faculty to teach differently and be assessed on the basis of student outcomes is a massive society-wide goal necessary for economic prosperity in the 21st century.

The Faculty Development Conference sessions will be repeated as webinars throughout October. For information on the online webinar program, email info@lern.org

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