During Spring 2019, a Professional Development Task Force (PDTF) conducted a University-wide needs assessment to enhance understanding of how to better support faculty’s professional development (PD) needs, and in doing so, promote success among all college students. Thus, the processes undertaken by the PDTF had two distinct objectives: to identify faculty/staff professional development needs and establish faculty professional development priorities, all within a culturally responsive and equity-minded lens.
Over summer 2019, the PDTF, chaired by Dr. Yojanna Cuenca-Carlino, Assistant Vice President for Academic Administration, and comprised of faculty and staff from all Colleges and the Division of Student Affairs, worked to:
Review literature to identify evidence-based and culturally responsive teaching practices that support learning and well-being for all students.
Design faculty/staff surveys (based on relevant literature and input from collaborators) to assess participants’ knowledge, self-efficacy, and current practices regarding inclusive and culturally responsive teaching. The surveys also provided a needs assessment regarding PD programming, including motivators for and barriers to PD participation.
Create a parallel survey parallel to the faculty/staff instrument (described above) for undergraduate and graduate students to gather feedback about instructors’ communication practices, classroom environments, and faculty-student interactions. This survey also asked students to share information relative to their involvement in High Impact Practices, perceived obstacles to their learning, and students’ engagement in their learning. Students also responded to two open-ended prompts to identify opportunities for instructors to better support student success and to describe characteristics of instructors at ISU that have made a positive impact on their learning experience.
During Fall 2019, University Assessment Services (UAS) administered the surveys to faculty, staff, and students. A sample of 680 individuals responded to the surveys (35 % response rate). Five hundred forty-one individuals responded to the faculty survey and 142 individuals responded to the staff survey (three people responded to both). A sample of 1,000 students responded to the student survey. Of this total, 814 (81.4% of the sample) were undergraduate students and 186 (18.6% of the sample) were graduate students.
To complement survey data, Dr. Dakesa Piña of Counseling, Consulting, and Training, PLLC, conducted six focus groups designed to gather information from students, staff, and faculty to identify professional growth and development needs. Focus groups were conducted between September 24 and October 15, 2019. A total of 42 individuals participated in focus groups: 7 undergraduate students; 9 tenure-track faculty; 8 tenured-faculty; 9 non-tenure-track faculty (NTT); 3 Chairs and Directors; 6 academic staff.
In addition to the data the PDTF collected, data from the 2017 Faculty Survey of Student Engagement (FSSE) and the 2016 National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE) collected by UAS were analyzed to identify themes and gaps and to further inform the work of the PDTF. These data were deemed valuable to this process as both the FSSE and NSSE feature questions organized around engagement indicators. Beyond this, FSSE and NSSE are related surveys with indicators that complement each other for different stakeholder groups (faculty/staff and students).
All data collected were analyzed separately, with UAS supporting this work by creating anonymized datasets for the PDTF to use in their work. Data from all inputs were reviewed, analyzed, and triangulated with a systematic review of research on teaching and learning with a focus on evidence-informed inclusive, culturally responsive, and equity-minded teaching practices in higher education. All of these sources informed the formation of PDTF recommendations for the intentional design of a suite of professional development (PD) opportunities aimed at increasing faculty:
Understanding of their role in student retention and success (guided by data) with particular attention to the various student identities and their cultural wealth.
Formation of supportive relationships with all students (while challenging them to grow academically) to promote inclusive learning environments and students' sense of belonging.
Knowledge of the science of learning (how people learn).
Knowledge and application of evidence-based, inclusive, and equity-minded teaching practices.
Ability to design courses that are inclusive, accessible, equitable, and that promote student learning and success
Self-awareness and critical reflection of teaching and communication practices.
During this phase, a team of individuals across different campus units worked to translate PD recommendations into actionable items and develop a holistic framework that would create common language all faculty and administrators could use when talking and thinking about teaching and learning. This team included Dr. Cuenca-Carlino from the Provost Office, the Cross Endowed Chair in the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning, professional developers and staff from the Center for Teaching, Learning, and Technology (CTLT), UAS personnel, the Office of Student Research, the Center for Community Engagement and Service Learning, the Center for Mathematics, Science and Technology (CeMaST), the Graduate School, and some members of the PDTF.
Together, this group developed the initial draft of the Framework for Inclusive Teaching Excellence (FITE) in Spring 2020, to serve as Illinois State University’s signature pedagogy, outlining institutional values and priorities for high-quality teaching. This draft was shared widely with faculty, staff, and administration in an effort to ensure that its contents and design were in alignment with data collected in Phase 1 (described above) and were explained clearly and well. Revisions resulted in the establishment of the FITE framework, organized around six dimensions representing critical considerations for faculty PD in support of student success. Each of the six dimensions are introduced and briefly described below:
Science of Learning: Understanding how students learn and engage in the classroom.
Impact of Course Design: Designing accessible and equity-minded courses relevant to students that encourage critical thinking.
Evidence-based Pedagogy: Using evidence-informed teaching practices found to be effective with diverse groups of learners that help students integrate key concepts into life contexts.
Classroom Climate and Culture: Working to promote a positive environment and understanding how it impacts learning.
Feedback and Assessment Loop: Employing a variety of assessments to understand students’ individual and collective learning and needs and using student and peer feedback to improve teaching and learning in the classroom.
Data-informed Reflection: Reflecting on teaching practices using a variety of data sources, awareness of identity, reflection on biases, positionality, and privilege, and maintaining an awareness of students’ collective and individual needs.
The six dimensions of FITE address ways in which course instructors can work to create high-quality, evidence-informed learning experiences that are accessible, equitable, and inclusive of all students. The final iteration of the FITE further developed each dimension to provide faculty with a variety of topics and actionable goals to consider when teaching and interacting with our Redbird students. FITE is rife with opportunities for the integration of high-impact practices into teaching and learning contexts across campus, and the framework is in alignment with each of the Core Values of Educate Connect Elevate, the strategic plan of Illinois State University.
The FITE was launched in April of 2020. The Center for Teaching, Learning, and Technology (CTLT) assumed initial responsibility for integrating the FITE into their work, developing a logo for FITE and publishing information about the FITE on their unit’s website. CTLT personnel also worked to align all programming to the six dimensions of the FITE. By June 2020, each regular Summer Institute workshop and all programming developed to support the unique needs of course instructors during Covid-19 was identified by its connections to FITE, using clear graphics and links to the FITE document, itself. Going forward, all PD programming at CTLT, the Office of the Cross Endowed Chair in the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning, and the GROWTH Change Team will align with FITE. Other campus units engaged in PD in support of their own campus functions/objectives will be encouraged to do so, as well.