Inspiring, training and nurturing faculty is routine at Wilmington University, and the faculty development and support department is committed to excellence in teaching.
But faculty development is ongoing; a responsibility that requires continual efforts to enhance and improve the teaching environment, as well as keep pace with growing numbers of instructors. From 2005 to 2015, active faculty growth increased 350 percent, and WilmU has consistently upgraded its faculty offerings with online orientations and an array of relevant workshops offered online, in-person and at Faculty Development Day (FDD). Many of those workshops have been redesigned based on faculty feedback.
Tutorials on myriad subjects available to faculty are accessible online, replete with subjects that include active learning, effective feedback to students, rubric design, creating a learner-centered syllabus, becoming a scholarly practitioner, designing relevant assignments, assessing student learning, inquiry based learning, cultural variation in the classroom, IDEA interpretation, and student writing. HOT and online Blackboard training workshops afford faculty the opportunity to become certified to teach online. And since Blackboard is constantly evolving, numerous workshops are available to beginner and advanced Blackboard faculty users.
The popularity of Faculty Development Day is substantiated by its participation growth, increasing 93 percent for fall sessions from 2012 to 2015, according to Dr. Bonnie Kirkpatrick, assistant vice president and dean of administrative services. Online FDD participants increased 193 percent from 2013 to 2015. “While continuing to grow at a consistent pace,” adds Kirkpatrick, “FDD is also demonstrating evidence of enhanced quality over time.”
Last year, the FDD format was revamped, offering a keynote presentation followed by breakout sessions and individual college meetings. Featured speaker José Antonio Bowen, the president of Goucher College who happens to be a pioneer in active learning and the use of technology in the classroom, offered a dynamic discussion based on the premise that while technology is changing higher education, the greatest value of a physical university is still its face-to-face interaction between faculty and students. The October event was attended by 462 faculty members (88 online), which represented a 6 percent growth over the fall of 2014.When participants were asked via survey if they learned something that they could use to improve the classroom experience for students, 92.7 percent responded positively.
One of them was WilmU alumnus Tom Selestok, an adjunct who teaches the online Project Management course he developed for the College of Business in 2008. When he started teaching, the Astra Zeneca associate director of clinical development lived in Delaware, but a job transfer brought him to Brunswick, Md. That doesn’t stop him from attending Faculty Development Day, and he travels more than two hours to attend. “I miss being in proximity with my fellow colleagues,” says Selestok. “I make a point of attending as many Faculty Development days as possible.”
Learn more about faculty development at wilmu.edu/faculty.