Task Force on Teaching

A Collective Vision for Teaching

Background and Purpose

The College of Health & Social Sciences (CHSS) was established as a result of a Universitywide reorganization in 2011-2012 in which units from the College of Behavioral & Social Sciences joined those in the College of Health & Human Services. This reorganization was the catalyst for creating a shared vision that affirms the centrality that teaching and teachers play in the mission of the College.

To this end, the dean of the College charged the CHSS Task Force on Teaching to: (a) identify the principles, values and practices that result in effective teaching and learning and (b) craft a vision statement that reflects these principles, values and practices. The task force consists of distinguished faculty members within the College who have been awarded the Sarlo Excellence in Teaching Award—the University’s highest honor in recognition of master teachers. The task force deliberated throughout AY 2012-2013.

Teaching and learning form a symbiotic relationship. The primary partners in this relationship are traditionally identified as the teacher and student. In reality there are many partners whose work support the success of teaching and learning. These include, but are not limited to, teachers, students, staff members, and administrators. This document acknowledges the critical roles each partner plays to enhance teaching and learning. However, for the purposes of this vision statement of teaching, this document explores, defines, and celebrates the interrelationship of the teacher and student in the learning community.

In our classrooms, in our scholarship, and in our service to our communities, we— the faculty and students of the College—strive to create a transformative educational environment that shapes how we understand and apply knowledge, how we regard our world and our role in it, how we relate to and serve others, and ultimately how we envision ourselves and the possibilities for our future.

Through this Vision Statement, the task force hopes to inspire the faculty of the College of Health & Social Sciences to teach with passion and dedication and affirm the value and centrality of teaching to their professional identities as faculty. This statement presents (a) a vision of teaching, (b) the principles and values that are the foundations of effective teaching, and (c) the teaching practices that reflect these principles and values.

Vision

Scholarly teaching is at the heart and foundation of the College of Health & Social Sciences’ mission. To this end, the College fosters excellence in teaching and develops faculty members whose passion for teaching is the spark for the personal, professional and intellectual growth of our students and ourselves. Although expertise in a discipline is a prerequisite to effective teaching, the College believes that scholarly teaching is grounded in the ability to engage students in translating knowledge to meaning, relevance, and application in their personal and professional lives.

To achieve this vision, the College cultivates an environment committed to deep and meaningful learning experiences. We consider the following principles and values essential for such experiences to exist. In turn, these principles and values translate into teaching practices that foster a rich and meaningful educational experience.

Principles & Values

  • Complexity: Teaching is multifaceted, highly contextualized and nuanced. Therefore, teaching effectiveness cannot be reduced to a single measure.
  • Reflection: Teachers maintain openness to self-critique and systematic self-observation.
  • Authenticity: Teachers are open to being transparent and genuine within the classroom as well as with their students and colleagues.
  • Engagement: Effective teaching involves an openness to developing and engaging students in reciprocal relationships in which learning is co-constructed.
  • Social Justice and Diversity: Teachers regard education as a transformative process of positive change and growth for students, colleagues and communities. As such, this process of change is enriched by the diversity of knowledge and life experiences that each of us brings to the classroom.
  • Relevance: Teachers bring meaning to knowledge by translating how theory is applied to students’ lives in and outside of the academy.

Teaching Practices

  • Facilitation of Learning: One of the hallmarks of effective teaching is to facilitate students’ understanding of course material and ideas generated in a classroom in the context of their own personal and academic/professional careers.
  • Transformative Learning Experience: Faculty facilitate a learning environment in which knowledge + meaning + application = an authentic, powerful and meaningful learning experience for the entire learning community.
  • Variety of Teaching Methods: The practice of teaching should ideally involve a variety of pedagogical methods that keep students actively engaged in the learning experience.
  • Ethic of Care: Teaching practices need to be imbued with an ethic of care for students, course content, and ideas produced in the context of the learning environment.
  • Social Justice and Diversity: Teachers regard education as a transformative process of positive change and growth for students, colleagues and communities. As such, this process of change is enriched by the diversity of knowledge and life experiences that each of us brings to the classroom.
  • Transparency: It is critical to be transparent as we engage in teaching in terms of the reasoning behind using particular pedagogical practices to the expectations faculty members have of their students.