One resource that addresses needs identified in evaluations related to professional development is the POD-IDEA Center Notes on Instruction reports, which arepublished by the IDEA organization. The best practices strategies suggested in the guides are closely aligned with assessment items on IDEA evaluation instruments. Faculty may take the initiative in professional development by securing POD-IDEA Center Notes on Instruction reports specifically related to their professional development needs. Also, department chairs may require that faculty members use the reports. The Office of Research and Institutional Effectiveness (OIRE) provides these reports free of charge upon request.
Another resource available to address professional development needs is peer support. Peer support may take the form of official mentors assigned to faculty members by department chairs. Also, peer support may be sought directly by faculty members in need. Often, peer support comes from colleagues who sit on faculty members’ Peer Development Committees. Often support, both by assigned mentors or faculty-selected colleagues, take several forms, which include: collaboratively reviewing faculty members’ course syllabi; establishing regular progress check-ins; inviting faculty members’ to observe and conference with university faculty who are considered master teachers; and, conducting class observations followed by feedback sessions.
Another resource to address professional development needs is participation in professional conferences. This resource depends on the availability of appropriate opportunities and funding to finance faculty members’ participation. An example of professional development needs addressed through professional conferences occurred with two unit faculty whose tenure applications were strengthened by their presentations at an international conference. The unit granted funding to one member through the unit’s Lilly Foundation grant. Another member’s funding came from professional development monies provided from the budget of the dean of the School of Professional Studies.
Annually, the university’s Faculty Development Committee organizes a university-wide Faculty Development Day. The day’s sessions are planned with input from faculty, and address both immediate professional needs and emerging practices in higher education. Faculty Development Day agendas are designed to address both contemporary developments in higher education and perennial issues pertinent to educators across disciplines. Examples of topics addressed in short sessions and workshops are: infusing technology into instruction, accommodating students with special learning needs, infusing service learning into the curriculum, managing the student grievance process, responding to gender and generational gaps in the classroom, and utilizing assessment as scholarship.
On-site workshops are provided for training in technologies such as Adobe Connect, use of BlackBoard, i-Tunes University, vodcasting, and podcasting. These and other professional development activities are provided by the Distance, Instruction, and Educational Technology (DIET)division of University Technology Services. Currently, the unit and the university’s Office of Institutional Research and Effectiveness, in conjunction with BlackBoard, are developing an Outcomes System. This system will be utilized by unit faculty and administration to assess candidate performance, program quality, and unit operations. The design of the BlackBoard Outcomes System aligns with the unit’s conceptual framework.
As a means of supporting faculty performance, the university’s Office of Institutional Research and Effectiveness (OIRE) offers annual sessions to faculty on how best to utilize and interpret the previously noted IDEA evaluations. As noted earlier, upon request, OIRE staff meet with individual faculty members to review and interpret IDEA evaluations.
A regularly scheduled program, Franciscan Formation, is open to all faculty and staff, and is in keeping with the unit’s Knowledge of Spiritual Self component of the conceptual framework. Franciscan Formation is provided through the Center for Franciscan Spirit and Life, the university’s spirituality center. Franciscan Formation is a program of monthly meetings in which faculty and staff discuss and reflect together for an hour on Franciscan topics as treated in Franciscan texts, both ancient and current. The program educates faculty to more fully understand Franciscan chrism, its mission, and its applications to contemporary life and personal spirituality. The university also sponsors an annual pilgrimage to Assisi and Rome, Italy for selected faculty and staff. Most expenses are borne by the university. The goal of the pilgrimage is to assist faculty and staff to internalize Franciscan values so they might be applied in the contexts of the university and greater community. To date, four faculty and staff from 19 in the School of Professional Studies (SOPS) have made the pilgrimage. Two additional SOPS members have been selected to participate in May 2010.
Another noteworthy professional development event related to the unit and university’s mission is the annual Symposium of the Association of Franciscan Colleges and Universities (AFCU), which will be hosted on the University of Saint Francis campus in June 2010.
The Area Dean’s Conference is hosted annually by the one of seven colleges and universities, including the University of Saint Francis. All faculty are encouraged to participate in the conference which provides an opportunity for faculty learning, collaboration, and expression of scholarship.
Participation in professional development activities is a continuing component of faculty’s commitment to scholarship. As previously noted, unit faculty participate in the annual university-wide Faculty Development Day. Also, unit faculty members regularly attend local, regional, state, and national conferences sponsored by professional education associations. Faculty memberships in these associations and their participation in professional development activities are documented on faculty vitae and listed on Table 11.
A line item in departments’ annual budgets designates funds for members to attend state, regional, and national conferences related to their responsibilities. For example, faculty regularly attend meetings of the Indiana Association of Teacher Education (IACTE), Association of Teacher Educators (ATE), and NCATE. Currently, annual faculty development stipends range from $600 to $1,200. These annual stipends may be subsidized by the dean’s office. Subsidies are limited to faculty who have opportunities to participate in professional events that may either enhance members’ promotion and/or tenure applications or potentially benefit the achievement of unit goals.