The prospect of collaborating with university faculty to develop and improve teaching techniques was something associate professor of English, Carmen Manning found exciting about becoming a CETL Fellow.
"I like that the fellow position is about bringing some of your own expertise to share with others," Manning said. "But it's also about growing and improving your own practice."
Manning began her fellowship in September, and she is currently working on a collaborative project focused on improving the facilitation of effective discussion in the classroom. The group uses a book by Stephen D. Brookfield and Stephen Preskill focused on how to conduct and evaluate effective discussion. Members of the group challenge each other every week to use a technique in their classrooms that is described in the book and to then discuss the experience with the group.
The group consists of educators from departments such as history, nursing, and social work, but Manning said she would like to see a larger variety of representation from other departments across campus participate in the group.
"It would be valuable for those people," Manning said. "But at the same time valuable for the group to hear about how discussion might work in other areas."
Manning said many educators have the desire to utilize discussion techniques in the classroom, but that discussion can be difficult to direct and have productivity as a result. The goals of the participants in the group include not only to learn how to guide and manage productive discussion in the classroom, but also to develop materials to help other educators improve their use of discussion in the classroom.
There is a small stipend provided to participants in improvement who contribute to improvement projects through CETL such as Manning's effective discussion group. The stipend is meant to be a token of appreciation for the time and effort educators put into the enhancement of their own practice and the contributions they make to aid other educators improve. Manning said the desire to become a better educator is what drives people to participate in her group.
"What I see as the real motivation is that they desire to make discussion more effective in their classes," Manning said. "They want to be here and improve their own practice."
Manning said she is excited to share and to learn over the course of her one year fellowship with CETL. She said that it is important to collaborate and develop a body of procedures and methods to help educators conduct a more structured and productive way of utilizing discussion in the classroom.
"Being able to have a forum as faculty to come together to share and validate expertise is important," Manning Said. "CETL is a place where that is happening on a regular basis."