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CETL to Hold Open House to Celebrate
New Space and Early Accomplishments

RELEASED: Oct. 31, 2008

EAU CLAIRE — The Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire will hold an open house from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Nov. 13 to welcome the campus community to the center, its newly remodeled learning space in Room 1142 of the Old Library, and to celebrate the new era in professional development of teaching and learning that CETL represents.

CETL was established to work with UW-Eau Claire educators and students to improve the quality of teaching on the UW-Eau Claire campus and to improve students' overall learning experience.

Bob Eierman, interim director of CETL, said everyone is invited to come and learn about the programs already in place, as well as plans for future projects that will help UW-Eau Claire move forward with its new strategic plan and its vision of becoming the premier undergraduate learning community in the upper Midwest.

CETL staff members, including instructional designer Cindy Albert, graduate assistant Randy Jones and program assistant Elaine Welin, also will be on hand to answer questions and show visitors around the center, which Eierman said was designed to be very open, flexible and welcoming.

"We want to encourage UW-Eau Claire educators to view the center as a place where they can drop in, meet their colleagues, seek help with teaching challenges and explore possibilities for creating new collaborative learning communities," Eierman said. "CETL is committed to enabling professional development of educators from across campus. We will respond to the challenges and proposals that educators bring to us and help them in any way we can, whether that means providing them with information on best practices for teaching in their particular disciplines, putting them in touch with people in other areas to encourage cross-discipline collaborations, or mentoring newer educators just beginning their teaching careers."

The center includes an open seating area for reading or informal discussions, a conference room, resource and work areas and staff offices. Windows stretch the entire length of the open area, which looks out on the green space between Davies Center and the Old Library. The center also is conveniently located next to McIntyre Library and right across the hall from the Learning and Technology Services Help Desk. Eierman said that CETL, LTS and the Office of Research and Sponsored Programs will work together to serve the needs of campus educators and to enhance the educational experience at UW-Eau Claire.

When CETL was established in June 2008, it was announced that it would award two fellowships each year, one in August and one in January. CETL Fellows are UW-Eau Claire educators interested in actively participating in CETL, as well as initiating an individual or group teaching or learning program. Dr. April Bleske-Rechek, associate professor of psychology, was chosen as the first CETL fellow, and she has been leading a learning community looking at the student evaluation of instruction process, perceived bias associated with student evaluations, and commonalities across departments regarding student evaluations.

"We have 13 faculty/staff and two students involved. All are active and vocal it is a great group!" Bleske-Rechek said. "I think it has been an intellectually stimulating, thought-provoking experience for us all."

One other learning community is currently meeting weekly. "The Tao of the Tairyland," led by Dr. Jerry Worley, assistant professor of curriculum and instruction, is discussing the classic Tao Te Ching and how it relates to teaching, learning and leadership. Another learning community, to begin in November, will be titled "Student Affairs and Academic Affairs Partnerships." The group, to be led by Angie Bong, student leadership and organizations coordinator, will bring over 20 educators from across campus together to discuss two books, "My Freshman Year" and "Making the Most of College: Students Speak Their Mind." The group's goal is to improve participants' understanding of the various parts of students' college experiences and help connect them in a more coherent and enriching way.

Two communities of practice are also up and running, with more planned. Ten people are currently meeting for the New Faculty College COP, a yearlong program designed to help new educators with issues of campus life, tenure, promotions, teaching and learning, service, advising, and scholarship, and three more participants are meeting for a COP titled "The Purposeful Educator," which focuses on foundational issues of teaching, learning and instructional design for early-career educators.

"There's already a lot going on," said Eierman, noting that another two educator-proposed COPs will be starting soon, and CETL also is in the process of selecting proposals from UW-Eau Claire educators interested in seeking summer support to create online courses.

"We hope the open house will inspire others to come to us with their proposals, challenges and questions," Eierman said.

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