CFP: Undergraduate Course Redesign Initiative, FDIP, 2013-14

Dr. Andrew Hamilton and FDIS have just announced an important opportunity for those interested in reshaping our First Year Experience: a Call for Proposals to substantially rework existing 1000-level core courses, especially the high-enrollment courses that have historically given us the biggest problems in terms of student retention.

The CFP states:

The University is making a concerted effort to improve the undergraduate student experience with structural changes of administrative units, re-allocation of resources, improvements to housing and residential life programming, and more.  The most important part of the undergraduate experience is in the classroom, and the Provost’s Office has launched a First Year Experience initiative to ensure incoming freshmen have the best possible classroom experience.  The goal of these interrelated initiatives is to   help students build the habits and behaviors of successful students.  Because we know the high enrollment 1000-level core courses can be a particular challenge for students, our initial efforts have been focused on the academic core.

As Dr. Hamilton told the Faculty Senate last week, the goal of this initiative is to “build better sophomores.” Active learning pedagogy and better, more systematic course design will be crucial to making these courses work better overall for our student body.  This initiative seems like an important step forward in our pursuit of substantive student success.

Deadline for these proposals is Feb. 1, 2013.  Please direct any comments or inquiries to Dr. Hamilton at alhamil4@Central.UH.EDU.



DTAR Workshop on the Statement of Teaching Philosophy

The Division of TA Resources concluded the fall’s series of hands-on workshops for graduate student teachers with a faculty-paneled workshop on understanding and writing the statement of teaching philosophy on Thursday 6 December 2012 in the Faculty Senate offices. Graduate teachers from Hispanic Studies, English, Psychology, and the College of Technology came together to hear from faculty members who have have experience not only in writing the statement, but also in reviewing applications where the statement is an integral part of the hiring process. Dr. Tamara Fish, director of the Division of TA Resources moderated this panel.

Dr. Ann Christensen (English) explained that the statement should describe how the author has solved a problem or learned from a challenge and to reflect some knowledge of the place being applying to. Authors should also remember to include statements of outside classroom work, such as conferencing, mentoring, or tutoring; guest lectures; developing and exchanging teaching materials or relevant coursework; conference attendance in the field

Dr. Paul Butler, (Rhetoric and Composition), author of Out of Style: Reanimating Stylistic Study in Composition and Rhetoric, emphasized stylistic choices that made the statement not only more readable but more attractive to the hiring or award committees. Specifically, he emphasized the use of transitions, connecting teaching to scholarship, keeping the statement simple while using concrete examples, and some discussion of how one’s own learning has framed teaching.

Dr. Donna Pattison (Biology and Biochemistry) emphasized that the statement of teaching philosophy should be shared with colleagues and mentors, while understanding that the text should be revised frequently as one’s own understanding of one’s actual teaching philosophy changes over time.

Participants spent extensive time pre-writing actual statements in response to discussion prompts. These writing samples were shared in small group settings for discussion and critique. Participants left comments such as “This workshop was helpful for pre-statement brainstorming. I realize now that I would’ve missed so much of my own beliefs and practices had I been unable to share and exchange ideas with others.” Another participants remarked, “Thank you — helpful, concrete tips as well as more general reflection on teaching/learning. I needed a minute out of the semester to think about these things and I especially appreciate cross-discipline discussion.”

Participation in DTAR workshops is one requirement for the CTE Certificate of University Training for graduate teachers. For more information on the certificate, contact The next DTAR workshop will be held on Thursday 14 February 2013 at 12:30 p.m. in 306 M.D. Anderson Library