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Table of Contents
From the Guest Editor
“I wonder what teachers make.”
“A difference Peppermint Patty, they make a difference!”
—Peppermint Patty and Charlie Brown, Charles Schulz’s Peanuts
It’s true that teachers make a difference at any time, but nothing highlights their importance, their adaptability, and their dedication like a global pandemic. This issue of Peer Review headed to print just as statewide stay-at-home orders were imposed, upending the economy and people’s lives and, perhaps, changing higher education forever. It seems now that the title, “Faculty Development for Self-Renewal,” was prescient. There has never been a better time for faculty, instructional designers, and professional development experts to think about positive change and reinvention.
The articles in this issue provide a unique perspective and practical strategies for reinvigorating and reinvesting in faculty self-renewal to improve teaching and learning. These efforts are even more vital as online instruction has moved from optional pedagogy to the new normal.
C. Edward Watson begins the issue with a historical overview of why good teaching matters and how investing in faculty can help institutions respond to declining public support for higher education and to closer scrutiny of learning outcomes and career success. These imperatives are even more real as economic conditions worsen and institutions face increasingly difficult decisions.
Faculty seeking to leverage this moment to find new connections for their content will get encouragement from Jennifer Keys and Jennifer Jackson’s advocacy for “Unbounded Teaching”—the freeing of faculty to escape disciplinary confines and renew their love of teaching. Jackson, Keys, and their colleagues at North Central College have created Cardinal Conversations courses that allow teams of mid- to late-career faculty to explore their passions, which range from ice cream to civil-rights history to the mathematics of square dancing.
Moving to online environments has also forced faculty to reexamine how to engage students and encourage active learning. This issue may provide much-needed inspiration. A team of STEM faculty at Capital University discuss how they have increased faculty and student engagement by incorporating “POGIL” active learning strategies in their classes. At Skidmore College, a faculty-driven initiative called Project VIS illustrates the development of an array of projects focused on a new visual literacy learning outcome that has energized faculty teaching and collaboration.
The remaining articles address opportunities for renewal as institutions move through—and ultimately emerge from—these challenging times.
Faculty from Portland State University detail the “Cultivating Your Professional Identity” initiative, a way for the University Studies general education program to reframe “faculty development” as “faculty support.” Faculty come together through meetings and mentorship opportunities, develop public-facing professional ePortfolios, and celebrate each other’s accomplishments.
Researchers at the University of California–Berkeley recognize that the first step in developing faculty is hiring faculty. Their examination of university employment searches has uncovered an array of promising practices for generating diverse candidate pools with highly qualified women and faculty of color.
The article by Tamara Beauboeuf-Lafontant, Karla Erickson, and Jan Thomas, “Thriving After Tenure,” reminds us that it’s never too late for self-renewal. Faculty at all stages of their career path can find inspiration, provide much-needed mentorship, and serve as campus champions for professional development efforts.
Adrianna Kezar closes the issue by urging campuses to remember their non-tenure-track faculty. These faculty often teach the most difficult classes while benefitting the least from existing professional development opportunities—a sobering reminder that as faculty have scrambled to move online and create the highest quality learning experiences for their students, non-tenure-track faculty do so over a chasm of resource inequities.
As Linus once noted to Charlie Brown, “Life is like a ten-speed bicycle . . . most of us have gears that we never use!” A time of renewal, whether spurred by personal desire or a pandemic, is about finding new ways forward. That might take creating a few new gears, but it might also mean we start using the ones already there.