>> Good morning everyone. Thank you very much for the invitation. I have to do a -- in the spirit of frank and candid disclosure, when I was first approached about this they said to me, oh, you know, an international conference, Hamilton.
And so in my head I was thinking, the way my brain works is, oh, good, I'll get to go to Bermuda. So I'm a little surprised to be in Hamilton Ontario but that's the way it goes sometimes. The other thing that happens when you're asked to do this is, almost immediately they ask you for a title. Um, which is an odd thing to do because I suspect I'm like many of you worked until deadline. And so you really start thinking about this stuff when, just before when you really have to do it.
And yet months and month before, they ask you for a title so you come up with something like this. Integrating the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning into the Academy. Not the most awe-inspiring or probably one of the more turgid titles I've ever given to a talk. But be that as it may, but now that I've actually worked on it for a bit, I actually think that a more appropriate title for this talk would be this. How are we going to get teaching and learning higher on the radar screen? Now you might think this title is a little bit odd. Why odd? This is an international conference, there are 500 people here who spend their lives and dedicate their lives to improving the lot of teaching and learning, engaged in the scholarship of teaching and learning, many others, aside from the people in this room. But I want to tell you that in my experience as a Dean, Provost, President, teaching and learning does not get the appropriate profile that it should in most of our universities. Now, many things I'm going to say are generalizations not true in every case.
But I think it's a fair statement to make that, in fact, the kind of work that you folks do, in general, the issue of teaching and learning and the scholarship of teaching and learning, does not receive the kind of attention or profile at universities that the importance of this topic would suggest. And in fact, my thinking as I went on with this, led me to come to the conclusion of really the most appropriate title for this talk would probably be the Rodney Dangerfield, we don't get any respect. Now why do I say that teaching and learning don't get the respect they should in the academy. We're all products of our experience, we all have stories.
And so I'm going to tell you two stories that I think are characteristic of the experiences I've had as I've navigated university from a lowly junior professor through to being the President. This is a story from my previous job at the University of Calgary. Calgary is in Alberta. Alberta is a very interesting province. It goes through periods of boom and bust, financial boom and bust and that reflects itself at the level of funding of the public institutions like their universities. And so when I get to the University of Calgary in 2001 it's pretty clear that the financial crunch, if not coming, is already there. And you do what you have to do in these times. You figure out how you're going to cut the budget of the University to deliver what you -- as much as you can with less money than you had before.
And so we construct a budget. It's not the most pleasant thing to do and what I -- what I write to the university and I said, look, here's the story. We're under a little bit of financial trouble, all of you expect to be paid on a regular basis and we have to honor that commitment. So we've constructed this budget and so what I'm going to -- there were 16 faculties at the University of Calgary, I'm going to go and spend two hours in each faculty. And when I spend those two hours there, anyone from that faculty can come.
Teaching staff, non-academic staff, students, the parking attendant. Anyone who wants can come and you -- I will say only a few things about the budget and you can ask me anything you want about the impact or this budget situation. The night before my first visit to the first faculty, I said to my wife, I said, Barb, I'm going on a road tour now over the next two weeks to 16 faculties. And I bet you I'm never asked about the impact of the budget cuts on the teaching mission of the University. And she turns to me, a little bit aghast and she says, Harvey, how could you get so cynical so early on? Of course they are.
It's central to the university's mission. It's all about the students, it's all about putting students first. It's all about engagement with the students. I said, okay look, I'm an [inaudible], we'll see. It turns out she was right and I was wrong.
In the 15th of 16 sessions I was asked, what is the impact of the budget cuts on our ability to serve the undergraduates? It was asked by a sectional instructor. I was asked about parking, Xerox machines, research labs, all kinds of infrastructure, the quality of the air, snow removal. But only once in 16 sessions was I asked about the impact on teaching and learning.
And I don't think it might be slightly exaggerated but to me that catches in some sense the profile that teaching and learning issues have on many of our campuses. I'll tell you one other story. If you think this is unique to the University of Calgary, because it's not. There's a group in Canada known as the -- it used to be the 10, then the 13, now the U15 Universities, these are the big research universities in Canada. It would be the equivalent of the Russell Group, for example in the UK. And on a regular basis the Presidents of these 15 universities would get together in a room to plot and collude.
And now I admit that most of our talk was about how we would outsmart the government. We never succeeded, by the way, but we were always there talking about how we knew what the government should know and we were going to get them to think what we wanted. But periodically we would actually talk about teaching and learning. Something would come up. Someone approaches the U15 group about some issue related to teaching and learning. Something happened at some campus, there was a newspaper article, there was someone slammed Universities for their inattention to the student. And so periodically a discussion would erupt at the U15 about teaching and learning.
We would have that discussion, it would end, we would all go out of the room, we'd take out our cell phones and call our home universities, they would start regaling us with crisis and fires that had to be put out. To elevators not working, to strikes of various -- labor issues of various kinds etc. We would all say thank you, we'd get back in the room, we would all say, that was a great discussion about teaching and learning and we never returned to it until it erupted again. I don't -- in fact, I think, and it's probably more true in Canada then it is in other countries.
but the scholarship of teaching and learning does not get the profile or attention on our campuses in spite of the fact that we are teaching at universities and all about students, that it should. Now in some ways, maybe that's not surprising. Talking about teaching and learning, talking about the scholarship of teaching and learning by necessity is a discussion about change. Change in the programs that we construct, changes in curriculum, changes in the way we teach students. Changes in the way we assess students. And let's face it, nobody likes change. In fact the description is if the only person that likes change is a baby with a dirty diaper. But I also want you to know that this discussion of curriculum, the scholarship of teaching and learning, what should we teach.
How are students learning? Are we measuring how they're learning appropriately? It's not a new topic. Before he became President of the United States, Woodrow Wilson had the more difficult job of being the President of Princeton University and when he was President in the early 1900s he engaged the Princeton community in a discussion of curriculum. He was trying to initiate, get them to assess, what really should we be teaching the Princeton students, how should we teach them and what should a Princeton student K now and be able to do? And at the end of his discussion with faculty he summarized that dynamic in the following way. What he said is changing a college curriculum is like moving a graveyard. You never know how many friends the dead have until you try to move them. The optimistic thing, I would say, and I will come back to this at the end is, I think actually things are changing. The world is changing.
Students are changing. Society is changing. When I was talking to Patrick Dean he pointed out to me that all of the discussion that they had at Parliament Hill with about Universities was about jobs, jobs, jobs. That's changing. And so the bright spot is that given that everything is changing. Our institutions, our universities have to change. And you have to think that the kind of work that you do, the emphasis on teaching and learning, the emphasis on effective teaching methods, the emphasis on learning [inaudible], has to be at the forefront of the discussion of how our institutions will change and how we will serve our students and society. Because if not, we're going to end up like this fellow over here.
Our institutions will end up being like the proverbial dinosaur looking out at some bright sunshine that someone else is enjoying before it becomes extinct. Let's also appreciate that the discussion of the scholarship of teaching and learning is taking place in a particular dynamic. And that dynamic sometimes helps the discussion and sometimes it makes it more difficult. And one of the things that make discussions of teaching and learning on campuses and among university administrators more difficult now is the global trend to the fact that rankings and reputation matter even more now than they did before. And whether you're in Canada at [inaudible] or the US, US News and world report America's best colleges, you engage in world rankings. Rankings really matter in the lives of institutions and in the consciousness of administrators. And for the most part, not exclusively, but for the most part rankings are all about research.
They're not about teaching. They're about research money. They're about research stars.
They're about winning prizes like Nobel Prizes, Field's Prizes in mathematics. And so the dynamic that universities are in now and their great emphasis on research and their standing in research in some ways distracts or at least competes with the kind of discussion that we're trying to have here about the scholarship of teaching and learning. Now I'll also tell you that I am much more sensitive to these issues now that I no longer work at a university then I was when I actually worked at a university. As Patrick mentioned, I now work at the higher education quality council of Ontario. It always goes under the acronym of HEQCO because it's too long to say the organization's name. And every time you walk around the world you say HEQCO the first question you get is what the heck is HEQCO? So let me tell you about that quickly.
Established in 2005 and I actually think a rather prescient act of the Ontario government in response to a report that was done, it said that the government is making a lot of decisions about post-secondary without any evidence or without being informed by any data. it sets up this agency, HEQCO and in our legislative mandate it says the objective of the council is to assist the Minister in improving all aspects of post-secondary sector including the quality of education provided in the sector, access to post-secondary education and accountability of post-secondary institutions. And so we, a rather small shop, do, like some of you in your shops, a lot of research on issues of access, quality and accountability of higher education, both within Ontario which is our laboratory but frankly, things happening around the world. but it's not just enough to do research because when you do research in this domain, or frankly in any other domain, you can produce some brilliant papers, some very eloquent writing, you can get some very eloquent talks but at the end of the day your job -- and it will be read by a certain group, the aficionados, the people in your discipline, but that's not enough. What you then have to do is influence and in our case a major body that we have to influence in order to fulfill our mandate of the helping the Minister improve the post-secondary sector we have to influence the decisions government make and the policies that government make. And so what we do is, we do our research, we do our investigation and various forms of research that we do and then we have to do a number of things. We allow that we inform the government to develop more effective policies.
As a result we get government to allocate their funds more effectively and finally if all of this works we will end up enhancing the quality and global competitiveness of the system. And I will tell you that one of the primary areas of research that we are now engaged in relates to exactly what occupies your waking hours which is about the quality of education, the scholarship of teaching and learning and learning outcomes. And so we have an assortment of research projects that relate to the scholarship of teaching and learning. We have about 51 projects that we've done, about 40 ongoing still.
11 that have already been published. Looking at evaluating interventions that people are making for more effective teaching in large classes. We have run and are about to the point of completing a rather extensive tuning project in Ontario, asking the question of what it is that students should know and be able to do. If you look at the sector called the disciplines called physical sciences, life and health sciences, or social sciences, what are the appropriate learning outcomes and how should they be assessed. We, not surprisingly are doing work on technology assisted learning, what are effective learning techniques. Again, what are the kind of things people are using technology for and we often will go in, partner with the institutions and do evaluations of their interventions. We also help the government on analysis of, in spite of what people's opinions might be, and Lord knows everyone has an opinion about online learning and technology assisted learning.
What is actually the evidence of the data that we can bring to bear on the question of what is really the impact of technology assisted learning on both the quality and the cost of education? We do a lot of work on graduate studies and evaluating the growth of graduate studies particularly in Canada. We do a lot of work on it on provincial assessments for the national survey of student engagement. We have several projects going on in the province on examining the feasibility of using the collegiate learning assessment and its college equivalent. And it's community college equivalent to assess the development of critical thinking skills in our institutions.
And we have led the Ontario which means because in Canada we can only do things in higher education or prevention level. We have led the participant management, the participation of Canada in the HEQCO project run by the OECD on civil engineering. So let me tell you this. When I started at HEQCO about two and a half years ago, I was both surprised and, I'll admit, embarrassed by how little I knew about what was going on in scholarship of teaching and learning. In fact, people who work with me in the shop may recall that I would read something that HEQCO produced and in one case I ran into someone's office and I said, why didn't I know about this? Had I known about this I would have saved $400,000.00 in teaching and learning grants that we had given out at an institution. But of course that exactly begs the question. Let me tell you, there are people at HEQCO who know much more about the scholarship of teaching and learning than I know or will ever know.
But what I do know is how the academy responds to the kind of work and thinks about the kind of work that you do. and my, frankly, ignorance about this organization or the scholarship of teaching and learning in spite of what I had done in the university sector, speaks to the issue of exactly what the point of this talk is which is how do we increase the profile of the critical work that you folks do in the academy and increases influence. Okay. again, as we have this discussion, as we contemplate effective teaching methods, as we contemplate the issue of learning outcomes, how that's integrated into how we run our institutions, how we spend our money, how the government allocates money for higher education through the higher education sector. Let's remember again that there is a context and a dynamic in which these discussions have taken place. I've mentioned one which is rankings but there's more.
we are now dealing with a 21st century student who is different from the students that I dealt with when I taught undergraduates or that were taught 10, 15, 20 years ago. By the way, there is one constant in the world of undergraduate of education. And you're a perfect example of it.
That in a large classroom it fills up from the back and no one sits in the front. But we now have students, and there's been lots of research on this, who are different from the students we were dealing with 10 or 15 years ago. And as we have this discussion of the scholarship of teaching and learning we have to attend to the mindset and to the dynamic of the students we are dealing with now, not with the students of 15 or 20 years ago. Let's also remember that for our students it's all about the job.
every survey I know of that asks the question of what is the main reason a student attended a post-secondary -- a pursuit of secondary studies, every survey I know of says that the dominant reason people go to post secondary education is they need the credentials. They believe us, they want the credential to get that good job. Because we're out there hammering them and saying that if you don't get a post secondary credential all the jobs that are out there are going to need it. if you don't have a post-secondary credential you're going to be living in a box in the middle of Jackson Square. And they believe us and they are very focused on the job, it's not just them. Governments, one of the major reasons that governments are prepared to fund public post-secondary education is because their belief that we are preparing students to fuel and to support a knowledge based 21 century economy. And when you do employer surveys, and we have done some of these and have reported and we'll report on some of this research.
When you speak to employers they are very attentive to the job preparation of students that they are graduating and hiring from post-secondary education. So again, a critically -- even though most of us at universities don't like to talk about job preparation for students that is what occupies the mind. The students, the government and of the employers. And we go around singing hi ho all the place. And the dynamic for post-secondary institution, again, I can speak most forcefully and confidently about Canada, is really different now than it was 10 years ago. People used to really like us. They thought we were doing a really valuable job.
We were really important. We were instrumental in their kid's future. Look at the headlines that you get now. It's time to fix out broken education system. The imperiled promise of college, waging war on higher education.
Society and many influential people are questioning the value of what we do and of what goes on in our institutions. But again, if the institutions of higher education is to demonstrate its relevance in value to society and to the students today, and therefore to get its fair share, if not more, of the public funding that is out there, we are going to need to demonstrate value and the biggest rap on universities now is that they're not attending to the undergraduates and to the preparation of those students. And that's a huge, huge opportunity for a group like this because the value that people are looking for is in exactly the domains, teaching and learning, learning outcomes in which you folks work. Okay. That's the problem. Again, I don't know how many of you watch Harry's Law, the defunct show that never should have been taken off TV, unfortunately because I thought it was great.
But in Harry's Law she's a lawyer and has a particular judge they always plead before and any time the lawyer gets up and says something the judge stops them and says, you mean, in your opinion. So let me be clear about something. Everything I've given you so far is my opinion and everything I will give you for the rest of this talk is my opinion. Now I happen to think I'm right but that's just the way our brains work. So you don't have to agree. But let's get back to the central question which is, in my opinion, the kind of work that you folks do in general the work on scholarship and teaching and learning does not get the attention in the academy that it should and how are we going to fix this? And so what I'm going to suggest to you is a prescription. A prescription that will include work for senior administration, some changes to the faculty evaluation processes, some suggestions for teaching and learning centers and some suggestions for government. But what changes can we make in order to improve the profile, the standing of teaching and learning? Let's start with senior administration.
Number one. There should be a senior teaching and learning academic administration at the senior management table. The critical decisions that any university get made at the very top and I recognize that there are many more universities now that are appointing vice-provosts, teaching and learning vice-provosts, academic etc. That's great, that's actually a very positive step. But the critical issue is whether that person sits with the senior managers, the President, and the Vice-President of the university because that's where the big allocation and priority decisions get made.
Second suggestion. Teaching start-up funds for new hires. This was my experience, I suspect it was shared by many people in this room and I think it's generally true of what goes on when you hire a faculty member today. So you go through this process, you hire a faculty member and the department chair, the Dean sits down with them and says okay, let's talk about your start-up funds. And they start talking about, we're going to give you this amount of money to set up your laboratory and we're going to buy you the -- what equipment do you need? I will buy you that equipment. And there is all this discussion about how much money do you need to set up your lab and it's not trivial. In the United States now the average new hire in life sciences gets at least half a million dollars worth of start up funding. So a lot of time is spent getting start-up funds for research.
And then we make the message even worse because then what we say to them typically is, oh, and by the way, this is your normal teaching load but in the first couple of years we're going to reduce your teaching load because we want you to get your research program going. So what's the message that our new faculty hires get? Our ten year track hires get? It's a very clear message. The priority of the institution is, get your research program going and research takes second place to that. So now imagine a different scenario. The scenario that says when the new hire comes in the Dean or the department Chair sits down and says, this is what we're going to do. We're going to give you $150,000 to set up the best course in what you're teaching that I can imagine and we're going to link you up with some of the very best teachers of this institution or anywhere else because we need you to do that, here is your teaching and best of luck to you. I don't think that happens in very many places, although to be fair there are many more places now that are requiring their new hires to actually go get some form of teacher training.
We could do even more. And, again, this is being done increasingly in some institutions. Instead of just having a research board in the university have actually a teaching board that's prepared as we do at HEQCO to fund innovations in teaching and learning and on a competitive basis to dole those out to faculty members. But again, we give -- all senior administration gives all the wrong signals to most faculty when they're first hired about the relative importance of research and teaching. And it's no surprise therefore that many faculty absorb the message of smart people and act accordingly. Because I knew I was giving this talk I wrote to my -- as I call them my cherished former colleagues, former and current Presidents and provosts and said to them, what else should senior administration do to increase the profile of teaching and learning in the economy and many of them answered, by the way the majority of them answered, they don't have time to come back to me on that issue. Which tells you something about the issue in their minds.
And but again, the standard things. More profile for teaching. It's interesting to go to university Websites and to see the relative amount of their time given to research versus teaching. More teaching awards, and again to be fair, some of this is happening. So that's what senior administration should do. What about the faculty evaluation process? Almost all of us in our institutions were on some regular basis. We are put through this process of reporting on our teaching and learning in some committee, for career progress, for tenure and promotion, reviews our accomplishments, makes assessments of us, evaluates us, and then makes some recommendation with respect to promotion or with respect to salary. What changes should we do here? The first one I think is dastardly simple.
And I didn't come up with it, actually it was a colleague of mine in Calgary but I think it's brilliant. And it's to evaluate teaching and research in alternate years. in most faculty evaluation exercises when teaching and research are evaluated at the same time, the system is rigged so that if you're a less than stellar or incompetent teacher you cannot -- that will not appear in the evaluation. Why is it? It's because it's a game of averaging.
So you, on a 10 point scale you say someone is a zero in teaching, they're terrible, but they are a six in research what do you report to your chair and to the Dean? They are a three overall. If we do not shine a light on the teaching component of our lives it will get lost in the overall evaluation given the dominance of research today. and one way to shine a light on what people are really doing in the area of teaching is to say, on this year the only thing that we will pay attention to in the evaluation is the teaching aspect of your life.
In other years we'll worry about your research. Now there is one other way to do it and I know some institutions do this, which is to say that your overall evaluation is -- reflects both teaching and learning and if you get a zero in either component you get an overall evaluation of zero. We don't average. But those are very rare, they're extraordinarily effective, by the way, and I would suggest to you that in general the message here is whatever processes we have, there has to be a way of isolating the contribution and the performance in teaching. In the absence of that it gets mixed into an overall evaluation process that in almost every case I know devalues the actually teaching component.
Second thing we should do is evaluate teaching using the same procedures as research. Look, I'm a pragmatist. The research culture dominates many, not all, the research culture dominates the way universities work. And if you don't play that game of looking like the researchers and the way they think about discover research, they don't pay much attention to you.
so the same rigor and the same processes should be used to evaluate teaching as we use it to evaluate research. And the foundation of this is peer review. We do not take self-evaluations of research seriously for all the right reasons. We do not take eloquent self-reflections by a researcher by how good my research program is as sufficient evidence for tenure and promotion. The only thing we accept is external evaluation and peer review. And if we are going to move the -- if we are going to increase the profile of teaching and learning we are going to have to have much more extensive engagement and involvement of peer review in the evaluation of our teaching contributions. This is a Canadian problem.
Granting counselor should give grants for scholarship of teaching and learning and finally the United States and I wanted to be part of the movement that was in the United States to reform and to modernize science education in universities. I could apply to the National Science Foundation and get a grant for curriculum reform. That's really research.
When you get money from a granting council. Now in Canada you can't. In Canada if you want to do research on teaching and learning you don't get it from the fundamental federal granting councils. And they should give out that money. Why should they give out that money? They should give out that money because one of the things that's top of mind for granting councils in Canada is the production of highly qualified personnel. What's more important in the development of highly qualified personnel? And they would go through undergraduate programs that would adequately prepare them for whatever futures they have.
And so, again, I have to say I've been on this bandwagon for 10 years with zero success. But it would be a significant advance and it would uplift the profile of the scholarship of teaching and learning if in some countries, like Canada, the granting councils that fund research actually got into the game and it's a good game for them to get into. As part of the faculty evaluation program you have to publicize the results of teaching evaluations and you have to send the worst teachers for remediation. I have to tell you, I won't do it here because it would be too embarrassing for both me and you, to show you the scars on my back of fights, largely with faculty associations trying to implement these two things. But again, if we are to raise the publicizing the results of teaching evaluations, public disclosure and getting serious about the fact that if you're not good at this we can make you good. In fact, in almost every case I know teachers who were sent for remediation, I know people don't like the word, but it captures the concept. People who are sent for remediation really do improve and they feel better about it and lord knows the students feel better about it.
If we want to get serious about this, this again is not -- it's part of the evaluation process, part of what senior administrators have to do. Now, what are the impediments here? I'm going to leave you with a final thought about the faculty evaluation process. It is very popular if not de rigueur at most universities that when something goes wrong you blame the administrators. But this is not an occasion to blame the administrators because in fact, I would say that right now your faculty colleagues, not the administrators, are the biggest resistors to these things and I'll give you a simple example. Tenure and promotion. Someone comes up for tenure and promotion, they present their research, they present their teaching and the common complaint of many people, students, some faculty, in fact the faculty associations are all over this. Is that not enough attention is being paid to teaching. It's really important and we're not paying enough attention to it.
Who is sitting in that room making the decision? It's not the administrators who are making decisions about your merit points. It's not administrators who are making decisions except at some universities about teaching and tenure and promotion. It's rank and file faculty, that's the way we organize ourselves. And so the people who have to be convinced to take some of this stuff seriously don't dump on the administers. They're on your side on this. But in fact we have a serious piece of work to do to influence the rest of our colleagues about how important this is and how they have to start getting on the bandwagon.
And it has not proven to be very easy. A little advice, by the way, I love this, when I was the university President everybody gives you advice and you take it, you have no idea. I'm kind of a consultant to government now. Being a consultant is fantastic. You can give advice to people as I'm giving to you, you can do whatever you want with it but I actually do believe the advice I'm giving you. So for teaching and learning centers show value in ways that are meaningful to the scholarship.
I had a wonderful example of this a month ago. I was visiting McMaster University. Carolyn Iles runs a program on integrated science program. Very interesting undergraduate program in integrated science, multi-disciplinary, problem based. As far as I could tell it's a wonderful experience for students, wonderful educational experience, you speak to some of the students, they've had a terrific time. But you know what goes on when something like this happens right? Someone has this idea they're going to mount and support a teaching innovation and all the departments are there kind of in a tussle with this new program because, let's face it, they're kind of competing for resources. And all the eloquent expositions and all the eloquent arguments about this is the right thing to do and this is important for the teaching of the next generations of scientists frankly, doesn't carry much weight. Because that's what people in departments think they are doing most of the time anyway.
You have to talk about what the value of a program like this is in ways that are meaningful to some of your colleagues who are skeptics about the work that you do. How do they do it? It's actually very interesting to watch. Standard sized departments like physics, chemistry, math can't recruit students the way the life sciences can.
And they, much to their chagrin, they don't have a lot of students. And they need students. And they want good students as anyone would. How does the integrated science show value to their colleagues who are skeptics about that program to begin with? They take their students who are terrific students and they are farmed out to other doing research thesis, doing collaborative work, taking courses and in some cases actually transferring to those departments because that can't recruit them but because they have been turned on to science by this integrated science program, they now go into these underserviced areas of science.
When a faculty member in a physics department for example, starts seeing that that group over there is getting these students I would never get on my own and they are terrific students, that's value. And that's how you demonstrate value to colleagues who are skeptics. Second thing for teaching and learning centers.
Decentralize teaching and learning centers. teaching and learning centers are important, HEQCO does research on teaching and learning centers and disseminates information about them. They are in some ways, and in fact in many ways, the crucibles of teaching innovation on our campuses. But in some cases, in fact, I would say in more than some cases that I've seen, they become of themselves. You spend more time protecting the teaching and learning center and talking among the converted, preaching to the choir then you do addressing who you really have to address which are the skeptic colleagues in the departments. And so I know the way that this works and you can see it happening at universities. First thing you do is you fight for space. We must have a home.
Yes, so you create a home. And then you get a group of people together who talk largely but not exclusively among themselves. If we are going to increase the profile of teaching and learning that will happen by guerilla warfare in the departments, not in a central activity of the teaching and learning center. No matter how good they are and how important they are and I would suggest to you that instances I've seen where teaching and learning centers have essentially devolved by sending their people to live with their natural colleagues in the departments. Those activities have had more influence on the activities and the scholarship and the teaching and learning that goes on in departments then in those cases with highly centralized teaching and learning centers.
And as a corollary of that there is a trend now in some, but not all universities to make appointments to teaching and learning center. That reinforces the central tendencies of teaching and learning centers and if I'm to be consistent which I strive to be, we shouldn't be making these appointments. We should be making appointments and we should be making teaching and learning appointments and we should value members of the department to engage in the scholarship of teaching and learning not just disciplinary discover research. But those appointments need to be in the departments with their colleagues because that's the way you influence them and the degree to which we isolate ourselves from them we lose influence. Government. In spite of what I've told you today and in spite of the enthusiasm that I can generate for the importance of teaching and learning and for the critical work that you folks do, I am not optimistic about the program -- I am not optimistic that we will raise the profile of teaching and learning in our institutions if we rely only on our institutions. If we are going to get more serious about teaching and learning the scholarship of it, effective teaching practices, evaluating teaching, working on learning outcomes. Some progress will be made in individual institutions.
But the rate of change will be so slow as to turn many people off. If we are to accelerate all of this, in my opinion, we need the intervention of government to accelerate that process. and that means the government has to get serious about teaching and learning and for governments to get serious, this is not just rhetorical, it often means putting money behind serious work into scholarship of teaching and learning and the evaluation of teaching and learning practices at our institutions. And as a minimum, I would say the following. That what governments need to do is insist on the measurement of learning outcomes. I won't go into it now but, and those people who work with me find this, I think, quite humorous, I am a deep, deep convert to the issue of learning outcomes.
And to the measurement of learning outcomes. Not just for the sake of learning outcomes and what it tells us about teaching, I actually think an emphasis on the outcomes, learning outcomes, what should students know and be able to do is the solution to a whole bunch of serious vexing challenges that face public and secondary systems. Time for another talk, won't do it here. But governments have to insist that the institutions get serious about the articulation and measurement of learning outcomes. And not just measuring them, there has to be consequences to whether you achieve good learning outcomes or not. And in the higher education sector there are two strategies governments use in order to get compliance of institutions.
Interestingly they are both actually almost equally effective based upon what I've seen, especially what's going on in the United States which is way ahead of Canada in terms of learning outcomes and government intervention and decision. One is public disclosure. If you want students to be able to know and be able to do certain things on graduation, insist on the measurement of it and insist on the public disclosure of whether those targets and achievements are being made or not.
Public disclosure by itself, university people are so gol-damn competitive that if you put up a rank or anything on public disclosure they will kill themselves to get to the top. It is a serious motivator of institution behavior. But if you want to be a little bit more interventionist actually put a little bit of funding behind it. The very curious thing about universities have demonstrated themselves for about the last 50 years to be unbelievably responsive to small drabs of money that governments dangle in front of them.
And so if the government gets serious about measurement and, not that they should do it, because they don't know how to do it, leave it to the institutions but insist the institutions do it. And get serious -- and requires public disclosure or put some performance funding behind it, you can see systems really change. And I would again say this is not happening in Canada. I think Ontario is getting close, closer, but I see what's going on in some states in the United States which are really moving much more strongly in this direction and I think it's a remarkably positive engagement on the part of government.
I don't want to leave you with the impression that it's all doom and gloom. Because it's not. In fact, and maybe this is a maybe I've taken too many psychology courses, our brains can convince us of almost anything. I actually think the world really is changing. Relative to the discourse on education institutions, as little as five years ago, there is more attention being paid to teaching and learning issues and to the kind of work you folks do then what's happening, more attention now then what was happening before.
Some of this is part that's just woven into the accountability issue, part of this is the concern about the economy and jobs. But I go to conferences now that five -- on learning outcomes, five years ago you'd be lucky to get 30 people in a room. Now there's 300 people in a room. I see discourse in government about this stuff who didn't even know about these issues five years ago. They didn't know a learning outcome from a Popsicle. And now they're all over this stuff. They're not quite sure what to do about it in some cases but they know about this and they're trying to figure this out.
there is a public scrutiny and public discussion of this, far beyond that existed before and if you go through, if you -- it's an interesting thing, there is an exercise now underway in the province of Ontario where all 44 public institutions, 20 universities, 24 colleges have to essentially write an 8 pager to the government about what's important to us. What do we aspire to? What are our key priorities? And if you read those things, and again, to some extent they are responding because they think they can get some money out of the government, but even beyond the cynical few that I can normally bring myself to, there is an attention to issues of undergraduate learning that simply wasn't there five years ago. And if you had asked the institutions in Ontario to go through this exercise five, ten years ago, you would not be getting the kind of statements and attention to teaching and learning issues than as we have now. So we are not in a crisis.
But we're not great. And I was reminded when I was particular -- feeling particularly blue about something in Calgary of one of the kind of deans of the Oil Patch came up to me and he gave something to me that I actually have on my desk. It turns out that in Chinese characters, they use the same character for crisis and opportunity. And you more than many other people who think about higher education are fixated on the problem that may be now an area of problem for us for that represents the greatest opportunity for our institution and if I made any contribution this morning it is a hope that in some pragmatic way to a little bit of a tool kit on what are the things one might do on a variety of levels at our institutions that would allow you to seize the opportunity that's out there. Thanks, I'll try to answer whatever questions you have. Thank you. >> Applause.
>> Okay, now I received extremely strict instructions about this Q and A period, that if you want to ask a question you are obliged to pick up your hand and since there are people with microphones, I'm told, who will approach you if you pick up your hand. If you see that they've gone to someone else the instruction to you is to keep your hand up because those people will find you after the first question. So I'm going to forget the rules. What's the question you have? Go ahead. >> [Inaudible] and told us that we all have to have the same general education requirements. Our state also believes very much in evaluation of students learning and that means high stakes multiple choice tests. Those are going to move into the college area and the lesson that I'm drawing from this, and I'm just a faculty member, by the way, so I sort of feel I have somewhat limited influence in all of this.
Is that the people who in the state who are so very concerned about student learning, actually think that nothing that we do has any value. They don't have to talk to us, they don't have to consider what learning actually looks like. You know, so listening to you talk was a little like listening to the adults talking at the adult's table, you know, we and the kids, the kids are not being consulted here.
And I don't know what to do about that or how to make my voice heard. I'm dancing as hard as I can, I'm yelling as loud as I can but as far as I can tell, education policy is not being made by people who actually know that much about it. Your own situation is not unusual. You walked into a situation where you didn't know anything about our work and we're automatically, you know, beginning to make policy decisions. We look up to our Imperial Masters and we see a whole lot of that happening.
>> So I have two responses to your comments. Number one, I will acknowledge and in fact one of my -- we're all products of our experience and one of the experience as mine is in the Canadian situation. The Americans, especially some states, Indiana is one but there are others, that in my view, governments are way ahead of where Canada is. Canada is not on this map and in as serious a way as some of the Americans are. That's number one. But now let's get to your central question which is how do we actually get the right stuff, government to do the right stuff? This is a serious challenge.
The only -- not many things keep me up at night but one of the things that keep me up at night is, remember, we are an agency that provides advice to government based upon the research that's out there. Right? And one of the things we worry about is the fact that governments and lord knows we all have experience with this, where governments cherry pick the things they want out of the reports we want based upon their conceptions of the way the world works. And then make policy based on that. Let me give you some degree of comfort.
I actually rely on people far more knowledgeable who really are immersed in the scholarship of teaching and learning for years. If it was just me you should be worried, with the group that I work with actually I wouldn't worry at all. But you are right. That what we have to do is, governments on their own are not very good at this. So somehow you have to get them attentive but you then have to get them to attend to the right thing. And that is an issue of government relations and how do you talk to governments and how do you influence governments? And let me tell you something.
Reading papers and journals on the scholarship of teaching and learning don't influence government. And so there is an art form called government relations where you take what's out there, the evidence that you have and then figure out how to infiltrate government and influence them. And that activity is remarkably different from the activity you have actually doing research and writing academic papers. And so it's not the point here, it's not the time here. But I and others have actually written papers on how do governments really make higher education policy. And therefore what does the research community need to do to really influence them. And again, you need translators and one of the roles that we serve for the government is because for a series of reasons they happen to actually trust us. We are translators between some of the very important academic work that goes on but then packaging it and messaging it in a way that governments may do something with it.
And by the way, let me state the obvious. At the end of the day politicians are politicians. They're called politicians for a reason, they make political decisions. And so part of your job is to weave into their political dynamic. Decisions you want them to go but they think it's a political decision. But that's a very different art form.
So that doesn't mean that you don't continue, you continue, there is a group of people who have to continue to provide the evidence and the data. But that by itself, those publications by themselves don't influence government. Then you need interveners that then know how to translate and take that stuff and infiltrate and influence government and I happen to think actually it's a very wonderful -- that space is a wonderful space but a different space to be in and it's very different from the space of being a researcher. Yes? >> Allen Wright.
Vice-Provost, teaching and learning University of Winsor. Thank you very much for your talk, I think it's a very important contribution to this conference. My question is simply, do you think there is any hope for collaboration as opposed to fighting it out competition among universities? Case in point would be what you alluded to right now.
All universities in Ontario have made a bid for a certain amount of funds. As you said, it's remarkable how serious a motivator a bit of money, not all that much, from central government can be for universities. But I would suggest this one is set up typically as a competition among universities and doesn't encourage collaborative efforts that could actually change a system.
It is designed to select a few winners and leave a lot of people going home unhappy. So is there a future for collaboration among universities at an important level or does it matter? >> Of course there's a future for collaboration and the opportunity for collaboration is there all the time. The question is, why don't we take it up more often? And there is a number of reasons for that. first of all there actually is some writing on this and one of the things we know is that those occasions in which there is collaboration, spontaneous collaboration among institutions, one of the factors that led to that was the curious chemistry between the leaders of those institutions, the personalities meshed for whatever reason. And if some of those personalities change, the collaboration disappears. The other thing, since you're in Ontario, is there is a particular problem in Ontario because all of these institutions see themselves as autonomous institutions. We do not have a system like that exists in some United States where a government actually runs the system and the system is organized and is planned in some ways. We have a government trying to juggle 44 different institutions all of them are, [inaudible] but let's say the 20 universities, all of whom see themselves as autonomous and fiercely defend their autonomy and independence.
And so we don't have an environment or a tradition in this province of collaboration. It's not part of the fabric. But if we are actually going to solve and address adequately some of the challenges that face the public system, for example in Ontario, more collaboration would actually be very helpful. But in my personal opinion it won't happen spontaneously, it will happen only if the government in some ways creates the right framework and incentives to make that happen. And right now they don't exist. >> I'm -- can you hear me? Sorry. I'm Katrina Carlson from University of Wisconsin Stout. The University of Wisconsin system is evaluating a new way of offering college credit and they're very seriously looking at things like life experience, work experience, and things like massive online classes to offer college credit.
And I think that really challenges [inaudible] it challenges that work we're doing. When I was at a Board of Regents meeting recently they suggested up to 20,000 students could be participating in this every year. And I wondered what your thoughts were on this and how you think we can turn this into an opportunity for [inaudible] versus a crisis. >> Okay, but first a statement. I guess and I want to stress this. In my opinion states in the United States are way ahead of where anyone is in Canada in dealing with this kind of issues that we need to address in the higher education sector.
And they, again, I'm not saying all the solutions are good ones, I'm not saying that all the things governments have done in the states are good things. But they are trying. And they're organizing themselves around trying and they're talking about -- and governments are talking about things in an intervening way that may be helpful. It may be remarkably unhelpful. But that's what experimentation and innovation is about. Some things will work and some things won't.
On your issue, look, I'm a real pragmatist. If you -- there is a dynamic out there now. Issues of jobs, issues of prior learning assessment, issues of giving credits and how do you give credits for experiential learning? Community service learning. These are issues that are out there in the public and therefore the government's consciousness. And so a group -- like I would much rather see a group like this take on that problem and fashion good advice. Rather than do what in some cases happens now where the governments feel they have to respond to this dynamic and they'll respond without some actually reasonable advice from people who actually know something about this. And so for me, again, I recognize this to be a hopeless DNA defect, I don't see that as a crisis or a challenge, I see that as a huge opportunity. If you folks don't shape that argument and shape the discussion of how that should work, it won't go away.
Something will happen but it will be worse because you guys haven't shaped that. And so the pragmatist in me says, what is the -- what are the challenges that we're facing? And let me tell you, public systems here, Western Europe, with the exception of Asia, almost everyone is trying to deal with the same mission. How do you deliver more education at a higher quality, how do you deliver a higher quality education to more students with less money? That's what everyone is facing. And we can either let uninformed people come up with solutions or we can allow the informed people who have evidence and data to inform that. And the only comment that goes back to what I said before. Someone has to produce the evidence and data. Those people typically are not really good at influencing government because it's a different dynamic.
So then you need these intervening bodies that then take that and work with government and work with the institutions. Let me tell you this, since I've been a University President. If you let the University Presidents drive that discussion it will be no more informed then if governments drive it. Maybe a little bit more, I should be kind to my former cherished colleagues. So I would say that you could probably easily generate a list of things that you know and what your legislature and your media and your students and parents are thinking about, the efficiency of getting through a higher education is part of it. That's part of what your issue is about. And you're going to have to inform how we do this well.
By the way, this is no different then what exists in almost every other endeavor of research. I come from a world of bio-medical research. Bio-medical researchers are really good and produce a lot of good stuff but it doesn't influence government unless someone knows how to take those data, take that information and then weave it and package it and message it and infiltrate governments in particular ways.
And again, it's a very interesting space to be in and it's a very different, if you will, skill set then being an academic researcher. Although some do both very well. >> Marcel Dione from the University of Saskatchewan. I'm over here. >> Okay, got you. >> Okay, thanks.
I would -- I'm asking a question about mandatory credentialing and teaching for post-secondary teachers and having some type of mandatory expected required training for teaching. And related to that I'd like to comment that I think sending poor teachers for remediation is exactly the wrong thing to do. I think it sends a message that poor teachers go to teaching development sessions. I think every teacher in the academy could benefit from training in teaching even those award winning teachers have something to learn.
And in -- I'll stop there. Thanks >> Sure we all want stuff to learn. I just think as a first step taking those who really are not very good at this and getting them better is probably not an illogical first step. And I'm greatly encouraged by folks like Carl Wyman who seems to know what they're talking about, who start getting involved in his discipline, started in physics with what is this about how we teach science and are we doing a good job? And so we participate in a variety of consortia that try to say, how do we get some of these demonstratedly effective teaching methods integrated better into the academy? So I don't disagree with you, and I suppose I could have had a longer list. I just want to start in an area where, look, I just think that if we don't signal that if you're not very good at this you got to get better. I just think that's an important signal to give. >> Hi everyone, my name is Nancy O'Neal and I'm with the University of Baltimore, co-director of our teaching and learning center there. And I just want to offer a commentary and a resource for folks related to the issue of assessment.
You had mentioned up on the slide, messy and facile and I think that there is a lot that we can learn from those two instruments, those two assessment mechanisms about what students do with their time and to some extent and a little bit about what students are doing with regard to critical thinking. But neither of those are really steeped in the work that students are doing in their classrooms and the work that faculty are doing to design assignments that could yield really interesting and rich assessment data about what students are learning. So I want to put a plug in for a set of National Rubrics that AACNU the Association of American Colleges and Universities have developed over the last several years. Full disclosure, I just spent 10 years at AACNU before moving to the University of Baltimore.
So if people have questions about this or want to learn more I'm happy to talk to them. But these were -- this was a project that was funded in part by FIPSI and the department of education and AACNU folks looked nationally at what faculty were doing in the creation of Rubrics for courses and for programs. And they figured out what the common elements were to a lot of these local Rubrics and they lifted those up and created a set of National Rubrics. The common elements are on critical thinking, the common elements are on oral and written communication, quantitative literacy, lots of different things. Civic learning. Those important kind of personal and social responsibility outcomes as well. and they have been testing those with faculty using real student work from classes all across the country and they're holding up very well.
And in a number of institutions in the United States have adopted them. They're one measure about a number of different outcomes so I encourage multiple measures and multiple ways of looking at assessment. But this is one that's steeped in the real work that faculty and students are doing together in the classroom and I think that that should really be the heart of what is driving assessment.
And being national we can still lift up and look across programs and across institutions at what students are doing. And I, in the spirit of collaboration, think that we could form multi-institutional consortia that look at some of these things in really interesting ways. And rather than competitiveness I would think about distinctiveness. I think that I could walk down the road and look with other Maryland schools at what students are doing and what I come back to is that fact that the University of Baltimore is very steeped in the City of Baltimore and the history of the City of Baltimore and that's what makes us distinctive and our students. That's -- and our faculty, that's what makes us distinctive and that's what should drive us going forward as far as the competitiveness piece.
>> As an aside, I would agree that assessment is -- it's a fascinatingly interesting problem and a tough problem. We would also agree that based upon the stuff that we and others have done, that assessment has to be woven into what's happening actually in the classroom as part of the programs. And how to do that and how to do that in a way, that's with a valid and reliable measure that the skeptic would be convinced by is a really interesting problem and one of the things that's been interesting to us based upon the stuff we've done as HEQCOs, we've learned a lot about what are more promising approaches and what are less and we would, I think, maybe we should have called you in advance, got to the point where exactly you are, that this has to be woven in a particular way and certain other ways that people are thinking about just isn't going to fly. >> [Inaudible] >> Absolutely. You're the best. Okay? >> Yeah, that's great. Thank you again. >> Applause.
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