The MPTC Teaching Fellows program, currently running its fourth cohort, invites faculty members to study the science behind teaching and learning in order to offer the best instruction possible to their students. Faculty apply for a place in each year’s group and commit to meeting monthly with their peers to share what they know, learn from each other, and discuss research on topics like how the human brain processes knowledge, why some students don’t like school, and how making room for failure in the classroom leads to deeper learning.
Faculty observe each other’s classes and complete a research project of their own. Bobbi Mand, Basic Education Instructor and current Teaching Fellow, reflects on the value of visiting colleagues’ classrooms. “I was impressed with the level of student engagement in the class! Students were listening intently to the lecture, participating in group discussions, and collaborating to gather information to present medical conditions to the class. I learned new teaching strategies that I can implement in the Student Success Center.” This type of collaborative learning and growth among faculty is central to the year-long experience.
The research project encourages each Fellow to apply the ideas being shared in their monthly meetings in their classrooms. Each participant selects a high impact learning concept to put into practice in their classrooms and then measures the effect it has on their students. Past research projects have focused on differentiating assessments (offering a variety of ways for students to show their learning), incorporating metacognitive strategies into the curriculum, and supporting mental health in the classroom. This year’s research projects have been chosen and are already positively impacting MPTC students.
Ben McKenzie, Associate Dean of Health and Teaching Fellows facilitator, highlights the value of the program: “Faculty members get to share their experiences, both high and lows. As educators, they have found both enjoyment and success and have a desire to continually improve the experience for themselves, their students, and other educators. Teaching Fellows provides an opportunity to take your guard down, define areas of strength and explore areas where one would like to improve.”
This year’s cohort recently explored the role authenticity plays in student engagement and success by individually assembling a doorbell circuits under the direction of one of MPTC’s nursing assistant faculty. Gus Boyle-Gustavus, Electricity Instructor, Teaching Fellow, and faculty member who could have more authentically guided learners through the activity reflects on the goals of the activity, shares that, “We attempted to bring to light that if one is not educated on the subject matter they are instructing, the students will not trust, respect, or follow the instructor’s lead. When the students realized Jodie [the nursing assistant faculty] was not authentically providing clear and knowledgeable instruction, they either stopped working on the activity or took initiative to figure it out on their own. Some students were elated when they figured it out on their own, but others were frustrated that they couldn’t get their doorbells working. Teachers don’t need to have all the answers; we do need to exude competence in the subjects we are instructing.”
Teaching Fellows is just one of many efforts supported by the college to ensure that when students choose Moraine Park, they’re choosing an educational institution as outstanding and innovative as they are. As Jim Eden, Vice President of Academic Affairs explains, “Teaching Fellows is a great opportunity for faculty to share and enhance their teaching skills. We live in a very dynamic environment and it is crucial faculty continue to evolve their teaching skills and delivery methodologies to meet a very diverse student population. I am very proud of all the work Teaching Fellows are doing.”