Why do students struggle to understand the difference between standard error and standard deviation?
Are my students able to use Ohm’s Law to solve a problem that’s not in the textbook?
Does my grading policy work equally for my female and male students?
How has my students concept of carbon footprints changed from the beginning of the semester?
What is it about my group work assignment that results in student resistance?
Instructors ask themselves questions like these every day when thinking about their classes and their students’ learning. We want our students to learn what we think is important enough to be teaching them. We want them to feel inspired. We want to enable each and every one of them to fulfil their potential and achieve their goals.
But how do we know we are accomplishing those goals?
Well, how do we know anything?
We ask questions. We collect data and analyze it. We draw conclusions and make changes. And we see if the changes lead to a better outcome.
Research works for answering our questions about teaching just as well as it works for questions in engineering and science. The rigorous skills we use as researchers in our disciplines are transferable, and can be applied to look at our teaching, too.
Good teachers do this instinctively – they talk to their students, observe their behavior and implement changes to see if their learning can be improved. Teaching-As-Research (TAR) essentially formalizes this process: instructors ask questions grounded in their classroom experience, they purposefully gather data and analyze it, and they situate their findings in the literature in their specific discipline.
Higher education institutions across the country and internationally are placing more and more emphasis on evidence-based teaching and continuously improving the quality of the learning experience for students. One influential organization connecting over 40 top institutions nationwide is the Center for the Integration of Research, Teaching and Learning (CIRTL), offering resources, recognition and community to instructors committed to bettering their courses. Georgia Tech joined CIRTL in 2016 and has been offering Associate Level CIRTL teaching certificates for graduate students and postdocs since.
From Spring 2018, the Center for Teaching and Learning is launching a Teaching-As-Research program for graduate students interested in thinking about their teaching systematically. The program first introduces participants to foundations in teaching-as-research through a weekly non-credit seminar culminating in a research proposal. Those who elect to implement their project in the Fall will be connected to and mentored by faculty members from across campus, as well as CTL staff. Participation in the TAR program may be rewarded with a Practitioner or Scholar Level CIRTL certificate – a valuable addition to any academic application portfolio.
We invite all who are determined to become methodical and responsive future faculty members to join the Spring 2018 cohort of TAR scholars. For more information and to register, click here. Questions? Write to Kata Dosa at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Teaching! Research! What’s not to love!?