Program introduces new styles of teaching

Rebekah Alvey

Teaching, scholarship and service learning is the focus of the Center for Faculty Development, which recently changed its name to the Center for Innovative Teaching and Learning to reflect this focus.

The center, created in 2013, offers professional development to faculty at WKU. Executive Director Jerry Daday said the majority of the program focused on teaching, but put an emphasis on innovative teaching styles.

Daday said the previous name didn’t reflect the program and implied that the training only applied to faculty members; “Center for Innovative Teaching and Learning” reflected greater inclusivity, he said.

CITL works to introduce new styles and methods of teaching to WKU. Daday said while the most used method of teaching is lecture, there are many other and more effective ways, including micro activities that apply to lectures, working with case studies, Think Pair Share activities, writing assignments, activities like Kahoot and flipped classrooms.

As explained in a previous Herald article, a flipped classroom is where students listen to a pre-recorded lecture at home and engage in activities reflecting the content in class.

Daday said there is nothing wrong with the standard lecture; however, flipped classrooms create a more active learning environment, a goal close to CITL.

Beckie Stobaugh, associate professor of education, will be joining the CITL team as a faculty teaching fellow in July, but has already worked with CFD. Stobaugh said some of the methods get students moving and discussing with peers, which facilitates learning.

Daday said these different methods of learning links new and old information and helps students with retention. Through new techniques, Stobaugh said, teachers can immediately know if students are learning. She said passive teaching methods don’t indicate if students are processing the information. The online game Kahoot, for example, immediately lets teachers know if students understand the information and what misconceptions or problems they may have.

Daday said these new styles would also be more beneficial to students as they go into their careers. He said a lot of jobs WKU graduates will be working in have not been created yet. With new industries being created all the time, Daday said these interactive ways of learning would help students prepare for new things being thrown at them and be able to adapt.

Another benefit these teaching styles have are the similarity to K-12 learning, which Stobaugh said can make the transition into college easier for some students.

Along with the program’s name change, instructional designers and technologists previously in the Office of Distance Learning will become a part of CITL. Daday said these designers help professors come up with lesson plans, essay questions and tests.

Senior instructional designer Juliana Ortolani said they are doing the same job as before, just with expanded opportunities. They used to be a part of the distance learning department, but since that will no longer be on campus, they are merging with CITL. 

Ortolani said it would be beneficial to be a part of one unit,  so faculty only need to go to one place. While they previously worked in web and on-demand course design, Ortolani said they are expanding to face-to-face course design and are working to integrate technology.

Ortolani said she is looking forward to the new center and a chance to be innovative.

Stobaugh said there are dynamic professors already performing a lot of these methods, and CITL connects these professors with others to showcase great teaching and allow them to learn from each other.

“We are promoting good practices that are already happening,” Stobaugh said.

Daday explained that the job of CITL has not changed; they are now just bringing in new support and a name that is a better reflection.

Some of these practices have already been put in place in classrooms. After evaluating or observing these classes, Stobaugh said she could already see a difference.

“You don’t see heads on desks or technology out,” Stobaugh said.

Reporter Rebekah Alvey can be reached at 270-745-6011 and [email protected]