Sept. 23, 1999
Vol. 19 No. 1

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    [philip hoffmann and elizabeth chandler] by jason smith
    Philip Hoffmann, Chair of the Council on Teaching, which will serve as the faculty advisory board to the Center for Teaching and Learning, and Elizabeth Chandler, Director of the new center, will work together to encourage faculty dialogue through the center’s programs.

    New center to offer formal structure for faculty to share across disciplines

    By Jennifer Leovy
    News Office

    University faculty members who deliberate on the art and science of teaching will have a new resource on campus beginning this fall. The University has established the Center for Teaching and Learning, a center that formally marks the University’s commitment to pedagogical inquiry as a primary, cross-disciplinary focus. The center will serve as a resource for faculty and advanced graduate students.

    “We’ve always been known as a successful teacher of teachers in an informal way,” said John Boyer, Dean of the College. “The center will serve as a formal structure to help faculty share across disciplines the wealth of pedagogical knowledge originating from this campus and from the broader intellectual community.”

    Boyer said the center builds on the recent success of a training program sponsored in part by the Pew Trusts, through which senior faculty assist graduate students learning to teach. “We want to make sure all of our faculty––junior and senior––and our advanced graduate students have the opportunity to develop their pedagogy and have access to the energy and excitement of teaching in and across disciplines,” said Boyer.

    The center has been inaugurated under the joint auspices of the College, the four divisions and the Office of the Provost. The Council on Teaching will serve as the faculty advisory board to the center’s first director, Elizabeth Chandler, who is currently the Director of Programs in Education at the Graham School of General Studies.

    Chandler believes local institutional cultures develop their own peculiar teaching practice and said the council will be an excellent resource to help her learn the teaching needs of the research culture particular to Chicago. She wants the center to serve both the faculty and graduate students who will use it.

    Philip Hoffmann, Chair of the Council on Teaching and Professor in Neurobiology and Pharmacology & Physiology, said, “Good teaching doesn’t just happen, it has to be nurtured.” He sees the council as a conduit of information on teaching at Chicago, especially for beginning teachers. “The past programs this center is building on have been very successful and of great benefit for those who participated, so this center is a resource to be taken seriously,” said Hoffmann.

    Chandler said the Center for Teaching and Learning will incorporate the University’s rich history of pedagogical inquiry, which in recent decades has included such programs as the Midwest Faculty Seminar, the Institutes on Issues in Teaching and Learning, the Chicago Teaching Program and the Pew-sponsored training seminars––all programs that explore the best practices in higher education.

    “In a similar vein, with the new center, our goal is to become more self-conscious about the things we’ve done extremely well as an institution, strengthen them, and share them with graduate students,” said Chandler.

    She believes the center will help new instructors develop their teaching skills and excellent teachers become more aware of how they engage their students.

    In addition to organizing current training programs, the Center for Teaching and Learning will assist departments in general-education staff training and will offer a certificate program for graduate students who seek more extensive training in teaching as part of their professional preparation.

    In conjunction with Networking Services and Information Technology, the center will offer information technology training for faculty who would like to use multimedia in their classrooms. Also, faculty who would like to develop new undergraduate or graduate courses may apply for annual support grants sponsored by the center.

    The center also will organize conferences to continue the dialogue between the University and secondary school leaders begun last spring at The University and the High School Curriculum conference co-sponsored by the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation and the College.

    The center will sponsor faculty-generated interdisciplinary workshops that will feature best-teaching practices in specific fields and topic areas. “The workshops can serve as an experimental laboratory for anyone who looks to develop new pedagogies,” said Chandler. Faculty also will be able to report initiatives in the center’s quarterly Internet newsletter.

    “Ultimately, this center will thrive on the energy and creativity of faculty who invent new pedagogies and revise approaches in their fields. The center will allow such individuals to share and test their inventions with a broader University community,” said Chandler. “We will be a helper, a resource, for those teachers.”

    For more information about the Center for Teaching and Learning and its programs, contact Elizabeth Chandler at echandle@midway.uchicago.edu.