Academic journal article The Journal of Faculty Development

Kickstarting FYE Faculty Development

Academic journal article The Journal of Faculty Development

Kickstarting FYE Faculty Development

Article excerpt

FFECTIVE FIRST YEAR EXPERIENCE (FYE) courses depend on the extent to which program faculty are well prepared to meet the unique demands of students enrolled in these courses. Because of the cross-disciplinary nature of this effort, many such programs are staffed by a combination of full-time teachers from different disciplines and part-time, adjunct instructors who serve in other administrative capacities. The FYE program at Middle Tennessee State University follows this staffing model, offering approximately 75 sections of our FYE course each academic year taught by three full-time instructors from the University Studies Department and 25-30 adjunct faculty, several of whom have appointments as university administrators. This delivery model presents several challenges to faculty development.

Staffing a program with a high percentage of contingent faculty presents several opportunities - notably, the diversity of experience and perspective that strengthens the curricular offerings and the program as a whole. The task of teaching first-year students in itself is a difficult and labor-intensive procedure requiring both content and pedagogical knowledge, as well as the specialized knowledge of how to communicate content knowledge to students - coined Pedagogical Content Knowledge (PCK, Schulman, 1987). Earning advanced educational credentials provides faculty members with content knowledge, but many faculty members have received "little or no training in effective collegelevel teaching prior to assuming their academic appointments" (Groccia & Hunter, 2012, p. 2). This challenge is exacerbated further in first-year seminars because they are often staffed by "other academic employees not academically prepared for college-level teaching (e.g., academic advisors, librarians, student affairs administrators)" (Groccia & Hunter, 2012, p. 2). To borrow Shulman's terms, first-year experience instructors bring essential content knowledge to their instructional appointment but need quality development to build the PCK required to effectively facilitate student learning in their classroom. This transition is challenging with all faculty, but since adjunct faculty often do not have the time or opportunity to participate in institutionally-supported faculty development programs, their PCK can be slower to develop (Casagrande, 2015; Coalition on the Academic Workforce, 2012).

Effective use of the limited time that can be devoted to faculty training is a crucial criterion for the success of our FYE program. As such, we have adapted vital practices from flipped classroom pedagogy for our FYE faculty training as a part of our larger faculty development plan, which includes a 2-day face to face workshop, assignment of faculty mentors, and peer observations of teaching. Flipped classroom approaches deliver content or information asynchronously online, and then devote synchronous meeting times to homework, or the development of student understanding of the course topics. "Kickstarter activities" are an adaptation of the flipped classroom literature that is particularly well suited to FYE faculty training (Strayer, 2017; Strayer, Hart, & Bleiler-Baxter, 2016). This model utilizes brief asynchronous content that serves as a launching point for significant outside-of-class work. That work then becomes the foundation for the in-class discussions aimed at helping students to make meaning of the content (Zittoun & Brinkmann, 2012). In this paper, we highlight the ways these kickstarter activities can be utilized to improve FYE faculty development.

Student Kickstarter Activities

The kickstarter methodology was established in the Mathematics education literature as a particular adaptation of the more ubiquitous flipped classroom model (Strayer, 2017; Strayer et al., 2016). The flipped classroom relies on the idea that those "events that have traditionally taken place inside the classroom [information dissemination] now take place outside the classroom and vice versa" (Lage, Platt, & Treglia, 2000, p. …

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