About the Center for the Improvement of Teaching (CIT) at UMass Boston

Human Architecture, Winter 2008 | Go to article overview

About the Center for the Improvement of Teaching (CIT) at UMass Boston


MISSION

The Center for the Improvement of Teaching (CIT) is a grassroots faculty-led organization committed to collaborative work on pedagogy across all disciplines and colleges. CIT's mission since its 1983 founding has been to help faculty foster the learning of diverse students within a dynamic urban university environment like UMass Boston, with complex institutional expectations, changing communication technologies, and evolving concepts of academic knowledge and training. CIT has used sustained reflection and scholarship to promote more effective pedagogical practice, a high standard of excellence in teaching, and an inclusive education that engages all students and promotes their academic success.

CIT's definition of inclusion is broad and highlights race, social class, gender, age, disability, sexual orientation, and culture as well as differences in levels of skill, academic preparation and language background. CIT takes seriously the multiple ways that these factors intersect with each other and serve as assets for learning and teaching.

The hallmark and strength of CIT is an active network of faculty, staff, and students who regularly engage in critical reflection and dialogue that deepen and extend a culture of engaged learning, academic excellence, and curricular and pedagogical transformation at UMB. CIT's regular programs include semester-long faculty seminars, public forums, student/faculty dialogues, annual conferences, faculty peer mentoring, and the encouragement of scholarship on diversity, learning and teaching.

Established in 1983, CIT's initial goal was to improve the quality of teaching within the College of Liberal Arts by drawing on the skills and wisdom of UMB's faculty rather than outside experts. In 1989, The Center extended its activities to the university as a whole, and emphasized diversity and inclusion as key components in teaching and learning.

SEMESTER-LONG FACULTY SEMINARS

Since 1983 over 280 faculty across disciplines and from every college in the university have participated in intensive and collaborative faculty development seminars. These seminars consist of weekly meetings and an intensive presemester session, in which faculty from a range of disciplines and across colleges examine and interrogate issues relevant to teaching in an urban public institution such as UMass. The seminar in the fall focuses on a specific issue such as Linguistic Diversity in the Classroom, Teaching Students with Different Levels of Academic Preparation, or Using Technology to Enhance Learning. The seminar in the spring for untenured and recently-tenured faculty provides opportunity for these faculty to work together on issues of teaching, learning and professional development. Since the fall of 2000, CIT seminars have extended their membership beyond the UMB community and now include a faculty participant from community colleges in the Boston area.

FORUMS/DIALOGUES

CIT has sponsored over 150 forums since 1990. There are approximately four to five forums offered each semester. These forums are open to all faculty, student and staff members of the UMB community. They provide opportunities to share perspectives, engage in dialogue, and to collaborate across disciplines about critical and timely issues. In addition to these events, CIT offers an on-going discussion group each semester that focuses on pedagogical issues related to race, class, gender, age, and sexuality. Finally, each semester CIT plans a studentfaculty luncheon series that takes place over the course of three weeks, where students and teachers share their particular perspectives on issues of teaching and learning. …

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