The Center for Teaching and Learning has been around for longer than you may guess. While you cannot stroll into our suite on the top floor of LiNC due to the pandemic, you can avail yourself of the many core offerings online (https://ctl.oregonstate.edu) and follow us on Twitter (@OSUteaching). Wondered how it all began?
In fall 2005, OSU’s President Edward J. Ray, and the Faculty Senate established the Center for Teaching and Learning with Peter Saunders as Director.
The center’s physical offices were located in Waldo Hall, a former women’s dormitory. Folklore tells of a ghostly figure of a woman believed to be OSU’s first librarian, Ida Kidder who appears in the upper window.
Director Saunders’ vision for the center was to have a physical space where faculty could try new teaching techniques and share their experiences. With that goal, the center was given a development space where a learning environment to support group and collaborative learning was created in 2006. Milam 215 became the Teaching Academy, and offered the Summer Institute: Developing a Living Course, an intensive, five-day development workshop for instructors who wanted to improve student engagement, success and retention through course redesign. Saunders asserted it was the “most innovative faculty development space in America … Faculty liked the space and attendance was exceptional … the key was to show the new/younger faculty that the administration was serious about teaching and supporting faculty.”
Saunders’ Teaching Academy in Milam 215 was incredible. He contracted and obtained donations from multiple companies that provided him with cutting-edge technologies (considered such in 2006) in smartboards, computers, and laptops. The furniture was modern and ergonomically designed and included couches, ottomans, cushioned chairs with moveable desktops, tall tables and chairs made specifically for individual laptop use. The auxiliary room in Milam 215 was a breakout room with its smartboards and furnishings.
In ensuing years, CTL collaborated with OSU Faculty Senate’s Advancement of Teaching Committee to facilitate the LL Stewart Faculty Development Fund, which allowed faculty to receive funds to complete projects relating to teaching in their departments.
From 2005 to 2009, the Office of Academic Affairs & International Programs and the Center for Teaching and Learning initiated the Teaching & Learning Innovation Grant to support faculty and instructors in their innovative teaching and learning projects and scholarship. The goal of this grant was to recognize and reward teaching excellence and encourage instructors to engage in the creation of innovative learning experiences for their students and scholarship focused on teaching and learning.
With the retirement of Director Saunders in 2010, and after a failed search for a new director, Associate Vice-Provost, Susie Brubaker-Cole became the new Interim Director. New pilot initiatives were implemented such as Service Learning Faculty Development; Co-Curriculum, focusing on professional faculty who work with students outside the classroom; the Global Learning Initiative; and the Hybrid Course Initiative.
The Hybrid Course Initiative, coordinated by Cub Kahn, began in 2011 and has been instrumental in the growth of blended learning at OSU, as the number of official hybrid courses has increased from the first two in 2012 to 726 today. As part of this initiative, CTL has funded 135 faculty members to participate in term-long Hybrid Faculty Learning Communities and redesign on-campus courses as hybrids.
In the summer of 2012, Kay Sagmiller became the center’s second Director. She formulated “Six Principles” as goals for teaching, comprising “Consider the Audience, Plan, Enhance Engagement, Teach, Assess, and Reflect,” and implemented highly popular quarterly symposia that offered workshops/lectures. Topics were wide-ranging from sustainability, transformative learning, and celebrating teachers’ excellence. At times selections of over 15 sessions were available. Additional faculty learning communities offered included: Building Cultures of Inquiry; Facilitating FLCs; Transformative Curriculum; Teaching Triads; and fireside chats.
In 2015, CTL hired Brooke Howland, current Associate Director, who designed CTL flagship programs. Now in its fifth year, the Tuesday Teaching + Tech Talks (T4), supports the development of knowledge and skills in the planning of curriculum, facilitation of instruction, assessment of learning, and use of educational technology.
The CTL has a strong record of working across departmental lines and fostering collaborations as seen in the diverse offerings of the T4 program. Similarly, in 2016-2017, Director Sagmiller co-chaired the Academic Development Committee for the Marine Studies Initiative whose overarching educational goal was to “provide a transformational educational experience centered on marine studies.”
Based on a year-long successful pilot of New2OSU in 2018, CTL officially launched this program created by Assoc. Director Howland in 2019. In 2020, the New2OSU program is revised and gamified with badges while the intent of the program remains the same, to impact student success by accelerating the effectiveness of newer faculty. Participants develop the knowledge and skills necessary to build inclusive, interactive, and instructionally sound learning environments to promote student engagement, retainment, and deeper levels of learning.
The CTL has now increased its offerings and offers resources in eight core areas (e.g., course design, assessment, inclusive teaching). It also provides many different ways for OSU to engage with pedagogy. New staff member Funmi Amobi (Instructional Designer, College Liaison), developed Sparkshops. These new 45-minute mini workshops are evidence-based teaching practices. They can be delivered to groups of instructors during informal gatherings or departmental meetings.
CTL also welcomed new staff: Inclusive Excellence Coordinator, Ann Sitomer; the center’s Faculty Fellow, Demian Hommel; and Peer Teaching Resource Coordinator, Cheridy Aduviri.
Currently, the CTL is served by Regan A.R. Gurung, the Interim Executive Director who joined in 2019, and who advances the CTL vision “to support effective and efficient teaching and create and sustain a culture of teaching excellence.”
The Center for Teaching and Learning has met many challenges. However, its vision and ultimate goal to provide all teachers with tools that can enhance their teaching and have an impact on student learning has remained.
It is with excitement that we recognize the Center for Teaching and Learning’s 15 years of service and applaud OSU faculty for their commitment to student success.
See CTL’s timeline.