By Dr. Ying Cao, Assistant Professor of Education, Director of the Innovation & Teaching Center
Your Drury Fusion is an ambitious educational program: it blends career and life credentials in an experiential learning environment that challenges students to solve real-world problems. To promote its forward-looking vision for teaching and learning, Your Drury Fusion must be innovative in design and delivery, in every course at every level. The highly experiential learning environment will demand new forms of interaction between faculty and students. All these new tasks call for an intense and different professional development support for faculty engaged in Your Drury Fusion.
The newly-established Innovation and Teaching Center is timely. It provides resources to Drury educators and serves as a hub for innovative teaching ideas on campus. We will work with faculty to engage in evidence-based teaching practices. We hope to cultivate a space where Drury faculty can collectively renew ourselves as educators, in the name of improving the student learning experience.
Re-defining student-centered teaching Many classes at Drury already adopt student-centered pedagogies, such as seminar-style discussions with hands-on, project-based activities. The mission of Your Drury Fusion pushes us to rethink student-centered education, in ways that we fuse in-class activities with students’ personal and professional lives in mind. Deeply understood and practiced, student-centered education may fundamentally shift the way we design and teach courses. Faculty develop these abilities not alone in a sequestered environment, but in active dialog and research with other faculty. The Center will provide a hub for faculty to share thoughts, explore new approaches, and collectively find ways to improve the curricula.
Interdisciplinary teaching Your Drury Fusion stresses inter-disciplinary learning, demonstrated both in the courses across different departments, and within a course that faculty members from different disciplines co-teach. This fusing of discipline requires integrated thinking about the learning outcomes and the processes that make learning happen. The collaborating faculty members must be highly engaged in conversations about the course they co-teach. This is a challenge and a great opportunity, given that traditionally, most faculty members work with colleagues in their department. The Innovation and Teaching Center will develop programs encouraging cross-disciplinary collaboration in multiple ways, from creating a community of practice to establishing long-term teaching scholarship programs.
Teaching-as-research (TAR) scholarship Innovative teaching involves keeping up with several conversations at once: cutting-edge knowledge in one’s content area, knowledge of pedagogy based on systematic data collection and analysis, in-depth knowledge of students in this new generation, and knowledge to integrate emerging technology. Teaching is scholarship. This is more true when it comes to the time for Your Drury Fusion. The Center serves as an institute to establish teaching scholarship and foster its growth. With the Center, new faculty will be prepared to get a jump-start on their career at Drury; all faculty will have support for professional development; and opportunities will be available for inquisitive faculty who want to reinvent their teaching.
Your Drury Fusion makes Drury distinct and visible across the landscape of American higher education. Every student will graduate having identified the power that comes from connecting their professional intellectual passions. Drury faculty will walk them through this exciting journey.