Recent Strategies for Faculty Development. ERIC Digest.

ERIC Identifier: ED371807
Publication Date: 1994-03-00
Author: Alfano, Kathleen
Source: ERIC Clearinghouse for Community Colleges Los Angeles CA.

Recent Strategies for Faculty Development. ERIC Digest.

Formal or informal faculty development efforts have taken place in many community colleges since their inception. Early efforts focused less on development and more on periodic inservice training similar to those used in the K-12 systems. In the 1970's and 80's, faculty and staff development programs came to be viewed as an economically viable option to improve student outcomes and maintain institutional integrity. The 1990's require channeling the pressures of budget constraints, mission confusion, student diversity, and changing faculty needs into growth opportunities in four areas: leadership, database management, diversified instruction and student services, and formalized faculty development (Coll, 1991). As the following examples show, faculty development today can encompass strategies ranging from simple one-purpose publications to multi-year consortia projects.


Changing needs of student populations often drive community college faculty development programs. A freshman retention project at Borough of Manhattan Community College (BMCC) combined faculty development training with curricular reform and counseling changes to reduce high attrition rates in a predominantly minority student population. The BMCC plan included more bilingual hiring, increased community outreach, special programs and workshops on cross-cultural understanding and intergroup dynamics for faculty and staff, a mentoring program for black students, and a special seminar to assist women and minority faculty to complete their doctoral dissertations. Outcomes included increases in student retention, multi-cultural awareness, minority hires, and faculty completion of doctoral degrees (Kappner, 1991).


Some community colleges have improved linkages with nearby universities for both the benefit of student transfer and faculty and staff development. A long-term professional development collaboration between Cuyahoga Community College and Kent State University has resulted in 70 staff members taking KSU courses, with 25 admitted to doctoral programs (Anglin, 1992).


Most development programs reach full-time faculty, but they can overlook the special needs of part-time and evening faculty. At the College of the Canyons (CA), the majority of faculty are part-time or adjunct instructors with little or no training in teaching. The college has instituted an Associate Program for Adjunct Instructors consisting of four steps: (1) obtaining a department chair's recommendation after completing a minimum of one semester of college service, (2) completing the Instructional Skills Workshop training series, (3) completing an 8- to 10-hour Advanced Teaching Workshop which examines questioning techniques, writing across the curriculum, and critical thinking, and (4) undergoing a classroom evaluation by colleagues and/or students. Completers are advanced in rank to Adjunct Associate Instructor, with a 10% salary increase and a program stipend (Gerda, 1991).

In Fall 1991, thirteen Fullerton College faculty began a program to enhance teaching excellence in evening classes. These faculty attended workshops on adult learners, learning styles, classroom assessment techniques, and interactive teaching techniques. The following Spring, they applied these techniques to their evening classes. Students were surveyed at the beginning, middle, and end of the semester to assess program effectiveness while the faculty continued crucial monthly meetings to share ideas (Kelly, 1992).


Development programs for the improvement of teaching range from year-long focused programs of skill training, classroom observation, and assessment to one-day workshops profiling student learning and model teaching strategies. American River College's Human Resource Development Plan for 1991-92 (McCuen, 1991) is a mix of programs including workshops on classroom research, working with small groups, student involvement, and computer uses; a 3-day Great Teacher's retreat; and mini-grants to visit other institutions.


Cross and Angelo (1988) have generated a great deal of national interest in the subject of "teaching to improve learning" through classroom research. Their main premise is that teaching will be improved if teachers design "feedback measures" to assess what students are learning and then change their delivery and material in order to maximize its impact on student learning. This approach has been utilized and adapted by 2- and 4-year colleges internationally.

The Activating Learning in the Classroom Project at Middlesex Community College is a year-long instructional and professional development program. Eight professors representing each college division volunteer to reconfigure one of their courses to promote active learning. The program begins at the end of the spring semester with five full days of seminars during which the professors assess their own teaching style, their students' thinking, and the materials used in their class. Weekly seminars are continued in the fall and each professor produces a course guide containing a course description, goals and objectives, a detailed syllabus and a large section of reading and focus questions (Jones and Duffy, 1991).

Some community colleges tie faculty development to the evaluation process. Oklahoma Junior College has developed a novel approach as part of a peer evaluation process. Peer coaching, which guarantees a non-threatening environment, is linked to a complementary staff development program. The hallmark of this Minor-Preston peer coaching model is to allow instructors to receive direct instruction from their expert colleagues and to keep important long-term faculty experience from being lost to the college (Minor and Preston, 1991).


The Community College of Vermont has produced a resource handbook for instructors which includes successful approaches to teaching adults; an overview of adult learning theory; an outline of the Kolb approach to understanding student learning styles; guidance on course planning, developing learning objectives, selecting textbooks, planning teaching and learning methods, and appropriate classroom assessment; strategies for enlivening classroom presentations and discussions; methods for dealing with special student problems; and campus resources (Community College of Vermont, 1992). Massachusetts Bay Community College has produced an ongoing publication called Educational Forum, designed to promote discussion of teaching, learning, and professional development. (Fideler, 1992).


Some faculty development programs focus on curriculum development. Project International Emphasis has involved all 24 colleges of the Virginia Community College System to infuse "globally-oriented components" across the academic and career counseling curricula. During the project's first year over 200 courses were revised and 21 course modules were developed with titles such as African Literature, Cross Cultural Communication, and International Marketing (Blois and Williams, 1991). Another example is The American Association of Community Colleges' national faculty development Project to Advance the Humanities, which has included a national humanities conference, college-based curriculum, faculty development, and funding for humanities action plans and regional college networks (Shapiro, 1991).


Encouraging community college faculty to go beyond rudimentary teaching skills and to develop further as professionals and scholars in their fields also aids in faculty development. Major issues include increasing faculty ties to their disciplines, professionalizing the college culture, and changing attitudes and reward systems (Vaughan, 1991). Brevard Community College has promoted a particular program of faculty professional development for the past nine years with its Return to Industry (RTI) program. Faculty from any discipline who are interested in updating their skills and knowledge of new technology can propose 4- to 6- week summer projects at industry sites of their choosing. Participating faculty receive a modest stipend and can receive credit towards the graduate coursework hours required in the union contract (Layne, 1991).


Today, faculty development projects are sometimes the only avenue to relieve pressures caused by increases in student enrollment, diversity concerns, student underpreparedness, and the combination of decreasing budgets and heavier workloads. Development programs allow the community college faculty to establish links with professional colleagues, to modify and improve instructional material and delivery, and to keep the spark of creativity and enthusiasm alive for themselves and their students.


Anglin, L. W. , et al. (1992). Institutional Renewal through Professional Development Partnerships. Community College Review, 19 (4), 52-56.

Blois, B., Ed., & Williams, B. (1991). Project International Emphasis Interim Report. Sterling: Northern Virginia Community College. (ED 336 143)

Coll, K. M. (1991). Enhancing Community Colleges in the 90s: Turning Pressures into Opportunities for Action. Journal of Adult Education, 20 (1), 3-10.

Community College of Vermont. (1992). Teaching for Development: A Handbook for Instructors. (ED 341 446)

Cross, K. P., & Angelo, T. A. (1992). Classroom Assessment Techniques: A Handbook for Faculty. Ann Arbor, MI: National Center for Research on the Improvement of Postsecondary Teaching and Learning.

Fideler, E. F. (Ed.), (1992). Educational Forum: A Journal of Teaching, Learning & Professional Development, 2 (2). Wellesley Hills, MA: Massachusetts Bay Community College Press. (ED 345 801)

Gerda, J. , and others, (1991). The Associate Program for Adjunct Instructors. Valencia, CA: College of the Canyons. (ED 326 275)

Jones, J. W., & Duffy, D. K. (1991). Activating Learning in the Classroom: Challenge, Collaborate, Celebrate. Bedford, Mass.: Middlesex Community College. (ED 336 141)

Kappner, A. (1991). The Role of Leadership in Planning, Implementing Diversity. Paper presented at the 71st annual national convention of AACJC (Kansas City, MO, April 13-16, 1991) (ED 333 910)

Kelly, D. K. (1992). Part-Time and Evening Faculty: Promoting Teaching Excellence for Adult Evening College Students. (ED 348 088)

Layne, R. G., & Forester, G. (1991). The Cutting Edge: Sharpening Faculty Skills in a Changing World. Presented at the 13th National Annual Conference on Teaching Excellence (Austin, TX, May 19-22, 1991) (ED 336 130)

Minor, J. F., & Preston, K. M. (1991). Peer Coaching at the Junior College Level: Developing a Non-Threatening Environment. Presented at the National Conference on the Adult Learner (Columbia, SC, May 26-29, 1991). (ED 339 410)

McCuen, S. (1991). American River College Staff Development Report: Human Resources Development Plan 1991-92 and Report and Evaluation 1990-91. Sacramento, CA: American River College. (ED 337 222)

Shapiro, B. C. (1991). Advancing the Humanities: The Commitment Continues. Community, Technical, and Junior College Journal, 62 (3), 38-42.

Vaughan, G. B. (1991) Scholarship and the Community College Professional: Focusing the Debate. New Directions for Community Colleges, 19 (4), 3-15.

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