Teaching workshop attracts roughly 20 new faculty in first two years

Media Credit: Connor Witschonke | Staff Photographer

Ginger Allington, an assistant professor of geography, joined the University last fall and participated in the Teaching Network for Early Career Faculty.

Updated: Oct. 18, 2018 at 1:08 p.m.

A year after the launch of a program giving teaching tips and tricks to early-career professors, officials said the program is expanding to provide more courses and networking opportunities for faculty.

Geneva Henry, the dean of libraries and academic innovation, said 23 faculty members will participate in the Teaching Network for Early Career Faculty this year, up from 19 participants last year. She said feedback for the program was “overwhelmingly positive” last year, leading officials to add new opportunities for networking and peer review.

Henry said all faculty who applied to the program this year were accepted. The program entails a series of lunchtime workshops and one-on-one advice from senior faculty members on how new professors can improve their teaching.

She added that most applicants for the program came from the Columbian College of Arts and Sciences and the Milken Institute School of Public Health last year. She declined to say how many applicants were expected.

“Feedback was overwhelmingly positive, with faculty reporting improvements to their teaching,” she said. “Based on responses, this year’s Teaching Network will provide professors more choice in kinds of classes they observe for the peer review process as well as more structured networking opportunities.”

Gabriela Rosenblau, an assistant professor of cognitive neuroscience, said she signed up for the workshop this year to feel more confident in a classroom setting and receive more formalized training in teaching. Rosenblau joined GW in 2016 as a postdoctoral student and assumed a faculty position in August.

Rosenblau said she is looking forward to receiving feedback on her teaching because she has never taught a large group of students before.

“A lot of times I think we aren’t aware of how we are perceived by others, especially in the classroom setting, so even things like, ‘you don’t speak loud enough,’ or ‘you use weird words,’ or ‘it’s hard for people to understand you,’ that already is very helpful,” she said.

Ginger Allington, an assistant professor of geography who joined the University last fall and participated in the workshop, said she was inclined to attend the workshops to improve her teaching techniques.

“I’m in the geography department, which is generally known for pretty high-quality faculty, and so as a new faculty member I felt like I had a lot to live up to in terms of the rest of the department, so I wanted to make sure that I was taking advantage of the resources here,” Allington said.

Allington said she used the tools from the workshops to implement a new, systematic curriculum. She added that she also used the program as a networking opportunity to meet other professors at GW and learn more about the University’s training resources.

“Just the cohort itself, networking with the new faculty was one of the highlights of the experience for me, the peer environment of learning from each other was useful too,” Allington said.

Andrea Dietz, an assistant professor of exhibition design who joined GW this fall, said she will participate in the workshop this year to receive critical feedback on her teaching. Dietz said it will be useful to hear about what teaching practices professors are using, which can help her come up with ideas to implement in her own classroom.

“It doesn’t matter how long you’ve been teaching, you can always get a refresher,” Dietz said.

Editor’s note: This post was updated to attribute information about the faculty participation numbers to Geneva Henry, the dean of libraries and academic innovation, instead of a University spokeswoman.

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