Teaching Learning Center offers teachers chance to learn and improve

Katrina Sargent

Katrina Sargent

SDSU students are not the only people on campus trying to learn more and improve themselves in their fields of study; teachers also have a place where they can learn more about teaching.

The Teaching Learning Center (TLC) has been offering programs for SDSU faculty since 2002, according to their Web site.

“The Teaching Learning Center provides faculty members with faculty development opportunities to help them develop professionally and become the best teachers they could be,” said Madeleine Andrawis, the center’s coordinator.

Its mission, according to Andrawis, is “to further develop, support and promote a culture of excellence in teaching and learning at South Dakota State University.”

The center sponsors programs such as faculty discussions, an orientation program for new teachers, faculty development conferences and a summer teaching academy. The center also has other resources such as a library full of material about teaching and learning, as well as faculty mentorship opportunities and links to teaching material on their Web site.

The faculty development conferences, held every fall, feature a speaker as well as breakout sessions with in-campus personnel. This fall’s keynote speaker was Dr. George Kuh, the director of the Center for Postsecondary Research at Indiana University in Bloomington. According to Andrawis, during the summer a week-long teaching academy is offered by local experts and a faculty development series is put together each semester, as well as orientation programs for new faculty members, which are offered throughout the year.

More than 400 people attended the last conference, Andrawis said. Attendees included SDSU faculty, administrators, students’ affairs, library employees, the extension service and others from around campus. The conferences have been generating positive feedback thus far, as well as suggestions for future topics and the structure of the conferences.

“These conferences became part of SDSU culture,” Andrawis said. “Participants come to them to hear what is going on nationally in the area of teaching learning and how these ideas are applied at SDSU. They also come to be energized and motivated to start their academic year and do the best job they can in their classrooms.”

“We support activities that promote better teaching in the classroom, which impacts student learning,” Patty Hacker said. Hacker is a professor in the health, physical education and recreation department and is the representative for the

College of Arts and Sciences on the faculty development committee at the center. The activities mentioned by Hacker include workshops, videoconferences and discussion days.

The faculty development committee has a student representative from the Students’ Association, whose role on the committee is to represent students when they disucss issues. Audrey Bloemendaal, a mechanical engineering junior, just took over the student position.

“[The TLC] helps teachers have a network to communicate amongst themselves,” Bloemendaal said.

According to Hacker, the center also offers consulting services for faculty interested in finding out what they are doing in their classes and if what they do is working.

The faculty development committee also sponsors learning communities, which, although not always led by a member of the committee, are supported by the TLC.

The TLC Web site lists the faculty development discussion series for this fall. So far, they have held discussions about engaging students and assessing student learning. Their next discussion on Oct. 18 will be about mobile teaching using laptops.

For more information about the TLC and the programs it offers, visit their Web site at http://teach.sdstate.edu/users/tlc/index.htm.