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Faculty use travel grants to polish teaching skills
Faculty use travel grants to polish teaching skillsNovember 24, 2003Cynthia J. Moritzcjmoritz@syr.edu
One Syracuse University faculty member was inspired to introduce scientific ideas and methods into her sculpture classes. Another decided to research the learning styles of engineering students. A third plans to develop training sessions on various legal research topics. All were inspired by their trips to 2002-03 educational conferences funded by the Center for Support of Teaching and Learning’s (CSTL) Teachers’ Travel Grants.
“The purpose of the program is to enrich the teaching community at SU by expanding faculty knowledge in the areas of educational research and teaching pedagogy,” says Barbara Yonai, CSTL’s director. Any SU faculty member-full- or part-time-can apply for a Teachers’ Travel Grant of up to $1,000. Funds must be used to attend a conference, workshop or symposium focused on the theory and practice of college teaching.
As many as six grants will be funded for the 2003-04 academic year, and Yonai says that early applicants have the best chance of receiving funding. Faculty members can apply by contacting either Bronwyn Adam or Ruth Stein at CSTL, 443-4572.
“Without the grant assistance, I would definitely not have been able to attend,” says Assistant Prof. Ryadi Adityavarman of the seminar on sustainable pedagogies and practices offered at the Cranbrook Academy of Art in Bloomfield Hills, Mich. Adityavarman says he learned new ideas for making sustainable design part of the environmental design curriculum in the College of Visual and Performing Arts (VPA).
The Linklater Voice Teacher Certification Workshop was especially helpful to Lisa Anne Porter. “I discovered a wide variety of ways to teach the same principle, thereby allowing my teaching to address the different levels of my students,” she says.
Young B. Moon, associate professor of mechanical, aerospace and manufacturing engineering in the L.C. Smith College of Engineering and Computer Science, attended the American Society of Engineering Education Annual Conference in Nashville, Tenn. One of the things he learned was the importance of teaching outside of class-advising, building relationships with students and fostering a learning environment outside the classroom. He also became interested in studying students’ learning styles. “The problem is more unique in engineering, since most engineering students tend to have a similar type,” he says.
The Foundation Art Theory in Education conference in Sarasota, Fla., caused Assistant Prof. Deborah Dohne of VPA’s Department of Foundation to consider the effect of technology on art. “Rather than finding usefulness as a functional tool, I was inspired to incorporate the computer’s cultural implications as subject matter for my students to explore,” she says. “I found an interesting connecting thread: identity.” Dohne is now considering the development of a new studio course to investigate the different aspects of identity.
Wendy Scott, assistant director for faculty and outreach services at the law library and adjunct professor of law, used her grant to attend the American Association of Law Librarians Conference in Seattle. As a result, she plans to survey College of Law faculty to gauge interest in brief training sessions, then offer at least two sessions each semester. She also hopes to work across disciplines to devise a legal research course for non-law students.
All of those who received grants in the 2002-03 academic year expressed enthusiasm for the opportunity to burnish their teaching skills. “Becoming a better teacher is synonymous with becoming a fuller human being and a better citizen,” says Porter.