The Faculty Teaching Initiatives team at Yale’s Poorvu Center for Teaching and Learning is part of the Faculty Development profession “dedicated to helping colleges and universities function effectively as teaching and learning communities,” (Felten et al. 2007). Faculty development has disciplinary grounding in the fields of cognitive, educational, and developmental psychology, curriculum and instructional theory, diversity and inclusion, and assessment and evaluation. Team members are scholars in their own disciplines as well as leaders in faculty development.
We define faculty development as a profession committed to: 1) fostering continuous pedagogical development through attention to research, 2) considering human development as it pertains to better student learning, 3) implementing inclusive teaching practices, and 4) comprehending the challenges and hopes of the faculty on our campus, and striving to empower their teaching goals. As such, one of the Team’s main goals is to forefront teaching and learning scholarship as it relates to higher education practices, and to disseminate the results for faculty consideration in their own classes.
Specifically, it is our mission to maintain knowledge of new developments in learning, such as how students’ writing capacities shift over time, or the ways that digital tools might help instructors offer better feedback to enhance all students’ learning. We help faculty translate that research knowledge into usable teaching strategies through a number of avenues, ranging from one-time consultations to multi-faceted projects that seek to address specific pedagogical questions.
We are also committed to engaging with individuals, departments, and schools as they pursue discipline-specific questions about teaching and learning. Our mandate centers on faculty- and department-centered needs; we concur with the research showing that the most effective development initiatives are the ones that come from the faculty themselves. One of our team’s greatest strengths is our ability to investigate the specialized theories and practices of different learning communities, helping faculty see the shared and unique facets of teaching within their communities of practice. Further, we strive to help faculty connect their research inquiry with elements of their teaching, knowing that attention to one can make the other stronger as well.
With every individual consultation we engage, department and Center workshop we facilitate, and every learning community we organize, we are steeped in the research that forms the foundation of our work. Our job is to understand our University’s many cultures, to make teaching and learning research available to educators, and to help them adapt it to their student and community needs.
Collectively, we are published and well-respected in our individual fields, and we also hold leadership positions in the wider teaching & learning and faculty development community. It is our privilege to devote our work to promoting excellence in teaching, and subsequent student success, at Yale.