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Faculty Seeking New Ways to Teach and Learn

Faculty Seeking New Ways to Teach and Learn(Posted: April 2, 2012)

As university faculty throughout the country are seeking new approaches to keep students focused on learning in a world of distractions, the University of Arkansas - Fort Smith is helping its faculty in this search.

The Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning at UAFS is nearing its sixth month of operation, according Dr. Phillip Russell of Fort Smith, center director. He said, based on participation numbers, the center is emerging as a successful initiative. Since its inception, 24 faculty members have provided professional development for their colleagues in 16 different sessions.

"This is really remarkable," Russell said. "It shows that our faculty is interested in learning from one another, sharing their strengths and helping their students achieve success."

"Teaching and learning in a university have changed dramatically in the past 10 years," Russell said. "Faculty members are working in a new culture and with a new generation. Our center is made up of faculty members, for faculty members. Its mission is to help them excel in this changing world."

UAFS provost and senior vice chancellor Dr. Ray Wallace of Fort Smith brought the idea of the center to Russell in early 2011.

"A premier regional university has to have an outstanding faculty," Wallace said. "One of the best ways we can retain and recruit this kind of academic strength is by providing them with the environment they need to thrive and excel. This center fosters that objective."

After accepting the challenge, Russell researched a variety of similar organizations in universities throughout the United States. He visited the Center for the Enhancement of Teaching and Learning at the University of Cincinnati in June 2011. Russell said the visit was enlightening because the University of Cincinnati has an extensive program involving workshops and seminars on teaching and research. It also has assistance for new faculty and a library of teaching resources.

"Their center is about 10 years old," Russell said. "It's premised on the idea that faculty should be given the opportunity to share knowledge and skills with each other through a variety of activities. This results in a true learning community and subsequently improves instruction and research."

The UAFS center is for all full-time and part-time faculty members, according to Russell. Its activities offer something for everyone and include symposia on teaching, a distinguished lecture series, an emerging scholars series, researcher of the month, teaching circles and a faculty seminar series.

"The center represents a fantastic opportunity for faculty to get together with colleagues to learn together as an academic community," Russell said. "Not only will faculty benefit from this interaction, but ultimately students will as well through enhanced learning."

For more information about the center, go to

Article by: Frank Kelly, Public Information Specialist
Photo(s) by: Corey S. Krasko, Photographer, Marketing & Communications Office

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