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PSS Spring '09 - The Houghton House Renaissance

Teaching to Learn - Learning to Teach

Spring 2009 CTL teaching grantees meet regularly to discuss pedagogy. (l-r) Professors Julie Kingery, Stacey Philibrick Yadov, Susan Flanders Cushman '98, Dr. Susan Pliner, Michelle Ikle and Mark Deutschlander.

Faculty recipients of the CTL grant meet regularly as a cohort group to think through their grant proposals and teaching techniques and to process together the transition they undergo as scholars and teachers.

"I don't think any of us anticipated just how helpful it would be to converse with each other on a regular basis," says Assistant Professor of Psychology Jon Iuzzini, who joined the faculty in 2006. "It's great to be at a place where faculty members are excited about what they're doing in the classroom."

Led by Director of the Center for Teaching and Learning Dr. Susan Pliner, the cohort group discusses what they're doing in the classroom and why, as well as ways they can adjust their thinking and behaviors over the course of the semester with the support of friends and colleagues who are going through the same process.

"I try to keep the group thinking about how the grant has changed their approach to teaching and how that changes the way their students are learning and experiencing the material," says Pliner.

"Susan brings a level of expertise and a brilliant way of thinking about pedagogy to our conversations," Iuzzini says. "She's encouraged us to think about how we're teaching in a really deep way, and it has been a powerful experience for all of us."

His colleagues agree:

"Every opportunity to talk about teaching makes for a tighter community and better teaching." - Associate Professor of Biology Mark Deutschlander

"The most beneficial part of this experience was the ability to talk about pedagogy with the other grantees. Their support and ideas gave me the license to adapt my teaching practices over the course of a semester, and I think it will have a lasting impact on the way I teach." - Assistant Professor of Biology Meghan Brown

"Having someone to bounce ideas off made a huge difference. I - and my students - wouldn't have had as great of an experience without the faculty cohort group." - Assistant Professor of Russian Area Studies David Galloway

"I was so glad to have a sounding board. There's always room for change in your teaching methods, especially with so much support. My course literally evolved throughout the semester, and that was all thanks to my colleagues." - Assistant Professor of Writing and Rhetoric Neeta Bhasin

"The group helps me see things from a different perspective. With my class especially, there are a lot of logistics to figure out, and it's very helpful to talk about it across disciplines." - Assistant Professor of Biology Susan Flanders Cushman '98