Revitalization of the Center for Teaching and Learning Excellence Hopes to Surpass Limits
“There is a myth that goes something like this: you can take a horse to the water but you cannot make it drink. We use that statement to talk about teaching: ‘I can teach my students but I cannot make them learn’. This is a myth because, in truth, we can take the horse to the water and that horse must drink, if we first make the horse thirsty. We should be creating classroom climates in which students will learn if we first ignite their curiosity, a thirst for learning, a quest for discovery.”
These were the words of Dr. Criston Arthur, Andrews University Provost, when asked to give light to the importance behind both the teaching and learning aspect of education. Arthur played an integral role in the revitalization of the Center for Teaching and Learning Excellence.
Arthur said, “In 2012, I was asked to lead the conversation as to how we provide development opportunities for faculty. One of the things we thought of was to go back and take a look at our Teaching and Learning Center, because that center makes a statement that learning is the centerpiece of the root of Andrews.”
He continued, “There is a council that talked about it, looked at different options, and that council made a recommendation to the president that the center be established. We identified a person, Dr. Anneris Coria-Navia, who was going to direct that center.”
In regards to the actual purpose of the Center for Teaching and Learning Excellence, Arthur said,“We wanted to be able to provide, not just the resources and the funding, but the space where faculty can go to engage in meaningful dialogue and discussion to support their teaching. This new revamped center is meant to provide an array of support services for faculty as they think about how to engage in the craft of teaching.”
Coria-Navia, Assistant Professor of Curriculum and Instruction, is the individual who has been selected to direct the Center for Teaching and Learning Excellence. Coria-Navia, who holds a doctoral degree from the University of Southern California, is well-versed in the concept of Teaching Excellence, this being her third year teaching at Andrews University
“This concept has been developed by a few of my colleagues promoting a space where faculty can dialogue and be trained finding ways to be supported in the area of teaching,” Coria-Navia said.
Through the efforts of certain faculty members and their years of research collecting data while observing the movements and efforts of others universities, this concept has been brought to life. According to Coria-Navia, although this center has existed at Andrews University in previous years, but there were areas of potential growth such as a need for full attention, resources and data.
“For example, the books at the library—specified books in the area for teaching and learning—were placed in general population, instead of its set area. This is an opportunity to help rejuvenate this center with an overall goal to promote unity and help the students of Andrews University.”
Major departments on campus have come together for the Center for Teaching and Learning Excellence, including The Office of Provost, the Effective Teaching & Learning Council (ETLC), the Office of Human Resources and the Department of Digital Learning & Instructional Technology (DLiT). They came together to develop the motto: “Live Wholly: Explore! Engage! Create!”
The Center attempts to create a friendly atmosphere, encouraging all faculty members who may be knowledgeable in an academic area to be able to share valuable information with other faculty.
Coria-Navia said, “This allows for opportunity of growth for faculty and teachers all over campus to improve and add to their portfolio. The Teaching and Learning Excellence Center hopes to eventually allow for teachers to receive grants for innovation and teaching, gain insight on their teaching style and broaden their style of teaching.”
According to Coria-Navia, the Center for Teaching and Learning Excellence’s main focus is for “dialogue, growth and training.” Through this outlet, teachers are able to share their experiences and accomplishments.
Scott Moncrieff, Professor of English, provided feedback on the benefits of the dialogue and the interdisciplinary opportunities that the Center for Teaching and Learning Excellence provides for his particular content area.
Moncrieff said, “The Faculty Book Club, where we read and discuss books on higher education pedagogy, has been a blessing for me. As faculty, we do a lot of teaching, but this is a chance to look at teaching through new eyes and have a cross-disciplinary discussion with our colleagues about how to become more effective teachers.”
As Coria-Navia said, the Center for Teaching and Learning Excellence will allow for educators to “feed on each other’s successes,” motivating them to strive to be effective teachers and help their colleagues around them.
Coria-Navia’s hope is that the Center for Teaching and Learning Excellence’s impact may extend beyond Andrews University to other universities, promoting the success of Andrews University as an institution committed to the development of its educators.