Memorial's Teaching and Learning Community shows students the love
As part of the Classroom Teaching Infrastructure Fund, several social gathering spaces are being refurbished across campus. The Arts building – the first to be enhanced – will soon have a launch party, where students, faculty and staff are encouraged to scan a QR code, complete a short survey and have a chance to win a Memorial hoodie. Pictured here are (l-r) student Kayla Carrol; Amber Haighway, executive director of advocacy, MUNSU; and Dr. Peter Ayres, associate dean, undergraduate studies, Faculty of Arts.
By Heidi Wicks
The ultimate goal of the pan-university process that created the Teaching and Learning Framework was to define the nature of Memorial's Teaching and Learning Community (TLC).
In a unified voice, students, educators and staff identified a learning environment where they can all thrive – an environment that is engaging and supportive, committed to discovery, inclusive, outcomes-oriented and responsive.
The teaching and learning lens, as depicted on the TLC blog (teachingandlearning.mun.ca) has become a symbol of the ongoing process. Educators and learners reflect on their teaching and learning activities using the values expressed on the lens. They consider whether their programs, course preparation or instructional strategies align with Memorial's vision of an enriching university experience. For students, that often means making connections with their community of peers, their professors and instructors and administrative and academic services.
A number of initiatives have begun to enhance the academic and life experiences for students during their time at Memorial.
First Year Success Program
A pilot program was endorsed through Senate on Feb. 14 to enable a successful start in university for students fresh from high school.
Matching the national and international trend to provide an inclusive, engaging teaching and learning community that is accessible to all learners, the program blends first-year courses with specialized, intensive strategy courses, as well as supplemental instruction, learning communities and networks, and ongoing academic and career advising.
The program's design was informed by a pan-university advisory group of more than 60 members as well as in-depth consultations with key informants on Memorial's campuses.
A full-time, first-year experience, the program supports students across both semesters. All courses are for credit and are designed to furnish students with the skills required for future academic success.
All but one of the courses in the program already existed at Memorial. Donna Walsh, Department of English Language and Literature, created Arts 1500: Introduction to University English.
"This is a hands-on course on the processes which are fundamental to all writing," said Ms. Walsh. "It will demystify writing for students who see the craft as mysterious, accidental or frightening through a step-by-step analysis of the processes by which it is done. It aims to strengthen not only their skills but their confidence in their ability to write in whichever discipline they choose to study."
For more information on the First
Year Success Program, visit www.today.mun.ca/news.php?news_id=7051.
Inventory of student support services
The Student Support Committee, led by Julie Green, Academic Advising Centre, Office of the Registrar, and Tom Brophy, Student Affairs and Services, is developing a comprehensive pan-institutional inventory of support services available to learners at Memorial.
The goal of the project is to heighten the awareness of the supports available, and create an all-inclusive database which will be available to the university on the Teaching and Learning Community website (currently in development). Students, educators and staff will use the database to help students find the right support when the need arises.
The committee is also developing a system to send out "just in time" targeted messaging to students leading up to key dates when use of certain services would be most beneficial.
"For example, if the deadline to add and drop courses is Jan. 19, targeted messages will be vetted through communication mediums such as the my.mun.ca portal, flat-screen monitors and social media pages," said Ms. Green. "Students will be referred to relevant supports that pertain to the date."
Some such services include helping first year and undeclared students understand the consequences of adding or dropping courses on their academic path at the Academic Advising Centre, study support programs at the Counselling Centre, help centres that can support students' learning in individual courses and advice at Answers in the University Centre about dropping courses and its impact on student aid.
The committee is also considering advertisements in student-read publications like The Muse and The Scope that will refer readers to the online database inventory.
"It is hoped that such a process will allow us to identify areas of commonality, strengths, economy of scale and areas where growth is both possible and necessary in better supporting our students," said Mr. Brophy. "The idea is to pinpoint the most effective communications vehicles to reach students, and arm them with everything they need to make the best of their academic experience."
The Teaching and Learning Community website is slated to complete a test phase over the summer and launch in September 2012.