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Marine Institute pinpoints teaching and learning for strategic planning retreats

By Heidi Wicks

On the heels of the first year of the Teaching and Learning Framework consultation process, the Marine Institute (MI) has elected to follow a similar theme for their series of annual strategic planning retreats.

Different areas of the Marine Institute campus will meet throughout the spring and summer to identify goals and objectives for the next year, with teaching and learning as this year's institutional priority.

"This is an opportunity for the various schools and departments within the Marine Institute to engage in the concept of teaching and learning," said Dr. Peter Fisher, associate vice-president (Marine Institute), Academic and Student Affairs.

"The conversation and discussion that occurs will link MI's strategic plan to the recommendations that came from the framework process," he continued. "As an outcome of the retreats, we are hoping to identify key initiatives that will build upon the current teaching and learning practices on this campus."

The consultation process for the Teaching and Learning Framework was both engaging and involved members of all areas of the Memorial community, including educators and learners at all stages of their academic careers.

That process included more than 65 consultation sessions with almost 700 participants from faculty academic councils, student and staff groups and union groups and open sessions for members of the university community and community at large. In the first activity of each session participants were asked to think of and share their best teaching and/or learning experience.

Regardless of the point of view from which the experiences were shared, all were remarkably similar. Educators spoke of successes they fostered with students when they helped them grow intellectually. Teachers who had guided them through difficult concepts or helped them make meaningful connections with their world inspired students.

"Enthusiasm, passion, and meaningful experiences connected the groups and inspired them to become actively involved and invested in the end goal," said Albert Johnson, associate director, Instructional Development Office, Distance Education, Learning and Teaching Support, who co-led the process with Dr. Doreen Neville, associate vice-president, Office of the Vice-President (Academic).

Marine Institute strives to achieve the same level of engagement in the retreat process. A slate of topics up for discussion includes faculty recognition, learning spaces, student support and innovative teaching practices.

The Marine Institute has undertaken a comprehensive approach to strategic planning for many years and is looking forward to developing institutional outcomes and initiatives that further encourage the recommendations of the Teaching and Learning Framework.