Next spring will officially mark five years since the establishment of Memorial’s Teaching and Learning Framework. In that time, great advances have been made to refine and build upon the teaching and learning experience for faculty, instructors, students and staff in all corners of the university. Through extensive consultations with stakeholders, brainstorming sessions and researching and reporting, the teaching and learning community created a foundation for moving forward and building on its success to date.
Several new projects of the Teaching and Learning Framework were launched in 2015 and are creating interest and buzz across Memorial’s campuses. Guiding the new initiatives and the people championing them is a manager of teaching and learning, a position created to support the development and collaboration among the faculty, staff and students involved in teaching and learning projects at the university.
In spring 2015, 13 dynamic individuals were appointed to lead the university’s faculties, schools and campuses as Chairs in Teaching and Learning. The chairs began in their roles in summer 2015, and are busy developing strategies to support teaching and learning at Memorial, collaborating with colleagues to advance the objectives of the framework and promoting the scholarship of teaching and learning. As a collective during the coming semesters, the chairs will generate new ideas to take teaching and learning at Memorial to the next level.
This past summer, 14 projects from a variety of academic and support units across Memorial were awarded funding through the new St. John’s Campus Teaching and Learning Framework Funding Competition. A total of $1.1 million (combining one-time allocations from 2014-15 and 2015-16) was disbursed and will give project teams the resources needed to explore innovative ideas in teaching and learning.
The momentum in the teaching and learning community continued in fall 2015 with the mid-October launch of the new Memorial University Award for Outstanding Self-directed Learning. The award is intended to celebrate undergraduate students who have the qualities and skills to manage their own learning and successfully undertake self-directed learning projects. Applications for the unique award are open to all undergraduate students across Memorial University’s campuses.
Grenfell Campus identified teaching and learning as one of its central goals in its Vision 20/20 strategic planning document. In implementing these goals, the campus revamped its housing program. Grenfell Campus also continues to offer its Steps to Success program, helping students become more proficient in the academic learning skills needed to excel in the classroom. The Marine Institute, with a focus on excellence in teaching and learning intertwined with its strategic planning process, created a new award to recognize excellence in teaching and learning innovation.
These latest developments are building upon a strong base of innovations previously introduced to respond to the recommendations of the Teaching and Learning Framework across all campuses.
During the past few years, several leading-edge projects have contributed to the cultivation of a university community committed to excellence in teaching and learning. These include the First Year Success Program, an experience that prepares first-year students for their subsequent programs of study and for the careers they are considering; Project Engage in Teaching, a pilot project in its final year that was created to support instructors by assisting them with redesigning their courses through research-informed teaching strategies to improve student engagement and learning; and the Teaching Skills Enhancement Program, an initiative that has given more than 230 educators and graduate students the unique opportunity to build upon their teaching skills with strategies and teaching tips, cultivate a curiosity for teaching and consider new and different ways of doing things in the learning environment.
The Teaching and Learning Framework also played a role in the development of a variety of major pan-university plans and projects, including the Strategic Internationalization Plan 2020, which relied on information presented in Strengthening the Value Chain: Supporting International Students and Building Intercultural Competence at Memorial University, a report initiated as a result of the priorities identified in the framework; and the recent decision to extend mid-term break in the winter semester to one full week, a concept that found its roots during the early consultation stages of the development of the framework. Driven by a recommendation from the framework to celebrate teaching quality, three new teaching awards were created and became part of the annually bestowed President’s Awards for Excellence in Teaching and Graduate Supervision to recognize and celebrate educators at Memorial.
Other projects undertaken to directly address the recommendations of the Teaching and Learning Framework include the creation of a comprehensive report drafted in collaboration with the College of the North Atlantic to highlight the importance of a healthy, inclusive campus, and the enhancement of several teaching and learning spaces with the support of the Classroom Teaching Infrastructure Development Fund, a one-time, $3-million allocation to assist with the replacement of aging teaching equipment and modernization and upgrading of existing classroom space at Memorial.
With the marked momentum and support of the Teaching and Learning Framework, the Memorial community is connecting learners and educators to each other, the community and the world in the service of knowledge generation and exchange and the advancement of society.