SPCS Innovations in Teaching

Innovations in Teaching

Since 2016, SPCS has recognized innovative pedagogy among adjunct faculty with its Innovations in Teaching award. If you don’t know much about this award, check out the Innovations in Teaching section of the SPCS degree program faculty webpages.

Nominations for the SPCS Innovations in Teaching award – PDF award are accepted each year by December 1. Adjunct faculty members may nominate themselves or other adjuncts for the award, and full-time faculty, program chairs, and students may also nominate members of the adjunct faculty to receive this award. An annual recipient of the award is selected by committee from among the nominations.

Members of the SPCS Adjunct Faculty Committee spent the 2012-13 academic year developing 14 dimensions for innovation in teaching along with teaching expectations for each dimension. They presented a report of their research and work at the spring 2013 SPCS faculty meeting. The table of dimensions and expectations from that report is reproduced below for your convenience. You’ll likely find that many of these innovations are timeless. You’ll also notice that only a few of them are centered around technology. These dimensions are used as criteria for selecting award recipients, but they are also useful reminders of the kinds of innovation we could (and should) be incorporating into our pedagogy.

Dimension Faculty Actions
Demonstrate the highest level of ethics and integrity
  • Demonstrate integrity in thoughts, words and deeds
  • Model skills and behaviors expected of students
  • Be honest and fair
  • Make ethical decisions and use ethical behavior
  • Be consistent and treat everyone with respect
  • Keep promises
  • Demonstrate an understanding of ethical issues in today’s society
  • Integrate ethical principles into every class taught
  • Understand and teach ethical use of information
Honor principles for the future of learning
  • Set high expectations
  • Provide high support
  • Honor diversity
  • Treat others with respect
  • Use socially networked learning
Know what’s going on in the community and the world
  • Keep up with trends in your area(s) of teaching
  • Keep up with trends in learning, education, classroom leadership, enhancing student learning, collaborating, using social media, etc.
Research to maintain current knowledge in your field(s)
  • Keep up with innovative practices in the field and the skills to use them
  • Ensure that current knowledge doesn’t supersede baseline knowledge, but builds on it
  • Help students learn to do individual and joint research
  • Support students doing research and encourage them to publish their work
  • Blog regularly about your field
  • Publish articles in trade journals or newsletters
  • Publish articles in peer-reviewed journals
Understand student needs
  • Find out what students are concerned about
  • “Seek first to understand, then to be understood” (Stephen Covey)
  • Listen twice as much as you talk
  • Keep up with issues affecting today’s students
  • Integrate the technology today’s students use into your teaching
  • Demonstrate that you care about student challenges and support success in those areas
Teach real world applications
  • Help students understand how they can take what they learn and use it in their work and in their lives
  • Teach students how to think in ways that will make them good citizens and respected employees
Use effective facilitation skills
  • Keep lecture time minimal
  • Engage the group using group facilitation skills
Actively engage students
  • Get students excited about learning
  • Get the context out there quickly and move to group work, problem-solving, interaction, talking with each other
  • Use multiple frames of reference to retain interest
Take accountability for student success
  • Communicate class plans and your expectations clearly
  • Apply standards equitably, while realizing that each learner is different
  • Accept that if the students don’t do well, we may not have supported them well enough
  • Stay connected
  • Assist in ongoing career development
Demonstrate flexibility/adaptability
  • Update your courses every time you teach them to incorporate new knowledge and teaching methods
  • Change your course structure, materials, examples, activities, exams, and assignments to reflect changes in the world (for example, social media as a major communication channel)
  • Adapt the class agenda based on expressed student interests and needs
  • Be actively learning how to communicate, collaborate and interact in a socially networked world and a socially networked classroom
Use technology to enhance engagement
  • Link technology use to course objectives and assignments
  • Post links and handouts on Blackboard
  • Avoid using technology as a crutch in teaching. Talk about what’s between the lines,
Organize your teaching
  • Plan well
  • Communicate clearly up front
  • Stay on schedule
  • Respond quickly with grades after assignments are turned in
Participate in professional development regularly
  • Participate in regular professional development in your area(s) of teaching
  • Participate in regular professional development in use of technology in teaching

CoP Note: SPCS has been working to develop standards and expectations for excellence in adult education since it opened its doors in 1962 and graduated its first students in 1963. There’s always room for improvement, but I hope you’ll identify one or more of these dimensions of innovation and incorporate some of the expectation in your own teaching. Perhaps this can be part of an adjunct faculty professional development goal for yourself this year.

Daniel Hocutt

Web Manager and Adjunct Professor of English for the University of Richmond School of Professional & Continuing Studies.