Iowa State University

Inside Iowa State
March 5, 1999

Two teaching center fellowships open for 1999- 2000

by Anne Dolan

The Center for Teaching Excellence is seeking faculty applicants and their ideas for the second year of a fellowship program designed to promote faculty development and expand the usefulness of the center to the campus community. Applications are due Monday, March 22, in the center, 204 Lab of Mechanics.

Two fellowships will be awarded for the 1999-2000 academic year. Fellows get a half-time release from their departmental duties to pursue the goals in their fellowship proposals. Their departments receive up to $12,000 to purchase temporary assistance. Fellows also have small budgets for travel and for materials.

Corly Brooke, director of the center, said applicants must have "demonstrated expertise and interest in the scholarship of teaching" and permission from their DEOs to be released from some department responsibilities.

First fellow

Charie Thralls, English, is the first CTE faculty fellow. Thralls is spending part of this year pursuing projects that focus on learning communities, especially integrating writing-across-the-curriculum programs into the curricula of all kinds of learning teams. She is a member of the learning communities working team appointed last year by the provost.

Thralls said her fellowship efforts have focused in two areas: outreach to faculty and staff, and expanding her own knowledge of learning communities. Her efforts on behalf of the center include assisting with planning workshops on learning communities, presenting a series of less formal talks on learning communities, one-on-one consulting with people who request assistance by phone or e-mail and seeking publicity for Iowa State's learning community programs at several national conferences. She also is helping develop a two-day learning communities institute that will be offered on campus later this spring.

Her own continuing education has been in identifying more connections between writing-across-the-curriculum and learning communities. She said the experience also has given her time to study ways to integrate the innovations of learning communities into the formal structure and divisions of a university.

"That requires new policies, new procedures, new coordinators and administrators -- just a new way of looking at things. Faculty ownership of learning communities is just one piece of it," Thralls said.

"Right now at Iowa State, we're trying to preserve the diversity of learning communities and the 'grassroots' innovation of them, even as we recognize that some sort of central coordination is needed. How to strike an effective balance is a big issue," she said. "This fellowship has given me a perspective to think about learning communities in a broad, institutional way."

Other strengths of the fellowship program, Thralls said, are the opportunity to be of service to the faculty while learning and the chance to meet and develop relationships with people across the university.

"I've been here 20 years and never experienced this," she said. "The commitment from people of all dimensions to teaching and learning has been astonishing to me."

Lastly, Thralls said working with Brooke has been very positive.

"It's a great opportunity to be mentored by a campus leader," she said. "Her leadership style is collaborative and she's flexible. A fellow will find that useful and rewarding."

More information on the application process, including project ideas developed by the center staff, is online at Faculty are encouraged to contact Brooke, 4-2402, to discuss or refine a project idea.

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