Iowa State University nameplate

Inside Iowa State
Gold bar
September 14, 2001

Task force delves into teaching and learning

by Debra Gibson
So who teaches teachers to teach?

In the piles atop faculty desks campus-wide, it's unlikely one will find stacks of texts dedicated to how best to get the message across just staying on top of a discipline's most current practices and research is a never-ending job.

Enter the Center for Teaching Excellence (CTE).

Center leaders have been promoting teaching at Iowa State since 1993, but one of the newest efforts is a 10-member task force of faculty members, administrators and graduate students. Chaired by Scott Chadwick, assistant professor in the Greenlee School of Communication, the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning Task Force is dedicated to "creating a conversation on campus on what is the scholarship of teaching and learning," Chadwick explained. With funding from the Office of the Provost, the task force sponsored a successful faculty forum on the topic last April.

"We asked faculty members and graduate students what teaching is, and what it should look like," Chadwick said.

About 70 people attended, "with many divergent views," Chadwick recalled. "Most were very excited and supportive of this work. People felt as if they were out there on their own, and now they're realizing there are lots of people on campus who are interested in this. There is lots of energy on this subject right now, and we want to continue with that."

A second faculty forum to address the scholarship of teaching and learning, scheduled for Oct. 10, is titled "Continuing the Conversation." According to Chadwick, the forum again will focus on what and how students learn, and then how best faculty can teach those students.

"We want to determine what is the state of both learning and teaching at Iowa State," Chadwick explained. "This is not an attempt to find deficits. We think it is important that we engage in the scholarship of what we do. This particular effort focuses on the teaching side of it."

The task force's work is based on a national effort spearheaded by the Carnegie Foundation's Carnegie Academy for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (CASTL) and the American Association of Higher Education. Like CASTL, the task force is organizing opportunities to "have conversations and then move to study and action," Chadwick said. "It's about building on strengths or eliminating barriers and we're not near there yet."

Ultimately, the task force hopes to "get our discussions down to the department level," Chadwick said. Future plans may include best practices seminars, where "the best and the most successful teachers at Iowa State will say, 'This is what works for me,'" he explained. "Teachers are hungry for this knowledge."

Those interested in learning more about these initiatives may visit the CTE Web site at or check out the following URLs:

... Becoming the Best
Ames, Iowa 50011, (515) 294-4111
Published by: University Relations,
Copyright © 1995-2001, Iowa State University. All rights reserved.