Conversations on Teaching
Commission on Teaching World Wide Web Page
In an effort to both solicit and disseminate information on the ways in
which teaching is supported and developed across campus, one of the Commission
on Teaching's subcommittees, chaired by Woodruff Professor James Gustafson
and Professor of Biochemistry Al Merrill, has designed an interactive World
Wide Web page accessible at http://www.emory. edu/ TEACHING/SupportCom.
According to Merrill, "the web site should be able to perform two functions:
to be a source of information for faculty (and students) about policies
on teaching and support for teaching, as well as to serve as a forum for
discussion about how teaching at Emory can be improved."
The Subcommittee on the Support and Development of Excellent Teaching is
charged with identifying the types of support, rewards and incentives that
help Emory faculty become and continue to be excellent teachers. Merrill
observed that members of the subcommittee recognized from the start that
these things "vary significantly from school to school, such that general
recommendations are likely to be of limited use in solving specific challenges
faced at particular schools of the University." In order to collect
and disseminate information specific to each school, therefore, Merrill
worked over the summer with Steve Taylor of the Information Technology Division
to set up an interactive web page with links to sites for each school. These
sites, said Merrill, will allow faculty "to gain information about
and comment upon policies on promotion and tenure, facilities and broader
aspects of teaching."
Faculty of the law school, for instance, can access the law school link
and find information there about the ways in which the law school incorporates
teaching into tenure and promotion reviews, awards for excellent teaching
given by the law school, and programs that may help them improve their teaching.
In addition to gaining information, faculty also can help the subcommittee
obtain information about programs and rewards for excellence in teaching
by sharing their perceptions in response to questions on the site. Questions
included on the site range from the broadly philosophical ("How are
definitions of teaching shaped within this school by its primary mission
or subject matter?") to the pragmatic ("In what ways do the bureaucratic
and departmental structures within this school enhance or impede excellence
in teaching?"). After a response to a particular question is submitted,
it will be attached to that site so that future visitors to the site can
read and respond to the comments of others. This "bulletin board"
format will encourage continued discussion across the University about teaching,
while enabling members of the subcommittee to hear and incorporate the views
of their colleagues when they prepare their report for the full commission.
In order to encourage discussion about teaching well after the Commission
on Teaching prepares its report to the provost in early 1997, Merrill noted
that "the subcommittee is recommending that the web site be maintained
into the future."
The subcommittee, which includes Professor of Economics Peter Aranson and
Margaret Parsons of the School of Nursing, as well as Merrill and Gustafson,
will incorporate information gathered through the web site, interviews with
faculty, students and staff, and the faculty luncheons of 1995-96 in its
report to the Commission. In addition to summarizing current policies on
rewards for and development of excellent teaching at Emory, the subcommittee
also will make recommendations regarding ways in which the University as
a whole as well as specific schools can better reward and encourage excellence
In addition to the site sponsored by the Subcommittee on the Support and
Development of Excellent Teaching, the Commission on Teaching also maintains
a web site open to members of the Emory community (http://www.emory.edu/
TEACHING). This site includes documents related to teaching at Emory such
as Choices and Responsibility and the
Report of the Ad Hoc Committee on Teaching at Emory College, links to other
web sites such as the Chronicle of Higher Education, the Educational Resources
Information Center (ERIC), and the American Association of Higher Education
(AAHE). Merrill noted that "there is a lot of very helpful information
about teaching on the Internet," and encourages all members of the
Emory community to explore these sites.
Faith Kirkham Hawkins, a doctoral student in the Graduate Division of
Religion, is one of the assistants to the Commission on Teaching.
to the October 28, 1996 contents page