Teaching Commission's work moves forward; subcommittee draft reports
After a spring and summer of intensive information gathering and slight
restructuring, the University Commission on Teaching is moving forward with
its work this fall, anticipating the completion of draft subcommittee reports
during October and November.
Commission members met Sept. 25 to hear updates on the work of the subcommittees
and to discuss how the Commission's work should proceed once the draft subcommittee
reports are completed.
Commission Chair Rebecca Chopp said she spent much of her time this summer
looking over various materials related to teaching and thinking about them
in the context of national and international conversations on teaching in
the university environment. As a result of that process, Chopp formulated
three goals for the Commission to pursue:
* To assess teaching at Emory and consider ways of making excellent teaching
a higher priority within the structure of the University;
* To facilitate faculty discussion of teaching and bring together those
already engaged in conversations about teaching; and
* To find a way to address the future of teaching and research at Emory,
particularly questions about how research will be affected by efforts to
emphasize teaching and how the digital environment will affect how teaching
Also over the summer, Chopp and the remainder of the Commission's Executive
Committee made some changes in the group's subcommittee structure. A subcommittee
on the physical, cultural and philosophical dimensions of the teaching environment
was discontinued, Chopp said, partly because of the difficulty the subcommittee
had in getting a clear focus of what its work should be. Chopp added that
other subcommittees absorbed parts of the agenda of the discontinued subcommittee
into their work.
A new subcommittee on teaching practices was added. The group is being chaired
by Walter Reed, co-chair of the Commission. Reed said the creation of the
subcommittee is an attempt to locate and document in narrative form specific
examples of excellent teaching across the University. The narratives will
contribute to the information base that the Commission will use to draft
Al Merrill, chair of the subcommittee on support for the development of
good teaching and rewards and incentives, said his group is looking at policies
across the schools and colleges on tenure and promotion, the role of teaching
in receiving tenure, what teaching awards are available to faculty, and
how to address problems with physical classroom space. Merrill said the
subcommittee has held meetings with Facilities Management Division (FMD)
representatives to address problems with the physical environment for teaching.
The subcommittee and FMD are working to provide immediate relief for problems
such as climate control in classrooms, noise from leaf-blowers disrupting
classes and generally disheveled classroom conditions.
Merrill said FMD staff have been particularly receptive to their concerns
and that some of the issues are already being addressed.
The address for the subcommittee's World Wide Web site is: <www.emory.edu/
The six subcommittees preparing reports are: 1) Teaching evaluation and
the definitions and objectives of good teaching; 2) Support for the development
of good teaching, and the rewards and incentives for teaching; 3) Teaching
practices; 4) Interdisciplinary teaching and learning; 5) Teaching and learning
in the digital environment; and 6) The future of teaching.
The subcommittee on teaching evaluation has already completed its draft
report, according to Chair David Kleinbaum, and the entire Commission is
expected to read the draft and offer comments this week. Commission members
decided at the Sept. 25 meeting that the entire Commission should read all
six subcommittee draft reports and offer comments, rather than the drafts
being reviewed only by the Executive Committee. Chopp said the individual
subcommittees also are encouraged to seek input on their draft reports from
others, such as groups of faculty and students with a particular interest
in the topic the subcommittee is addressing.
Chopp said that from roughly October through December, the Commission hopes
to get as much feedback as possible from as many faculty members as possible
on the subcommittee's draft reports. She said the draft reports will be
placed on the World Wide Web to facilitate that feedback. During late December
and January, Chopp, Reed and others plan to draft a full Commission report
based on the subcommittee drafts and community input. That draft will be
forwarded to Commission members in early February, and a Commission retreat
will be held later in the month to discuss the draft. In March, a revised
draft will be placed on the World Wide Web for further feedback. The final
report will be presented to Provost Billy Frye in April.
to the October 7, 1996 contents page