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Alumni Newsletter: July '08 to July '09


The Sheridan Center has been committed to professional development in higher education since its formation in 1987 and is an excellent resource for graduate students, postdocs and faculty alike. The Center has traditionally offered three certificate programs, as well as free consulting services that are utilized for practice job or conference talks, as well as feedback on teaching practices. The Department of Geological Sciences has always been a strong supporter of and participant in the Sheridan Center and some exciting new things are happening.

How does the certificate program work? It breaks down like this: Certificate I is given for attending the Sheridan Teaching Seminar designed to assist graduate students who may have had little or no teaching experience. Certificate I was revamped by Kathy Takayama, the Center’s Associate Director for the life and physical sciences; the feedback from this years’ participants has been very positive. Certificates II, the Classroom Tools Seminar, and III, the Professional Development Seminar (teaching portfolio and CV among other things), continue to be extremely beneficial for those who participate. The newer Certificate IV program is centered on the teaching consultant program. Certificate IV “provides professional training in the development and application of peer observation and feedback skills, and develops leadership and discussion facilitation skills”.

Graduate student Linda Chernak has been involved with the Sheridan Center since her first year of graduate school when she began the Certificate I program. “After completing Certificate I in May 2007, I gradually earned certificates II, III and now the newest one, certificate IV,” Chernak says. “After completing level IV training, I was selected last year to be the Head Science teaching consultant for two years,” Chernak continues. “In this position, I not only work as a teaching consultant but also help with training sessions, mentoring fellow consultants, and facilitating communication and feedback between the Sheridan Center and the Teaching Consultant network.”

Professor Jan Tullis has served as the Sheridan Center Faculty Fellow in the physical sciences for the past many years. The main role of the Faculty Fellows is to mentor young faculty, especially as they begin teaching. Jan has helped to organize and run a number of sessions in the Center’s regular program for junior faculty, as well as met individually to offer advice and feedback about designing a syllabus, effective writing assignments, and a range of different assessments. This year, together with Kathy Takayama and Dean David Targan, she instituted a new program of informal Friday noon discussions of various teaching issues, experiences, problems and ideas across science disciplines and departments, as well as to learn (from Kathy, primarily) about the most recent results from research on cognition, learning, and teaching pedagogy. Jan says, “We have undertaken to design a new and improved course evaluation form that would be appropriate for all science departments, and plan a series of sessions devoted to incorporating short but useful writing assignments into science courses, in support of the College’s renewed commitment to ensuring writing competence across the curriculum.”

The following members of Geological Sciences were recognized for their commitment to teaching this year during the University’s annual awards ceremony on May 6, 2009:

  • Karen Fischer - Karen T. Romer Award for Excellence in Advising (photo page 4)
  • Karen Fischer - Advisory Board
  • Jan Tullis - Sheridan Center Faculty Fellow; Faculty Liaison; Sheridan Center Event Speaker;Royce Family Professors of Teaching Excellence
  • Christina Calvin - Teaching Consultant; Discussion Leader
  • Linda Chernak - Teaching Consultant (Co-Head) - Discussion Leader - Graduate Student Liaison
  • Leah Roach - Teaching Consultant; Discussion Leader; Graduate Student Liaison
  • Mariela Salas - Teaching Consultant; Discussion Leader
  • John Skok - Teaching Certificate

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