Developing faculty members into better professors is one of the most important roles of any university. It is important to create and maintain engaging and meaningful professional development plans to ensure that faculty members have the necessary skills to teach college students. The role of faculty members at universities is far more complex than many may think. An educator willing to dedicate time to growing their skills and industry knowledge will prove themselves invaluable to the future of your institution.
In order for faculty members to provide their best to student, they need to have access to ongoing training and professional development opportunities. Such strategies should focus on providing faculty with the necessary knowledge, skills, and resources to reach their highest potential and effect positive change. There are numerous ways a university can create professional development plans for its faculty.
Pedagogy plays an important role in faculty success as it focuses on teaching and learning methods, approaches, and techniques. Professional development opportunities related to pedagogy should help faculty members learn about current and emerging teaching methods, best practices for student engagement, and development of course materials that align with learning objectives.
Examples include student workshops, lectures on modern teaching strategies, and discussion forums about effective teaching practices. Faculty should be encouraged to hold a debrief session to contemplate how they can immediately use their new skills.
Faculty members are responsible for leading research projects at universities. Professional development plans should provide research-based training and resources on writing grant proposals, finding and utilizing research sources, and leading research projects both on campus and in the community.
Examples: workshops on grant writing, seminars on innovative research methods, and field trips to nearby research labs.
With the rapid advancement of technology in the past few decades, faculty members must stay up to date with the latest technology in order to use it to their benefit. Professional development plans in technology should help faculty members understand and utilize new technologies effectively, such as virtual tools for class management and collaboration, cloud-based platform design, and data analytics.
Examples: webinars, lectures, and hands-on labs on the newest software and hardware available.
Academic careers oftentimes involve building and maintaining professional networks. Not only is this beneficial for research and collaboration purposes, but it can also help new faculty members get to know the university’s overall culture. Professional development plans in this area should help faculty connect with colleagues from across departments and disciplines.
Examples may include hosting networking events with faculty and alumni, organizing seminars on effective communication skills, or offering online courses on leadership styles.
Even experienced faculty members should have opportunities to continue to learn and grow in their fields. Professional development plans in this area can assist with helping faculty members stay up to date with the latest trends, research findings, and technology in their fields.
Example: study groups, conferences, and online courses related to the topics introduced in class. These have an added benefit of expanding your worldview, networking, building new skills, and exposing you to innovations within your industry.
Regardless of what activities your faculty choose to participate in, the main objective is to push your colleagues outside their comfort zone. By providing a variety of professional development opportunities, universities can ensure that their faculty members are prepared to lead students to their best potential. Furthermore, such plans can help promote a culture of excellence and innovation at universities, while allowing faculty members to continuously stay relevant in their fields.