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UBC Reports | Vol. 55 | No. 6 | June 4, 2009

Profs care about teaching: UBC survey

By Brian Lin

UBC faculty members care deeply about teaching and learning and most feel they could teach with even greater effectiveness by applying new advances in the scholarship of teaching and learning. This is a key finding of a recent survey commissioned by the UBC Lasting Education, Achieved and Demonstrated (LEAD) Initiative.

Conducted by Angus Reid Strategies, the anonymous, voluntary survey was sent to 3,200 faculty members. An impressive 35 per cent responded, far exceeding the pollster’s most optimistic expectations. “To be honest, we were hoping for, at best, a 25 per cent completion rate,” says Angus Reid vice president and UBC alumna Catherine Rogers.

“It’s a real testament to our faculty’s enthusiasm for teaching and learning,” says Lorne Whitehead, University Leader in Education Innovation. “It also confirms what we’ve believed all along – that given the opportunity and resources, faculty are very interested in excelling in teaching in the same way their excellence in research has made UBC a world-class university.”

UBC is the first major Canadian university to ask all of its faculty members their opinions about teaching and learning and how it may be improved, according to Walter Sudmant, UBC’s director of Planning and Institutional Research. Commissioned following a recent series of group discussions hosted by the LEAD Initiative involving more than 300 faculty members, the survey aims to better understand how the university can support faculty in making teaching more rewarding for both the teachers and learners.

One finding has already triggered a flurry of activities. “Faculty members have told us in both the group discussions and the survey that they’d like to share their experience with their colleagues – both in and outside of their own area of scholarship,” says Whitehead. To that end, LEAD joined forces with UBC’s Centre for Teaching and Academic Growth (TAG) and invited submissions for a special edition of TAG’s Tapestry magazine.

Submissions quickly filled the pages of the magazine, with 23 faculty members from diverse disciplines on both the Vancouver and Okanagan campuses sharing their thoughts on engaging students, tips and helpful resources and examples of teaching techniques that have worked in their classrooms. To add a personal touch, all participants included a brief video clip for the web version, available at www.tapestry.ubc.ca.

Other survey highlights include:

  • Faculty members feel there is considerable room for improvement in the undergraduate learning experience, with non-interactive lecturing and large class sizes being the most detrimental aspects of current pedagogy.
  • The majority of faculty members, regardless of rank or focus, want to apply new teaching techniques in their work but feel they do not have the tools or access to the latest proven pedagogy to take the classroom experience to the next level.
  • Faculty members believe that excellence in teaching should be weighted more heavily in judging their success.

The full survey is available at www.lead.ubc.ca/angusreidreport

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Last reviewed 09-Jun-2009

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