On Wednesday, February 22nd, a number of ESSE faculty members as well as staff and one grad student attended ESSE’s annual teaching retreat. It was again held in the Victoria room at Black Creek Pioneer Village. As they arrived in the morning, faculty members were encouraged to sit with other faculty members in their programs: Geomatics, Space, and Earth and Atmospheric Science in order to be prepared for a group activity. Franz led the morning session talking about active learning exercises and their implementation to increase student understanding and grasp of material, as opposed to traditional lecture-type learning. The bulk of the morning was spent reviewing our program themes and the learning outcomes, with some suggestions identified for better alignment of learning outcomes. Some conversations also made use of the student focus group feedback gathered for some of the programs just before reading week. The morning concluded on rubric-based assessment in engineering disciplines, and Franz had a chance to show everyone some of the results of our accreditation data collection from the Fall semester. We have noticed that this semester, there is a big improvement in the number of courses with posted CLOs, however there is still room for more of us to provide assessment grades broken down by learning outcome! (On which note – a gentle reminder to provide the necessary accreditation materials this semester!). Regina drove an ESSE-related quiz asking us how well we knew our students and courses; the winners of this year’s quiz were Mojgan and Costas. In the afternoon, programs reviewed courses that were common with other programs in the department, and towards the end of the day, undergraduate program directors stayed at their tables and other faculty members switched tables to review other programs’ structures and changes. The discussions during the day were honest and open, and it was great to have so many faculty members together to discuss teaching in the department. A feedback survey will be available soon.
By: Dr. Franz Newland and Sandra Sinayuk