The activities of the CBS Office of Educational Scholarship and Practice (CoESP) would support not only the specific needs of the emerging SOTL research group in the College but the full breadth of scholarship on knowledge transfer & community engagement, curriculum design, outcome assessment, course re-design, graduate success, academic advising, student career counseling and academic integrity, all of which shape the success of educational programs in CBS.
Activities supported by CoESP will focus on scholarship within the biological sciences and provide a portal to other disciplinary-focused offices, institutes or groups within the university community. It will provide access to and support for evidence-based enhancement of teaching and learning and educational research pertaining to the biological sciences that addresses the contemporary challenges facing the university, the college, and specific programs. To the extent that CoESP activities address the needs and challenges of the college, it will be important that the steering committee of CoESP be informed by the priorities of the Associate Dean Academic.
- Enhance student learning through informed, evidence-based course & curricular re-design, outcome assessment, liaison and student support.
- Accelerate the incorporation of evidence-based teaching practices amongst instructors in CBS.
- Support faculty, staff and student research scholarship in teaching, learning and knowledge transfer.
- Promote educational leadership development within CBS faculty, staff and students.
- Collaborate with other T&L units to create a campus-wide network of expertise and support for improved educational practice and scholarship.
The Office of Educational Practice and Scholarship would be a formally recognized entity nested within CBS, composed of CBS members and operating at arms length to the Office of the Associate Dean Academic. It would have a faculty champion (Director), who has a three year term and works closely with the Associate Dean Academic and a steering committee to guide the Office’s activities. The Steering Committee would comprise: The Director (Chair), and 3 faculty representatives (possibly present or past departmental curriculum committee chairs), at least 1 teaching or teaching support staff representative, at least one 1 graduate student representative and at least 1 undergraduate student representative. The Associate Dean Academic, CBS will be an ex officio member. The steering committee will establish yearly priorities, oversee and coordinate various priority activities, provide an annual report to the ADA and establish a mechanism for communicating with CBS membership (website, email, newsletter).
Ideally, an advisory committee, consisting of directors of OpenEd (Centre for Open Learning and Educational Support, ICES (Institute for Community Engaged Scholarship, CSAHS), cBASE (Co-operators Centre for Business and Social Entrepreneurship, CBE), PSEER (Physical Science and Engineering Educational Research), will provide campus-wide perspective and guidance. In the future, we strongly recommend that an institutional hub for promoting and coordinating advances in educational practice, scholarship and assessment across colleges be established to fulfil some of this role.
Initial Programs and Activities
CoESP was honoured to have had Dr. Keith Trigwell from University of Sydney to help kick-off the official opening of the CBS Office of Educational Support and Practice. During his time on campus, he provided leadership and mentorship to the CoESP Office and the College.
Dr. Trigwell gave two formal presentations to the College of Biological Science faculty, staff, and students titled "The Challenges in Higher Education Science Teaching and Lessons in Achieving Evidence-based Teaching Practice." He also led numerous round-table discussions and provided leadership to the CoESP director and committee.
Guest speakers with expertise in teaching practice and scholarship of biology will be invited to campus to interact with university members through seminars, workshops, and lectures. Networks such as the Ontario Consortium of Undergraduate Biology Educators (oCUBE), which has members in most Ontario Universities, may be a useful resource for this.
- Workshops on development of scholarship of teaching & learning projects, instructional design, sharing of teaching experience, brown bag discussions etc.
- Educational practice and research enhancement funds: will provide seed funding for educational scholarship, travel assistance for disseminating results of scholarly activities, support for enhancements of learning through course improvements and small-scale inquiry projects, and graduate student support for educational scholarship. To advance the collective mission of quality programs in CBS, the allocation of this fund will be guided by priorities set by the Associate Dean Academic and the Office of Educational Practice & Scholarship Steering Committee.
- Peer consultation on teaching: facilitate collaborative peer interactions that focus on any aspect of teaching practice and scholarship;
- Student SOTL: explore curricular modifications to allow or promote student SOTL or evidence-based instructional design.
Equally important but longer-term priorities may include a) advocacy for funding opportunities from tri-council, OMAFRA etc. and b) undergraduate and graduate training and career development.