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The Essential Attributes of Faculty Development Programs – Which ones are you missing?
As we approach faculty development from the perspective of the adult learner, we need to take into consideration their characteristics, the context in which their learning is occurring, and the process we plan to use to deliver the education and training (Lawler, 2003). However, most faculty development models are designed as a one-size-fits-all solution. Few development models view faculty as adult learners and typically do not consider their prior knowledge, experiences (Layne et al., 2004), or uniqueness.
With faculty development’s goal of improving the quality of the teaching experience for faculty and students, and using adult learning theory to frame the development program, the task to build an effective program is no small feat. Gone are the one-size-fits all programs with one-time workshops offered sporadically throughout the academic year. What is needed now are faculty development programs that recognize faculty’s vast reservoir of experiences as learners and as teachers in the classroom and to use those experiences on which to build their learning. Also needed is a recognition of faculty’s teaching needs and concerns to make their learning relevant and increase their motivation for learning. The professional development environment needs to be one in which the faculty feel accepted, respected, and supported. The learning activities need to provide opportunities for active participation, reflection, and collaborative inquiry, all within an authentic context. Finally, an individual action plan is needed to put their learning into action, with a structure in place for continued support as they enact changes in their teaching.