Beyond the Workshop: Extending Professional Development Days Throughout the Year


It’s that time of year. Professional Development Days are upon us.

Twitter is a flurry with institutions across the country highlighting their annual professional development days. Excited, or not so excited, faculty members getting ready for the term ahead. Brushing up on their skills. Learning a new software program. Reviewing policies. Reflecting and taking stock in their own teaching practices.

By all accounts, institutions are serious about helping their faculty members start the term off right. But what if institutional support for quality teaching was the norm throughout the year? After all, the goal of professional development is to help faculty members challenge their own thinking and to drive their own change. What kind of impact could this have on student outcomes?


It’s time to think beyond the one-sided lectures or one-off workshops. In fact, research indicates that workshop-based training programs are not highly effective for adult learning. Adults learn when the topic has import and immediacy – in other words when they are working through real-life situations. And research suggests that it is most successful when it occurs within a community of like or similar participants where they are able to discuss each other’s work rather than refer to textbooks or training materials.  


Instead of faculty members spending only a handful of days a year anticipating how they might do something differently weeks or months later in the term, what if they could spend an hour a week reflecting on what just happened in class? Thinking through what the goals were; what was said; what materials were used; how the students responded. Teasing out aspects of their self-reflection to identify any one of 20 research-based quality teaching practices. And getting insights from their peers at other institutions and a professional facilitator.


Faculty Guild is on a mission to re-invent professional development. We offer a place for faculty members to think and reflect on their own teaching practices. As detailed in Taking College Teaching Seriously: Pedagogy Matters!, the model is rooted in a standard change cycle of plan, do, reflect, act – all predicated on the notion that professional practice improvement requires self-reflection.

Bringing together situational learning, data-driven visualizations and faculty members as part of a community – Faculty Guild moves the conversation from isolated professional development to a shared experience centered on a new language for pedagogy.

If you are interested in learning more about our next cohort starting in January 2018, please contact us and follow us on Twitter. We look forward to connecting with you.