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Professors as Students in the Undergraduate Classroom: The Experience of a “Faculty Taking Classes” Initiative

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Abstract:

This paper discusses the experiences of four faculty members as they became full-fledged “students” in one another’s classes over the course of an academic year. These professors developed a two-semester project that involved each participant taking on all of the obligations and responsibilities of one course taught by one of the other participating colleagues. Assignments, attendance, group projects, exams, and all other expectations of students in that course thus also became those of the faculty “student.” In the second semester, faculty who played the role of student now had their “professor” as a student in their own course. Participants in this interdisciplinary project (undertaken without remuneration, in addition to full teaching loads) included faculty members from business, geology, history, and political science.

The objectives of this project were twofold. First, it served as a powerful two-way tool for faculty development in the classroom. The faculty “student” became a long-term observer of the teaching faculty member’s approach, giving in-depth feedback from their perspective and from that of other students in the course. Conversely, the faculty “students” received extended exposure to a colleague’s approach and methods, offering insights and innovations which would otherwise have been unavailable. Second, it provided an invaluable opportunity for faculty members to “reconnect” with crucial aspects of the student experience that may have been lost or forgotten since the time when these professors were themselves undergraduate students.

The results of this experience, discussed in depth in this research paper, were positive, rewarding, revealing, and constructive in such areas as teaching methodology, course design, and other pedagogical matters. Initial findings and specific experiences are included, as are the prospects for (and the challenges of) expanding such opportunities at the college level.

Author's Keywords:

course development, faculty development
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Association:
Name: APSA Teaching and Learning Conference
URL:
http://www.apsanet.org


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MLA Citation:

King, Brian., Golden, Gary., Kerrigan, William. and Van Horn, Stephen. "Professors as Students in the Undergraduate Classroom: The Experience of a “Faculty Taking Classes” Initiative" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the APSA Teaching and Learning Conference, <Not Available>. 2009-05-26 <http://www.allacademic.com/meta/p11542_index.html>

APA Citation:

King, B. , Golden, G. , Kerrigan, W. and Van Horn, S. "Professors as Students in the Undergraduate Classroom: The Experience of a “Faculty Taking Classes” Initiative" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the APSA Teaching and Learning Conference <Not Available>. 2009-05-26 from http://www.allacademic.com/meta/p11542_index.html

Publication Type: Abstract
Abstract: This paper discusses the experiences of four faculty members as they became full-fledged “students” in one another’s classes over the course of an academic year. These professors developed a two-semester project that involved each participant taking on all of the obligations and responsibilities of one course taught by one of the other participating colleagues. Assignments, attendance, group projects, exams, and all other expectations of students in that course thus also became those of the faculty “student.” In the second semester, faculty who played the role of student now had their “professor” as a student in their own course. Participants in this interdisciplinary project (undertaken without remuneration, in addition to full teaching loads) included faculty members from business, geology, history, and political science.

The objectives of this project were twofold. First, it served as a powerful two-way tool for faculty development in the classroom. The faculty “student” became a long-term observer of the teaching faculty member’s approach, giving in-depth feedback from their perspective and from that of other students in the course. Conversely, the faculty “students” received extended exposure to a colleague’s approach and methods, offering insights and innovations which would otherwise have been unavailable. Second, it provided an invaluable opportunity for faculty members to “reconnect” with crucial aspects of the student experience that may have been lost or forgotten since the time when these professors were themselves undergraduate students.

The results of this experience, discussed in depth in this research paper, were positive, rewarding, revealing, and constructive in such areas as teaching methodology, course design, and other pedagogical matters. Initial findings and specific experiences are included, as are the prospects for (and the challenges of) expanding such opportunities at the college level.

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