The higher education faculty at the School of Education have created a College Teaching Certificate (CTC). The CTC is a 12-credit program delivered in a hybrid format. The foundation of the CTC is a series of one-credit online modules that focus on the areas of:
- College Teaching and Course Design
- Teaching Strategies
- Designing Inclusive Learning
- Integration of Educational Technologies
- Assessment of Student Learning
- Scholarship of Teaching and Learning.
The second portion of the certificate consists of teaching academies and workshops in which students will receive more background in specific content areas. The final aspect of the certificate involves hands-on authentic learning projects in which participants must apply their newly acquired skills in practice. The intended audience is community college faculty across Virginia and doctoral students in William & Mary’s Higher Education Administration program and in other doctoral programs internal to the college.
Colleges are under increased pressure due to public cries for more affordable tuition, increased graduation rates, and more thorough evaluation of student learning. These pressures are occurring against a backdrop of changes in college teaching. First, openings for faculty positions are increasing. Leadership vacancies are drawing some individuals out of the teaching ranks into administration and other faculty members are retiring as the graying of the professoriate continues. Second, changes in student demographics result in teaching a different type of student body, one increasingly requiring development courses before they can take college-level courses. Third, the adoption of the Common Core Standards or their equivalents attempt to get high school students ready for college or a career. Little research exists on how these pre-collegiate changes will impact college teaching. Finally, the influx of technology into teaching, including online options, MOOCs, and flipped classrooms requires faculty to learn new and expanded teaching strategies. Currently, Virginia has no credit bearing college teaching certificate program. Instead, faculty members participate in workshops for special topic areas, learn on the job by trial and error, or teach as they were taught.
The College Teaching Certificate fills a gap and begins to address a number of the needs outlined above. The initial audience for this program will be the state's community college faculty. The 23 community colleges in Virginia enroll 60% of the state’s undergraduates, for a total of 279,970 earning college credits every year. Forty percent of the community college students in the state take at least one course via distance learning technologies. In response to the 2011 Virginia Higher Education Act’s goal of increasing college completion rates in the state, the VCCS has a goal to increase enrollment by 50,000 by 2015. The CTC will also help the VCCS faculty in their adjustment to a redesign of the developmental course format; these changes were made to support retention efforts and underscore the need for supporting faculty in their professional development for teaching. It is imperative that community college faculty members are versed in strong teaching pedagogy to help in efforts for retention and completion.
This hybrid program will create access for those not physically able to attend course work on campus. The structure of the certificate program offers students the opportunity to bring the credit hours accrued into a doctoral program for educational leadership, either at the College of William and Mary or at another of Virginia’s leadership programs. The modular format of delivery creates flexibility for course taking and opportunities for immediate implementation into classroom teaching. This certificate program at the School of Education at William and Mary builds on the expertise of the higher education program faculty members and is intended to serve as a model for other certificate programs.
A research study on this project will begin as this project is implemented in the field. The current higher education faculty members have expertise in faculty work, student learning, emerging technologies for teaching and learning, and student engagement. Each of these lines of inquiry will be investigated during the evaluation of the CTC. Not only will this research contribute to the scholarship in the field, it will provide current students with research opportunities in the area of teaching and learning. As well, students participating in this certificate program will serve as institutional experts who contribute to organizational learning at their institutions and help to meet Virginia’s educational strategic objectives.