The Center for Teaching and Learning: Improving Active Learning Through Enhanced Faculty Development

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A National Symposium

November 16–17, 2018

Stetson University
Miami, Florida

The Center for Teaching and Learning was established at Chaminade University in 2015 under the auspices of the office of the provost and with funding from the United States Department of Education. Through collaboration with faculty, staff, and administration, a vibrant culture of learning and professional development has emerged. Faculty are engaging in the scholarship of teaching and learning; integrating appropriate, relevant, and meaningful technologies into their teaching and assessment; adopting culturally sustaining pedagogies; using high-impact educational practices such as service-learning, research, and experiential learning; and adopting active learning methods. The Center for Teaching and Learning promotes and supports this rich ecology of learning that connects people across academic academic disciplines, physical and virtual spaces, and diverse cultures.

Faculty Development as a Key Lever of Success

Chaminade University’s 2013-2018 strategic plan identified faculty support as a key to success.  Faculty-focused plans included: developing information technology capabilities to achieve pedagogical and competitive advantage; assisting faculty in integrating educational technologies into their teaching; supporting faculty research and scholarship; and engaging all faculty in assessment and ongoing professional development, along with the establishment of a center for teaching, learning, and assessment.  In 2015, Provost Helen Whippy articulated a vision for faculty development:

At each stage of development, we must consistently develop our narrative: of supporting faculty courage, creativity, facing challenges fearlessly.  We must have freedom from fear of failure, a story of enriched curriculum and student experiences through engagement with the Catholic intellectual heritage, Marianist theological traditions and Native Hawaiian culture.  It will be a story of respect for self and others, dignity, a mutual covenant for improvement and a story of taking the mission seriously enough to carry out, submit to and benefit from peer review.

Funding Makes the Vision a Reality

A Title III ANNH (Alaska Native-Serving and Native Hawaiian-Serving) grant was awarded to Chaminade University for 2015-2020 with a focus on two areas: student retention, advising, and career preparation; and faculty development.  Measures of success for the area of faculty development included: increased engagement in faculty development, assessment, and research; increased exposure to the scholarship of teaching and learning; increased student participation in research experiences; the offering of faculty development workshops; increased engagement with grant writing; and the creation of open access electronic learning objects (eLOs). These goals are supported by a staff of three full-time employees funded by the grant: an assessment specialist, instructional designer, and Center director.  Full staffing for the Center was achieved in fall 2017.

Our Professional Development Journey

Following the revered Oceanic tradition of voyaging, Center staff asked faculty to conceive of their professional development as a journey, a voyage to new ideas and spaces, virtual, spiritual, and physical. Together, we have explored technologies to support a rich assessment culture; mobile and active learning; aesthetic engagement; the integration of native Hawaiian values and the characteristics of Marianist education into teaching; digital texts and open educational resources; and culturally sustaining pedagogies.  We have learned how to use technologies such as video, drones, social media, and mapping services to bring the world into the classroom, and we have discussed how to bring our students out into the world through high impact practices such as study abroad, internships, and service learning. Along this journey, we engaged with outside experts and collaborated with personnel from co-curricular units, seeking ways to put students first and work as a unified team to support their success.

Professional Development Journeys Beyond Campus

We took faculty-led excursions to learn about special places, times, and people in our own backyard, visiting Taoist, Shinto, and Buddhist temples in downtown Honolulu; and a guided walking tour of historic downtown Honolulu with a focus on the Hawaiian monarchy.  The Center developed a partnership with local educational publisher Bess Press and the Center for Pacific Islands Studies to deliver a film series called Oceania on the Reel. In monthly film screenings at Bess Press’ bookstore in a nearby neighborhood, we show films and talk about issues important to the people of Oceania, such as nuclear testing in the Republic of the Marshall Islands, genocide in West Papua, and language preservation. These partnerships align with our identity as a native Hawaiian-serving institution known for a diverse student body.

In July 2018, the Center’s director and assessment specialist joined Chaminade faculty in delivering professional development workshops to K-12 educators in the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM).  The workshops were given as part of the annual Micronesian Teacher’s Education Conference (MTEC).  In partnership with the Caroline College and Pastoral Institute in Chuuk, Chaminade University has been offering undergraduate courses and professional development courses for K-12 educators; this MTEC conference was attended by 700 teachers from all four states of the FSM—Yap, Kosrae, Pohnpei, and Chuuk.  It was an opportunity for Chaminade faculty and staff to provide professional development for educators beyond the state of Chuuk. The six Honolulu-based Chaminade University representatives delivered 32 workshops over the course of three days.  Following the MTEC experience, we are extending professional development into cyberspace and will be offering online courses to our faculty in 2019, beginning with modules around culturally sustaining education in online environments.

Outstanding Level of Faculty Engagement

Increased support, funding, and leadership under the auspices of the office of the provost, the office of the associate provost, and the Title III grant have catalyzed a vibrant culture of faculty development that is holistic, practice-based, student-focused, and mission-based. Faculty have responded very positively, most notably in 2018 (year three of the grant) with 98% of full-time faculty engaged in professional development through the Center.  Many exceed the minimum required deliverables for fellowships and are also contributing to the professional development of their colleagues by initiating and delivering Center-supported workshops, excursions, and other professional development experiences.  Faculty are offering to host a wide variety of workshops, suggesting new research projects, and leading faculty field trips into the community.  Active engagement is evident among seasoned as well as new faculty, and among regular and adjunct faculty.  After a recent site visit, the grant’s independent evaluator noted:

A review based solely upon the objectives and performance indicators for the CTL does not adequately characterize the impact of the Title III project on the Chaminade instructional environment.  This year’s Fellows and Certificate members consisted of faculty from across disciplines—both senior faculty and new CUH arrivals.  All agreed that their ability to construct and deliver instruction to their students has been enhanced by the opportunity to share ideas, take risks, and work collaboratively with peers, most of whom they had not previously encountered except through brief social interactions. They acknowledged a deeper understanding of what it means to create culturally responsive instructional experiences, and to integrate Marianist principles with Native Hawaiian values and with research-supported pedagogical best-practice.  Moreover, they clearly expressed a “hunger” (their word) for more of the same (Alford, 2018, p.8).

Engagement is enhanced by presence and we have seen an increasing presence of faculty in the Center outside of regular professional development programming.

Our Faculty Space

Grant funding enabled the campus to renovate a building and provide a new and expanded space for the Center for Teaching and Learning.  Prior to the opening of the new facility, the Center occupied a former classroom—staff operated from that location and all services and workshops were conducted in that room.  Faculty presence has increased since the new facility opened in January 2018.  As noted by our independent evaluator:

The relocation of the Center for Teaching and Learning (CTL) into its new home, Hale Hoaloha, has given this Title III activity a visibility and sense of permanence that was not possible in “borrowed” facilities.   Faculty have use of dedicated space on two floors of this building to meet in large and small groups, test and demonstrate new instructional software and techniques, and deliver programming to students and to one another.  Co-location of both CTL staff and the assessment specialist in this facility fosters a natural coordination of high-tech, culturally responsive, and pedagogically effective instructional designs with an expectation of imbedded assessment for formative use. (Alford, 2018, p.7)

The Center has become a place where faculty relax between classes; meet with their peer mentors; hold ad hoc meetings with colleagues; and do focused work without distractions from activities that typically occur in a faculty office, such as telephone calls and impromptu visitors.  Faculty Senate activities such as the steering committee, full senate meetings, and informal talk-story sessions about issues of concern to faculty are held in the Center, increasing faculty presence and sense of ownership.  Faculty can view the room calendar online and requests to use the room can be handled through direct contact with any of the Center’s staff.  Large monitors in the room are used to showcase faculty achievements, such as publications, fellowships, and awards; to share institutional data such as our National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE) results; to promote Center and campus events; and to display the Center’s social media streams (Twitter, Instagram, Workplace).

In a survey conducted in 2015, one faculty member wrote, “The center should be a place for safe, collaborative conversations. Many research projects were born from random conversations while drinking coffee or talking story. It should be a meeting place that welcomes all faculty. The atmosphere should be warm and inviting. It should also be a place where ideas come from. I miss that kind of environment.” With support from administration, funding from internal and external sources, and dedicated faculty, we have successfully achieved that environment and will sustain it and embody Chaminade University’s spirit of ‘Ohana (family), Mana (strength), Na’auao (wisdom), ʻĀina (place), and Aloha (love).


Alford, B. (2018). Annual Independent Evaluator’s Report Title III (ANNH)—Native Hawaiian Serving Institutions Chaminade University Of Honolulu Project Year-3. Unpublished internal report, Chaminade University.

Whippy, H. (2015/2019). Faculty development for mission. Personal communication.

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Spring 2019: Transforming Teaching Through Active Learning