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The Faculty Seminar Series: Of the Faculty, By the Faculty, and For the Faculty

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Sandy Cohen Sandy Cohen (Mathematics, Tarpon Springs) shares another 2010 – 2011 Grant idea and some valuable insights on the importance of networking!

Describe your project. Did the project end up being significantly different then the original plan and why?

The Faculty Seminar Series started in January 2011 and is held on the fourth Wednesday and each month excluding November, December, and April. We meet during the activity period and have lunch that is provided by our generous provost from 12:30-12:45. We usually have our IT person speak first and then we start our discussion. This has taken the form of panel discussions or open discussions about an issue pertaining to the faculty directly or indirectly affecting what we do in the classroom. Some of the topics have included Assessment, Motivation, Evaluations, Academic Honesty and Plagiarism to name a few. All faculty, full time/part time/academic chairs, are invited. There are usually 20-30 people attending each session.

What was the chief accomplishment of your project? What problem did you solve?

The chief accomplishment was to get people out of their offices and talking with their fellow colleagues. We often just interact with the people that have offices near ours, but this gives people an opportunity to interact with other faculty members across disciplines. The response has been phenomenal!

What were the results? Did you see a numeric increase or a qualitative improvement?

Faculty have many things to say and this gives them an opportunity to express their thoughts and feelings. We do not have regular faculty meetings, only FGO meetings, so this gives us a chance to talk to each other. It is very interesting to hear strategies that other people use in their classroom so we don’t reinvent the wheel.

Did YOU learn anything from the project? Did you make any changes to your teaching style or content?

We learn the importance of talking to each other. We share the same students and have similar problems. All the topics selected affect each faculty member regardless of discipline taught.

Can another teacher use your project? How can they implement your learning?

It has always been my wish that we can eat together and pick up one tip to try in our classes. It might be a creative idea that one faculty member shared or an Angel tip presented by our IT person.

Do you have plans for a follow-up project/additional research? If you did a grant again, what would you do differently?

The one change that I have made is not to meet in April since this is the last week of the semester. I try to keep the costs around $100 per seminar for food and beverages. If we meet five times during the academic year, this is approximately $500.

I now have a fellow colleague helping me because it is very time consuming to pick the topic, find speakers, and then arrange for food that is within the budget. I will continue to offer these sessions as long as people participate.

I have asked for feedback at the end of the academic year and people have suggested topics that they are interested in discussing or food that they would like for lunch. I think the seminar series has provided a healthy exchange of ideas. It brings the faculty closer and we become a united team.

Thanks, Sandy, for not only sharing your insights into the fun and challenges of grants, but for all of your hard work in pulling off such fun and helpful seminars! For more on Sandy’s project, read this Blue & White article – Seminar Series: of the faculty, by the faculty and for the faculty

As we head into the new year, think about the challenges and successes you’ve had in teaching. Then invite a colleague out. Share some coffee, share some suggestions, and share some support! It’ll make your semester!

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