Dr. Janet Davidson knew Chaminade’s Center for Teaching and Learning was doing something right when one of the University’s longest-serving faculty members showed up for a seminar on how to create more engaging online courses.
“We are a teaching university,” said Davidson, who took on the University’s newly created role as associate provost for academic affairs in 2017. “Our faculty really want to improve the delivery of their material to their students. There’s a hunger for it.”
In fact, some 82 percent of full-time faculty and adjunct lecturers at Chaminade participated in some type of programming at the center within the first two years, through Sept. 30, 2017. Offerings ranged from structured courses to leisurely learning tours.
In her administrative role, Davidson oversees the center and other faculty development opportunities along with institutional accreditation. She’s also held onto her position as a criminology and criminal justice professor — it was important for her to keep a foot in the classroom “to remember what it means to have those daily deliverables.”
Under her leadership, the Center for Teaching and Learning has moved to a permanent space, expanded programming and brought on new team members.
Dr. Mary Therese Perez Hattori, center director, started in September 2017 after previously serving as outreach director at the University of Hawai‘i at Manōa’s Center for Pacific Islands Studies and in faculty development at Kapiolani Community College.
Hattori said she’s been heartened by the drive among Chaminade faculty — across academic fields and at all stages of their careers — to improve their teaching practice.
“To me, that’s remarkable,” she said.
Davidson agrees, and said the center, whose programming is all geared around how to help students achieve, has become a special place for faculty on campus.
“As faculty members … you are trained in your discipline, but not in the art of teaching,” she said. The center “is really a place that faculty can come together for both formal and informal activities — reflect on their own practices and struggles.”
The center offers a host of seminars, including those on culturally appropriate teaching, student engagement, and improved testing. It also offers grant-writing support and hosts faculty-led talks that have covered everything from how to use social media as a teaching tool to the power of service learning and study abroad in engaging students.
The center actually formally launched at Chaminade in 2015. It’s been growing steadily since then, and got a permanent space in January 2017.
Dr. Helen Whippy, Chaminade Provost, said the center also practices what it preaches. Hattori and her team are always looking to build on their own skills to improve professional development programming and they’re seeking out new ways to further Chaminade’s vision and to bolster student achievement.
“We know that the more faculty development there is, the better the academic outcomes for our students will be,” Whippy said. “Our goal is not only to help better prepare today’s students, but ensure we’re continually improving teaching practice at Chaminade to be ready for tomorrow’s challenges and opportunities.”
For Davidson, the next priorities for the center are expanding professional development offerings around “culturally sustaining” teaching and learning and looking for ways to measure the impact of professional development on student success.
At the core of all the work the center does, she added, is an appreciation that Chaminade faculty share a common goal: To help students thrive. “There truly is a sense of ‘ohana here,” she said. “Faculty and staff really try to live up to the mission.”