IITB Central Library 2.0 Service

IIT-M to focus on teaching skills of faculty

Posted on: December 9, 2010

By Times of India
CHENNAI: Acknowledged as a pioneer in moulding students to perform cutting-edge research in scientific fields, IIT-Madras is now focusing its attention on research in faculty development as well. The institute is all set to open a Centre for Teaching Excellence’ in a few months which is slated to develop into a centre for research focusing especially on trends in higher education, professor Ajit K Kolar, chairman, Centre for Continuing Education (CCE) said.

Speaking to TOI during the second edition of a faculty development programme organised for 35 faculty members from IIT-Madras, professor Kolar said, “Faculty members at all IITs have not had any training in teaching. We simply told them what we wanted them to learn and never gave any thought to the efficiency of our communication or whether students are really learning. But a lot of research has been done all over the world, especially in the United States, on the teaching-learning process. We have three experts, Dr Jeffrey Froud and Dr Chandrika Rajagopal from Texas A&M University, and Dr Prudence Merton from Dartmouth University, who will acquaint our faculty members with some of this research.”

Concepts like Active and Cooperative Learning’ wherein students are given the scope to discuss and learn from each other during a class or minute papers’, which require students to write down what they understood from a particular class within a minute, would be discussed, he added.

“When we talk about learning, it does not necessarily pertain to students alone. As teachers, we learn everyday. Normally, our student strength is about 450 but now it has doubled to 800 because of the reservation policy. So we are left to handle large classes with students from diverse socio-economic backgrounds with different levels of learning ability. We need to learn how to deal with that effectively,” Kolar noted.

Pointing out that the field of faculty development was only “about five years old,” Dr Merton from Dartmouth University said the idea behind the programme was to expose faculty to research that’s been done in this field and let them choose what would be best for them.

“There’s no prescriptive method. They will have to select what will work for them in their context. We are giving them a teaching tool kit from which tools can be chosen to help students learn effectively,” Dr Chandrika Rajagopal of Texas A&M University added.

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