UTODAY: Pilot year of innovative grad student program ends with celebration of teaching event

Faculty of Science, SAGES program supports students' teaching development


Faculty of Science SAGES Celebration event brought graduate student teaching scholars, faculty mentors and instructors together. Photo by David Bininda, Faculty of Science

Faculty of Science SAGES Celebration event brought graduate student teaching scholars, faculty mentors and instructors together.
Photo by David Bininda, Faculty of Science
By Susan Cannon, Faculty of Science
On June 29, faculty and students came together to celebrate the first cohort of the SAGES Program Teaching Scholars. SAGES, an innovative program in the Faculty of Science, stands for SoTL Advancing Graduate Education in STEM. This initiative provides graduate students with an opportunity to learn about the scholarship of teaching and learning (SoTL) through a semester-long course, followed by a practicum.

SAGES is supported by funding from the University of Calgary Teaching Scholars Program and the GSA Quality Money program. Isabelle Barrette-Ng, senior instructor in the Department of Biological Sciences, is the program director.

“SAGES builds on the great programming offered by the Taylor Institute and Faculty of Graduate Studies” says Barrette-Ng. “The 14 students in our pilot year took two newly-developed credit courses — the first in fall 2016 in which they learned about the scholarship of teaching and learning and evidence-based teaching strategies.

“Students also developed a SoTL research project in the fall,” Barrette-Ng adds. “And during the winter semester’s practicum course, they worked one-on-one with a faculty mentor on their project and also had the opportunity to teach in a course related to their discipline.”

Building a community

The success of the pilot year is due, in large part, to the efforts of a community of experts from across campus. Barrette-Ng recruited experienced faculty members from the Werklund School of Education and the faculties of Science and Arts. These instructors were joined by educational consultants from the Taylor Institute for Teaching and Learning, former and current graduate students and librarians to lead discussions and activities in the fall course.

At the Celebration event, each SAGES scholar presented a poster describing how they designed, implemented and assessed a novel teaching module in an undergraduate course using SoTL principles and in collaboration with a faculty mentor in the Faculty of Science.

Lesley Rigg, dean of the Faculty of Science, is thrilled with the program.

“I had the opportunity to look at the students’ posters and chat with some of them about their experience in SAGES. It’s clear to me this program has had a strong impact on these students as well as the faculty mentors who worked with them this past winter.”

“I’m proud of the strong culture of teaching and learning we have in our faculty,” adds Rigg. “Initiatives like SAGES help us create a culture where exploring learning and sharing teaching experiences with each other is part of our scholarly work.”

SAGES — Year Two

The deadline for the 2017-2018 program year has passed and 26 new participants will take part this fall.

“We evaluated the program over the pilot year, which included interviews of the graduate students, faculty mentors and course instructors,” says Barrette-Ng. “We’ve learned what worked for participants and where we can do some tweaking in the upcoming year of the program.”

“It’s been incredible working with everyone involved in SAGES and seeing our graduate students really grow as scholars,” she adds. “I’m excited to see what next year will bring!”

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