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Two-day workshop launches Faculty of Science teaching program

C-LAB offers faculty members teaching support and practice
June 26, 2014

2014 C-LAB facilitators and participants (from left): Leslie Reid, Cindy Graham, Jessica Theodor, Nicole Sandblom, Bill Huddleston, Rob Edwards, Amy Warren, Catherine Wagg, Nicole Fernandez, Peter Hoyer, Mea Wang and Dave Feder. Photo by David Bininda

This June the Faculty of Science kicked off the second year of its innovative teaching development program, C-LAB, with ten academic staff attending a two-day workshop.

C-LAB (Classroom Learn Assess Build) is an intensive 12-month program that offers faculty members the opportunity to design, implement and evaluate a teaching and learning research project – turning their classroom into a lab in order to become better educators.

By the end of the workshop, each of the participants had learned fundamentals of course and unit design, identified a course for modification, and determined the general scope of his/her research project. Through July and August, the C-LAB group will meet regularly with program facilitators, Cindy Graham and Leslie Reid, both associate deans in the Faculty of Science. “The purpose of these meetings is two-fold,” says Graham. “Participants report on the progress of their research project, and as a group, they give and receive feedback on their ideas and discuss any challenges they encounter during the design phase.” 

Three of this year’s C-LAB participants are from the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine: Catherine Wagg, Nicole Fernandez and Amy Warren are co-instructors of the Introduction to Clinical Pathology course. They learned about the program through the University of Calgary Conference on Postsecondary Learning and Teaching in May. “The three of us have taught clinical pathology many times,” says Wagg. “We thought C-LAB would be a great fit as we’re interested in modifying the course based on current education research.”

Fernandez and Warren agree. “We’re already using some teaching strategies we consider innovative. C-LAB will help us learn how to evaluate them to ensure they’re actually working for our students,” says Fernandez. “We also want to investigate how to keep our students’ motivation to learn going through the whole course,” adds Warren.

All three are looking to C-LAB to help them strengthen their teaching skills. Ultimately, what they learn through the program will help them create a better learning environment, one in which their students will be more efficient learners and acquire life-long critical thinking skills in veterinary clinical pathology.

The other C-LAB participants are from the departments of physics and astronomy, biological sciences, computer science, and chemistry. Wagg, Fernandez and Warren are looking forward to their meetings with these colleagues and having time to discuss and reflect on teaching in a supportive environment.

This is the second year the Faculty of Science has offered C-LAB to its academic staff. Reid says, “We have another great cohort in this year’s program and both Cindy and I are glad we had space available for our colleagues in veterinary medicine. The addition of instructors from another faculty will enhance the cross-discipline perspective on teaching for our other science participants.”

Stories on the launch and the pilot phase of the C-LAB program have run previously in UToday. Through the summer a series of articles will profile other C-LAB participants and their teaching research projects.