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Capital University News, California State University, Sacramento

August 28, 2003

‘Back to school’ for faculty

College students won’t be the only ones taking classes this fall at CSUS. Many of their professors will be getting lessons as well, often in the art of teaching.

Rosemary Papalewis, director of the Center for Teaching and Learning, gives new faculty a primer on what they can expect from CSUS students.
Rosemary Papalewis, director of the Center for Teaching and Learning, gives new faculty a primer on what they can expect from CSUS students.

That’s the focus of the Center for Teaching and Learning, the University’s own “faculty homeroom” that offers one-on-one lessons ranging from technology tools to teaching strategies.

The center coordinates a faculty mentoring program, offers occasional workshops and provides special sessions for departments. Faculty are also free to visit the center and experiment on their own with a variety of teaching techniques and technologies or try out a small version of a “smart” classroom – one with an array of the latest teaching technology. Most of the work involves professors volunteering to work directly with other professors.

“This is all about faculty helping faculty with whatever they need to become that inspiring teacher we all strive to be,” says the center’s director, Rosemary Papalewis.

Every fall, the center also helps the University present a special “newcomers class,” a series of events held this year Aug. 24-27. In addition to an introductory barbecue and standard “new hire” paperwork, many of the University’s 110 new professors spent a day hearing presentations on creating a syllabus, expanding their teaching strategies, enrollment and other class management issues, shared governance, service learning, and more.

That such a center is so prominent here reflects the University’s historical dedication to quality teaching.

More than research, writing or anything else the role of a faculty member entails, CSUS expects its professors to be great teachers. The hundreds of new professors hired in the last few years all heard that in their interviews, and they all feel the expectation from seasoned professors after they come on board.

In fact, effective teaching is the most decisive factor when academic departments consider granting tenure.

“If you aren’t a good teacher, you will not get tenure,” Papalewis says. “I tell new professors that students here are very demanding as far as the classroom experience. They trust that the professor knows the content – they’ll give the professor that. But our students are very demanding about how professors organize the material and how well they teach it.”

Papalewis, who directs the center along with center associate Mark Stoner and a staff of two, says professors often ask for help interpreting student evaluations and making classes more interactive. In addition to one-on-one help, the center has a large collection of books and journals on teaching strategy – and it gives away books to faculty.

“We encourage people to take risks in their teaching. We want them to try new strategies and always keep improving,” Papalewis says. “And it certainly isn’t just new faculty we see. We have people who have been here a long time and who are very good teachers who just always strive to get better. Our motto is, as William A. Ward said, “The teacher tells, the good teacher explains, the superior teacher demonstrates, and the great teacher inspires.”

For more information contact the Center for Teaching and Learning at 278-5945 or visit www.csus.edu/ctl.

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California State University, Sacramento • Public Affairs
6000 J Street • Sacramento, CA 95819-6026 • (916) 278-6156 • infodesk@csus.edu
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California State University, Sacramento • Public Affairs
6000 J Street • Sacramento, CA 95819-6026 • (916) 278-6156 • infodesk@csus.edu