Support for new faculty

At the start of the new academic year, it’s not only students we welcome to the UBC academic community — we also have many faculty who are new to UBC or new to teaching.

In this edition of Edubytes newsletter, our guest editors Kele Fleming and Emily Renoe highlight some of the ways that the Centre for Teaching, Learning and Technology (CTLT) supports career development and community building for new faculty. Kele Fleming is CTLT Associate Director, Teaching and Learning Professional Development, and Emily Renoe is Senior Educational Consultant and Program Lead for the Teaching Development Program for New Faculty.

New faculty — career development and community-building

The CTLT offers a range of professional development opportunities for UBC faculty throughout the academic year. These opportunities include consultations, coaching, community meetings, workshops, seminars and cohort programs, and are aimed at supporting faculty on their teaching skills development journey.

A 2017 review of our professional development curriculum, which included interviews and focus groups with faculty at diverse stages in their careers, revealed that more focus was needed to support those who were newer to teaching. One of the outcomes of that review was the 2019 launch of the Teaching Development Program (TDP) for New Faculty.

About the TDP

The TDP for New Faculty is a cohort program that helps participants build a foundation for their teaching careers by providing a network of support around teaching and learning. Participants complete a combination of required (e.g., Instructional Skills Workshop) and elective components (e.g., Winter Institute workshops) over the nine-month program duration. The intended audience is faculty who are either new to teaching, new to UBC, or both.

Now about to kick-off with its third cohort, the TDP Program really encourages faculty to really make a shift in their teaching practice. Our goal is to encourage participants to reflect on effective teaching practices, to take into consideration how their students are feeling, to learn about Indigenous perspectives and inclusive teaching, to become more fluent in their use of learning technology in their teaching, and to engage with recent teaching and learning research.

“There have been a lot of different skills and experiences within the new faculty participating in the program, with participants from Applied Science to Arts to Medicine.

“It’s been amazing to see them network with peers from across the UBC community, outside of their departments. Also, to see them taking a variety of professional development workshops and building their program portfolio.

“It’s worth emphasizing that, like most of what we do at the CTLT, this program is a hugely collaborative effort. The consulting team includes contributors from the Indigenous Initiatives team, from the Equity and Inclusion Office, and people like myself from the CTLT, whose day-to-day work includes supporting faculty development with learning technologies. It’s a very diverse group of consultants that makes the program relevant for faculty members with different backgrounds.”

– Emily Renoe, TDP Program Lead

Supporting UBC’s strategic goals

The development of the TDP for New Faculty was informed by UBC’s strategic plan from its development to its delivery. The program aligns with the plan’s three themes of inclusion, collaboration and innovation, as well as with the core areas People and Places and Transformative Learning.

Specifically, the program fosters connections and builds a more resilient community at UBC, enhances diversity, encourages innovation, provides greater support for instructors, and immerses them in real-life learning to improve their teaching effectiveness in accordance with Strategy 11: Education Renewal. In addition, it supports Indigenous engagement as emphasized by Strategy 17.

Grounded in research

The program is also grounded in teaching and learning research and resources. In each cohort, participants are asked to read, reflect on, and discuss articles and research-related teaching practice.

Here’s a small sampling of the assigned readings and resources the TDP participants have engaged with over the last two cohorts:

Participant feedback

These video testimonials were captured after the first pilot cohort (2019–2020). In addition to either teaching for the first time ever or teaching for the first time at UBC, the new faculty who participated in the first TDP cohort also had to transition their teaching to a remote and virtual modality during the pandemic.


Kate Weinberger, Assistant Professor, School of Population and Public Health, UBC Vancouver and participant in the 2020–21 cohort

“I taught my first course at UBC online due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and I was so grateful for the support I received from the TDP community during such a challenging year. I would recommend the TDP to anyone who is looking for a supportive space in which to develop their teaching practice. The Instructional Skills Workshop was a particular highlight for me — like many people, I was apprehensive about receiving feedback on my teaching from my peers, but it turned out to be one of the most helpful and enjoyable parts of the program.”

Graham Hendra, Lecturer, Department of Mechanical Engineering, Faculty of Applied Science and participant in 2019–20 cohort

“The TDP helped connect me with other new faculty with a teaching interest and pushed me to try things that I would not have been able to justify making time for otherwise. My area of teaching (engineering) is fairly applied, so there were occasionally techniques intended for discussion-based classes which I found hard to translate to my context, but I found it helpful to view the program as a buffet: there are far too many new ideas for anyone to take up all at once, so take what you like and don’t feel pressure to try everything.

“Although I occasionally resented my past self for committing to a months-long program, the time commitment per month was quite reasonable. I left the program with a good understanding of the UBC teaching environment; a toolbox of new teaching techniques; a list of new contacts; and a substantial, cohesive professional development experience to highlight on my CV.”

More development resources for new faculty

Enjoyed reading about resources for new faculty? Learn about other topics we covered in the August 2021 edition by reading the complete Edubytes newsletter. To view past issues, visit the Edubytes archive.

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