Campus News - December 10, 2001

CASTL on the UNM landscape

By Carolyn Gonzales

Program Development and Support Clare Stott and Deese-Roberts (standing) look at web designs. Stott, a UNM anthropology graduate, is the only full-time CASTL staff.  Photo by Carolyn Gonzales.CASTL, the Center for the Advancement of Scholarship in Teaching and Learning, Susan Deese-Roberts, director, is open in the Communication and Journalism (C&J) building, room 158.

CASTL helps faculty develop teaching skills and a greater understanding about teaching and learning in the classroom. By Feb. 1, it will also be able to offer a place for Faculty Senate committees and other faculty groups to meet.

Jean Civikly-Powell, director, Faculty Dispute Resolution and C&J professor emeritus, served as interim director and chair of the task force to create the program. She was also instrumental in finding a space on campus to build CASTL, says Deese-Roberts.
Deese-Roberts serves as the program’s first selected director, a 2/3-time appointment, allowing Deese-Roberts to retain a 1/3-time position as a faculty member in the General Library.

Deese-Roberts, who earned her both her master’s and PhD in adult education from UNM, sees a natural connection and progression to CASTL from her role in the library for the last 20 years. “The library offered so many opportunities to be engaged in both teaching and learning. The connection between the library and CASTL is close because both engage in student learning and faculty development,” says Deese-Roberts.

She is a certified trainer in learning styles and curriculum design and has provided training for public schools and other post-secondary institutions in New Mexico and regionally.

Because Civikly-Powell was so deeply involved in faculty and teaching assistant development, CASTL has the progress of the past to build upon. CASTL during its first year. Nancy Uscher, associate provost, Academic Affairs, appointed Leslie Oakes, Anderson Schools of Management, outcomes assessment coordinator with a CASTL assignment.

“These are formal methods to assess student learning – and teaching, to a lesser degree. Accrediting agencies are calling for formal university assessment projects, which is driving some schools and colleges to contact us,” says Deese-Roberts, adding that outcomes assessment is a natural extension of the student learning process.

Looking at outcomes from a retention perspective, Deese-Roberts says they’re focused on the question, “What can we do at the undergraduate level to insure that we’re providing a quality education and keeping the students engaged?”

“Outcomes assessment looks at how students progress through the university, including what employers say about graduates,” she adds.

The scholarship of teaching refers to the study of teaching practices and effectiveness and incorporates the scholarship of discovery, application and teaching. Some campuses have had CASTL-like programs for 30 years as university populations became more diverse, says Deese-Roberts. “Recent centers are reactions to retention issues and national reform efforts to look at undergraduate education. CASTL will help faculty learn more about and adapt to classroom needs,” she says.

Deese-Roberts says that the national trend at research universities is to look at the teaching mission. “The goal is not to reduce or be competitive with research, but rather to place, or retain teaching on equal ground with universities’ research mission,” she says.

CASTL will take advantage of a Preparing Future Faculty grant won by C&J that will allow them to expand orientation projects.

Deese-Roberts anticipates expanding the program by adding six to eight lunchtime presentations during the academic year.

They will also be developing a website. “It will be more than a web page. It will offer faculty development information,” says Deese-Roberts.

“We have the full support of administration, especially through Associate Provost Nancy Uscher,” she says. CASTL is built into the strategic plan, particularly with service learning and partnerships.

Deese-Roberts says she has faculty support. “It will take two to four years to establish as strong a program as we envision,” she says. Since she still has 1/3-time in the library she still will provide instructional sessions and work on the reference desk.

“It’s the next best thing to being in the classroom,” she says.

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