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Targeting Excellence

New center puts faculty development resources in the bull’s-eye

By Katherine Dvorak

Nestled on the first floor of the Himmelfarb Health Sciences Library, the new Center for Faculty Excellence (CFE) at the George Washington University (GW) School of Medicine and Health Sciences (SMHS) gathers an array of the school’s faculty development resources in one place.  
“It’s a home for our teaching faculty; it brings together much of the professional staff and support required for them to participate in and contribute to the education goals of SMHS,” says Ellen Goldman, EdD ’05, MBA, assistant dean for faculty and curriculum development in medical education at SMHS, and professor of human and organizational learning in the GW Graduate School of Education and Human Development.

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The staff members working in CFE, says Goldman, have strong educational backgrounds and significant work experience in both classroom and online instructional design. They also are adept at developing and delivering leadership and other training programs, as well as designing and conducting research on teaching, learning, and leadership development.
“The Center for Faculty Excellence will build upon and expand current efforts at SMHS to advance the scholarship and practice of teaching. We’re proud to have a center that will be dedicated to those efforts,” says Jeffrey S. Akman, MD ’81, RESD ’85, vice president for health affairs, Walter A. Bloedorn Professor of Administrative Medicine, and dean of SMHS.
The CFE offers professional consultation and programs to enhance teaching and learning, educational leadership, education research, and career development.

The center has three aims: to support faculty in delivering high-quality, innovative teaching and learning experiences; to develop areas of inquiry that build education theory and advance education practice; and to promote the career development of faculty members and students as education leaders.
Some of the resources offered through the center, including the Master Teacher Leadership Development Program, peer reviews of teaching, and an annual education research grant program, have been around for several years; others are more recent.

One new offering is the SMHS Academy of Education Scholars, which started in September 2017 and is helping 10 faculty members pursue scholarship in teaching and learning. The Junior Faculty Career Exploration and Development Half-Day Program was offered for the first time in February and featured discussions on the future of academic health centers; the appointment, promotion, and tenure process and requirements; time management; mentoring do’s and don’ts; and exemplar career development examples. Another addition is the Fundamentals of Leadership Program, which started in January and is a one-year cohort-based program that meets monthly to help faculty with major project responsibilities across SMHS improve their effectiveness as leaders.

Many of the previously offered one-hour workshops have been overhauled. They are now delivered in collaboration with the departments, and new offerings have been added to address topics including teaching on the fly, making feedback stick, and maximizing case-based learning, Goldman notes.

In addition, the center’s website provides online modules to guide faculty through the design of a class session using active learning, as well as modules on research study design, methods, conduct, and publication. The center is also responsible for the online library guide on teamwork and team leadership.

Further, the center offers physical space where faculty visiting Ross Hall can work before they teach a class or attend a meeting.

The professional staff of the center are currently in the process of developing other programs and services. “We are committed to working with department chairs, division chiefs, program directors, course directors, and others to help advance the teaching, learning, and education research work that they’re doing,” Goldman says. “We’re committed to building the educational leadership capability in the school and are fortunate to have so many faculty who care very deeply about the quality of education offered at SMHS. Putting the resources to assist them under one roof is an important step forward.”