Tuesday, April 23, 2024

Development programs provide UTSA faculty with resources to deepen student engagement

Development programs provide UTSA faculty with resources to deepen student engagement

Uchenna Emenaha, assistant professor in the College of Education and Human Development’s Department of Interdisciplinary Learning and Teaching, held a “Planning with Purpose” game night made possible by Academic Innovation's First-Year Student Experience and Faculty Engagement Mini-Grant.

MAY 11, 2022 — The UTSA Office of Academic Innovation has supported more than 1,000 faculty participants and invested more than $1.1 million in professional development initiatives since the summer 2021 semester.

Through different courses, grants and mentoring programs, participating faculty have a unique opportunity to enhance their teaching skills, expand their knowledge and foster personal development. With a focus on innovation and inclusivity, these courses also help professors better adapt to teaching across modalities. Academic Innovation created or administered the programs in partnership with such organizations as the Association of College and University Educators (ACUE), the Academy of Distinguished Teaching Scholars (ADTS), Adobe and various departments across campus.

“The ACUE Effective Teaching Practices course has provided me with many new strategies and ideas to bring to the classroom,” said Janis Bush, professor and chair of the UTSA Department of Integrative Biology. “These strategies promote student engagement and the diversity of thought and inclusion practices. I have been teaching for over 40 years, and over this time students have changed and the way they learn has changed. This course has helped me grow with the changing learning environment.”


“We’re committed to investing in programs that help our faculty continue to become more empowered in their courses and careers.”



As of summer 2021, faculty members have dedicated more than 18,000 cumulative hours of learning across the following programs and initiatives:

  • Teaching and Learning Reimagined: Provided seed funding for 43 participating faculty across 26 projects, allowing them to experiment with new teaching practices with a focus on technology integration and collaboration across colleges and disciplines.

  • Strategies for Teaching, Assessment and Retention Grant: In partnership with the ADTS at UTSA, encourages the development of evidence-based teaching practices to increase student engagement and equitable learning.

  • First-Year Student Experience and Faculty Engagement Mini-Grant Program: In partnership with the UTSA Office of Student Success, supports the creation of impactful activities for students outside of the classroom to build a sense of belonging for first-year students.

  • ACUE Effective Teaching Practices, Effective Online Teaching Practices, and Inclusive Teaching for Equitable Learning: Contain modules focused on instructional design and teaching approaches that improve engagement, encourage deeper learning and promote equity in the classroom.

  • Innovation Academy: Helps faculty incorporate technology into their classrooms, build on their teaching skills and tailors their instructional methods for different modalities.

  • Ally Pilot: Increases inclusivity and user-friendliness in the classroom by incorporating Ally, an automated tool that offers real-time feedback on the accessibility of course materials.

  • Adobe Institute: A modular program that familiarizes faculty with Adobe tools like Photoshop, Illustrator and Behance and helps integrate these tools into their classes, increasing digital literacy for both teachers and students.

  • Teaching, Learning and Digital Transformation: Held 50 workshops focused on inclusive teaching, digital accessibility, Universal Design for Learning, digital fluency and pedagogical innovation. The workshops were conducted in-person, online or in a hyflex modality, depending on their subject matter.

"Through these programs and individual consultations, our team helps faculty achieve their goals and enhance their courses and student engagement strategies,” said Marcela Ramirez, associate vice provost for teaching, learning and digital transformation. “We have designed these programs to respond to faculty’s direct needs as well as help them better showcase their individual expertise.”

These programs and initiatives are in addition to the peer-to-peer learning and mentorship offered by the college faculty champions. Some of the professional development opportunities promoted through this group have been focused on effective course design, assessment strategies to promote student engagement, and well-being and mental health.

The Academic Innovation team is also collaborating with faculty in the design and development of courses offered in all modalities, with a focus on quality standards for a continuous improved education.

UTSA graduate students have also benefitted from Academic Innovation’s professional development initiatives. More than 200 graduate students have developed their teaching skills in the Roadrunner Assistantship Academy, Adobe Graduate Institute and other programs.

It is the students who ultimately benefit from the skills that faculty gain from participating in these programs. For example, according to a study conducted by Adobe and Civitas Learning, UTSA undergraduate students enrolled in classes with Adobe tools included in the curriculum had a .23 higher average grade on a 4.0 scale than peers enrolled in courses that did not use Adobe tools. Students enrolled in courses that used Adobe tools were also more likely to reenroll at UTSA from term to term.

“We want ensure that faculty have the necessary resources to provide an enriching learning experience for students,” said Melissa Vito, vice provost for academic innovation. “We’re committed to investing in programs that help our faculty continue to become more empowered in their courses and careers.”

Academic Innovation, a division of Academic Affairs, supports faculty development and works with colleges and departments across campus to create new and dynamic learning experiences to promote student success.


EXPLORE FURTHER
⇒ Learn more Academic Innovation at UTSA.

UTSA is a Tier One research university and a Hispanic Serving Institution that is committed to adopting innovative practices to ensure graduates have the competitive edge to succeed in a rapidly evolving workforce. As an Adobe Creative Campus, UTSA is transforming education through creative digital empowerment.

The university recruits highly sought-after faculty members who are nationally and internationally recognized in their fields. Through teaching, research and serving in the community, faculty members play a major role in ensuring that excellence, discovery and innovation thrive at UTSA.

Chloe Johnson



UTSA Today is produced by University Strategic Communications,
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of The University of Texas at San Antonio.

Send your feedback to news@utsa.edu.


UTSA Today is produced by University Communications and Marketing, the official news source of The University of Texas at San Antonio. Send your feedback to news@utsa.edu. Keep up-to-date on UTSA news by visiting UTSA Today. Connect with UTSA online at Facebook, Twitter, Youtube and Instagram.


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UTSA’s Mission

The University of Texas at San Antonio is dedicated to the advancement of knowledge through research and discovery, teaching and learning, community engagement and public service. As an institution of access and excellence, UTSA embraces multicultural traditions and serves as a center for intellectual and creative resources as well as a catalyst for socioeconomic development and the commercialization of intellectual property - for Texas, the nation and the world.

UTSA’s Vision

To be a premier public research university, providing access to educational excellence and preparing citizen leaders for the global environment.

UTSA’s Core Values

We encourage an environment of dialogue and discovery, where integrity, excellence, inclusiveness, respect, collaboration and innovation are fostered.

UTSA’S Destinations

UTSA is a proud Hispanic Serving Institution (HSI) as designated by the U.S. Department of Education .

Our Commitment to Inclusivity

The University of Texas at San Antonio, a Hispanic Serving Institution situated in a global city that has been a crossroads of peoples and cultures for centuries, values diversity and inclusion in all aspects of university life. As an institution expressly founded to advance the education of Mexican Americans and other underserved communities, our university is committed to promoting access for all. UTSA, a premier public research university, fosters academic excellence through a community of dialogue, discovery and innovation that embraces the uniqueness of each voice.