Schumann Combines Time Between College and Faculty Learning Center
The phrase “wearing many hats” is one that seems to have been written specifically about College of Business Administration professor David Schumann. In addition to the time he devotes to teaching the college’s doctoral students and Global Leadership Scholars, Schumann is now helping faculty from all colleges within the university to improve their teaching through his role as director of UT’s Tennessee Teaching and Learning Center (TENN TLC).
The center, established March 2009, provides university faculty with opportunities for personal and professional growth through programs, services, and resources that promote meaningful learning experiences for students. Their mission is to work with faculty to enhance professional teaching skills and knowledge, and to support the application of effective learning strategies in student-oriented environments. Through this process, students are given means to engage actively in the pursuit of learning at deeper levels of process, application, interpretation, critical evaluation, and creative thought.
“It is critical to work with faculty to develop better teaching methods to better engage students in their learning process,” says Schumann. The Tennessee Teaching and Learning Center (TENN TLC) is at the forefront of trying to facilitate creative ways of engaging students in their learning.”
UT had a learning center for faculty from 1965 to 1995, but the center’s work was mostly dedicated to research. Schumann and his staff studied 45 centers from across the country as they planned for the TENN TLC, an effort supported by both campus and College of Business Administration leadership. The center offers multiple services both to groups (colleges and department units) and to individual teaching faculty members (tenure track faculty, clinical faculty, lecturers, adjuncts, and graduate teaching assistants).
“At the heart of what we do is individual faculty consultation (coaching),” says Schumann, “and our work with faculty members is confidential. However, we also do a significant number of workshops for colleges or departments who have specific goals for their faculty. We’re also heavily involved in working with new faculty and graduate students who teach.”
While the center’s staff often works with new faculty as part of the provost’s orientation, they also encourage faculty of all experience levels to evaluate and improve the ways they teach their students. Schumann states that, “Today’s undergraduate is balking at sitting through long lectures. This traditional method of teaching, along with midterm and final exams, does not lead to retained learning. We need to consider methods that engage students at higher levels of learning. Such methods will result in greater retention of knowledge and the ability to apply that knowledge to address real-world problems. Ultimately, this will encourage a richer experience for both student and teacher.”
Schumann’s staff also recognizes the importance of learning that goes on outside the classroom. For example, they led a program at McClung museum this year for over 100 participants, showing them ways to incorporate the resources the museum offers into their classes’ learning experiences.
Schumann’s staff of the TENN TLC is not large (the center has a full-time assistant director, Taimi Olsen, and the rest of the staff are graduate students, interns, and a community scholar), but they are committed to responding to instructor needs despite their limited financial resources. Schumann recognizes the importance of the support he has received from College of Business Administration Dean Jan Williams. “We’re in the process of working with the college on the topic of multiculturalism in the classroom and are designing a faculty workshop to coincide with the colleges’ diversity initiatives,” says Schumann. “Our work would not be possible without the support of the university and the college,” Schumann says. “Jan Williams sees what a valuable resource the TENN TLC is for the faculty, and he’s proven that by supporting my leadership with the center even though the TENN TLC is for the entire university.” Other key supporters have been the provost and the university’s athletic department. However, once the current grants expire, the center will likely rely on private funding in order to continue many of its programs.For more information on TENN TLC, contact the assistant director, Dr. Taimi Olsen, at firstname.lastname@example.org.