By Nancy Koeneman
When the first all-campus faculty retreat on Teaching for Active Learning was held in January 1995, the response was so enthusiastic planners scheduled another for later that same year. Overall, more than 600 members of the UI faculty have participated in three retreats and offered rave reviews of the program.
The next retreat, "Active Learning: Tradition, Innovation and Technology," is scheduled from 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m Feb. 6. The faculty retreats help promote excellence in teaching through the use of active-learning strategies, providing an opportunity for faculty members from across campus to meet, discuss and learn about ways to improve teaching and learning. It also encourages faculty members to continue the dialogue after the retreat.
This year's keynote speaker is Barbara J. Millis, associate director for faculty development at the U.S. Air Force Academy. She received her Ph.D. in English from Florida State University and has served as assistant dean for faculty development at the University of Maryland, University College. Her fields of study include cooperative learning, peer classroom observations, the teaching portfolio and defining teaching excellence. Her keynote address, which will include interaction with the audience, will provide an overview of the instructional strategy of using small, goal-oriented groups, known as active learning.
"Active learning is a whole approach to teaching and learning that's different from the traditional method of teaching, the 'I talk, you listen' kind of thing," said Marne Helgesen, head of the Division of Instructional Development in the Office of Instructional Resources. Her department organizes the all-faculty retreats, an undertaking very few universities have the time and talent to manage she said.
Following the keynote address, concurrent sessions by UI faculty members will meet, allowing discussion of the struggles and successes of teaching. Several sessions will highlight the use of technology in the classroom.
Because of the increase in attendance, this year's retreat will take place at the Illini Union. In addition, a special session for deans, directors and department heads is slated for the morning of Feb. 7. Millis will conduct this special session on the topic of classroom observation and teaching evaluation.
The all-campus faculty retreat on Active Learning is supported by the Office of the Provost and 11 academic units
For more information about the retreat, see the Web site at: http://www.conted.ceps.uiuc.edu/retreat/.