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Encouraging Faculty Development using Blackboard Communities

Sandra Clarkson and Bill Williams (Statistics)

Professors Sandra Clarkson and Bill Williams coordinate STAT 113, a multi-section introductory statistics course taught by multiple instructors with a wide range of experiences and competencies. With 20 to 25 instructors per semester, many of them new, there is an ongoing need for training and assessment to ensure course quality. To address these issues, Professors Clarkson and Williams created a Blackboard community for instructors, using it as a vehicle for more experienced instructors to work with less experienced instructors.

The STAT 113 instructor community is intended to be a virtual space for discussing issues such as homework problems, model solutions, teaching practices, and classroom management.  STAT 113 instructors were asked to commit to posting their thoughts on the community discussion board and were encouraged to answer questions posted by other instructors.  In the spring semester, instructors will participate in developing a standardized bank of test questions from which future instructors will create their exams.  Professors Clarkson and Williams are now considering how to get adjunct instructors more involved in thinking about pedagogy and assessment, through additional training and the use of reflective blogs.