Taylor Institute for Teaching and Learning
Aug. 23, 2023
'Strategies you can use': Engineering prof finds value in teaching and learning certificate
It’s about that time of year again — when thousands of students descend on campuses to further their education, led by skilled and knowledgeable instructors across faculties. For some of these instructors, it might be the first time they are standing in front of hundreds of eager faces, waiting to learn. Sound a bit nerve-racking...and exciting?
Programs like the Academic Staff Certificate in University Teaching at the Taylor Institute for Teaching and Learning (TI) aim to help course instructors at any career stage develop skills and confidence in supporting student learning and engagement. For one such instructor, it was one of the more valuable things he’s done in his development.
“I think people don’t realize the importance of taking the courses and the resources available at UCalgary,” says Dr. Estacio Pereira, PhD, assistant professor (teaching) in civil engineering.
“We don’t get training to be a professor. You finish your PhD, you’re working alone, maybe you had TA experience or not, and then you face a large class of students and have to figure out how to engage them to learn.”
Pereira came to UCalgary in 2021, joining the campus from previous roles at Nottingham University and the University of Alberta. At each institution, he completed a university teaching certificate, giving him a unique insight into teaching approaches and views across multiple universities. When he got settled at UCalgary, he searched through the TI’s website to find a similar offering here.
“I was really impressed by the University of Calgary,” he says. “The Inquiry and Scholarship in Teaching and Learning course was one I hadn’t had the opportunity to take. The certificate showed me how I can use my course as a lab to improve my teaching skills.”
Pereira leveraged the courses as spaces to advance his academic practices while engaging in professional learning, from a grant application to a teaching dossier that he got feedback on from colleagues and instructors.
The Academic Staff Certificate is cohort-based, building a campus network along with experience, goals and teaching expertise. Participants can apply for the certificate when they have completed any two courses offered through the TI, a new change this fall to help simplify the certificate requirements. Courses include Blended and Online Learning, Educational Leadership and Mentorship, Inquiry and Scholarship in Teaching and Learning, and Teaching and Learning Practices, Theories and Assessments.
“These courses are really important to understand the scholarship of teaching and learning,” he says. “The TI provides you with supports and strategies you can use. It’s easy to put the burden on the students to engage with you — but what are you doing to make it engaging for them?”