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UW-EC to Add Teacher Training Center

July 1, 2008

By Simone Peloquin, The Leader-Telegram, Eau Claire, Wis.

Jul. 1–UW-Eau Claire will launch a new Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning next fall as the first step in a university strategic plan.

“We are really interested in seeing it go forward,” said Robert Eierman, interim director of the program. “It really fits the mission of the institution well.”

Eierman is a UW-Eau Claire chemistry professor who will serve as director of the program for one year. Eierman said people have responded well to the program.

“You have some faculty members here who have received their Ph.D.s but they haven’t had any education on how to teach,” he said. “It takes them a while to learn, and that’s what we’re all about. We want to help them get on their feet sooner and better with less pain.”

Cindy Albert, CETL instructional designer, said she hopes the programs can be inviting to new educators and offer a variety of programs.

Albert also said there has been a positive response and a number of congratulations on Eierman’s appointment as a full-time leader of the CETL.

“It shows a commitment from the campus with full-time leadership,” she said.

Both Eierman and Albert are brainstorming and in the planning and programming stages of the center that is set to begin next fall. They are also talking about forming an advisory board of faculty, staff and possibly students to discuss and give advice on where they would like to see the CETL go.

The center will be focused on enabling educators for more productive learning on campus. The CETL will build on the legacy from the Network for Excellence in Teaching. While NET was focused more on the technological aspects of teaching and learning, CETL will incorporate those technological aspects into a more well-rounded program. Pedagogical methods, basic teaching principles, and teaching and learning experience will be focused on in the CETL, which will be housed in the Old Library Room on UW-Eau Claire’s campus.

The center’s main goal is to facilitate teaching and learning issues all across the UW-Eau Claire campus.

Educators will have resources, meetings, special events and consultants they can turn to for training and support.

The CETL could include a community of practice, which will have faculty meet every two to three weeks during the course of a semester to discuss how classes are going; CETL fellows or veteran teachers who can mentor new teachers; orientation programs for new faculty members; as well as a Web site and newsletter.

Eierman said he also would like to see a program implemented in which the CETL will take proposals from faculty on projects they want to pursue in education. This is where students come in. Eierman said they want to engage students directly into the new center by making them a part of the advisory board, involving them in assessment activities and with testing out new materials, as they will ultimately be the consumers of the new center.

Eierman said the program was the culmination of the strategic plan of the university, and that most bigger universities have programs like this.

“There was a feeling among educators that the bigger ideas were not getting addressed,” he said. “The strategic plan will enable people to be more effective at teaching and learning.”

Eierman also said they will be able to try some new things out they have not been able to do before and gather data about how the program is doing.

Casey Sylla and his wife, Delores, have donated money for the new center.

Sylla is a UW-Eau Claire alumnus, vice president of the UW-Eau Claire Foundation board and president of Sylla and Associates of Barrington, Ill. Sylla and his wife, Delores, gave $100,000 to the UW-Eau Claire Foundation to support the CETL and to begin implementation of the university’s strategic plan.

“This will be a fresh start and we will be able to recognize success and see if we are making a positive impact and meeting needs,” Eierman said. “It is exciting.”

Peloquin can be reached at 833-9203 or simone. peloquin@ecpc.com.

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