Your faculty are the lifeblood of your institution. They are directly responsible for delivering the top-of-the-line knowledge and training your school promises its students. It’s their passion, hard work and authentic interactions that help uphold the reputation your institution was built on.
These scholars are some of the best minds in their respective fields. But with technology and learning experiences evolving each year, it’s unreasonable to expect them to keep abreast of all of the latest trends and teaching strategies without the proper preparation. In order to empower them to provide the best education for students, you need to invest in the best training for them.
Faculty training and development is often overlooked at the collegiate level, but as higher education pedagogies are rapidly evolving, it is becoming more and more crucial. To learn more about the topic, we enlisted Tim Loatman, Director of Academic Services at Collegis Education, to discuss the importance of investing in your instructors, and the advantages that come with it.
The benefits of investing in faculty training and development
Higher education faculty have literally built their careers around learning, so they understand the importance of continual education. Many instructors will take it upon themselves to seek out learning opportunities if they aren’t provided the options by their institution. But in today’s ever-evolving higher education landscape, schools are beginning to recognize the importance of investing in faculty training.
“Faculty attend conferences, read industry publications and exchange best practices with their personal teaching circles,” Loatman explains. “But as technology rapidly changes and institutions seek to leave their pedagogical mark on student bodies, you see more and more institutions leading the charge with training.”
When an institution takes the lead in offering training and development opportunities for faculty, the impact is widespread. Learn about some of the notable advantages:
1. Instructors are equipped to adapt to new teaching methods
In today’s new normal, this may be the most obvious benefit to schools. Distance learning options have been on the rise for the past few years, but that shift has been vastly accelerated due to pandemic restrictions in place.
Institutions have been forced to embrace new technologies and learning modalities in order to continue delivering the quality education their students deserve. But you can’t expect instructors to succeed in these situations without the proper training. By proactively investing in faculty training and development, you can prepare your instructors to thrive in innovative environments.
2. Consistent student experiences can be established and maintained
Providing training across all faculty can help foster a consistency across the institution – one that strengthens the school’s brand and student experience.
One of the most overlooked benefits of faculty training and development is a consistent and quality student experienceTim Loatman
Loatman goes on to explain that the faculty at any given school is extremely diverse – which is a huge benefit to students. But allowing every instructor to structure things in different ways makes things more difficult for students.
“Universities can embrace this diversity while still having their own stamp on instruction,” Loatman says. “Training and development can help marry the diversity of instruction with a consistent institutional thread that students will appreciate and expect.”
3. Institutional leaders are cultivated
By offering ongoing training opportunities for faculty, you’re gradually building a deep bench of talented leaders who are equipped and excited to take on new roles or responsibilities. If you are investing in the development of your existing faculty, they can naturally advance into leadership roles as they arise.
Whether you’re in need of a new department dean or someone to lead a taskforce committee on campus, you’ll have a pool of internal talent to choose from. This is especially helpful given the recent trend of shorter periods of tenure.
4. Faculty burnout is less likely
Faculty burnout has always been an issue in higher education, but the threat is even bigger in this current environment. There are several factors that can contribute to feelings of burnout, and some of them can be minimized by offering proper training and professional development opportunities.
These initiatives help equip instructors with successful strategies and techniques to teach more effectively, avoiding some of the stress involved with planning and delivering information in a new way. Aside from the practical benefits to improving their daily responsibilities, faculty also feel more valued and appreciated when their institution prioritizes their professional growth. Generally speaking, there is a strong correlation between training and job satisfaction.
5. Internal advocates can help influence other associates
In addition to institution-wide training, it’s also beneficial to offer more personalized professional growth opportunities to certain faculty members. By identifying individuals who are passionate about a particular area of development, you can establish subject matter experts who can circulate their knowledge to their peers.
“The best faculty training involves faculty in the deployment and creation,” Loatman says. “Faculty who become early adopters and are actually involved in contributing to the training of others will bolster engagement and contribute to skill acquisition.”
Consider the following example: A standout professor at your school expresses her passion for exploring ways to implement new technology and media in the classroom. By sending her to a seminar on the subject, she can expand her knowledge on the topic and bring that back to share practical examples with her fellow faculty members.
6. Improved student outcomes
It’s true that faculty development benefits the professors and institutions a great deal, but it doesn’t stop there.
The biggest winner in this scenario is the students. At the end of the day, that's what higher ed is all about.Tim Loatman
Think of how athletic coaches are constantly studying and perfecting new coaching strategies and training techniques to elicit the best possible performance from their players. Improving an instructor’s ability to educate can similarly lead to better student performance.
Research suggests that investing in faculty development can result in higher grades among students. By implementing more effective teaching strategies, students are able to absorb more of the subject matter.
Invest in your faculty
Prioritizing faculty training and development is a win-win scenario. When faculty teach more effectively, students perform better in the classroom. And when students excel, institutions thrive.
“Faculty development helps ensure consistent quality in the classroom, which leads to happy students who get the most out of their learning experiences,” Loatman says.
Don’t leave your faculty members to fend for themselves. Cultivating a culture of continual learning will benefit all aspects of your institution.