Jessica Snow, Taylor Institute for Teaching and Learning
Jan. 22, 2018
Taylor Institute launches innovative certificate programs in university teaching and learning
The Taylor Institute for Teaching and Learning has launched two new certificate programs in University Teaching and Learning for graduate students and postdoctoral scholars. Structured for completion within one to two years, these comprehensive, non-credit certificates provide participants with evidence-based teaching strategies and practical, flexible skills that are relevant across disciplines.
Offered in the Taylor Institute for Teaching and Learning building, the certificates give participants a unique opportunity to develop their teaching in one of the most innovative learning spaces in Canada, and to experiment with digital pedagogies.
Nancy Chick, academic director of the Taylor Institute, identifies the certificate’s many potential benefits. “Certificate programs offer opportunities to earn credentials that complement a main area of study,” she explains. “The Taylor Institute is offering these certificates in University Teaching and Learning so that graduate students and postdoctoral scholars can enhance their knowledge about and practice of teaching. The certificates can supplement their teaching assignments in their home departments, or offer valuable teaching experience when there is none available in their current circumstances.”
How it works
Participants can take designated workshops from the Taylor Institute’s five teaching and learning development programs:
- Emerging Teachers Development
- Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL) Foundations
- Learning Spaces and Digital Pedagogy
- Theories and Issues in Postsecondary Learning and Teaching
- Developing Your Teaching Dossier
Upon completing each of the teaching developing programs, participants become eligible for a digital badge — or microcredential — that can be posted to a digital résumé or LinkedIn account. After earning all five badges, participants may apply for the certificate.
Participants can complete the entire program in one to two years, depending on their schedules. Enrollment is ongoing and participants can complete one badge at a time or multiple badges simultaneously for complete flexibility.
Certificate for grad students
Kimberley Grant, leading the graduate students’ certificate program, says, “the certificate program offers unique opportunities for graduate students to engage in meaningful conversations about teaching and learning with their peers from across campus.”
Tara Christie, the manager of My GradSkills, also sees the certificate’s distinct potential for graduate student teaching development. “This certificate is unique among other My GradSkills endorsed programming in that it requires a demonstration of competency through group discussions, reflective statements, innovation, and writing of teaching philosophy statements,” she says.
Brit Paris, president of the Graduate Students’ Association and graduate student in the Werklund School of Education, makes note of the certificate’s accommodating nature. She says, “The flexibility of the program is unique in that students are able to complete the program in a way that suits their own goals and schedules.”
Certificate for postdocs
Lorelli Nowell, the postdoctoral scholars certificate program lead, says, “The postdoc certificate program provides opportunities for postdocs to network and build community with other postdocs across campus as they develop practical, flexible, and adaptable teaching and learning skills that are relevant across disciplines and career trajectories.”
Likewise, Carolyn Emery, the director of the University of Calgary’s postdoctoral program, argues for this section’s importance within a professional context for postdoctoral scholars on campus. She says, “Earning a teaching certificate would allow postdoctoral scholars to document their participation in the program and demonstrate their commitment to teaching excellence and professional development, qualities that are becoming increasingly important in the competitive job market.”
Customizable programs can be tailored for distinct groups
By offering two certificate programs in university teaching and learning — one for graduate students and one for postdoctoral scholars — the unique needs and interests of each group can be met.
- Photo below: Lorelli Nowell, the postdoctoral scholars certificate program lead, and Kimberley Grant, the graduate students’ certificate program lead. Photo by Jessica Snow, Taylor Institute for Teaching and Learning