Academic Tuesdays: March 21, 2023

Madara Mason, associate director of teaching and learning at UAF.
Madara Mason, associate director of teaching and learning.

The Shape of Faculty Development at UAF

– By Madara Mason, associate director of teaching and learning

The Faculty Accelerator
I play many roles here at UAF, but the role that is most visible is the founding partner and lead for the Faculty Accelerator. It’s also a role that allows me to work across academic and institutional boundaries – a type of work I find immensely gratifying. The Accelerator is composed of partners (rather than a centralized office), with each partner providing opportunities for supporting teaching and learning, adjunct and TA needs, writing retreats, research and innovation, and networking.

The Accelerator operates on the idea that faculty development is most effective when we have interconnected and cross-functional teams composed of faculty, staff, and students. Our workshops are open to faculty and staff (unless otherwise indicated). We engage with students through programs such as Learner Advocacy Experience Program (LEAP). Our emerging partnerships with CenterICE, T3 Alaska, and the MIX will also increase the number of events focused on innovation.

Who Attends Development Events and Why?
We do our best to track attendance at our events including asking attendees to sign in using an online form and using that data to guide future decisions about events and programs to offer. We’ve recently worked with Institutional Research to create better data collection practices and one of the more interesting data points to emerge is that 70% of attendees in the last 18 months have been women. Other data collected includes our most recent faculty development survey in 2022, which garnered 112 faculty responses, with 58% tenure/tenure-track faculty, 36% term or adjunct faculty, and 6% “other” respondents. The top three reasons for attending an event were: innovative ideas, connections with colleagues, and teaching strategies and support. We'll be using this data as well as evidence-based scholarship of teaching and learning (SoTL) approaches to take a deeper look at our own programming and its impacts at UAF.

What’s Ahead?
NWCCU, in its distance education policy, has clarified that an accredited institution must establish policies to address regular and substantive interaction (RSI) in all distance courses. These requirements are based on the Higher Learning Commission’s 21st Century Distance Education Guidelines. Alex Fitts, vice provost and ALO, is working actively with the faculty senate to put this policy in place at UAF. In parallel, the faculty development team will be putting together resources, workshops and programs to support faculty in meeting and exceeding this new standard. The first session on this new rule and what it means for UAF courses will be April 10 from 1-2 p.m.., co-led by Executive Director of eCampus Jenn Pedersen. Reserve a seat for this session.

Finally, travel funds are still available for UNAC-represented faculty seeking development or conference opportunities outside of UAF. Please contact Jennifer Hoppough, faculty services manager, for more information. Faculty new-to-UAF or new-to-tenure track are encouraged to apply.

Have Ideas or Suggestions?
The Accelerator invites conversation from faculty, staff, and students, regardless of how crazy, expensive, or challenging they might feel (you can contact me directly at We aim to provide meaningful opportunities, and that meaning has to be provided by you.