Improving Teaching and Learning at UW-Stevens
Teaching Partners at UW-Stevens Point are faculty and teaching academic
staff who are paired and asked to begin a discussion about teaching and
learning. With the assistance of their partner, they learn a process to help
begin critically evaluating their own teaching practices. Partners are paired
across disciplines to give them an opportunity to meet colleagues in a field
outside of their own and to be exposed to new teaching perspectives.
Participants generally agree that taking part in this program:
- increases their perceptions about the importance of teaching as it relates
to their job
- helps develop a greater sense of collegiality and community with their
partner and within the college
- initiates critical reflection on the meanings, intentions and beliefs that
drive their teaching and learning practice
The Teaching Partners program respects the autonomy of each faculty member
as each partner's work is directed toward reaching the goals that they set for
themselves. Collaboration and collegiality are at its heart and are supported
through many structured and unstructured discussion opportunities during the
Initiated by the College of Professional Studies in 1993 this program has
served more than 90% of the college faculty and is now being implemented in
other colleges on campus. For more information please contact the program
coordinators, Donna Zimmerman at 715-346-4426
or Kristi Roth at 715-346-2889
- CPS faculty/staff perceptions about the importance of the teaching component
of their positions will increase.
- CPS faculty/staff will develop a greater sense of collegiality and community
as they focus together on teaching and learning.
- CPS faculty/staff will more critically reflect with others about teaching
and learning, thinking not only about practice but the
meanings/intentions/beliefs that drive their practice.
The rationale for the Teaching Partners program reflects the work of
Wildman and Niles (1987) who concluded that three conditions are necessary in
order to bring about change in the process of teaching.
- Autonomy: participants must have substantial freedom to direct their own
- Collaboration: Collegial collaboration breaks the grip of psychological
isolation from other professionals that often characterizes the workplace.
- Time: Efforts at professional development that ignore the fundamental
relationship between time and complex learning are likely to yield negligible or
even negative results.
The Teaching Partners program reflects these three conditions. The program
respects the autonomy of the individual faculty member as each partner’s work is
directed toward reaching his/her own goals. This collaborative program stretches
over an academic year, recognizing the fact that there are no “quick-fixes” when
making changes toward teaching improvment.
The Teaching Partners program is based upon the following
- Effective teaching can be identified.
- Effective teaching comes about over time through reflection and
- All teachers involved in this process want to be the most effective teachers
they can be.
- All teachers, even those considered the very best, can become more
- Dean and coordinator (Kristi Roth) invite 10 faculty/staff to participate
and select pairs.
- Fall meeting introduces the process.
- Partners meet, choose one course on which to focus, discuss the course, its
goals, methods tried.
- Each semester, partners visit each others’ chosen class while the teacher is
out of the room and work with the students to solicit helpful information about
what is and is not facilitating their learning (Student-Guided Instructional
- Partners share information from students and discuss possibilities. Faculty
makes some changes and explains to class why others cannot be made.
- Partners meet again in January and in May to discuss teaching topics.
Additional seminars may be scheduled.
- Partners have access to $100 each for their professional use; the college
funds two partners attendance at a teaching conference; teaching journals are
circulated among the group; Partners are added to the UWSP listserv on