The University of Georgia is moving forward with plans to create a new faculty mentorship program and introduce tools to allow a common course evaluation. The plans stem from the final report of the President’s Task Force on Student Learning and Success, which included 12 recommendations to enhance the undergraduate learning environment at UGA.
A working group comprised of six members of the UGA Teaching Academy, a longstanding community of faculty devoted to promoting teaching excellence, will develop proposals for the new initiative. Academy members William Vencill, who serves as the university’s associate vice president for instruction, and Marisa Pagnattaro, associate dean for research and graduate programs in the UGA Terry College of Business, will co-chair the working group.
The focus of the faculty mentorship program will be on expanding peer evaluation across campus to further promote teaching excellence, support faculty growth and development, and measure student learning in the classroom. The working group will develop a framework for faculty leaders both to assess existing evaluation processes and to pilot new peer evaluation methods specific to their school or college.
“Developing a collaborative process for peer mentoring and evaluation is essential to the professional growth of our faculty as instructors,” said Vencill. “Faculty-to-faculty guidance through the mentoring and evaluation process will fundamentally and positively change instruction across all schools and colleges.
Administrators and pedagogy experts will be able to support the peer evaluation and mentoring process by encouraging opportunities for formative assessment practices, developing clear expectations for teaching effectiveness, sponsoring a process to support teaching skill development and structuring opportunities for confidential peer feedback.
“As we launch this new working group, we are looking for early adopters to pilot the process and help us identify the best structure for faculty to develop helpful assessment practices,” said Pagnattaro. “We will look to them as the leaders in this endeavor to improve the learning experience for our students.”
As part of its charge, the working group also will explore using a centralized, end-of-course evaluation system to elicit valuable student feedback for improving the quality of courses and elevating student learning and success.
“Identifying and strengthening mechanisms to promote effective teaching through peer mentoring and evaluation is crucial to expanding our faculty’s professional development,” said Vice President for Instruction Rahul Shrivastav. “More informed data from these mechanisms will yield lasting, measurable impacts on instruction.”
The Task Force on Student Learning and Success, co-chaired by Shrivastav and Vice President for Student Affairs Victor Wilson, was charged last February with taking a fresh look at the university’s undergraduate learning environment to identify new opportunities to further enhance the educational experience, inside and outside the classroom, for UGA students.
The task force, comprised of a 20-member committee including senior faculty and administrators from a number of schools, colleges and units, provided 12 recommendations that were organized into three broad objectives: evolving the curriculum, enhancing teaching and learning, and expanding student support and mentoring.
A full copy of the report is available for review at https://president.uga.edu/archive/.
Peer Mentoring Working Group
- Marisa Pagnattaro (Co-chair), Associate Dean for Research and Graduate Programs, Terry College of Business
- Bill Vencill (Co-chair), Associate VP for Instruction
- Peggy Brickman, Professor, Plant Biology, Franklin College of Arts and Sciences
- Greg Broughton, Associate Professor, Music, Franklin College of Arts and Sciences
- Gary Green, Assistant Dean of Academic Affairs, Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources
- Karen Whitehill King, Professor, Advertising and Public Relations, Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication