What is the Council about? What is the time commitment?

The new Council on Learning and Teaching Excellence is an initiative for VIU to more fully engage faculty to have greater input into activities, direction and initiatives around teaching and learning. The Council will be composed of teaching faculty members representing all Faculties and campuses (as nominated by your Dean/Campus Administrator), and will be assisted by all the units with direct involvement in supporting faculty teaching. The Council meets as whole three times a year for 1-1.5 days each time. Most of the Council member’s contributions will come through “Action Groups” to address issues and projects selected by Council members; we expect these self-directed groups to require approximately two hours a month of your time.


Why is the Provost forming a Council on Learning and Teaching Excellence?

As noted in the goals of the VIU Academic Plan, we want to better focus and direct our academic activities toward common goals and to better define the infrastructure and resources required to achieve them. The intent is to ensure we can continue as a leader in providing high-quality learning and promoting a high quality of life for our communities, through a commitment to student success, community engagement and associated scholarship.

It is critical that faculty members take the lead on moving us in these directions. Individual faculty members do this now through their own teaching and their activities within departments and Faculties; the new Council on Learning and Teaching Excellence provides an innovative way for faculty to work with teaching colleagues beyond their own Faculty, to advance teaching practice and support for student academic success across the University.

What is in it for you, a teaching faculty member?

  1. You will have opportunities to enhance your personal capability through professional learning opportunities around teaching and learning
  2. You will help “move the needle” at VIU by guiding strategy for institutional-wide activity and advancing specific initiatives through your choice of an Action Group project
  3. You will have a personally engaging and energizing experience with like-minded faculty

How will faculty members on the Council contribute to these goals?

We’re starting off with two types of activities, but the future plans for the Council will be shaped by its member faculty on a continuing basis. The main initial activity for the Council involves faculty-designed Action Groups to achieve specific goals within the academic year. Being a Council member means you will be contributing through working collectively to create, plan or develop something new to support your own teaching and your teaching colleagues.

Faculty teams will choose their own objectives to advance teaching practice across the university: for example, one Action Group might organize an event such as a VIU teaching and learning conference as a celebration of our teaching and learning successes or a University-wide Distinguished Lecture and Discussion series on key teaching issues chosen by the Council. Other Action Groups might target results such as these:

  • Developing an interdisciplinary program across faculties
  • Helping identify and pilot-test student success supports for academic preparedness
  • Building resources and support for more effective engagement in community-based teaching and learning activities

We anticipate that the Council members will participate in defining one Action Group and collaborating with colleagues to achieve its goals.

The other initial activity envisioned for the Council is to provide early feedback on the ongoing plans by University-wide units which provide support for teaching and learning – e.g., the Centre for Innovation and Excellence in Learning (CIEL), IT, Student Affairs, VPAP’s office etc. – to ensure our planning is always fully informed by your needs and experiences on the teaching ‘front lines’. For example, the Council is expected to provide early input for a new VIU Teaching and Learning Plan in 2014, which will outline the priorities we will focus on for enhanced student learning/retention and our approach to supporting faculty who want to develop new capability in emerging teaching practices.

What is the format for our involvement?

Most Council activity will occur in the Action Groups, meeting at times selected by their members. We expect the Council to also meet as a whole to report Action Group progress and provide feedback on plans and activities of supporting units (as noted above). There would be three times during the school year to meet as a whole: in December for one day (between end of classes/start of exams), in February for one day (during Study Week) and a 1.5 Day Annual Retreat in early May ‒ to orient new members, set priorities, and form Action Groups for the coming  year.

What support is available for Council activities?

In the plenary sessions where all Council members meet together, members of the Executive Teaching and Learning Steering Committee will be present as observers to seek feedback on their unit’s plans, answer questions from Council faculty members and offer support to Action Groups.

The expertise on offer will come from the following units and offices: Office of the Vice President Academic and Provost, Centre for Innovation and Excellence in Learning, Student Affairs, Enrolment Management, Scholarship and Community Engagement, Information Technology, Community Based Research and the Library.

In support of the Council’s goals to advance teaching and learning across VIU, we anticipate that members will need to engage with faculty at other institutions and professional associations, and to participate in conferences and workshops on teaching. Support for such activities is included in the Council initiative. In addition, the Centre for Innovation and Excellence in Learning (CIEL) will provide coordination and other support for each Action Group to optimize faculty time on Action Group projects.

What is the representation from each Faculty?

We understand that the final numbers will be dependent on faculty interest in this institution-wide Council. The following numbers are goals for initial Council membership from each Faculty:

  • Faculty of Health and Human Services – 3
  • Faculty of Science + Technology – 2
  • Faculty of Arts and Humanities – 2
  • Faculty of Social Sciences – 2
  • Faculty of Trades and Applied Technologies – 2
  • Faculty of Management – 2
  • Faculty of Education – 2
  • Faculty of International Education – 1
  • Faculty of Academic and Career Preparation – 1
  • Powell River Campus – 1
  • Cowichan Campus – 1

Please send any questions to Liesel Knaack, Director, Centre for Innovation and Excellence in Learning.