Professional Development

Professional Development Plan 

RTC uses the online Professional/Technical Instructor Certification System to create professional development plans. I am not very fond of this system, as it’s clunky and outdated and built for Professional/Technical instructors and not for General Education or Basic Studies instructors. However, I have been able to make some of my professional development goals fit into this structure.

The system asks us as instructors to rate a list of tasks on how important they are to our jobs and how well we believe we are performing these tasks. Then we choose 5 of these tasks to work on and think of an appropriate activity to do for each (approved by the dean). Here are my professional development tasks and activities:

  1. Key task: Set up, maintain and repair instructional systems, equipment and/or tools.
    1. Planned activity: Cheryl Stover and I are working on a project to improve the labs in our general biology (Biol 160) course by developing a quarter-long lab project curriculum. In addition, much of our lab equipment is either out of date or not being used because no one has taken the time to set it up and test it out, and I intend to set up much of this equipment and develop training materials or sample labs to help other instructors to utilize it. Cheryl and I plan to present on our progress at the NW Biology conference in Spring 2016. We also plan to set up a Canvas course for all biology instructors with sample lab protocols and instruction on how to use the equipment we have.
    2. Due date: 6/30/2017
    3. Update: On schedule. Cheryl and I finished developing the new Biol 160 lab curriculum and presented on our progress at NW Bio last Spring. I piloted the new curriculum in Fall 2016. We have not yet set up a shared Canvas course, but have worked on a number of sample lab protocols and I’ve developed some lab instructions using our ECG and spirometry equipment.
  2. Key task: Identify, evaluate, and modify outcomes.
    1. Planned activity: I intend to work with other biology instructors to update (if necessary) the course outcomes for Biol 160, 241, 242, and 260 and get them published on the RTC CBE website. For Biol 160, 241, and 242 (which I teach regularly), I also intend to develop module level outcomes. Course outcomes for Biol 160, 241, 242 and 260 will be available on the RTC CBE website, and module outcomes for Biol 160, 241, and 242 will be available to my students through Canvas.
    2. Due date: 3/31/2017
    3. Update: Some tweaks. We have common course outcomes for all the courses listed, and my course and module outcomes are available to students in Canvas. However, no one at RTC uses the CBE website anymore. I spoke with my dean, and she said there is a plan to post course outcomes to the main RTC website, but it’s currently behind schedule and beyond my control.
  3. Key task: Initiate, develop, and implement student assessments.
    1. Planned activity: I would like to improve the test banks for the courses I regularly teach and put all the questions into a program that will let me tag each question with a level of Bloom’s taxonomy as well as a learning outcome. Ideally, the program I use will let me automatically generate tests with selected numbers of questions for each learning outcome and level of Bloom’s taxonomy.
    2. Due date: 6/30/2018
    3. Update: Some tweaks. As I’ve started teaching more online classes, I’ve used Canvas more heavily for tests and quizzes in all my courses and moved away from the program I was previously using (TestGen). Canvas doesn’t allow instructors to add tags to questions, though this feature has been requested and is currently under consideration. It’s possible I’ll be able to do it by 6/30/2018 if Canvas adds this feature. In the meantime, I have been adding automatic feedback to quiz and exam questions in Canvas to tell students which topic objective each question relates to, but I can’t search for questions based on the objective they assess or create automatic tests that cover a particular set of objectives.
  4. Key task: Provide information or referrals to meet student needs.
    1. Planned activity: I was awarded a Title 3 mini-grant for Fall 2015 to recruit a group of academic faculty to an advising workshop and discuss the relationship between advising and general education at RTC. I will complete the mini-grant requirements and work with advising to develop and begin implementing a week-by-week advising model for general education classes. To complete this activity, I will submit a mini-grant progress report, have a published week-by-week advising model for general education, and implement the model for at least one quarter.
    2. Due date: 6/30/2017
    3. Update: Dependent on others. I completed my mini-grant work and can definitely submit the progress report on time. I’ve been in some discussions with advising about developing a general education advising model. Student services plans to have the model done and begin using it by Fall 2017. If in fact this gets done on time, they might want someone to pilot the model in Spring 2017. If not, I might have to postpone the due date on this activity. I’ve discussed all of this with my dean.
  5. Key task:  Participate in professional networking.
    1. Completed activity: Take at least one college course in biology or anatomy and physiology. I took Biol 497: Allergies and Autoimmune Disease at the University of Washington.
    2. Due date: 1/13/2016
    3. Update: I received a 4.0 in this class, and it was fascinating. The topic is definitely relevant to my teaching, though we went into more depth than my students need. The course instructor was part of the Biology Education Research Group (BERG) at UW, and I definitely borrowed some teaching ideas from her class. I’ve also attended a few BERG meetings since then when I could make it to UW on Friday afternoons. They discuss and model evidence-based teaching practices in biology every week, and it’s a fantastic resource.

Other Professional Development Activities

Besides the activities specifically listed in my plan, I’ve participated in a number of other professional development activities. The ones I’ve found most valuable have been specifically related to biology teaching, and include:

  • My year as a PULSE fellow with Cheryl Stover. Beyond developing our new lab curriculum, we connected with many motivated biology faculty from around the state and have a much broader network of people to exchange teaching ideas with.
  • Attendance at the Northwest Biology Instructors annual meeting, 2015 and 2016. This has been another great chance to meet biology faculty (mostly from 2-year colleges) from around the state, get some great inspiration for student learning activities, and share resources.
  •  Sporadic attendance at BERG meetings on Fridays at UW, as mentioned above. I can’t go most weeks, but when I make it I always come away inspired.
  • Attendance at the summer 2016 ComGen workshop put on by Gita Bangera from Bellevue College. This workshop with about 20 2-year college science faculty included some of the same (excellent) facilitators from PULSE. ComGen is a curriculum developed at Bellevue College with an NSF grant that brings authentic research experiences to majors biology classes. I taught this curriculum at Seattle Central College, and it involves students sequencing the genome of a bacterium that mitigates the fungal disease Take All in wheat. At the summer workshop, we began developing new projects to bring the same type of authentic research to non-majors biology. I’m sharing ideas related to bean beetles with faculty around the state, and some of them may adopt the same curriculum.

Other professional development I’ve been involved in includes:

  • Online Intentional Professional Development Strands: Celebrate 75 (Summer 2016) and Reading Apprenticeship for STEM (Fall 2016)
  • Teaching and Learning National Institute team participant, Summer 2016
  • Quality Matters Master Reviewer Certification, Spring 2015
  • NW Biology Teachers Conference, Spring 2016 (group presenter), and 2015 (attendee)
  • Achieving the Dream Annual Conference, Winter 2016
  • National Association of Biology Teachers Conference, Fall 2014 (presenter) and 2013 (attendee)
  • Quality Matters Peer Reviewer Certification, Summer 2012
  • Applying the Quality Matters Rubric Course, Summer 2012
  • Assessment, Teaching and Learning Conference, Vancouver WA Spring 2012
  • RTC Online Inservice, Winter 2012 (participant) and Winter 2013 (presenter)
  • Copyright for Educators, Fall 2012
  • Introduction to the Reading Apprenticeship Framework, WestEd, Fall 2011