Belmont Contributes to NAC&U Publication Focused on Increasing Student Learning

Teagle-funded project examines holistic departments

RedefiningCoverFaculty and administrators from Belmont University contributed to created “Redefining the Paradigm: Faculty Models to Support Student Learning” – a monograph that encourages colleges and universities to more effectively structure departments to address changes in higher education and better support student learning. Over the past two years, Dr. Martha Buckner (Nursing), Dr. Jeff Kirk (Music), Dr. Stan York (Business), Dr. Beverly Schneller (Associate Provost) and Dr. Bryce Sullivan (College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences Dean) worked with colleagues throughout the New American Colleges and Universities (NAC&U) consortium on this Teagle Foundation-funded project to study and make recommendations on holistic departments and faculty evaluation methods.

Belmont Associate Provost for Academic Affairs Dr. Beverly Schneller said, “The chief value of the ideas and strategies reflected in this volume resides in the ways the chapters will spark conversations about the future of the teaching profession, the ways we can lead conversations about innovation and transformation in student learning, and how we can start to think of what teaching and learning might look like in an academy of the future where emphasis is placed on collaboration, practical application and fresh infusion of the role of the liberal arts in society.”

In the monograph, NAC&U outlines a new way of organizing departments and programs as “holistic departments” and recommends a new process for faculty evaluation called “the learning-centered paradigm.” Traditionally faculty have been evaluated on scholarship, teaching and service, but this monograph addresses the reality that faculty are engaged in many activities that cannot be easily separated into those categories. Instead, it argues for a holistic view of a department’s collective workload and seeks to achieve fluid, equitable workloads that can change as the department’s and faculty members’ needs change.

The authors call for a holistic view of faculty assessment as outcomes and successes can be demonstrated in many areas, rather than simply scholarship, teaching and service, such as mentoring undergraduate researchers, facilitating learning communities and coordinating experiential learning opportunities, including internships and civic engagement projects. The monograph promotes the idea of students as active learners, working collaboratively with faculty doing research, service projects or other experiential learning.

“NAC&U was a good candidate to adopt this project because our member campuses already have an integrated view of higher education,” said Nancy Hensel, president of The New American Colleges and Universities. “In fact, some campuses were already examining these issues which allowed us to include real-world examples in the monograph.”

Redefining the Paradigm: Faculty Models to Support Student Learning, edited by Nancy Hensel, Lynn Hunnicutt and David Salomon, is available on the NAC&U website. The Holistic Department Committee included representatives from Arcadia University, Belmont University, Hamline University, Pacific Lutheran University, The Sage Colleges, University of Evansville, Valparaiso University, Westminster College, and Widener University. The Faculty Evaluation Committee included representatives from Belmont University, Hamline University, The Sage Colleges, University of Evansville, Wagner College, Westminster College, and Widener University. Working to support and strengthen liberal arts education, The Teagle Foundation supports projects to improve student learning in the arts and sciences.

About The New American Colleges and Universities
Founded in 1995, The New American Colleges and Universities is a national consortium of selective, small to mid-size (2,000-7,500 students) independent colleges and universities dedicated to the purposeful integration of liberal education, professional studies, and civic engagement. To improve the quality and effectiveness of teaching and learning among its members, The New American Colleges and Universities sponsors projects and conferences, administrator and faculty affinity groups, surveys and data benchmarking, and international study programs. The New American Colleges and Universities collectively and individually are often cited as models of the intentional integration of teaching and learning, scholarship, and service. Follow them on Twitter @NACandU.