Future of FHS T&L Conversations

The FHS T&L conversations started as a pilot program in June 2011. After a six month trial, we assessed the program and decided to modify the series based on feedback from the faculty. To do this, we created a survey and sent it to all faculty members and sessional instructors; ~ 15% responded. We followed up with a meeting in early November, at which time we discussed the survey results, decided to continue the program and determined specific modifications we could make to enhance the series for 2012.

Overall, we have concluded that the pilot conversation series has been relatively successful. Both Mark L. and Charlie G. expressed that there was value to continuing the conversations. Carolyn S. remarked that this is one of the few opportunities for sessional instructors to participate in the FHS community. In addition, I have had many people stop me in hallways and have received encouraging emails telling me that this is a valuable contribution to enhancing quality of teaching and learning in FHS. The project is also receiving attention from other units on campus, including  an upcoming article describing the pilot conversation series on the SFU TLC website.


Barriers to participation

- Day and time that the T&L conversations were being offered.

- Having too many other commitments.

- Not physically on campus.

Respondents benefited from the T&L conversations in the following ways:

-Barb B’s expertise and contributions to the conversation are extremely valuable and highly appreciated.

-Learned about core competencies  and linking evaluations to learning outcomes.

-Received useful advice and tips about using iClickers in large classes.

-Found inspiration to refine current teaching practices.

-Gained advice that was immediately applicable to current teaching as well as considering broader issues for design of future classes.

Suggestions for improvement included:

-Encouraging broader participation from both junior and senior people of various disciplines.

-Providing lunch or snacks.

-Creating a slightly more formal structure to the conversations so as to remain on topic and encourage contributions from all participants.

-Provide a short article on the topic so people can prepare beforehand leading to a more-informed and reflective conversation.


In response to the suggestions on the survey and the post-survey discussion, we have decide to make the following modifications to the FHS T&L conversation series:

Timing: New day and time (TBD)

Frequency: Monthly offering instead of biweekly

Format: Mixed, we will offer some informal conversations and offer some more formalized and structured topics.

Broader participation: We will open the conversation up to graduate students and TAs.

Snacks: BB to approach TLC for a small budget for snacks for selected events.


There’s lots of interest among survey participants to continue and to invite conversations on a range of exciting topics. If you would like to take a leadership role in sharing your expertise and/or organizing a conversation on one of these topics, please email: nvanhout@sfu.ca.

- Facilitating student discussions

-Teaching writing and feedback

-Maintaining academic integrity

-Including experiential learning in our education and/or  adding a practicum component to a class

-Engaging large classes

-Exploring how grading schemes might impact a student’s well being and connections with other students

-Promoting spiritual and aesthetic dimension to the learning experience

-Promoting student-centered learning

-Managing challenging teaching situations e.g. students with behavioral problems

-Techniques for accommodating students with mental illness and disability

If you have other ideas for topics let us know and we will try to incorporate them into the spring 2012 series.