Would you make a great educational developer?
What is educational/faculty development?
Faculty and educational development is a growing and exciting field. Primarily working in university teaching and learning centers (TLCs), the primary goal of the faculty developer is to improve student learning. Though centers for teaching and learning vary from institution to institution, faculty and educational developers aid faculty through resources and support. Faculty developers also engage in curriculum development and institutional initiatives connected to teaching and learning, and advocate for evidence-based practices in teaching and learning. Unlike academic positions, educational and faculty developers have a lot of mobility. “You become an Associate Professor and then, really, there’s not a lot of jobs for an Associate Professor,” Paul says. “You’re stuck there, unless you want to want to become a chair or a dean.”
What does an educational/faculty developer do?
They enhance teaching, and ensure institutional quality and change to improve student success. You work with faculty, staff, and administrators from every level of the university. They achieve these goals through consulting with instructors, observing them while teaching, developing and offering workshops, supporting course and curriculum development, serving on committees, reviewing existing scholarship and working on new research, and collaborating with local and international colleagues.
Your teaching skills will be essential when communicating your value to potential employers. Think about your current and former relationships with students. Do you have compassion and empathy for the challenges they face? Highlight this passion when applying for these positions, and demonstrate that you are interested in issues in higher education. It will also help if you can showcase a dedicated commitment to improving student learning. Did you collaborate with other teaching assistants to try new classroom-based strategies? Underscoring these experiences will make you a good candidate for these positions.
How do I know this field is for me?
If developing curriculum and brainstorming pathways to student success were your favourite parts of graduate school, then educational or faculty development would be a great career fit for you. Think about your teaching experiences as a graduate student. Was student success one of your main goals? Did you enjoy collaborating with other teaching assistants and professors to ensure that student experience was central to your teaching? Enjoying teaching and having an interest in pedagogy are important first steps to building a career in educational development.
Where can I learn more?
Educational and faculty developers work in many different places – like teaching and learning centers, at educational technology firms, and in training units in large companies and sectors of the government. There are a number of professional societies for faculty education and development (such as PODNetwork), and many of them host conferences. Attend one if you have the chance! Develop your interest in the field, and connect with other professionals on Twitter or through LinkedIn to expand your network. Then, keep your eyes open for positions in this expanding field!
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