The National Academy


Faculty Development in Higher Education
by Lion F. Gardiner

Helpful Questions to Ask
Suggested here are several questions to help a curriculum or faculty development committee, dean, or department chairperson assess an institution's or subunit's faculty professional development needs. The questions are general. They can be used in a collegewide program, such as when developing a new general education curriculum, or within an academic department. The questions are equally applicable to the training of staff serving in any educational role, for example, graduate teaching assistants, new faculty hires, or more senior faculty members.

1. What are the specific intended competency outcomes we have defined for our students in each curriculum? Have these outcomes been articulated as effective written goals and objectives that provide a useful foundation for program design, implementation, and assessment? Are we actively using these statements of intended results to manage learning in every program?

2. What educational processes does current higher education research suggest can best develop these outcomes with our students?

3. What specific professional knowledge and skill competencies do the faculty and staff require to implement these educational processes effectively and efficiently?

4. Does each educator now have these competencies as appropriate to his or her role? Specifically, how do we know?

5. What types of activities are best suited for developing these professional competencies with our particular people?

6. Does our faculty development program now have the capacity—the professional staff with appropriate knowledge and skills—to cultivate these competencies? If not, specifically how should it be changed so it can meet our needs at a high level of quality?

7. How do we know if this professional development program is effective: that staff competencies are being developed and that our people are thoroughly prepared for working with our students?

8. Are participants in the faculty development program using their new knowledge and skills effectively in their teaching and advising?

9. To what extent are actual student (or other) outcomes affected by the program? Specifically, how do we know? Are these effects of high quality?

10. How should the program be modified such that its actual outcomes—its results—more closely approach its intended outcomes?