Teaching Innovations as a Strategic Path to Promotion and Tenure

Central States Communication Association Annual Conferencer

Milwaukee, WI 2011

Innovations in teaching should not occur merely to try something new. Innovations should be tried because instructors have sought feedback from the learning situation, reflected on the challenges and opportunities therein, and decided that a particular innovation or “improvement” will enrich the student learning environment. For promotion/tenure, you must be able to share that reflection, innovation, and the outcomes of the innovation with others and to argue that the innovation leads to high quality teaching. This presentation will talk about strategies for doing and documenting the reflection, innovation, sharing and quality of your teaching for promotion and tenure.

In order to successfully use innovation at a path to promotion and tenure, we need to do three things:

  1. Recognize innovation when we do it:
  2. Pay attention to our reflections that lead to innovation
  3. Document the innovation and its results (trying something new is not a successful innovation, it’s just an innovation).

Some examples that I have used to help with:

  1. P & T: using movies in relational classes – sent syllabus and assignments to an “expert” in teaching this content (responding to the need for students to be able to “analyze” a relationship without the course becoming a therapy session);

    “Marcia Dixson . . . is regarded as one of a handful of academics whose commitment to teaching effectiveness is conjoined with active, ongoing research. . . In my 22 year career I have conducted at least 40 peer reviews of teaching. Without doubt, Marcia Dixson’s syllabus [COM 590 Communication in Personal Relationships] is the most thoughtful, thorough, and useful one that I have ever evaluated. . . I regard Marcia Dixson as a dedicated teacher and a committed member of the scholarly community.” Dr. Julia T. Wood, Hairston Professor of Communication, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. The publication of my lesson plan on social construction of marital reality in a national journal also demonstrates the respect that peers outside IPFW have for my teaching skills

  2. Publication before P & T: Applying team based learning and social construction theory to the basic communication course (responding to the disjointed nature of the units in 114). Version of this can be found:

    Dixson, M.D. (1997). Integrating the Contexts of the Hybrid Basic Course: Using Systems and Social Construction Theory. National Communication Association. (ED415559)

  3. Faculty Colloquium on Excellence in Teaching (FACET) nomination: building a webpage using movies about how to build a webpage for my online course (responding to students’ inability to build a basic webpage) as well as building community in an online course:

    Course portfolio for FACET nomination, 2005

  4. Conference papers (just accepted for publication): Applying team based learning to family and interpersonal communication online courses to build community

    Handout from Lilly, CA Conference, 2007



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Magin, D. J. (1998). Rewarding good teaching: A matter of demonstrated proficiency or documented achievement?. International Journal for Academic Development, 3(2), 124.

Minter, D. & Goodburn, A. M. (Eds.) (2002). Composition, Pedagogy & the Scholarship of Teaching. Portsmouth, NH: Cook Publishers.

Richlin, L. & Manning, B. (1996). Using portfolio to document teaching excellence. New Directions in Teaching Learning, 65, 65-70.

Seldin, P. & Miller, J.E. (2009). The Academic Portfolio: A Practical Guide to Documenting Teaching, Research and Service. SanFrancisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Stark-Wroblewski, K. , Ahlering, R.F. & Brill, F.M. (2007). Toward a more comprehensive approach to evaluating teaching effectiveness: Supplementing student evaluation of teaching with pre-post learning measures. Assessment & Evaluation in Higher Education, 32(4), 403-415. doi: 10.1080/02602930600898536.