Thank you to everyone who attended the 6th Annual Adjunct Faculty Teaching & Learning Conference on Friday, September 27!
The focus of the conference was bandwidth, specifically on the ways we can conserve bandwidth for our students as well as reduce the mental strain of the many passions and responsibilities that come with the territory of being an educator.
The keynote, “They Aren’t the Only Ones: Mental Bandwidth & Faculty Success”, was given by Dr. Tina Bhargava from Kent State University. Building upon her keynote focusing on student bandwidth at the Assessment Conference that morning, Dr. Bhargava discussed how students aren’t the only ones who arrive at college with varying levels of availability of cognitive resources—or “mental bandwidth”—needed for success. Faculty also need mental bandwidth to fulfill their responsibilities and thrive in the demanding environment of higher education. Faculty who are part-time, in particular, are often dealing with concerns related to job security, decision-making processes, advancement, and commitments to multiple institutions—circumstances that may drain their available cognitive resources. In this presentation, Dr. Bhargava discussed the concept of mental bandwidth and its potential impact on faculty success and satisfaction, as well as shared practices to help faculty maximize their bandwidth to improve the success and well-being of both their students and themselves.
We were also pleased to welcome some adjunct faculty colleagues from local community colleges: College of DuPage, Triton College, McHenry County College, and Governors State University.
What Really Matters? Bandwidth Demands & Well-Being
- Facilitator: Dr. Tina Bhargava, Associate Professor, Kent State University
- In this session, Dr. Bhargava described and explained changes that can be made to course design and pedagogical practices that can help to free availability of mental bandwidth for both students and faculty. Assignment designs across disciplines were reviewed in regards to bandwidth demands, and recommendations were provided for how to optimize teaching and learning activities in order to meet student learning objectives, while also curbing the potential for bandwidth exhaustion among faculty. Session participants also had a chance to discuss how they might adjust assignment design in their own courses to streamline bandwidth demands.
Choosing Technology Without Losing Your Mind
- Facilitator: Janet Woods, Instructional Technology Specialist, Academy
- In the ever-expanding EdTech market, how do you choose from all of the cool, new tools without feeling overwhelmed? This session focused on the thoughtful application of easy-to-use tech tools that can be used to complement your teaching practice and increase student engagement. Attendees left this session with an idea of practical tools and ideas that can be implemented in time for their next lesson or activity. Attendees also learned how the Academy for Teaching Excellence can support the integration of technologies into courses to improve the learning experience for both faculty and students.
Carrying the (Cognitive) Load for Students
- Facilitator: Josh Sunderbruch, Professor, English
- In this session, participants explored how to package their teaching so that students are able to focus their working memory on learning the content that matters most. Likewise, we tried to look at how as teachers we are frequently forced to choose where we devote our own resources, and examined ways to break down the work at hand into chunks that are more manageable. It all comes down to whether we exhaust ourselves and our students overcoming obstacles or if we find ways to clear those obstacles ahead of time, letting all of us focus on teaching and learning more productively.
Questions? Please contact the Academy at 847.925.6174, firstname.lastname@example.org.