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Exploring Pedagogy to Improve Student Learning

December 14, 2016

The BMCC Teaching Academy, a professional development program, creates small learning communities of new faculty, or Teaching Fellows, who focus on pedagogy under the guidance of a Master Teacher. 

The Teaching Academy communities meet regularly, observe each other teaching, videotape their own teaching and attend workshops together. On December 13, they celebrated the Academy’s 2017 cohort and the accomplishments of its 2016 and 2015 cohorts with a luncheon meeting at the Fiterman Conference Center.

“BMCC’s Teaching Academy, now welcoming its third cohort, is a unique opportunity for faculty to deeply explore their own pedagogy with the aim of improving student learning,” says Karrin Wilks, Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs, who welcomed the new, ongoing and past cohort members. “The program recognizes teaching excellence through the use of our own Master Teachers, as well as through the contributions BMCC faculty will continue to make to the scholarship of teaching and learning.”  

Jim Berg, BMCC Associate Dean of Faculty, congratulated the participants. “This program can contribute to the evidence that faculty development works,” he said. “It helps faculty be more effective in the classroom and improves student outcomes.”

John Beaumont, Director of the BMCC Teaching Academy — as well as both ESL Coordinator and a professor in the Academic Literacy and Linguistics Department — outlined the activities of BMCC Teaching Academy mentors: “To observe and give feedback in person and with video; to be descriptive rather than judgmental, and to support the mentees' experimenting with small change.”

The goal of improving students’ academic performance underlies faculty development in every discipline, he pointed out. “It’s what we do on a day-to-day basis. It’s why we came to BMCC.”

Professor of Science Yasemin Gurcan is part of the new 2017 cohort, and plans to work with her Teaching Academy mentor to increase class motivation and improve student outcomes. “Whether I am teaching physics or astronomy,” she says, “about a third of the class makes a grade of over 90 percent, while two-thirds of the class scores under 60 percent. I want to close that gap.”

2017 Teaching Academy cohort member Micah Miller, a professor of mathematics who teaches pre-calculus and statistics, plans to explore inquiry-based learning in his classroom, with the support of a mentor.

Another 2017 cohort member is Professor of Business Management Shamira Malekar, who has participated in staff development opportunities at BMCC including the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH)-funded Cultivating Global Competencies in a Diverse World curriculum enhancement program. Now, as part of the Teaching Academy, “I would like to design and implement a strategy to guide my students in presenting their work in some kind of publication,” she says.

Science Professor Daniel Torres, who is part of the 2016 Teaching Academy cohort, says that, “because of the nature of the mentor/mentee relationship, the feedback I get is more truthful and meaningful than with other kinds of evaluations.”

Another benefit, he says, is getting the kind of feedback that translates across disciplines. “In science, it is sometimes hard to engage students, because the material is difficult for them,” he says, “and my mentor, Christa Baiada, a professor in the English department, helped me with that.”

According to Rifat Anum Salam, a Professor of Sociology who has been involved in the Teaching Academy since its inception, “As we move toward being an institution that values research and publication, it’s important to support the faculty. We learn about our disciplines in our PhD programs, but there is no focus on the pedagogical, and that is an especially important component of teaching in a community college. The Teaching Academy provides a community in which we can be reflective about our teaching and hone our teaching philosophy. Ultimately, students benefit through the environment we create.”

BMCC Teaching Academy, 2017 Cohort

(This new cohort is in the process of being grouped.)

Master Teachers Hollis Glaser (Speech, Communications and Theatre Arts); Yolanda Medina (Teacher Education); Eda Henao (Modern Languages) and Yeghia Aslanian (Academic Literacy and Linguistics) will work with Teaching Fellows Sheldon Applewhite (Social Science, Human Service and Criminal Justice); Suvro Banerjee (Accounting); Darryl Brock (Center for Ethnic Studies); David Hung Chu (Business Management); Yasemin Gurcan (Science); Tim Leonard (Academic Literacy & Linguistics); Shamira Malekar (Business Management); Micah Miller (Mathematics); Audrey Nasar (Mathematics) Jason Ostrowe (Social Science, Human Service and Criminal Justice); Khushmand Rajendron (Social Science, Human Service and Criminal Justice); Elizabeth Robb (Academic Literacy & Linguistics) and Shenique Thomas (Social Science, Human Service and Criminal Justice).

BMCC Teaching Academy, 2016 Cohort

Master Teacher Christa Baiada (English) is working with the following Teaching Fellows: Jean Amaral (Library); Evelin Gamarra-Martínez (Modern Languages) and Daniel Torres (Science).

Master Teacher Michael George (Math) is working with Teaching Fellows Janice Summers (Nursing) and Scott Tulloch (Speech, Communication & Theatre Arts).

Master Teacher Sandra Poster (Speech, Communication & Theatre Arts) is working with Teaching Fellows Lisa Grace (Health Education); James Sayegh (Media Arts & Technology) and Nettie Christine Vinsonhaler (English).

Master Teacher Judith Yancey (Academic Literacy & Linguistics) is working with Teaching Fellows Erica Campbell (English); Revathi Iyengar (Science); Chun-Yi Peng (Modern Languages) and Anastassios Rigopoulos (Media Arts & Technology).

BMCC Teaching Academy, 2015 Cohort

Master Teacher Yeghia Aslanian (Academic Literacy & Linguistics) worked with Teaching Fellows Nancy Derbyshire (English); Monica Foust (Social Science) and Jamal Sullivan (Media Arts & Technology).

Master Teacher Eda Henao (Modern Languages) worked with Teaching Fellows Edna Asknes (Nursing); Henry Bulley (Social Science); Orlando Justo (Business Management) and Cara O’Connor (Social Science).

 Master Teacher Roger Foster (Social Science) worked with Teaching Fellows Ainoa Inigo (Modern Languages) and Jill Strauss (Speech, Communication & Theatre Arts).

 Master Teacher Lauren Goodwyn (Science) worked with Teaching Fellows Saniye Deniz Gokcora (Academic Literacy & Linguistics); James Hoff (English) and Meryem Zaman (Social Science).


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  • The BMCC Teaching Academy creates small communities comprised of Master Teachers and Teaching Fellows
  • Participants focus on pedagogy, to improve student learning
  • The 2015, 2016 and just-announced 2017 cohorts came together for a luncheon in the Fiterman Conference Center

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