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Rose-Hulman’s CPSE Keeps Focus on Institute’s Teaching Mission

June 10, 2016

Ellaingram

On a Mission: Ella Ingram strives to help faculty enjoy “a better overall professional experience” through the Center for the Practice and Scholarship of Education. The center was established in 2007.

More than 2,000 years ago, a frustrated Confucius sniffed that teachers of his day would just “repeat things in a rigmarole fashion, annoy their students with questions, and say the same things over and over again.”

At Rose-Hulman, the faculty strive for a much higher standard. To help them achieve it, the institute created the Center for the Practice and Scholarship of Education (CPSE), an office dedicated to promoting better student learning.

“[Rose-Hulman] is a place where we take teaching very seriously,” says Ella Ingram, director of the CPSE since 2013 and an associate professor of biology and biomedical engineering. “The teaching center is a source for continuous improvement.”

For an office with a staff of just one, the CPSE provides an impressive array of services. It publishes a newsletter filled with teaching tips and ideas, current book and journal articles, and updates on upcoming events. The center also sponsors a book club, hosts “Lightning Talks” on a variety of topics, and offers practical tips on grant writing and publishing research.

Perhaps the center’s most important role is welcoming new faculty to Rose-Hulman with a two-day workshop at the start of each academic year. The event, which is mandatory for new faculty, provides teaching tips while highlighting the institute’s mission to provide the world’s best undergraduate science, engineering, and math education in an environment of individual student attention.

“That [workshop] is the most important thing that we do,” Ingram says.

Other CPSE workshops have covered topics such as flipped classrooms, online learning, grading techniques, journal writing, and pointers for tackling writing projects.

“The CPSE has connected me with the community of educators here at Rose-Hulman who care deeply about student learning and development, and who look to education research to improve their teaching practice,” says Patrick Cunningham, associate professor of mechanical engineering.

“I have attended numerous CPSE workshops and events,” Cunningham adds. “They have consistently been practical and have left me actionable ideas to apply to my teaching and professional practice.”

Directors of the CPSE report to the Vice President for Academic Affairs and serve two-year terms. Due to a transition in the Academic Affairs office, Ingram agreed to serve for two additional years, and will start her fourth year in the post this fall.

Ingram strives to make the CPSE’s mission as broad as possible, providing support for faculty in all aspects of their work.

“Teaching can be a hard job,” she says. “Through the CPSE, I enjoy creating opportunities for our faculty to have an overall better professional experience.”