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New to RIC: Faculty Center for Teaching and Learning


Joseph Zornado
Joseph Zornado, professor of English at RIC, was looking for a professional challenge. He may have found it in the recently opened Faculty Center for Teaching and Learning (FCTL) at Rhode Island College, located in Adams Library.


Zornado is the director of the center, which offers RIC faculty members a forum to share questions and ideas about teaching and learning, and the possibility of putting those ideas into action. It also provides a meeting place for the discussion of pedagogical dialogue in and out of the classroom. As described by faculty members at RIC, the center will help coordination, communication, and most importantly, collaboration among faculty.

Zornado cited data in the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning that indicated collaboration is a great way to grow as a teacher. This grants faculty the ability to become organized and unified, allowing them to grow both professionally and personally.

“When faculty benefits in such ways, students benefit,” Zornado said, “And when that happens, Rhode Island benefits.”

The idea of a teaching and learning center at RIC has been around for years. About half of all colleges in the United States already have similar facilities. The exploration of the FCTL was one goal listed in the college's 2010 strategic plan. A committee of the RIC governance council reviewed six teaching and learning centers in the area, and was asked to determine staff interest for a similar establishment at RIC.

Approximately 80 faculty members attended two follow-up meetings to voice their support; additional staff members wrote e-mails strongly supporting the cause. The wide-spread approval of the FCTL led to the establishment of the center to be included in the college's 2010-2015 strategic plan.

The number one goal of the FCTL at RIC is to "foster and sustain rigorous academic programs that demonstrate student-faculty collaboration, cultural inquiry and intellectual engagement.” The center will serve as a community where emerging styles of teaching and learning, like distance learning, will be discussed and practiced.

Distance learning is designed to promote Internet-based communication between teacher and student, rather than solely relying on face-to-face contact. The FCTL blog is an example of this, serving as an on-line meeting place for RIC faculty.

Zornado has posted a survey on the blog, which asks questions such as, “What's the number one issue on your mind right now about teaching?” and “Do you consider yourself proficient in the use of technology in the classroom?” Surveys can be filled out anonymously and returned to Zornado in Adams Library, room 405.

The grant used to establish the FCTL will expire in three years; for the center to receive further funding, it will need to justify its purpose and show how it has been rewarding for faculty at RIC.

The future success of the center will indeed be a challenge for Zornado.

As for the future of the FCTL, Zornado said, “I see [it] as a facilitating hub for RIC faculty – the Center will be a useful, practical, efficient, place to meet and work with colleagues towards excellence in teaching and learning.”

Those interested in learning more about the FCTL can attend an open house event on Thursday, Feb. 17, from 2-6 p.m; Friday, Feb. 18, from 12-2 p.m; or Wednesday, Feb. 23, from 12:30-2 p.m. in Adams Library, room 405. Zornado will provide 30-minute presentations if departments are interested in learning more before attending an event.

For further information, visit www.ric.edu/fctl , or contact Joseph Zornado at jzornado@ric.edu, or (401) 456–8656.