Members of the Early Career Faculty Academy with Academy Mentors.
Members of the Early Career Faculty Academy with Academy Mentors.

Last fall the ITS Office of Teaching, Learning & Technology Center for Teaching launched the Early Career Faculty Academy (ECFA), a community of seventeen first-year, tenure-track assistant professors from five colleges across campus who, with the encouragement of their DEOs, focus on balancing teaching with research and other obligations, employing effective, efficient teaching pedagogies, and preparing for the third-year review.  

Academy members attend workshops on topics including learner needs and learning objectives, teaching technologies, and techniques for inclusive teaching.

“Thanks to the ECFA, I was able to gain some valuable skills in learning how to tweak my class, how to assess the students' ongoing perceptions of the class, and incorporate short exercises that allowed me to gain a better understanding of their prior knowledge and then differentiate my teaching based on these results,” says Leslie Locke, assistant professor of educational policy and leadership studies. 

“In addition, I learned some new--and great--techniques to use in the classroom to encourage small group work as well as increase the quality of that work.” 

Members of the cohort provide one another with support, accountability, and feedback.

“We are such a diverse community, and the ECFA is a great place to meet all these wonderful people and share experience,” says Richard Peter, an assistant professor of finance who came to Iowa from Germany.  The ECFA “helped me getting acquainted with the UI and with teaching in the US specifically.” 

The Academy mentorship program connects Academy members with tenured professors in departments other than their own, relationships that have been invigorating to the mentors, “I've enjoyed getting to know a new faculty member who isn't just from a different department, but also from a different college,” says Mary Hall Reno, professor of physics and astronomy, who mentors an assistant professor in the College of Engineering. 

“My experience as a mentor has given me a chance to reflect on some of our common experiences as faculty members, successes and challenges, and how we continue to develop as teachers.” 

Academy members also have discussed teaching with Executive Vice President and Provost Barry Butler and his executive staff; CIO and Associate Vice President of Informational Technology Services Steve Fleagle and members of his senior leadership team; and Director of UI Assessment Wayne Jacobson.

The Academy is part of a Center for Teaching initiative for early-career instructors, coordinated with the Office of the Provost. The initiative offers professional development and enrichment to instructors (clinical-track, tenure-track, lecturer, visiting, or adjunct) in their first three years of teaching at Iowa.  Support includes one-on-one consultations, classroom observations, midterm teaching assessments, and a Course Design Institute.  Tours of the Center for Teaching and meetings with Center for Teaching staff are available for prospective faculty who visit campus as well as for any interested instructor. 

To learn more, please contact the Center for Teaching at teaching@uiowa.edu or 319-335-6048.