College instructor education: A model for effective student learning.
Keywords:instructor education, pedagogy, professionalisation, college student learning, policy and practice
The interconnection between teaching and learning in higher education has been the subject of academic investigation for some time. However, within the community college context, the effectiveness of pedagogically trained instructors on student learning has remained an under-examined area of scholarly research. This study advances a greater understanding regarding the importance of quality teaching within the community college system in Ontario and explores how institutional policy and practices support or impede the promotion of quality teaching.
A mixed methods sequential explanatory design was employed at a Toronto college to gauge the perspectives of participants in three sub-groups of the College strata: administrators, instructors, and students. A pragmatic approach was utilised from which multiple methods of data collection (i.e., semi-structured interviews, focus groups, and online questionnaires) were selected to exhaustively address the primary research question.
Key findings revealed that formal academic development in pedagogical education was perceived by the majority of participants as foundational to effective teaching practice and that more comprehensive academic development was needed to improve both current practice and student academic achievement. Most instructors and students concurred that learner-centred approaches, both in class and in field placements, led to a deeper level of learning. From a leadership standpoint, participants also believed that college policies and practices were misaligned with promoting quality instruction and that greater progress towards alignment was necessary; thus, there were serious leadership implications. This study adds to the current instructor education discourse by providing impetus for institutional change towards the professionalisation of college instructors and also recognises the inextricable tie between instructor education and student learning.