What is the impact of faculty learning from and with colleagues?

An assessment of the Faculty Professional Development Program, 2010-2011

The Faculty Professional Development Program (FPDP) seeks to frame a campus “teaching commons,” what the Carnegie Foundation describes as a “conceptual space in which communities of educators committed to innovation & inquiry come together to exchange ideas about teaching & learning, and use them to meet the challenges of educating students for personal, professional, and civic life.” Through our events, resources, and programs we aim to enable faculty to build relationships with others in the university community and discover new methods to strengthen professional and teaching capabilities.

The mission of the NAU Faculty Professional Development Program is to:

  • offer opportunities for professional development in teaching to enrich success in student learning
  • play a key role in strengthening a learning-centered campus culture leading to student success
  • advance new teaching and learning initiatives that impact student success
  • foster collegial dialogue within and among faculty and campus partners about effective teaching
  • serve as a convener to showcase faculty expertise in teaching.

We support departmental, school, and college initiatives and seek to provide pathways for the NAU learning-centered priority and strategic goals through alignment of initiatives.


The professional literature suggests five levels of evaluation for faculty development programs. FPDP resource session participation was tracked through registration and attendance. Following the sessions participants were provided with a link to anonymous online evaluations with six Likert-scale items and three open-ended questions. A brief year-end survey was also sent to all participants in the 2010-11 resource sessions to further assess the systemic impact of the year’s programs.

Conclusions & Implications

Total attendance at 2010-11 resource sessions exceeded 731. By analyzing the unduplicated numbers (328), we learned how to strengthen the offerings in 2011-12. Implications of the assessment efforts: faculty feedback was used to identify this year’s session topics and an advisory committee and coordinating council met regularly to review findings and discuss implications.

Level 1: Participation

Who attended and why?


Faculty Professional Development Program Event Participation by College/Area 2010-2011 
Other departments13%
Student Affairs8%
Center Int'l Ed.6%
Cline Library4%

Faculty Professional Development Program Event Participation by Academic Title 2010-2011
Support Staff48
Assistant Professor43
Associate Professor36
Lecturer, Sr. Lecturer30
Other Administrators23
Part-time Faculty13

What prompted you to attend this event?

  • “I like to make sure any assignments I give are pertinent and will help the students absorb and put into practice the class discussions.”
  • “I have a need for constant professional growth and revitalization.”
  • “I aim to be the best 'teacher' I possibly can – and past sessions have always provided new tools for me to work with.”
  • “This is my first time teaching and one of my mentors ... thought that it would be a helpful discussion for me. I definitely agree and am very glad that I attended."
  • “I actually attended to meet people from other departments, but I also learned much.”
  • “I want more student engagement and discussion in my large lecture class.”

Level 2: Satisfaction

Did participants find the session useful?


Aggregate Evaluation Data over sixteen workshops and roundtables 2010-2011
QuestionStrongly AgreeAgree Disagree Strongly Disagree
The session addressed some of my teaching and instruction needs.36%53%9%2%
The topics addressed during the session were clearly presented.74%24%2%0%
The topics addressed during the session will be useful to me in my work.58%40%1%1%
The level of interaction between presenters and participants was valuable.61%36%3%0%


 Yes No
Would you recommend this session to another faculty member? 92%8%

Representative comments:

  • “I've saved the handouts, and I'm going to use all the ideas I can.”
  • “This is my first time teaching and I found the material, discussion, and ideas presented very helpful. ”
  • “I love that everything … is backed up by current research – and that multiple views are offered.”
  • "I got four or five ideas that I have already started to use.”

Level 3: Learning

What was gained? (i.e. attitudes, beliefs, skills)
  • “I am consciously more aware of the words that I choose to use & how they can either facilitate or impede a conversation. ”
  • “Helped me identify fellow faculty members who are potential resources for the courses I teach. I'm still thinking about the session, which indicates that it resonated within me.”
  • “It gave me some new perspectives that I will try with my …students.”

Level 4: Application

How will material be applied to participant’s work?

Representative comments:

  • “I plan to implement some of the techniques I learned in this session to improve (class) discussions.”
  • "I plan to engage with the class differently – particularly in the first 2 weeks!”
  • “I really came away with a lot of ideas to enhance classes. So much of it made sense and it will be easy to implement little pieces to start with and grow from there.”
  • “I will refer to the materials provided in the sessions to evaluate my current work and as I plan for the next semester.”
  • "I picked up a few techniques that I think I can use in class.
  • “Will use daily in classes.”

Level 5: Systematic impact

What evidence is there that participation in the FDP leads to identifiable outcomes?
  • 73% talked with colleagues about something that came up at the session/s.
  • 67% directly applied something from one or more sessions to their teaching.
  • 49% saw a positive impact on students related to something they adopted/adapted following the session/s.
  • 32% directly applied something from one or more sessions to their scholarly work.

“The Faculty Professional Development Program is invaluable in helping NAU to achieve its mission. Students appreciate that faculty have an opportunity to improve their teaching skills. NAU's reputation benefits when faculty have an opportunity to learn skills and techniques that improve their scholarly work. Faculty benefit from all of the above and also from having the opportunity to engage with colleagues from other departments."

For a printable PDF version, download the 2012 Assessment Fair poster.