New ‘PIT Stops’ offer faculty support

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Washington State University is launching a new series — PIT Stops — that supports faculty members by providing twice-monthly opportunities to discuss, reflect, and share insights to solve emerging and immediate pedagogical challenges. All faculty and instructional staff are welcome to attend the sessions, which begin at 3 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 1. No registration is required.

Hosted by the Transformational Change Initiative (TCI) in the provost’s office in partnership with Academic Outreach and Innovation (AOI) and the Teaching Academy, PIT Stops begin each month with a systemwide virtual event, followed about two weeks later by in-person, campus-specific events. 

“’PIT’ is the acronym for pedagogy, innovation, and technology, and they are designed to support instructors as they fulfill the university’s instructional mission,” said Erika Offerdahl, TCI director. “The bi-monthly events invite cross-pollination of ideas from across campuses and the chance to collaborate with close colleagues on individual campuses to meet the unique needs of their students.”

PIT Stops topics

The first PIT Stops event on Feb. 1 will be facilitated by Brian Malone, AOI instructional design coordinator. It will feature a panel of AOI instructional designers and faculty, and is entitled, “ChatGPT: What is it? What can it do, and what can’t it do?” ChatGPT is the free artificial intelligence computer program that writes human-sounding answers to questions. PIT Stops campus-specific follow up sessions are scheduled the week of Feb. 13 and will focus on “How to prepare for and respond to ChatGPT in the classroom.”

On March 1, the systemwide topic will be “Classroom assessment that promotes inclusion,” followed the week of March 20 with “How to design for inclusive assessment.” The systemwide topic on April 12 will be “Supporting students’ skills in emotional and social intelligence” followed by the campus-specific session the week of April 24 on “How to incorporate mindful activities to promote emotional and social intelligence.”

“We feel that faculty are still going full throttle, all the while adjusting — as are their students — to post-pandemic teaching and learning,” said Offerdahl. “PIT Stops offers a way for faculty to learn together about contemporary techniques to make their efforts productive and enjoyable.”

Complementing ELEVATE

PIT Stops, she said, complements another TCI initiative, ELEVATE. That’s the acronym for “Engage Learners, Enhance Voices, and Advance Teaching Excellence.” First offered in 2022, ELEVATE conferences aim to help faculty take a deep dive into important teaching and learning topics.

This spring’s one-day ELEVATE conference on Feb. 20 will focus on “faculty burnout” and on resources to support student health and well-being. Registration for ELEVATE will open soon, said Offerdahl.

TCI goal

The goal of the TCI is to produce transformational change institutionally by creating a university that supports students emotionally, socially, academically, and individually. It aims to do this by producing graduates positioned for lifelong success. Faculty development and support is needed to accomplish this goal, Offerdahl said.

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