GOODFELLOW AIR FORCE BASE, Texas --
As a key part of Air Education and Training Command’s Continuum of Learning initiative, the 17th Training Group recently introduced a new seminar focused on active learning teaching methods for faculty members called Faculty Next.
“Faculty Next is an experience,” said 17th Training Support Squadron Cognitive Performance Coach Jeb Clay. “This course leverages different active learning strategies to create an experience to transform what people think they know about active learning. It gives faculty the opportunity to figure out how they can apply this in their own lanes overall and they also get to share with each other what has worked in the past and how they might utilize some of these strategies to best help the students here at Goodfellow.”
More than 120 attendees have graduated from Faculty Next since it began in January.
“The goal for Faculty Next is to include all support faculty members as well as instructors,” said Lt. Col. Amber Saldana, 17 TRSS commander. “Even if they're not an instructor, they're still part of the training process. To successfully incorporate active learning into instruction, we need all faculty members across the Training Group to understand why these strategies are successful as well as how to implement them into the classrooms effectively. Everyone needs the exposure so they understand where we're all going together as a team: to create lifelong learners as well as professionally develop our faculty.”
The seminar is weekly and provides a flexible schedule, allowing for maximum participation. Faculty can choose each day whether to attend morning or afternoon. Each class is open to all branches, both military and civilian.
“The seminar runs three days a week and right now, we offer two sessions per day,” said 17 TRSS Cognitive Performance Coach Dr. Meaghan Sullivan. “There are different groups of people in the morning and afternoon sessions.”
Faculty Next is an opportunity for all faculty members across the 17 TRG to get out of their offices and classrooms and collaborate with each other.
“All are learning these active learning strategies together,” Saldana said. “Not only is the seminar great for faculty to learn the methods, but the training squadrons are collaborating, sharing how they teach their courses. They are cultivating ideas and problem solving together, and that's making them stronger instructors, ultimately creating stronger learners in their classrooms.”
Day one of the seminar focuses on the theory behind active learning and sets the stage for days two and three.
“On day one, we really look at the science behind active learning,” Clay said. “We talk about what that theory means and how it could be accomplished and we try to determine if we are hitting that mark or not, and where could we up our game.”
Day two is more interactive and allows the members to experience active learning in action through a case study and debate exercise.
After the case study, the members take turns debating leadership styles, formulating arguments for and against the method they chose as the best. Faculty experience the active learning techniques first hand in the seminar, rather than being in a traditional lecture environment.
“It may have seemed like it was just a debate that we were having, but as the instructor who's facilitating the information, I go back through and say we hit this objective and that objective,” Clay said. “We then debrief and we go over the points which were discussed. It’s more organic and you’re more emotionally invested so doesn’t seem like the information was forced on you.”
Day three is focused around putting it all together and creating a capstone. Multiple active learning techniques are woven throughout the seminar, to include facilitating student-led instruction and debriefing techniques. After only three days, the members are ready to take what they’ve learned in the course and put it in action in their own offices and classrooms. Graduates of the seminar are offered the opportunity to continue sharing ideas and experiences at monthly collaboration sessions hosted by 17 TRSS Faculty Development.
“We’re changing the status quo from forced lecture with the students memorizing and regurgitating information for a test and then forgetting it to a more collaborative experience,” said Staff Sgt. Phillip Roney, 316th Training Squadron instructor. “Future generations will be more capable and effective learners. We have to keep evolving the learning process so that we can be more effective overall.”
Ultimately, Faculty Next gives instructors and support faculty members more tools to train, develop, and inspire exceptional intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance and fire protection professionals.
“I think in the spirit of evolution, things change, people change, technology advances, and we have to keep up with that as humans in our everyday lives,” said Sullivan. “Especially in the military… where things are evolving so rapidly. It's not that things were being done incorrectly; it's just that we have new information that we want to share so we can make sure that we stay at the forefront.”
For more information or to enroll in the Faculty Next seminar, please contact Master Sgt. Jessica Packard or Mr. Glenn Smith in the 17 TRSS Faculty Development flight at 325-654-1864.