TLS Mission and Guiding Principles
Teaching and Learning Services strives to make McGill a community of people who love to teach and are excited to learn. In collaboration with students, faculty and staff, we create engaging environments and provide leadership and support for meaningful educational experiences for all.
To help us achieve our ambitious goals for the years ahead, we have articulated the principles that guide our work. These make clear the role of TLS in supporting the University mission as well as the academic nature of our work.
1. Fostering significant long lasting student learning
Fostering significant long lasting student learning is our primary goal and we strive for it to be our metric of success. Student learning occurs in formal and informal settings, both inside and outside the classroom. All decisions that have direct or indirect impact on teaching and learning at McGill must be guided by a student centered focus. Our primary interest is in questions about student learning, about what it takes to foster significant lasting forms of student learning, about what that learning looks like, and about the forms of evidence and documentation that will allow the various disciplines, inter-disciplines and professional fields that constitute higher education to foster such learning more effectively.
2. Teaching is a scholarly act
The scholarship of teaching means that we invest in our teaching the intellectual knowledge, rigour and skill we practice in our research. Teaching, like other forms of scholarly work, is problem based, intentionally designed, theoretically grounded, replicable, and peer evaluated. As with other forms of scholarship, teaching must be public, subject to critical evaluation, and usable by others in both the scholarly and the general community. If teaching remains a largely private act, limited to the teacher and students, then those who engage in innovative acts of teaching cannot build upon the work of others, nor can others build upon theirs.
3. Teaching should be recognized and rewarded as are other forms of scholarly work
Once teaching is acknowledged as substantive, intellectual work, deserving the time and attention of faculty, then careful evaluation and institutional reward are required.
4. Our practice is evidence based
Evidence from the literature guides our practice, data from practice provide evidence of the impact and effectiveness of our work, this evidence then furthers practice. The most critical evidence that justifies or requires us to change our practices is what we learn about the impact of our practice on students’ learning. The reciprocal relationship between practice and evidence is made public and also serves to model a scholarly approach to investigating questions about teaching and learning.
5. Working in partnerships
Our work is carried out in partnership with members of the McGill community. These intensive partnerships with individuals and groups of professors and students, as well as academic, service and administrative units ensure the significant and sustainable impact of decisions related to teaching and learning. Meaningful, long-lasting change occurs as a result of these partnerships.
6. Alignment of policies, procedures and practices
The University’s strategic goals and the policies, procedures and practices related to teaching and learning must be aligned. Our role is to advocate and facilitate the development and implementation of policies that support appropriate practice, and procedures that support policies.
7. Strategic, systemic and sustainable investments
Investments made by the University in teaching and learning environments, resources and personnel must be planned in a strategic, systemic and sustainable manner: from conceptual to practical, from policy to procedure, from implementation to follow-up.
Commitment of McGill University to Effective Teaching
Passed at Senate, 15 April 1992 as part of the 234th Report of the Academic Policy and Planning Committee
Whereas McGill University is committed to effective teaching practice, BE IT RESOLVED that:
- Teaching activities and achievements, particularly examples of teaching leadership, shall be requested in planning documents and annual reports of academic units.
- Cyclical Review Committees shall pay particular attention to the quality of teaching programs, including supervision of graduate students, in the academic unit under review as outlined in the attached criteria for the evaluation of the quality of teaching for the Cyclical Review Committees.
- The University shall ensure that individuals given a teaching appointment at McGill University have demonstrated the potential to teach effectively.
- Deans of Faculties shall actively support effective teaching and, where feasible, shall make resources available for teaching innovation, curriculum revision, course design and participation in conferences on teaching and learning.
- Effective teaching and the support of effective teaching shall be given due consideration in the awarding of merit to academic teaching staff.
- The Office of the Vice-Principal (Planning and Resources) shall provide annual reports on retention/completion rates which shall then be examined by Faculties and the SCUTL with the objective of assessing reasons for student non-continuation.
- Teaching forums shall be organized by the Centre for University Teaching and Learning to raise awareness of teaching excellence and to provide an understanding of what constitutes effective teaching. Professors who have demonstrated outstanding teaching shall be asked to participate as model teachers in such sessions.
- Every effort shall be made to ensure that teaching activities and achievements have a high profile in University publications and press releases.