The Centre of Excellence in Teaching & Learning, CETL, at Sultan Qaboos University, was officially opened on 26 February at a ceremony held under the patronage of H.E. Dr. Ali bin Saud Al Bimani, the Vice Chancellor of the University. CETL seeks to provide services to academic faculty, thus enhancing the quality of teaching and learning first at the University, then at both public and private higher education institutions nationally. CETL also makes visible the intellectual work of teaching while recognizing excellent Faculty Fellows across the SQU Colleges.
In his address on the occasion, Prof. Amer Al Al Rowas, SQU Deputy Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs & Community Service, said that the decision to establish the CETL, which was issued on June 18, 2014, is primarily intended to meet the needs of various colleges at SQU to improve the level of teaching and learning. “Since its inception, the CETL has stimulated teaching and learning in higher education through the applications of the best teaching and learning strategies based on research and scientific evidence. During the past three years, the CETL has hosted a number of international speakers, held scientific workshops, organized conferences and panel discussions for researchers and specialists and provided resources related to teaching and learning in the 21st century”, he said.
Prof. Thuwayba Al Barwani, Director of the CETL, said that the Faculty Fellows Program of the CETL recognizes faculty who use excellent teaching and learning strategies derived from classroom-based research and who will be trained to act as college and program consultants. “The Faculty Fellows of the CETL are expected to conduct peer consultation; promote teaching excellence; develop outcome-based learning objectives; promote innovation in teaching; and promote student success along with other tasks”, she said.
In addition, CETL provides other services to SQU Colleges and faculty. These services include development of workshops specific to the requests of individual academic programs, classroom observation, confidential consultation, syllabus and assessment review, along with print and electronic resources. CETL staff works with administration and faculty to assess both curriculum and teaching changes as well as document the impact these changes have on student learning. This collaborative evaluation process include the establishment of performance goals, assessment criteria, identification or design of assessment tools, data collection, and reporting.
The CETL also prepares and publishes new faculty handbook for each academic year. This handbook intends to provide every faculty member with necessary orientation and familiarization with the existing requirements that support teaching at the University. As one of the core missions of CETL, the handbook aims to equip new faculty with necessary information and skills for a smooth transition to the SQU teaching environment.
During the official opening of CETL today, Dr. Peter Looker from Nanyang Technological University, Singapore, gave a talk on “Keeping the focus on student learning; evaluation research and practice”. He said that concerted efforts are required to create a good teaching and learning environment in any higher educational institution. “Components necessary for supporting a good learning environment at an educational institution include proper training for faculty members in teaching and learning; adaptation of pedagogical principles and practices, apt design of teaching and learning spaces; and continuous research and evaluation of teaching and learning methods and practices”, Dr. Looker noted.
At the function, the Vice Chancellor of SQU awarded certificates in higher education teaching and learning (CHET) to 19 faculty members of the university. The names of the new batch of faculty fellows were announced.