Mary Ann Tobin, PhD

Faculty Development Philosophy


Calls for accountability in higher education require us to meet the needs of 21st-century students whose expectations are measured against real-world, job-related goals. Students must master not only the theories and practices of their chosen fields, but also the technologies of their careers. Throughout their lives, they must rapidly and continually adapt and adopt innovative tools and meet challenges to the status quo.

In order to prepare students to thrive in an environment of constant change, educators also must keep up with technological innovations, create relevant course content that is applicable across the disciplines, and maintain rigorous academic standards in multiple delivery formats. To that end, faculty development centers and the instructional support staff in them must provide a welcoming, inclusive, collaborative and engaging safe space wherein subject matter experts become students of educational theory, practice and technologies. More importantly, that staff must model its expectations of best pedagogical practice in their own offerings, setting a standard of teaching excellence that faculty members want to emulate.

Therefore, in my everyday interactions with faculty members, as well as in my presentations, workshops and seminars, I employ the same practices and methodologies that I teach to teachers. For example, I focus on the individual's concerns during private consultations, prepare differentiated modules for use ad hoc, and embed several Student Engagement Techniques into my workshops and seminars, so the participants can experience those techniques themselves. I create multimedia presentations for use in online seminars and elsewhere. I incorporate cross-disciplinary, authentic teaching materials into my events, often providing real-classroom examples submitted by faculty members. I collaborate with faculty members, instructional designers, and student and academic affairs staff to create holistic, student-centered programs. My workshop and seminar descriptions contain demonstrable, observable and measurable learning objectives, and learning is measured through performance-based assessment tools aligned with those objectives. Using the motto "Model Your Expectations," I encourage faculty members to become life-long learners, so they can inspire their students to do the same.