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Academic Professional Development Programme for Thapar Institute of Engineering and Technology (TIET), Patiala, Punjab, India

Group Photo Thapar University

Trinity College Dublin and Thapar Institute of Engineering and Technology (TIET) announced an institutional partnership in 2015. The partnership promotes academic collaboration in key areas of undergraduate programmes and research. The Provost & President of Trinity College Dublin and President of Thapar University, Mr Gautam Thapar signed the agreement.

Thapar University CampusThapar University CampusThapar University ClassroomThapar University Group

The collaboration is a central component of a major contemporisation programme that TIET is undertaking. It is also significantly contributing to Trinity College Dublin’s global engagement in attracting high-calibre students.

CAPSL carried out an extensive needs analysis at TIET in May 2015 that specifically focused on the developmental needs of staff in teaching and learning.

Since March 2016, CAPSL has been involved in academic staff development at TIET through the establishment of 3 different programmes:

  • The New Directions Programme (2018-Present)
  • The Teaching Fellows Programme (2018-2020)
  • The Advanced Development Programme in Teaching & Learning (2019-2020)

A total of 433 TIET staff have completed these programmes to date (New Directions: 359; Advanced Programme 74 and Teaching Fellows Training 12).

The New Directions programme encouraged me to reflect on how I can engage my students more in active learning by being more creative in teaching and in how students should be encouraged to construct their own learning.

The New Direction programme has encouraged me to reflect on the ways to increase student participation in teaching and learning.

The New Directions Programme encouraged me to apply small-group strategies in large classes, which has given me a fresh insight about [my] teaching practice and the student centred learning (SCL) paradigm.

The Advanced Development Programme in Teaching & Learning (2019-2020)

TIET staff who had completed New Directions were invited to engage in professional development in Teaching & Learning at a deeper level through the Advanced Development Programme in Teaching & Learning. 74 participants have completed the Advanced Programme. Areas of focus in this programme have been as follows:

i.          Integrating research and teaching within and beyond the Disciplines.
ii.         Developing Creative Teaching and Learning Approaches in Your Discipline.
iii.        Reflecting on and Evaluating your Teaching.

Each module in the programme consisted of 2 master classes and ‘theory into practice’ workshops.

These… workshops are really nice. I get (sic) an idea of how to apply the models ([Reflection] for the betterment of my students.

Had the chance to look into the ‘teaching life’ of other colleagues and that gave a sense of proudness that as a TIET community we are serious about our teaching and we are trying.

The experience was fantastic. It’s just like sharpening the saw while listening to challenges and case studies of colleagues in various academic units. It actually rejuvenates the whole teaching and learning experience.

The Teaching Fellows Programme (2018-2020)

Twelve TIET Teaching Fellows have been hosted by CAPSL at Trinity for a total of 18 weeks. The Teaching Fellows have completing our Special Purpose Certificate in Academic Practice (SPCert) and a ‘Train the Trainers’ programme, as well as working on projects areas of Teaching & Learning of particular interest to them and/or of value to TIET.  The Teaching Fellows have all returned to TIET and are facilitating the current New Directions Programme and other professional development programmes in Teaching & Learning; e.g. seminars, stand-alone workshops, Communities of Practice, Peer Observation network, capstone projects etc. This has enhanced the sustainability of the professional development of TIET academic staff in Teaching & Learning  at TIET.

[The] Advanced training program in TCD, really helped us to get exposed to cultural as well as professional changes….we witnessed how Trinity college is committed to student centred learning through [the] centre for academic development.

The two months learning had (sic)  given me opportunity to observe some of the teaching styles at TCD, Dublin. This peer-observation of faculty and students at TCD was a valuable addition. The various literature discussions, study and different models [and] interpretations in curriculum, reflection, assessment and feedback sessions made the whole programme very interesting.

The SPCERT has changed my attitudes and ways of thinking towards teaching and learning positively. It has made [me] more confident and ready to accept my faults.

The ‘New Directions’ Programme (2016-Present)

The New Directions programme provide a ‘foundation’ level exposure to university teaching and learning in areas such as curriculum design, student-centred learning, assessment & feedback, the outcomes based approach and reflection & evaluation of teaching . TIET teaching staff from numerous Departments including engineering, computer science, mathematics, biotechnology and management have taken part in the programme. Communities of Practice (CoPs) have enabled sharing of best-practice between the participants. Participants submitted an assignment describing and reflecting on a teaching innovation they implemented in their teaching. CAPSL also facilitated group poster development sessions. A Show Case event is held at the end of each year of the programme, which includes a poster ‘parade’, panel discussions and selected speakers.

Student Centred and Active Learning Approaches in Large Group Teaching - Trip to Thapar University September 2017

Thapar Session Sep 2017

“This session was held during the ongoing ‘New Directions in teaching & learning’ programme at Thapar University in September 2017. Academic staff at Thapar University had requested that I carry out a large group teaching session with undergraduate students that could be filmed and made available to them. The idea was to explicitly model and provide examples of various active learning and student centred learning approaches that can be used in large class teaching. 

Given my scientific background in eye development and disease research I thought that a ‘master class’ for biotechnology students in this area would be of interest to them. Over 200 students attended the class from all years of the undergraduate Biotechnology programme as well as Master’s students. I was confident that I could engage such a large class of students and used a number of different approaches encouraging think, pair, share to answer questions (including the use of a ‘nerf’ ball thrown  around the lecture theatre), the use of a gapped handout so students could add their own notes and some short quiz questions on the content. The students submitted their answers to Mentimeter and a word cloud was generated that we then discussed. I also showed a YouTube video of cataract surgery and we had a short discussion about cataract t surgery in India, based on a paper that the students had read prior to coming to the class. 

At the end, I gave the students an opportunity to submit a ‘minute paper’ asking them what were the two most interesting things they had learned in the class, something that they found confusing or still didn’t understand and what they enjoyed / did not enjoy about the teaching approaches used. The students were positive about the session and the use of the 'nerf ball' in the class when asking (and answering) questions. Students also enjoyed the cataract video. A number of students said that the pace was a bit fast and they would have liked to have had more time to explore some of the topics further and in greater depth. I agree with this – I wanted to cover several different areas and to maximise the variety of teaching and learning approaches used in the class. Students also enjoyed the quiz saying that it helped them focus on the material and also the use of Mentimeter to create the word cloud. There were also positive comments about the gapped handout.

I personally found the session very enjoyable and rewarding. There were some technical hitches that I had to solve ‘on my feet’ i.e. Wi-Fi access for the word cloud, but it all went very well. The students were attentive, interested in the material and open to engaging in the various activities I incorporated into the teaching.”

Prof Michael Wride

Dr Ciara O ’Farrell (CAPSL), Dr Mike Wride (CAPSL) and Dr Jonny Johnston (CAPSL), as well as Dr Michelle Share (School of Education, TCD), Dr Aonghus McNabola (School of Engineering, TCD)  and Prof. Brian Foley (School of Engineering, TCD)  have all contributed to this project.