Published on August 19, 2020 by Sarah Cain  

Samford faculty are working together to share innovations in teaching and wellness strategies in preparation for what will be one of the most unusual semesters in the university’s history. Hosted by the Faculty Success Collaborative, Samford professors led peer presentations for the day-long “Celebrate Samford” 2020 Mini-Conference.  

The conference is among the many developmental opportunities provided to faculty by the Faculty Success Collaborative in support of the development of coursework and new teaching pedagogies. Earlier this summer, faculty met virtually for Renovate, a week-long workshop focused on helping faculty to innovate and improve existing courses. 

Samford faculty have been hard at work preparing to deliver classes in several different modalities this fall semester, including in-person, online and a combination of the two, with a commitment to maximizing the number of in-person learning experiences. Approximately 86% of fall courses will include some elements of in-person learning across all courses in all undergraduate and graduate degree programs; an estimated 52% of courses will be offered face-to-face, and 34% of courses will be hybrid, involving online modules offered along with in-person classes. 

Conference programming included presentations by faculty representing Howard College of Arts and Sciences, School of Public Health, School of Health Professions and McWhorter School of Pharmacy. In the keynote address, psychology professor Stephen Chew discussed teaching for diverse learners. Chew, a nationally recognized expert in teaching and learning, was previously named the recipient of the American Psychology Foundation’s Charles L. Brewer Distinguished Teaching of Psychology Award and was recognized as the 2011 U.S. Professor of the Year by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching.

“All people have brains that function according to the same general principles. This allows us to design teaching that promotes learning for anyone,” Chew said. “But people also have vastly different life experiences that shape their brains in unique ways. That requires us to design teaching that promotes learning for everyone.” 

In another presentation, professors from the School of Public Health shared insights into the challenges presented by the shift from face-to-face to online instruction and how differing challenges became opportunities for innovation and interprofessional collaboration. 

All presentations shared a common thread of sharing best practices and resources to deliver superior teaching that is responsive to emerging trends and opportunities in higher education. 

Samford has long been recognized for the accomplishments of its faculty and the quality of their teaching. Earlier this year U.S. News & World Report ranked Samford 40th nationally for best undergraduate teaching among all national universities in the United States. Samford is the only Alabama university included in that list. The rankings for undergraduate teaching focus on universities that place an emphasis on teaching undergraduate students in a high-quality manner.

Samford is a leading Christian university offering undergraduate programs grounded in the liberal arts with an array of nationally recognized graduate and professional schools. Founded in 1841, Samford is the 87th-oldest institution of higher learning in the United States. Samford enrolls 5,791 students from 49 states, Puerto Rico and 16 countries in its 10 academic schools: arts, arts and sciences, business, divinity, education, health professions, law, nursing, pharmacy and public health. Samford fields 17 athletic teams that compete in the tradition-rich Southern Conference and ranks 6th nationally for its Graduation Success Rate among all NCAA Division I schools.