The Impact of Faculty Leaders on the Student Experience

The Impact of Faculty Leaders on the Student Experience

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George Serra
September 25, 2012

Fostering and Enhancing the Students' Academic Learning Experiences through Academic Seminars

 

Faculty leaders play a crucial role during students’ seminar experience. We have the pleasure of fostering and enhancing students’ learning experiences by helping them to integrate relevant information presented by key speakers with assigned scholarly readings and experiential learning from their placement sites. Integrating experiential learning with traditional academic experiences substantially enhances student learning by helping them better understand the importance of theoretical frameworks and bringing academic theories to practice. With these areas, experience is often the best teacher.

 

We also help students to develop their ability to think critically and to analyze information presented to them. Faculty leaders encourage students to challenge ideas and perspectives offered by key speakers and authors they are assigned to read. We also stress the importance of respectful discourse and respect for diversity of opinions on issues, particularly in a democracy.

 

Personal and Professional Growth

 

In addition to impacting students’ academic learning experiences, faculty leaders often provide students with career advice and help them to develop the necessary tools to meet their professional goals. I strongly believe that an important role for educators is to help students develop the tools, such as the ability to think critically and to objectively analyze information, necessary for their professional growth.

 

I cannot count the number of times that I have witnessed students’ personal and career goals substantially impacted by their exposure to TWC programming and fieldwork assignments. When a student completes TWC seminar program his or her experience is life changing. For most students, the program helps to: Build their self-confidence and professional maturity while providing them with a richer understanding and appreciation of their career paths. Allow me to illustrate this last point with an example. During the RNC convention program, one of my students, a journalist major, was uncertain whether she selected the “right” major in college. It was after her fieldwork placement with CNN that she knew journalism was her true passion.

 

Fostering an Environment of Support

 

Working with the incredible Washington Center (TWC) staff, faculty leaders also provide students with a supportive and caring environment. This includes, but is not limited to students:

 

  • Developing a sense of “urban smarts”
  • Listening to placement concerns
  • Working with the TWC staff to address students’ needs

Helping students with travel logistics during their time in the program

 

  • Aiding students to work through roommate concerns
  • Making sure students in your group are accounted for each day

TWC Benefits to Faculty Leaders

 

Faculty leaders have a wonderful opportunity, through TWC program, to interact with and listen to prominent speakers from various communities. Interactions with these “movers and shakers” expand professional networking opportunities.  They including but are not limited to:

 

  • Members of Congress
  • Executive branch officials
  • Former governors
  • Domestic and international journalists
  • International political leaders
  • Business community leaders

In addition, faculty leaders increase their professional networks by meeting other faculty from around the country.  I met my two “new best friends” – Dr. Robert Alexander, Faculty Leader from Ohio Northern University, and Dr. Frank Talty, Faculty Leader from University of Massachusetts at Lowell, during my two weeks in Tampa.

 

Lecture Materials

 

Information relayed by the TWC speakers also provides faculty leaders with a plethora of new material for future class lectures and allows us to bring new and often different perspectives to the classroom.

 

Impact on Students

 

One of the greatest joys as an educator is to see first-hand the positive impact you have on students. I am very blessed to have received emails and cards from former TWC students expressing appreciation for making their seminar experience memorable and academically challenging. I remain in contact with a number of my former students through the professional network service LinkedIn and I have written letters of recommendation for them.

 

View photos of the DNC and RNC on our Flickr channel:

 

1. Republican National Convention (RNC) Check-In and Orientation

2. Hillsborough Community College (HCC) Welcome Reception

3. RNC Faculty Orientation

4. RNC Programming

5. RNC Game Day Event at Game Time Tampa

6. RNC Programming: Part 2

7. RNC Seminar Participants Tour the Official Convention Floor

8. First Day of the RNC

9. RNC: Day 2

10. RNC: Day 3

11. RNC: Day 4

12. Around-The-Clock at the RNC

13. DNC Campaign 2012 Seminar Kicks Off

14. DNC Programming

15. DNC Programming: Part 2

16. Why Charlotte in 2012?

17. V.I.P. Tour of the Time Warner Cable Arena

18. Around-The-Clock at the DNC

 

George Serra is the chairman of the political science department and director of the Center for Legislative Studies at Bridgewater State University. He is a 2003-2004 American Political Science Association Congressional Fellow and has published articles in leading political science journals, including The Journal of Politics, Political Research Quarterly, American Politics Research, Legislative Studies Quarterly, Party Politics, The Journal of Legislative Studies, Congress and the Presidency, and Electoral Studies. Dr. Serra received his B.A., M.A. and Ph.D. from the State University of New York - Stony Brook.

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