WHAT ARE QUALITY CIRCLES FOR TEACHING?

For many faculty members at Berkeley, opportunities to talk about, compare, (and therefore, systematically improve) teaching are limited. And, even those opportunities are often only brief encounters rather than more substantive and stimulating ongoing conversations around teaching and learning issues. We aim to encourage more substantive and stimulating conversations about teaching and learning through the formation of Quality Circles for Teaching (QCT). The key elements of a QCT, drawn in large part from research on collaboration and sharing, and the work of *Deming (2000), are to watch each other work, measure everything we can to find informative excursions, and talk about what we see. The framework, in contrast to evaluation for promotion and mentoring, is peer coaching.

HOW DOES A QCT WORK?

Formed around shared pedagogical interests or practice, a QCT will comprise three to four faculty, and ideally represent multiple disciplines. Each QCT will identify a focus of choice that may include active learning, syllabus design, assignment design, application of course concepts, teaching large lecture courses, and integration of technology, to name only a few. The QCT will then formulate a process through which to engage that focus across the semester. This process may include, but is not limited to:

  • Reviewing a sample of syllabi, assignments and/or class exercises
  • Visits to each other’s courses 
  • Providing the other members some videotape of class sessions

At a minimum, each QCT will meet once per month across a semester to discuss, share, and provide informed feedback on the chosen topic/s of consideration. Each monthly meeting of a QCT will take place over lunch for 1-1.5 hours.

QCT meetings can take a variety of forms to stimulate conversation and help faculty investigate teaching/learning issues and opportunities:

  • Guided Discussion: Members come prepared to discuss an item (article, chapter, videotape) or issue selected by the group.
  • Round-robins: Members share personal experience and knowledge on a topic of interest to the group.
  • Ask the expert: An “expert” (or expert panel) is invited to share insights on a topic.
  • “Progress” reports: Members report on experiments they have conducted with new teaching practices.
  • Peer Tutoring: Members of the group take responsibility for learning different aspects of the topic being explored by the group. At each session, one or two members report back on the material they have researched.
  • General discussion: Meetings can be occasions for informal conversations about teaching and learning. There is no set agenda. Participants bring in issues, questions, topics that are of interest to them.

HOW CAN I LEAD, OR PARTICIPATE, IN A QCT?

Up to three QCT’s can be funded each semester. Faculty Leads who propose a QCT are responsible for fellow participant recruitment, coordinating the meeting logistics, facilitating the monthly meetings, helping to ensure all participants achieve desired outcomes, and composing a brief 1-2 page report at its conclusion summarizing its work and how its members achieved their desired outcomes (which should be submitted by the first week of the following semester via email attachment to teaching@berkeley.edu(link sends e-mail) with “QCT Report” in the subject line).

Faculty Leads will be provided with a $500 stipend to be used to host lunches and purchase any relevant materials (I.e., books) across the semester.

If you have interest in the QCT program, either as a Faculty Lead or participant, please email teaching@berkeley.edu(link sends e-mail) with “QCT Program” in the subject line. Requests to run a QCT are accepted on a rolling basis, or until all funds are expended in a given semester.

 

*Deming, W.E. (2000). Out of the Crisis, MIT Press.