University of West Georgia faculty members Dr. Bradford Yates and Dr. Ryan Bronkema were recently selected as 2017 Governor’s Teaching Fellows (GTF). As two of 15 faculty members from institutions of higher education across the state, Yates and Bronkema were chosen after a highly competitive application and selection process.
The GTF program was established in 1995 by then Georgia Gov. Zell Miller to provide Georgia’s higher education faculty with expanded opportunities for developing teaching skills. Governor Miller envisioned that this program would address faculty members’ pressing need to use emerging technologies and instructional tools that are becoming increasingly important for learning in today’s society.
“The instructional tools I use in the classroom vary based on the subject matter,” explained Yates, head of digital media and telecommunication and professor in the mass communications department. “I teach courses that help students learn to create messages using audio and video, and I find I am most comfortable incorporating those technological elements in my classes. I was reminded during the GTF Summer Symposium that there are numerous instructional techniques and tools available that will engage students.”
GTF is an outreach program of the Institute of Higher Education at the University of Georgia. To improve the quality of instruction in Georgia’s colleges and universities, the program assumes the complex challenge of moving college faculty members to the leading edge of instructional practice.
“I am nearly a 25-year veteran of the higher education classroom, but I am always looking for ways to improve my teaching,” Yates said. “The GTF Summer Symposium provided a chance to reassess my instructional arsenal and identify innovative approaches to continue to engage students and stay relevant in the classroom.”
Bronkema, assistant professor of counselor education and college student affairs in the Department of Communication Sciences and Professional Counseling, teaches graduate students almost exclusively.
“We do a lot more talking of what this actually means to them in work or how it influences their work,” he said. “At the symposium we talked about how to assess student learning, and I think there were some mechanisms we learned that are easy to use to see what students are learning.”
This effort to enhance instruction in public and private higher education statewide is very much in keeping with UWG’s commitment to academic excellence, community engagement and professional development in a student-centered community.
Overall, Yates said he enjoyed his time at the GTF Summer Symposium and is looking forward to practicing what he learned.
“The GTF Summer Symposium challenged my classroom principles, exposed me to alternative approaches to effective instruction and reenergized my commitment to education,” Yates said. “It was an outstanding experience.”
Bronkema said he benefited from the connections he was able to make.
“The most important thing I took away was the nice network of people that I could lean on, and just having people who spend more time thinking about teaching,” he explained. “It is nice to know that we have a network of people outside of here to talk them and ask what they think about stuff.”
Both men said they felt honored to be selected as Governor’s Teaching Fellows and to have the opportunity to attend the GTF Summer Symposium.
“I had the chance to work with some of the best teachers throughout the state of Georgia and to learn new and innovative teaching techniques from leading pedagogical scholars,” Yates recalled. “I am very grateful for the opportunity, and I hope to share what I learned with the UWG community in the coming year.”
“The symposium really made me think what is the big question that these courses are really built on,” Bronkema stated. “It makes me think about what is the thing that makes this course necessary, and that has helped me rethink about how I am going to package my courses. There is an advantage in rebuilding and adapting things.”
To learn more about the Governor’s Teaching Fellows Program, go to http://ihe.uga.edu/outreach/governors-teaching-fellows.
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