Role of Departmental Chairs in Teaching Excellence

squirrel in ivyRole of Departmental Chairs in Teaching Excellence (PDF, 906KB)

Achieving equitable, diverse, and inclusive teaching and learning at Queen’s University is essential to educational excellence, and responding to local, national, and global challenges. The TRC Task Force's "Yakwanastahentéha | Aankenjigemi | Extending the Rafters" report; the Scarborough Charter on Anti-Black Racism and Black Inclusion in Canadian Higher Education; the Declaration of Commitment to Address Systemic Racism; The Boyer 2030 Commission Report (2022), along with a growing body of literature outline the importance of meaningful integration of inclusive excellence at all levels of the University, as well as the central role Departmental Heads and Chairs play in this work. The Boyer Commission has defined the “Equity/Excellence imperative” as belief that “excellence and equity are inextricably entwined, such that excellence without equity (privilege reproducing privilege) is not true excellence, and equity (mere access) without excellence is unfulfilled promise” (3, 2022). The recommendations below outline ways that Equity/Excellence can be integrated into departmental work. These recommendations are not exhaustive, nor should they be used as a checklist; rather they provide a focused and intentional starting point for discussion about I-EDIAA advancement in your programs.

What departmental heads can do to support teaching excellence (I-EDIAA focus)

Adopt a holistic program/departmental teaching lens that integrates Indigenization-Equity, Diversity, Inclusion, Accessibility, Anti-Racism (I-EDIAA)   

  • Recommendations:
    • Integrate I-EDIAA into all aspects of the curriculum, including content, teaching practices, classroom environments, and research.  
    • Provide resources for ongoing personal learning and unlearning for instructors.
    • Actively encourage, reward, and provide opportunities incorporating I-EDIAA at the level of curriculum, recruitment and hiring, retention, and student success.  

Use high-impact and evidence-based practices to further I-EDIAA1

  • High-impact practices teach students the critical life and problem-solving skills they need to thrive outside of the classroom. Examples:
    • First-year seminars
    • Faculty-mentored research
    • Study abroad
    • Internships
    • Living-learning communities  
  • “Some students especially benefit from [high-impact] practices: for example, among students who participate in HIPs in their first year, studies show that “Black students’ gains in first-to-second-year retention rates and Hispanic students’ gains in first-year grade point averages (GPAs) are greater than those of white students.”  
  • Promote evidence-based practices that integrate inclusive and empathy-based educational environments:
    • Active learning
    • Flipped classrooms for large courses.  
  • Center evidenced-based and high-impact practices as the core, baseline standard for teaching and not “extra.”

Professional development2

“Whether teachers have spent their careers in academia or have extensive experience as practitioners, the key challenge for quality teaching is to develop subject-specific experts into excellent teachers.”  

  • Suggested guiding principles for professional development:
    • Alignment: Develop a professional development program that aligns with university values, identity, and faculty expectations. At Queen’s this includes policies outlined in the PICRDI report, the Scarborough Charter, and Extending the Rafters.
    • Adequate support and resources: Allow adequate time, human resources, funding, and facilities to ensure that quality improvement initiatives meet the needs of teachers and foster a sense of ownership amongst the community.
    • Professional learning communities: Support faculty in creating Professional Learning Communities to share practices/experiences and problem-solve together. Encourage peer-evaluation, constructive feedback, and coaching as ongoing practices to foster a learning community approach to quality teaching.  
    • Outreach to teaching and learning professionals: Provide an effective venue for discussions and experience sharing on teaching and learning practices (e.g., a Learning and Teaching Centre), that is visible and valued by the academic community, either at institution, department, or program level. At Queen’s, this includes the Centre for Teaching and Learning.

Cited resources:

Boyer 2030 Commission. (2022). The equity/excellence imperative: A 2030 blueprint for undergraduate education at research universities.

Hénard, F., & Roseveare, D. (2012). Fostering quality teaching in higher education: Policies and practices. An IMHE guide for higher education institutions.

Additional resource on high-impact practices:

High-Impact Practices (The American Association of Colleges and Universities)