By Erica Techo
Whether it is through collaborative discussion on student engagement or a quiet space for scholarly writing, the UAB School of Nursing is dedicated to providing faculty with opportunities for continued growth and professional development.
In the summer of 2019, the Office of Research and Scholarship established The Writing Envelope, a monthly workshop that provides an oasis for writing.
“Through The Writing Envelope, we create an opportunity for people to write, cell phone off and no email,” said workshop host and Professor Susanne Fogger, DNP, CRNP, CARN-AP, PMHNP-BC, FAANP. “You can enter the room and work in a protected space, a place where creative thoughts can flow.”
This emerged from an earlier workshop with the same goals. It evolved to meet faculty needs — including time to write.
“We used to focus on didactics, but a lot of that is available online,” said Professor and Associate Dean for Research and Scholarship David Vance, PhD, MGS, MS. “What writers and faculty need is real time to focus and write, so we shifted to provide an experience where you can remove distractions, ask questions and get immediate feedback.”
“We are charged with helping across the School’s missions, and this allows faculty to put what they know on paper and continue a culture of writing,” he added.
For faculty taking their first steps toward publishing, Associate Dean for Undergraduate/ Prelicensure Education Gwendolyn Childs, PhD, RN, FAAN, is collaborating with department chairs to develop workshops for faculty in the undergraduate program.
“The first step is deciding what to write about,” Childs said. “Your first published piece can be intimidating, but I want our faculty to know that an article doesn’t have to be a large research piece. Pieces on lesson plans and simulations can reach an instructor seeking a new way to explain a complex concept. Those instructors will benefit from their simulation expertise or classroom tactics.”
Publications on creative teaching practices have ranged from dressing up as characters from The Wizard of Oz to creating a board game on the social determinants of health, methods that faculty have used successfully.
“Developing these innovative pedagogies are important and help keep students engaged throughout longer lectures and classes,” said Assistant Professor and Director of Instructional Innovation Nancy Wingo, PhD, MA. “We wanted to create a safe space for faculty to discuss and develop new ideas for teaching, so we started Coffee in the Collaboratory.”
Coffee in the Collaboratory, a monthly initiative that introduces faculty to new technology, alternative lesson plans and more, is hosted by Wingo and Associate Professor Cathy Roche, PhD, RN (PhD 2012). It opens the door to collaboration and encourages faculty to build new ideas.
“We structure these meetups so faculty are encouraged to participate. It’s not a lecture, it’s a discussion,” Roche said. “What happens is people realize how easy it is to implement these ideas. Nurses are very creative and resourceful by nature, and these discussions and ideas are a natural extension of that.”