Teaching has been a lifelong passion for Marguerite Regan, Ph.D., and the former English professor is thrilled to support students and faculty as the new director of teaching and learning at Newman University.
Regan’s new position is one of several opportunities made possible by the $2.2 million Title III grant “Navigating the University Experience: Integrating Student and Faculty Support for Increased Retention, Graduation and Professional Achievement.” A Center for Teaching and Learning will also be established on the first floor of the Dugan Library as a hub for faculty support.
Lori Steiner, Ph.D., dean of the School of Arts and Sciences and associate professor of mathematics, explained that the overarching purpose of the Center for Teaching and Learning is to promote teaching that leads to impactful student learning.
According to the Title III grant proposal, “By supporting Newman faculty in becoming more effective teachers, the center will support the university’s educational mission and enhance students’ learning experiences.”
Advocating for faculty, supporting students
Born and raised in Chicago, Regan joined Newman’s English faculty in 2006, having previously served from 2001-2006 as an assistant professor of English at Southwestern College in Winfield, Kansas.
At a previous institution, she developed a “Reacting to the Past” pedagogy of teaching through historical simulation.
While at Newman, she has pioneered several different pedagogies, including learning communities, service learning, peer-led writing workshops and storytelling circles both in the classroom and community. In 2008 Regan won the Teaching Excellence Award at Newman.
With more than 30 years spent teaching, Regan is no stranger to professional development — something she’s found to be “energizing, invigorating and life-giving.”
“Our first loyalty is to our students and every professor at Newman shares that common ground,” Regan explained. “But in the past, we’ve spent little time being present in that space — of relating to our colleagues and collaborating around the things that matter most.”
As director of teaching and learning, Regan is passionate about establishing a sustainable, supportive infrastructure for faculty — with resources from stipends and scholarships to workshops and technologies. Regan’s mission is to provide a space where faculty are given the resources they need to live out their calling to the fullest.
Steiner describes Regan as “highly skilled, passionate and current in pedagogical best practices” — attributes that will without a doubt benefit faculty and students alike.
“Marguerite is creative, energetic and a skilled facilitator as well as knowledgeable in culturally relevant pedagogies,” Steiner said. “She is passionate about developing collaborative processes that will be essential in understanding faculty needs for helping students learn, grow and be successful toward their goals.”
Peer-led team learning opportunities
One aspect of the Center for Teaching and Learning’s support includes a new learning assistant pilot program currently underway for the spring semester.
Modeled after the evidence-based University of Colorado Boulder learning assistant program, the pilot implements peer-led team learning to foster inclusive, learner-centered STEM classrooms. It also builds on the collaboration of faculty, students, the Center for Teaching and Learning, the Student Success Center and the Title III grant.
Regan explained that learning assistants are different from teaching assistants and tutors in that they serve as “pedagogical partners” to the instructor.
“The partnership offers valuable insight to the instructor on the classroom environment and student learning experience, and it calls on the duo to co-design and co-implement evidence-backed pedagogies for facilitating small group learning,” she added. “Learning assistants also serve as helpful, knowledgeable peers to students enrolled in the class.”
Students Sam Roy, Margaret Koenig and AJ Sweitzer currently serve as learning assistants. Regan is confident that creating collaborative learning environments with faculty and learning assistants will “reignite our passion, allow us to be creative and grow.”
Not only will it encourage innovative ways of teaching neurodiverse students but it also will foster linguistic responsiveness for international students, heritage speakers and second- and third-language learners.
“Teaching and learning is the soul of our university,” Regan said. “We’re really working on supporting ALL learners, growing and reaching all of our students, regardless of backgrounds, abilities and learning styles.”
Regan added, “I’m really excited to help integrate these objectives and continue supporting our students by supporting faculty.”
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