Faculty Development at Scale: Reimagining Brown Bag Workshops

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The ALT Lab Brown Bag Lunch program is a re-imagining of traditional like programs. Centers for teaching and learning across the county consistently deal with low faculty attendance at center sponsored events. Brown bag lunch events are one such common iteration where faculty are encouraged to bring and eat their lunch while participating in a workshop or discussion. In the Fall of 2014 Virginia Commonwealth University’s faculty development unit, Academic Learning Transformation Laboratory, revived a brown bag lunch faculty development program that was originally cancelled due to poor attendance and negligible impact. The goals of the new program were to:

  • increase the number of faculty attending brown bag lunch events
  • build a program with little to no budget
  • partner with specific departments and gain one semester time commitment
  • create an established and valued faculty development program that could be scaled out across the university at large  

The new program has been a tremendous success as measured by faculty participation numbers, impact on instruction, faculty satisfaction, and by its expansion.


First Year Results

The original goals were fully met. The first semester partnered with two departments. The baseline for program evaluation examined the average number of participants, the results of a satisfaction survey and total financial investment. The number of participants increased from less than 5 on average in the cancelled program to greater than 60 in new iteration. The satisfaction survey explored faculty experiences in following areas: overall value, exposure to new ideas, engagement, plans to implement pedagogical suggestions, and desire for the program to continue. Of those who responded (roughly 42%), the results after the first semester are as follows:

  • overall value: 96%
  • exposure to new ideas: 89%
  • engaging sessions: 96%
  • plans to implement pedagogical suggestions: 77%
  • desire to continue program: 89%

Additional feedback included informal reporting by faculty, chairs, deans, and students, which was extremely positive.  

Two faculty groups, one focus group and one Faculty Learning Community, continued to meet throughout the second semester producing resources for their respective departments on teaching and learning issues. Both focus groups will continue into the 2015 Fall semester.

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