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Meet the Learning Commons: Bob Shea, Associate Provost for the Advancement of Teaching and Learning


Bob Shea, Associate Provost for the Advancement of Teaching and Learning


Interviewed by Lindsey Gumb, Instructional Technology Librarian


  1. You’ve worked at several other academic institutions before arriving here. What drew you to RWU?

A couple of things really drew me to RWU. First of all, it was very clear to me from the moment I read the job description that someone gave a lot of thought to the creation of this position of Associate Provost for the Advancement of Teaching and Learning, and that was exciting.   Another very important draw for me was that I noticed RWU’s values aligned very closely with my own, specifically with regard to engaged teaching and learning.


  1. What is your long-term goal for Center for Student Academic Success?

My long-term goal for the Center for Student Academic Success has two main strands. The first is to develop an integrated student support hub, which is more than just one-stop shopping of services. I see CSAS as being aligned with the Center for Teaching and Learning to provide support for faculty development so that our faculty can best advise our students.   The second is the need to establish an outcomes-based, developmental approach to student success.


  1. The breadth of your position is challenging. What area(s) seems to be demanding the most attention?

 I don’t think there’s an easy answer to this! Every area that I oversee requires a lot of my attention. I think that with all of the areas, there is work to be done building systems for digitizing and simplifying processes, as well as building a culture that focuses heavily on learning outcomes and student success.


  1. What is your vision for both a physical and virtual Center for Teaching and Learning?

I see the Center for Teaching and Learning as having the primary role of making time and space available for faculty to meet and talk to each other about their own teaching and student learning. There isn’t a space like this currently on campus, and its development is high on my priority list. The physical center will reside on the 2nd floor of the library, but it is still to be determined how big or what the space will look like. A virtual center is also under development in the form of a Bridges site.


  1. What role do you see the library playing when it comes to experiential learning and the Center for Teaching and Learning? Can you provide some examples of your interactions with librarians in your previous positions?

 At every institution before arriving at RWU, I’ve always worked very closely with the library and librarians. At Pine Manor College, I revised the First-Year Experience Program that, in part, focused on the development of information literacy skills. At the University of Rhode Island, I worked with librarians on assessing information literacy skills, as well as on broader program assessment efforts. I made the deepest connections while at Bryant University, where I team-taught a course, Citizenship in a Digital Age, with Jenifer Bond, Associate Director of the library. This class focused a lot on helping students to develop strong information literacy skills, and I learned so much from working with Jenifer.


  1. Outside of RWU, what hobbies or activities do you enjoy?

 I really enjoy traveling! When I was at Bryant University I oversaw the Study Abroad program, and I was lucky enough to also find myself chaperoning several international trips, including to Spain, Germany and South Africa.