HLC Self Study
Chapter 6 Graphic

Professional Development

Estrella Mountain Community College supports professional development opportunities that are uniquely designed to facilitate teaching suited to varied learning environments.

Center for Teaching and Learning (CTL)

The Estrella Mountain Center for Teaching and Learning (CTL), which opened in 1999, provides a supportive environment for faculty to experiment, explore, develop, implement, and share ideas and experiences for the advancement of student learning. The CTL conducted workshops for 1,033 faculty and staff in support of continuous growth and learning. The CTL’s total expenditures for FY2010-2011 on workshops and grants was more than $100,000. 

The CTL also received a two-year funded Sloan Foundation grant that provided over $250,000 in resources.  Funding areas were dedicated toward key support personnel, including a Course Production Specialist and an Instructional Technologist. These positions assisted faculty in developing online and hybrid courses, learning styles modules and training in learning-based software.  Grant-funded license agreements with Smarthinking, INC, Realeyes Connect LLC, and Wimba INC enabled the expansion of educational software, training and the implementation of technology to advance student learning and faculty development.

The CTL at Estrella Mountain offers the following professional development opportunities:

  • Various workshops (e.g., Blackboard basics, How To Make Online Collaboration Work Well, iLearnshops, Teaching and Learning Styles, and Preparing to Teach Hybrid/Online)
  • E-Learning grants
  • Learning College grants
  • New Faculty Orientation
  • Day of Learning/Learning Open House

In summer 2010, a college team convened to craft the CTL Revision process to assess and align professional development activities within the context of Estrella Mountain Community College’s Learning College Journey. Through a qualitative analysis that consisted of faculty and staff interviews with all college constituents and research of best practices, a new roadmap was created to guide the redevelopment of the CTL as the hub of learning for all college employees.

New Faculty Orientation

Through the Center for Teaching and Learning, Estrella Mountain offers new full-time faculty a semester-long, New Faculty Orientation focused on learning. The experience introduces new faculty to college leaders and provides them with information and resources that will enhance both their teaching and their scholarship. Faculty members are granted a one course reduction to make time available for their participation, which consists of weekly meetings during the fall semester. They also receive a year-long waiver of their committee assignment while they adjust to their new surroundings. As part of the orientation, they are assigned a peer mentor who provides additional guidance and support.  Issues of pedagogy, classroom management and college practices and procedures are just a few of the topics covered in the orientation. Started in 2002, the program and has evolved over the years with input from faculty, division chairs and administrators. Along with other new employees, new faculty members also attend a one-day District orientation that covers much broader District issues, along with a half-day college New Employee Orientation. 

Adjunct Faculty Orientation

In 2009, Estrella Mountain fully implemented a web-based Adjunct Faculty Orientation, which replaced previously held face-to-face general meetings that had low attendance.  The online format streamlines the adjunct orientation by having all essential information in one place. 

Because it is available 24/7, the orientation serves as an initial and continued resource for new and returning adjunct faculty. It provides them with the foundation and ongoing resources to promote success in a Learning College. Knowledgeable Estrella Mountain faculty and staff from across the College have contributed to the content, which includes the following:

  • General college information covering student services areas such as Financial Aid, Advisement, Disability Resources, and Counseling
  • Classroom-specific information
  • Professional development
  • Basic resources such as information about the HelpDesk, Library and Adjunct Faculty Association
  • Student Information System, with step-by-step instructions for accessing rosters and entering grades
  • Information on Learning College initiatives
  • College and District forms/acknowledgements

The division chairs also host content-specific meetings at the beginning of each semester to cover policies and procedures appropriate to the particular division.

Adjunct Faculty Institute

Adjunct faculty professional development occurs through the Adjunct Faculty Institute, a program in the Center for Teaching and Learning. Adjunct faculty are paid a stipend to attend workshops and sessions that are focused on their specific needs.  Ideas for workshops or sessions may be initiated from within the instructional divisions or the Adjunct Faculty Professional Learning Community, which represents the learning needs of all adjunct faculty. Any general session offered in the Center for Teaching and Learning is also available for adjunct faculty to attend.

Faculty Evaluation Plan

Estrella Mountain Community College evaluates teaching and recognizes effective instruction. As part of the Residential Faculty Policies (RFP) manual, the Faculty Evaluation Plan (FEP) is a way to improve teaching performance and to advise a faculty member regularly and specifically of her/his strengths and weaknesses, progress and overall status. The FEP concentrates on assessment for improved performance. Faculty members must complete the FEP every year for the first five years while probationary and every third year when appointive. To complete the FEP, each faculty member must engage in a peer reviewed self-examination of the following three required areas:

  1. Teaching, learning and/or service
  2. Course assessment and/or program development/revision
  3. Governance and/or committee participation at the College and/or District level(s)

In addition, each faculty member must engage in reflective examination of at least two of the following elective areas:

  1. Professional development
  2. Acquisition of new skills
  3. Enhancement of diversity
  4. College level assessment of learning outcomes

The FEP also includes a section regarding related areas. This allows a faculty member to select a specific area for the focus of their full professional involvement at the College and/or within the District.

Faculty Professional Growth

Estrella Mountain Community College provides services to support improving pedagogies. Faculty Professional Growth (FPG) is a peer-reviewed benefit program under the direction of the District Faculty Executive Council and the Faculty Professional Growth Committee, as described in the Residential Faculty Policies. The purpose of the sponsored program is to enhance professionalism, to encourage excellence in District faculty and to provide the supervision of an incentive program for faculty while responsibly utilizing public money. Faculty Professional Growth is designed to recognize and reward the efforts of faculty members as they engage in professional growth activities related to their service within Maricopa. Funding for this program is contingent upon Governing Board approval for the current fiscal year. 

The Faculty Professional Growth program provides faculty the opportunity for horizontal advancement on the salary schedule. Faculty may apply for a maximum of 85 hours of horizontal advancement. Of these 85 hours, only 50 hours can be non-academic. There are also salary advancements for completion of graduate and, under certain conditions, undergraduate coursework. Salary advancements are possible for participation in external (i.e., sponsored outside of Maricopa) or internal (i.e., sponsored within Maricopa) clinics, conferences, workshops, or seminars. Opportunities for salary advancement are also available for work experience, travel experience and other professional activities. Faculty members also have access to travel funds. The funding of expenses to travel for the purpose of attending a FPG-eligible event is under the jurisdiction of individual campus faculty travel committee.


Faculty members are provided sabbatical opportunities. A sabbatical is a leave for a faculty member to broaden or deepen educational interests, explore new areas or examine instructional methods to enhance the mission of the College. A sabbatical leave gives faculty a respite from their normal duties in order to provide them an opportunity to grow professionally. The goal of a sabbatical leave project is to engage faculty in the areas of study, research, travel, work experience, or other creative activity which contributes to the Institution as a whole upon her/his return. A sabbatical leave is a competitive process awarded to an eligible faculty member on the strength of her/his application. In the past 10 years, eight Estrella Mountain faculty members have taken a sabbatical.  From 2009-2011, the District put the faculty sabbatical program on hold and has made only a limited number of sabbaticals available for 2011-2012.

Summer Projects

Faculty members can also participate in summer projects. A summer project is a task of learning and growth that a faculty member can design to accomplish during the summer. It pays an hourly salary and reimburses the faculty member for certain expenses.  Summer projects begin any time after the last day of accountability in May and must end before the first day of accountability in August. A summer project may include research or professional development activities such as the following:

  • Participation in seminars, conferences, workshops, or professional meetings related to the faculty member’s field/discipline or teaching responsibilities
  • Work experiences
  • Education and technology-related workshops
  • Training, whether individually or as part of a class

Examples of summer projects at Estrella Mountain include:

  • Exploring the Relationship between Language, Culture and Embodiment with Cognitive Linguistics
  • Learning Game Maker’s Apprentice
  • Laughing and Learning – Exploring the Use of Humor to Engage Students in Learning Experiences
  • Embracing Diversity Training Through the Reading of Select Hispanic Literature
  • Digital Biological Field Notebook: Documenting the Flora and Fauna of Arizona
  • Birds of Arizona: Workshops and Field Experience
  • Creating Audio-synchronous Slide Presentations
  • Intercultural Communication Online: The How-to’s
  • A Study of the Asian Diaspora and its Indigenous Connections

Professional Organizations

The faculty members of Estrella Mountain Community College actively participate in professional organizations relevant to the discipline they teach.  A survey of instructors at Estrella Mountain Community College revealed numerous organizations to which faculty members belong.  Some examples include:

  • American Mathematical Association of Two Year Colleges (AMATYC)
  • American College Counseling Association (ACCA)
  • American Institute of Physics (AIP)
  • American Nurses Association + AZ Chapter 6 (Nursing Educators)
  • Arizona Psychological Association (AZPA)
  • Arizona Technology in Education Alliance (AZTEA)
  • Association for Psychological Science (APS)
  • Human Anatomy and Physiology Society (HAPS)
  • Media Communications Association International (MCA-I)
  • Modern Language Association (MLA)
  • National Association for Developmental Education (NADE)
  • National Communication Association (NCA)
  • National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE)
  • National League of Nursing (NLN)
  • Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC)
  • Society for the Advancement of Chicanos and Native Americans in Science (SACNAS)