Launched in October 2005, the Palestinian Faculty Development Program (PFDP) aims to increase capacity within the higher education sector in the West Bank and Gaza and address long-term issues of reform in teaching and learning practices. The program, which is funded by USAID and the Open Society Institute (OSI) and administered by AMIDEAST and OSI, has three main objectives: 1) to promote the expansion, retention, and professional development of promising academics teaching in the social sciences and humanities; 2) to revitalize and reform teaching in these areas at Palestinian higher education institutions, and 3) promote an institutional culture of teaching and learning. The following is a description of PFDP program components.
1.1 PhD Fellowships: The PFDP currently has 9 Palestinian faculty pursuing their PhD degrees at sixteen US universities. An additional 24 PhD alumni have returned to Palestine.
1.2 Master’s Program for Teachers and Principals of Public Schools and Ministry of Education Officials: This program, began in Sept 2010 through targeting school principals, mid-level MOEHE administrators, and teachers who will receive a M.Ed. in educational administration, educational leadership, curriculum design, and education policy, education technology, school counseling and special education with an aim to have individuals return to Ministry positions. This program seeks to build capacity in the Ministry in line with the National Teacher Education Strategy. Sixteen scholar graduated with MA degree and returned to Palestine,
1.3 Short-Term Fellowships: Part-time and full-time faculty from Palestinian universities and colleges teaching in one of 17 social science and humanities fields spend 3-5 months at a U.S. university pursuing an innovative non-degree faculty exchange program designed to encourage the pursuit of academic careers, generate new approaches to curricular and pedagogical reform and/or provide scholarly research opportunities. Participants engage in two separate spring semester visits. PFDP had 29 faculty member benefited from short term fellowships.
1.4 Academic Colloquia: The sixth in a series of Academic Colloquia was held on July12 , 2012 in Ramallah. Each colloquium provides a forum for academic faculty in the West Bank to network, exchange ideas, and present research.
1.5 U.S. Fellows Conference: This three-day conference brings together both PhD Fellows and Short-Term Fellows studying in the U.S. at the time. The conference is an opportunity to network and form a PFDP-based community where Fellows present research, learn about the work of their colleagues, and share scholarly ideas. The final conference was in the US in March 2012.
2.1 Seminar for Excellence in Teaching (SET): SET is a two-part, 80-hour certificate program that exposes faculty to a variety of teaching approaches and key issues associated with course design. The goal is to encourage an understanding of the university teacher as a professional scholar ready to engage in teaching that is informed by research and discussion of models of good practice.
2.2 SET Master Trainers: The PFDP has seven certified master trainers prepared through seminars in excellence in teaching.
2.3 English Training for Academic Faculty: Selected faculty will receive specialized English instruction for academic activities including web searches, proposal writing, academic journal reading and writing, and international web conferencing in English.
2.4 Faculty Development Series: AMIDEAST organized a series of workshops, seminars or lectures with the aim of bringing faculty together to discuss and debate trends or issues in higher education. These events will provide a forum for communication, faculty networking and professional development, as well as spotlight visiting international scholars and/or local expertise.
2.5 Administrative Seminars at the Central European University (CEU): AMIDEAST is partnered with the CEU, a US registered and accredited university located in Budapest, Hungary, and offered Palestinian faculty working in senior administrative roles three-to-five day intensive seminars in select university professional administration fields, such as finance, student services, strategic planning, or human resources. These seminars provided important skills for administrators to better perform their jobs and improve administrative systems, as well as allowed them to experience first-hand some of the aims of the PFDP. The intensive seminars took place in Budapest.
3.1 Centers of Teaching Excellence: Two local universities received PFDP funds in support of establishing Centers for Teaching Excellence. Bethlehem University and An-Najah National University collaborate with two partner US universities (Portland State University and Northwestern University) in their efforts to establish these centers of Excellence.
3.2 Faculty Grants: The PFDP awarded grants to support the scholarship and best practices of teaching and learning within Palestinian universities and colleges.
3.3 Collaborative Projects in Teaching (CPT): The goals of CPT Projects are to develop scholarly and innovative undergraduate teaching and critical rethinking on a specific subject within the social sciences and humanities. CPT projects involve a collaborative structure fostering peer exchange and learning among local and international faculty through seminars and workshops and the development of materials such as new programs or curricula.
3.4 Teaching Excellence Awards: These awards highlight the importance of teaching in higher education, inspire teachers within academia, and recognize success. Individual awards of up to $2,000 was given to faculty for outstanding achievement in teaching.
3.5 Monitoring and Evaluation in Teaching and Learning:
a. The National Study of Undergraduate Teaching is the first of its kind, providing the higher education community, as well as the general donor community, invaluable information on questions like: What is the state of teaching practice among Palestinian universities and colleges? What are teachers and students doing in a typical university classroom? What materials and pedagogical approaches are commonly used? How are teachers assessing student learning? A copy of the study can be found on our website.
b. PFDP Needs Assessments: PFDP conducted the first needs assessment in 2007 with a follow-up study in 2009.
3.6 Scholarships to Students at Local Universities: Al Azhar University was selected as the first recipient of this support in Gaza. PFDP has provided partial scholarships to years two and three students whose academic achievement is 75% or higher. The estimated number of scholarships covers roughly 2000 students and amount to 2 million US Dollars.
3.7 Masters of Arts in Teaching – Bard College and Al Quds University: The Bard – Al Quds University Masters of Arts in Teaching (MAT) Program is the first in Palestine and the first in the region. It focuses on the application of contemporary pedagogy to specific disciplines and features a close integration of theory and practice. The first class of 50 was drawn from in-service teachers at cooperating “pioneer schools.” Initially, the subjects covered are Biology, Mathematics, Science, Arabic Studies, and English Language and Literature. MAT students will complete the program in two years, studying full-time and teaching half-time in the first year, and finishing their Masters research projects and academic field experience part-time in the second year. This will allow them to apply their new skills immediately in the classroom. Subsequently, these teachers will serve as mentors for MAT students including pre-service teachers. an additional 105 million dollars was given to support another of 75 students from second cohort. The program is taught primarily in English.