Elon professor elected president of international professional group

Deandra Little with the university’s Center for the Advancement of Teaching and Learning will serve for the next three years on the executive board of the POD Network in Higher Education.

Deandra Little
The managing director of Elon University’s Center for the Advancement of Teaching and Learning was elected president this fall of the Professional and Organizational Development Network in Higher Education, an association of professors and staff members who research best practices for effectively teaching today’s college students.

Deandra Little, who joined the Elon University faculty in July, said she will use her new role to continue raising the visibility of teaching and learning research. Little had previously served on the organization’s board of directors.

“The POD Network has been a central part of my professional life, for scholarship, connections, and staying abreast of what’s happening nationally and internationally in higher education teaching and learning research and practice,” Little said. “I am delighted to have been elected to serve in this leadership role.”

Founded in 1975 and with more than 1,800 current members, the POD Network in Higher Education advocates for the enhancement of teaching and learning through faculty and organizational development. It provides professional support and services to its members via conferences and publications as it seeks to educate others in academia about the need for, and importance of, the study of how students learn and best practices for professors who teach.

“The POD presidency will allow Deandra to share her experience and knowledge with a wider audience and will further Elon’s national reputation as a leader in engaged teaching and learning,” said Elon University Provost Steven House. “This is a wonderful recognition of her expertise in the scholarship of teaching and learning and her research on disciplinary thinking, course design, and measuring hard-to-quantify student learning goals.”

Prior to joining the Elon faculty, Little served as associate director and associate professor at the University of Virginia’s Teaching Resource Center. During her tenure there, she worked with faculty across the university in a variety of ways to enhance teaching and learning efforts, including the areas of course design, course assessment, community engagement, mentoring undergraduate research, constructing inclusive classrooms, instructional technology, and responding to student writing in ways both fair and efficient.

Little has led workshops and institutes on faculty as writers, teaching first-year seminars, facilitating discussions, the first day of class, inclusive teaching, designing rubrics, teaching portfolios, and teaching with visual sources.

An active professional, Little has more than a dozen publications, including articles in Studies in Higher Education and in the International Journal for Academic Development. She has presented invited at institutions such as Boston College, Duke University, the University of Richmond, Seattle University and King Saud University in Saudi Arabia.

“Deandra’s colleagues selected her from a very competitive pool of candidates, reflecting a widespread respect for both her work and her capacity as a leader,” said Peter Felten, the executive director of the Center for the Advancement of Teaching and Learning and himself a past president of POD. “As president Deandra will not only shape the future of POD as an organization, but she will participate in — and often help to lead — national and international conversations on educational development in higher education.”