Palestinian Faculty Development Program (PFDP) ― WEST BANK/GAZA

In 2005, AMIDEAST and the Open Society Foundations (OSF) joined forces with USAID to launch a nearly 10-year effort to increase capacity and quality of higher education in the West Bank and Gaza. The program addressed long-term issues of reform in teaching and learning practices and set in motion a process whose multiplier effect has extended throughout Palestinian higher education.

About

Through the successive components of PFDP, a community of practice has evolved among Palestinian academics, beginning with a focus on improving the quality of individual Palestinian faculty, expanding to facilitate improved teaching and learning practices in higher education institutions, and culminating in the establishment of Centers for Teaching Excellence at four universities—An Najah National University, Palestine Polytechnic University, Bethlehem University, and Palestine Technical University—where a new culture of teaching and learning has taken root.

The breadth and depth of interventions at the individual, institutional, and national levels have enabled the ideas and innovations that PFDP introduced to permeate throughout the educational system. PFDP participants have increased not only their own professional competencies, but through the sharing and practice of effective teaching strategies, have raised the bar on teaching standards and learning outcomes.

In real and tangible ways, PFDP has furthered the understanding and practice of student-centered learning approaches among Palestinian university faculty, initiated and incentivized faculty engagement within their own institutions and within a broader community of practice, and promoted the institutionalization of systems and policies that reflect ongoing university commitment to quality teaching and learning. Improved teaching practices, revised course curricula, and new course models are resulting in improved learning outcomes for tens of thousands of students annually.

Impact 

PFDP has had a lasting impact on Palestinian higher education in many ways:

  • Upgraded the professional competencies of thousands of faculty members from 19
  • Palestinian universities and training centers, who are now using teaching strategies recognized internationally as effective in improving student learning outcomes
  • Developed and expanded a broad and vibrant community of practice among Palestinian faculty that has been formalized in a professional association—the Association of Palestinian Academic Developers (APAD)—spearheaded by PFDP alumni
  • Strengthened international linkages among Palestinian faculty and institutions with dozens of international universities and academics in the U.S. and Europe
  • Institutionalized the commitment to faculty development and promotion of effective teaching practices through the establishment of Centers for Teaching Excellence at four Palestinian universities
  • Through training-of-trainer programs both directly and within the Centers for Teaching Excellence, created a cadre of master trainers in university pedagogies who continue to share their expertise in teaching excellence with faculty at their own and other institutions
  • Prompted the development and formal introduction of new course models that incorporate community-based, project-based, and blended learning to help students develop skills important for their success after graduation
  • Facilitated the development and approval of a bachelor’s degree and professional graduate diploma in special needs education—the first in Palestine—through support for faculty members via Collaborative Projects in Teaching grants and a PhD Fellowship
  • Engaged government and private sector stakeholders into strategic, national-level discussions about the future of higher education in the West Bank, resulting in the development of several draft laws and policies in areas prioritized for higher educational reform

by the Numbers

  • 3,600+ Palestinian faculty from 19 Palestinian faculty from institutions engaged across all components
  • 33 PhD fellows graduated from U.S. universities
  • 29 short-term fellows hosted at U.S. universities
  • 16 master's degree fellows graduated from U.S. universities
  • 26 faculty research grants awarded
  • 4 collaborative projects in teaching and learning supported
  • 4 university Centers for Teaching Excellence established; 1,000+ faculty trained; 35,000 students now benefit annually
  • 1 bachelor’s degree program and 1 diploma program established in special needs education
  • National policy recommendations for 8 reform priorities developed and submitted
  • 66 faculty graduated from the Seminar on Excellence in Teaching; 7 master trainers certified
  • Total attendance of 99 in university administrator seminars, 993 in faculty development seminars, 1,200 in academic colloquia
  • 116 local graduate scholarships, 2,000 local undergraduate scholarships awarded
  • 23 Teaching Excellence Awards bestowed