The 32nd Annual Ann Ferren Conference

The 2021 Ann Ferren Conference on Teaching, Research, and Learning was held on January 8, 2021, in a completely online format.

Schedule of Events

  • Morning Plenary (9:00AM – 10:00AM)
  • Session One (10:10AM – 11:25AM)
  • Session Two (11:35AM – 12:25PM)
  • Lunch Plenary (12:40PM – 1:40PM)
  • Session Three (2:30PM – 3:20PM)
  • Session Four (3:30PM – 4:20PM)
  • Virtual End-of-Conference Social (4:30PM – 5:00PM)
  • Affinity Groups Happy Hour (5:00PM – )

Session One (10:10AM – 11:25AM)

  • 101: “What just happened?!”: Navigating Problematic Incidents in the Classroom

    Presenters: Robin Adams (Center for Diversity & Inclusion)Consuelo Grier (Center for Diversity & Inclusion)Anna Morrison (Center for Diversity & Inclusion)Michelle Strange (Center for Diversity & Inclusion)

    When incidents of racism, discrimination, inequity, bias, or microaggressions happen in class, facilitating difficult dialogues afterward is critical to the well-being of our students. Our session will provide attendees with the strategies, tools, and practice to facilitate dialogues, address harm at the moment, and ultimately improve our campus climate.

  • 102: No Second Chance to Make a First Impression

    Presenters: Kevin Boyle (Government), Melissa E. Noel (School of Public Affairs) & Sonja Walti (Public Administration & Policy) 

    This session conveys the importance of community building when teaching online. Community building facilitates student engagement and supports student growth and success. Our session will focus on measures faculty can take leading up to and at the beginning of their course to start the semester on the right foot.

  • 103:Community Building and Restorative Justice @ AU

    Presenters: Tarek Maassarani (School of International Service), Hasan Bhatti (AU Restorative Justice Fellow), Robin McNair (AU Restorative Justice Fellow) & David Trachtenberg (Health Studies / AU Restorative Justice Fellow)

    In this session, American University Restorative Justice (RJ) fellows will lead participants through an online community building circle in order to experience the Restorative Justice process to understand its potential for relationship building in the classroom, among staff, in the administration, and in other university groups. Participants will come away with preliminary ideas for implementing RJ circles, as well as resources and next steps for deepening their practice and connecting to RJ efforts across the university. 

  • 104: Establishing Community in a Habits of Mind Class: Social Presence, Team Projects, and Lab Activities

    Presenters: Jenny Axe (Chemistry), Mikayla Crowley-Perry (Chemistry), Michele Lansigan (Chemistry), Brigitt Marku (Graduate Student and TA), Jonathan Newport (Physics), Erin Tarnoff (Chemistry) & Egidijus Zilinskas (Chemistry)

    How do we help students build relationships online? How do we replace people’s body language, tone, and voice in an online course? How can students work with a lab partner if the lab is delivered virtually? How can students engage effectively in an online group project? In this session, faculty teaching Habits of Mind courses will propose strategies that promote social presence and build community in an online classroom. Panelists will discuss general techniques applicable to all courses, then focus on smaller group/team projects and the laboratory setting. 

  • 105: Studying Your Teaching: A “How-To” Workshop

    Presenters: Jesse Meiller (Environmental Science) & Erin Horan (Center for Teaching, Research & Learning) 

    Scholarly teaching describes teaching that incorporates research-based pedagogy and systematic investigations into our own teaching.  Most likely, we’re doing some version of this already.  This workshop will provide the foundational knowledge and skills to build on your existing strategies for scholarly teaching to be able to put them into practice. 

  • 106: ADVANCE AU: Promoting Faculty Equity in a Time of Uncertainty

    Presenters: Darrion Sprueill (Office of the Deputy Provost and Dean of Faculty), Meg Bentley (Biology)Cheryl Holcomb-McCoy (School of Education) Kathryn Walters-Conte (College of Arts and Sciences) 

    Over the course of the last year, ADVANCE AU has undertaken quantitative and qualitative analyses of STEM faculty data and opinions through diverse methods such as institutional data sets and faculty focus groups conducted by an external evaluator. In this session, we will discuss challenges, achievements and setbacks as we undertook diversity work in one of the most challenging years for social justice and public health in modern American history.  

  • 107: Students Lead the Way

    Presenters: Izzi Stern (AUx Program), Richard Duncan (Complex Problems & University College), Alyssa Bursie (Class of 2022 / Complex Problems Program Leader), Nisaa Chaudhry (Class of 2022 / AUx Peer Facilitator), Dana Colarocco (Class of 2021 / Complex Problems Program Leader), Edmée Marie Faal (Class of 2021 / AUx Peer Facilitator), Eden Kinlock (Class of 2021 / AUx Peer Facilitator) & Therese Wilson (Class of 2021 / Complex Problems Program Leader) 

    This session will explore how student leaders are a central component to Complex Problems (CP) seminars and American University Experience (AUx) courses. The panel for this session comprises CP Program Leaders and AUx Peer Facilitators, who will share their experiences as student leaders in these classes. 

Session Two (11:35AM – 12:25PM)

  • 201: 10 Habits to Humanize the Online Classroom: Advancing Antiracist Online Pedagogies

    Presenter: Amaarah DeCuir (School of Education) 

    While describing and modeling best practices of humanizing the classroom when teaching online, this session will position faculty to recognize that humanizing the classroom is an attribute of antiracist pedagogies. Although effective instructors are experts in content knowledge, our work must also prioritize meeting the needs of our students who are striving to learn in the midst of twin pandemics.     

  • 202: The Gatekeeper Project: The Quest for Social Justice

    Presenters: Tiffany Simmons (Justice, Law & Criminology), Rhea Ballard-Thrower (Howard University Law School) & Shon Barnes (North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University)

    When faculty have the skills to become agents of change, they are better positioned to empower their students. By creating community based social justice projects, faculty can translate concepts from the textbooks into the real world. In this session, faculty will learn skills grounded in intercultural communication and community awareness to help them accomplish this goal. 

  • 203: Virtual Culture Building: How First-Year Students Want to Learn in the Online Environment

    Presenters: Luis Alvarado (Office of the Chief Online Officer) & Jim Quirk (Government) 

    Online learning is different from face-to-face classroom instruction, and many professors have experienced this firsthand due to the rapid change to remote teaching. By summarizing research on virtual community building and analyzing the data from first-year student experiences, session attendees will be empowered to take control of their digital spaces and leverage technology that will help them authentically connect with their students. 

  • 204: AU Center for Innovation: Building Communities of Innovation Across AU

    Presenter: Tommy White (Management / AU Center for Innovation) 

    Margaret Heffernan (author/entrepreneur) stated, “For good ideas and true innovation, you need human interaction, conflict, argument, debate.”  In these times of unprecedented upheaval, we need innovative and entrepreneurial mindsets more than ever. In this session, leadership of the AU Center for Innovation (AUCI) will discuss ways we can help strengthen your communities of learning by bringing these concepts to your classrooms and programming events. 

  • 205: Incorporating Peer Review into Online Courses

    Presenters: Amy Trietiak (Health Studies), Amanda Choutka (Literature), Caron Martinez (Kogod Center for Business Communications) & Lara Schwartz (Government) 

    Student peer review (AKA peer feedback, peer assessment) is often reserved for writing or composition courses. However, there are many benefits of incorporating peer review into content-specific classes that go beyond writing improvement. In this session, panelists will discuss how to effectively integrate peer review into your online courses to enable students to develop and practice the lifelong skill of giving and receiving feedback on their work, as well as how to ultimately transfer this mindset beyond academics to the professional world.  

  • 206: Social Media & Discussion Boards: Engaging Students in Online Discussions

    Presenter: Chelsea Horne (Literature) 

    This session will discuss and demonstrate practical strategies teachers can apply in the online classroom to engage students while simultaneously imparting information literacy, cyber hygiene, digital knowledge, and argumentation skills. By critically examining the technology and platforms we use, teachers can enhance student awareness and understanding of the pitfalls and opportunities of communicating online.

  • 207: Building Community and Course-Specific Expertise through a Collaboration with the Career Center

    Presenters: Marie Spaulding (Career Center), John Charles (Career Center), Jesse Meiller (Environmental Science), Anna Litman (Career Center) & Yajedah (Jada) West (Class of 2021) 

    This session will demonstrate how meaningful collaboration between faculty and Career Center advisors can benefit students and provide course-specific expertise. The session goal is to share experiences from a very successful partnership between faculty and Career Center Advisors and to offer specific suggestions for how to implement collaboration into your courses.   

  • Designing Collaboration: Using Design Thinking for Student and Community Engagement

    Presenters: Celeste Davis (Health Studies) & Jeremiah Patterson (School of Communication)

    Students require both critical-thinking and strategic problem-solving skills to fully participate in community-based learning. Human-centered design techniques serve as a great tool to build bridges between classrooms and communities. This interactive session discusses how design thinking can apply to community-based learning and will model activities to use both inside and outside of the classroom — and Zoom too.  

Session Three (2:30PM – 3:20PM)

  • 301: Building an Antiracist Faculty Community

    Presenters: Corbin Campbell (School of Education) & Cheryl Holcomb-McCoy (School of Education) 

    This session will describe how the School of Education is working to build an antiracist faculty community, with a focus on antiracist faculty development, at various levels of influence. Topics include self-interrogation work, faculty hiring and orientation, the role of the Diversity Equity and Inclusion Committee, student groups and listening sessions, antiracist syllabi review, community-based partnerships, and curriculum development. Finally, we plan to discuss ways that our efforts toward culture change may be used by other units. 

  • 302: Updating Your Materials with Antiracist Best Practices

    Presenters: Hannah Park (Library), Maddox Pennington (Literature) & Rachel Watkins (Anthropology)

    In this session, attendees will be introduced to the new Antiracist Praxis Subject Guide, and discuss ways to construct lesson plans and classroom culture using key concepts and strategies from those resources, followed by a hands-on workshop where faculty will be able to revise their existing materials with support from Information Literacy Committee members who contributed to the subject guide. The aim of this workshop is to help instructors update their lesson plans and teaching materials through an antiracist praxis lens. It is recommended that attendees bring some materials to assess and update during the session. 

  • 303: Beyond Group Projects: Facilitating Students’ Relationships to Build Community

    Presenters: Caron Martinez (Kogod Center for Business Communications), Alia Abdur-Rahman (Class of 2023), Jaycie Risch (Kogod School of Business Graduate Student), Sara Weinstock (Kogod School of Business) & Miguel Wilson (Class of 2021) 

    Faculty are learning new approaches to enhance teaching online but may not have as many ideas about facilitating students’ virtual relationships with one another. From easy and unplanned social interactions to engaged classroom discussions, students learn and thrive through socializing with their peers. Sharing tips about successful cohort building, faculty will hear from Kogod students and faculty about approaches that replace these in-person interactions in order to tailor strategies to build social-emotional learning communities in the classroom. 

  • 304: #AportraitofUs: The Values and Voices of our New AU Eagles

    Presenters: Lara Schwartz (Government), Robin Adams (Center for Diversity & Inclusion), Jennifer Baron (Office of Campus Life / Kay Spiritual Life) & Amanda Taylor (AVP of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion / School of International Service) 

    Do you want to more fully understand or connect with our students? This session will share the outcomes from the A Portrait of Us project, an interactive exercise with the newest cohort of first-year AU students that asked them to name values and goals for themselves and for the AU community. We will use project findings to foster community-building efforts between faculty, staff, and students inside and outside the classroom. Additionally, this information may help to address any challenges faculty may be facing in connecting with students.

  • 305: Rebooting Online Learning Communities: Seven Terms and Conditions of Effective Digital Participation

    Presenter: Krisztina Domjan (School of Professional and Extended Studies) 

    Mastering successful participation in our complex digital world is critical for educators and students. Some participants need to acquire new skills while others need to transfer existing skills to the online world which include being informed, engaged, balanced, inclusive, and alert. The presenter shares seven attainable standards for educators and for students. Attendees discuss adaptations of detailed examples. 

  • 306: AU STEM School: What does STEM mean to AU?

    Presenters: Kathryn Walters-Conte (College of Arts and Sciences), Meg Bentley (Biology), Nathan Harshman (Physics) & Lauren Weis (Philosophy & Religion)  

    As the sciences grow at AU, we have the opportunity to redefine STEM at AU. While the traditional definition of STEM is science, technology, engineering, and math, some see “STEM” as a metaphor for 21st-century jobs and expanding access to science careers. In this session, we will explore definitions/ideas of STEM, as well as the current state and possible future of STEM at AU. 

  • 307: Not Just the Environment: How Sustainability Affects Our Lives at AU and Beyond

    Presenters: Megan Litke (Office of Sustainability), Yana Sakellion (Art) & Kim Westemeier (Center for Teaching, Research & Learning) 

    When discussing sustainability, many assume “the environment” will be the primary focus. However, the definition of sustainability goes beyond environmental impacts. In this presentation, we will discuss the three pillars of sustainability: environmental, social, and economic. With these pillars, we will brainstorm ideas for incorporating sustainability into your curriculum by encouraging your students to use this multidisciplinary approach. 

Session Four (3:30PM – 4:20PM)

  • 401: ‘sindikit: Creative, Collaborative, and Co-working Models

    Presenters: Zoë Charlton (Art) & Tim Doud (Art)

    The ‘sindikit project is an artist initiative that emphasizes and extends our collaborative practices as artists and educators.  ‘sindikit engages our research interests in gender, sexuality, racialized identities, and the economy of things. In this session we will highlight the research of artists who, through practices and artwork, address gender, sexuality, racialized identities, belonging, nationalism, and environmentalism; show how artists’ creative research can be incorporated into non-art courses; discuss how our layered collaborative efforts have challenged and evolved our classes; and discuss ways the artist-scholar engages pedagogy inside and outside of the university system.

  • 402: Welcoming Students to Your Classroom With the Right Name and Pronouns: An Introduction to New Technology

    Presenters: Anna Morrison (Center for Diversity & Inclusion), Andrew El-Kadi (Office of Campus Life), Marnie Twigg (Literature) & Ethan Willing (Office of Information Technology)

    Members from the Chosen Name and Pronoun working group will present on the technological changes stemming from a newly passed policy that allows students to designate a chosen name, pronoun, and gender identity. Faculty members will walk away feeling confident about why this topic is so important to students’ inclusion, strategies for avoiding mistakes, and how names and pronouns will appear in the technology they use.

  • 403: Academic Rigor in the Time of COVID

    Presenter: Kiho Kim (Center for Teaching, Research & Learning), Heather Heckel (School of Professional & Extended Studies) & Kim Westemeier (Center for Teaching, Research & Learning)

    Since the beginning of the pandemic, anecdotal evidence suggests that many of our students feel that faculty are giving them too much work, while many faculty feel that they are relaxing requirements. In this session, we will discuss the effects of the additional stress and anxiety in our current learning environment, and how faculty can accommodate our students’ needs and maintain academic rigor in their courses.

  • 404: Teaching Online With Your Head and Your Heart

    Presenter: Betsy Cohn (School of International Service) & Lacey Wootton (Writing Studies)

    When teaching online, it can be harder to convey our passion for our subject and compassion for our students. It’s harder to structure class sessions with the spontaneity that allows faculty and student personalities to shine through. And it’s harder to get to know our students because of fewer interactions before and after class or in the hallways. Bring your ideas on how to overcome these challenges, as this will be an interactive session.

  • 405: Building Community Across Distance with and for International Students

    Presenters: Tabitha Kidwell (World Languages & Cultures), Susan George (School of Professional and Extended Studies), Sarah Knowles (World Languages & Cultures) & Polina Vinogradova (World Languages & Cultures)

    This session presents strategies to build community with and for international students. Presenters will discuss three levels of community building: fostering instructor-student relationships, supporting in-class connections, and offering opportunities for program-wide interactions. Attendees will reflect on their own practices, engage with presenters’ examples, and make a plan to implement new strategies.

  • 406: Reflections on Practicum Assignments: Faculty, Student, and Supervisor Experiences

    Presenters: Beverly Peters (School of Professional and Extended Studies), Marshall James Bailly II (AU MA Alum, Public Administration), Michael Petillo (AU MS Alum, Measurement and Evaluation, 2020), Tobi Raji (Graduate Student, Journalism), Tiffany Delores Smith (AU MS Alum, Measurement and Evaluation, 2018) & John Sullivan (School of Communication)

    This session compares faculty, student, and supervisor perspectives on graduate-level practicum experiences. SOC’s Masters in Journalism and SPExS’ Masters in Measurement & Evaluation both require students to practice what they learn in the classroom through organizational partnerships where students conduct investigative research and produce deliverables including evaluation reports.

    Panelists will discuss the rationale of practicum assignments and the important role they play in curricula while providing faculty with advice on how to structure such assignments to meet the needs of both students and organizations. 

  • 407: Trauma-Informed Social and Emotional Learning for Academic Resilience: The Role of Human Connection and Community

    Presenter: Deborah Norris (Psychology)

    Trauma-Informed Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) for Academic Resilience is essential to meet the needs of students and faculty who are dealing with stress and trauma. In this session, we will explore the scientific-basis for the need for human connection, and we will learn the role of community building in cultivating mindfulness-based social and emotional skills, relieving trauma, and building resiliency.