The 28th Annual Ann Ferren Conference

The 2017 Ann Ferren Conference on Teaching, Research, and Learning was held on January 13, 2017 in the Mary Graydon Center at American University.

Schedule of Events

Ann Ferren Conference 2017 Logo

Session One (9:00-9:45am)

101: Planning Ahead: Moving Your Class Session Online

(Library 306)

Marilyn Goldhammer (CTRL and SOE) & Scott Vanek (Library)

What advanced planning is needed to take a course session online in an emergency? How do you select a course assignment and which technology tools do you and students need to use? How can you translate class session goals to an online format and which technological skills do students and faculty need to master to make this possible? This session will focus on the pedagogical and technical decisions faculty need to make prior to taking a class online due to weather or other emergencies.

102: Teaching with Primary Sources: How to Get Them and How to Use Them

(MGC 203/205)

Gregg D. Ivers (SPA-GOVT)

Teaching with primary sources offers instructors and their students the opportunity to discover exciting new material to integrate into classroom instruction and independent research projects. I work quite a bit with oral histories, personal interviews, FBI Files and archival sources to answer the research questions I pose. Teaching their own research is exciting—or should be—for instructors. But by opening the door to the materials that we use, we allow students into the scholarly enterprise that goes beyond the more traditional use of secondary materials. Digital access has made archives, files, and other primary materials housed around the country available to both the professional and student researcher. I want to share with my colleagues (1) how to find primary source materials; (2) how to teach with them; and (3) how to encourage students to pursue research projects that use primary materials.

103: Using Explain Everything to Create Interactive and Dynamic Lectures

(Library Mudbox)

Michele Lansigan (CAS-CHEM) & Sarah Grace (CTRL)

Level-up student engagement in your classroom and beyond with Explain Everything, an interdisciplinary whiteboard/screen capture/interactive presentation app that allows you to make multimedia slides and annotations, record lectures, browse the web, make screencasts, and much more. Participants will have the chance to try out this tablet app (a limited number of iPads will be provided for those who do not have their own) and will leave with an understanding of how to effectively incorporate this tool into classes – whether online or face-to-face. Come learn how Explain Everything’s integrated and flexible features can revolutionize any classroom.

104: Leveraging Your Teaching and Research with Smartphone Filmmaking and Photography

(MGC 315-Wechsler)

Larry Engel (SOC)

As more and more of our scholarly work is accompanied by media, and as we use social media for communication about it, becoming more literate in media acquisition and editing are important skills. Today’s smartphones carry with them excellent lenses and high-resolution video. Bring your smartphones and your tablets to this session to learn how to make high-quality videos and photographs with your mobile devices. From preproduction to postproduction, you’ll be able to produce media just with the “production studio in your pocket.” You’ll learn how to make the most of these devices just by better understanding them. We’ll also look at apps and hardware that further improve your video and sound quality. Finally, this session will enable you to help your students improve their media projects for the classroom. After the conference, the presenter will follow up with individual or group sessions to keep the conversation and skills growing.

105: Connecting Campus Sustainability with the Classroom

(Library B-03)

Megan Litke (Office of Sustainability)

The Office of Sustainability is tasked with guiding American University to carbon neutrality over the next three years. To monitor its progress, the office gathers large amounts of data related to transportation, waste, energy consumption, etc. The data gathered for tracking greenhouse gas emissions, waste management, and engagement on campus are all available for use in classes. In addition to annual data going back to 2005, the sustainability office also uses many online tools including a ride sharing platform called Ride Amigos, a dashboard for real-time monitoring of solar panel production and energy consumption by building, and STARS, which helps evaluate progress on campus sustainability. Staff from the office will introduce participants to the data and tools available and provide examples of using these tools in the classroom.

106: Faculty Oversight of Human Subjects Research Projects: Roles, Responsibilities, and Resources

(MGC 324)

Matt Zembrzuski (Office of Graduate Studies)

Student research projects should be engaging, challenging learning experiences, and interacting with individuals in the pursuit of knowledge can lead to ethical questions and possibly come under regulatory control and university policy. While faculty and graduate research is often subject to Institutional Review Board (IRB) review to ensure protection of human subjects, undergraduate studies usually are not. Faculty members are ultimately responsible for ethical oversight of students’ conduct in research. Taking risks can lead to powerful findings and understanding, but it is important to know when a faculty member should step in and advise another approach. This session will include insights from the Office of Research Integrity, members of the IRB, fellow faculty members, and Office of General Counsel, and it will provide attendees with official policies, guidance, and resources for conducting ethical research. Attendees will understand the role of advising student projects and be able to share their own successful practices and advice.

107: Leveraging e-Learning Strategies: Tips & Techniques

(Library 115)

Jennifer Hoeritz (KSB) & Joy Adams (Library)

Whether you teach in an online, hybrid, or face-to-face format, the effective use of instructional technology can greatly enhance many facets of teaching and learning. In this interactive session, AU instructional designers will share best practices and insights drawn from the experiences of AU faculty. You will hear tips, strategies, and lessons learned from a cross-section of instructors who have successfully utilized e-Learning strategies to make their courses more interactive and engaging and their teaching more effective and efficient. Through this exchange, we will begin to build a community of practice focused on leveraging AU’s instructional technology in creative ways to achieve maximum effect. Participants will leave the session with ideas and inspiration to take into their classrooms, both virtual and brick-and-mortar!

108: Networking for Introverts: Getting More from Your Conferences, Coffees & Conversations

(McKinley 101)

Josh Joseph (SIS)

Does the thought of networking at conferences and other professional events seem more like an obstacle to career growth than an opportunity? If you even hesitated, you’re in good company. People are more comfortable and get better results when they network in ways that fit their personalities, but figuring this out through trial and error can be painful and slow. Join us to explore how to take more control of networking by tapping into your interests, strengths, and experiences. Learn how to: better prepare for networking events; find your comfort zone when you have limited time to prep; become more memorable to people you meet; and increase the chances that your networking efforts will help you later.

109: AU Term Faculty Across Campus: A Conversation on Teaching and Career Paths
(for term faculty)

(MGC 200)

Ralph Sonenshine (CAS-ECON), Jill Klein (KSB-ITEC), Wanda Wigfall-Williams (SIS), Pallavi Damani Kumar (SOC), Marie J. Fritz (SPExS), Chris Edelson (SPA-GOVT) & Elizabeth Boals (WCL)

Term Faculty at American University are a highly heterogeneous body with varied backgrounds and professional trajectories. Some do cutting edge research or have renowned professional lives; others serve in their units, schools, or at AU at large in different capacities. They teach and have established a career path at AU. This panel facilitates a conversation among AU Term Faculty across campus on teaching and career paths. We will share some of our strategies and thoughts on how to enhance your career and teaching. We hope to engage the audience in an enriching dialogue with us.

110: The Role of Adjunct Faculty at American University
(for adjunct faculty)

(MGC 245)

William LeoGrande (SPA-GOVT) & Catherine Bocskor (SIS)

This session will discuss issues facing adjunct faculty at AU and how the university is working with SEIU Local 500, which represents adjuncts, to address them. Panelists will discuss the history of relations between AU and the SEIU Local 500 and the basic elements of the current collective bargaining agreement. This session will engage the audience in a free-flowing conversation about the experience of being an adjunct at AU: what is working well; what isn’t; and what can be done to improve conditions for adjunct faculty.

111: Department Chairs and Program Directors Roundtable: An Update on the AU Core
(for department chairs and program directors)

(MGC 303A)

Mary Clark (Senior Vice Provost and Dean of Academic Affairs), Jessica Waters (Vice Provost of Undergraduate Studies), Cindy Bair Van Dam (CAS-LIT) & Brad G. Knight (Office of the VP for UG Studies)

This cohort session with Department Chairs and Program Directors will provide an overview of the proposed AU Core curriculum. This “nuts and bolts” session will include: (1) updates on the AY 2016-2017 pilots of the AUx1, AUx2, and Complex Problems courses; (2) updates on the development of the Habits of Mind learning outcomes; and (3) a discussion of proposed pilots for AY 2017-2018 and the proposed full rollout for AY 2018-2019.

112: The International Accelerator Program (IAP)
(for faculty teaching or interested in IAP)

(MGC 247)

Lauren Sinclair (International Accelerator Program) & Kaitlyn Onyeukwu (SPExS)

The International Accelerator Program (IAP) is an English language bridge program that offers international students an opportunity to demonstrate admissibility to AU. Launched in Fall 2016, it brought 164 international students to campus. These students work through progressive standards established by: college Deans, the Office of Admissions, the Office of International Student and Scholar Services, the Academic Services and Access Center, and the Office of the Registrar. Students participate in a combination of restricted and unrestricted courses as part of their IAP curriculum. In the fall semester, there were 84 faculty teaching IAP students in CAS, KSB, SPA, SPExS, and SOC. As the program grows and students matriculate, faculty and staff in every department of the university may work with IAP students, either during their time in IAP or post-matriculation.

Session Two (10:00-11:00am)

201: What Do NASA, Big Pharma, and the Canadian Mounties Have in Common?

(MGC 203/205)

Bobbe Baggio (SPExS)

Problem-based learning (PBL) is a learner-centered pedagogy in which students learn about a subject in the context of complex, multifaceted, and realistic problems. This is a totally interactive and immersive exercise. Participants will be given a problem-based learning (PBL) package and will discover, design, and present solutions. The methods used here can be carried forth to the design of any course in any content area. There will be a short introduction to PBL (Problem Based Learning). Learners will be divided into small collaborative groups of 3-5 and given a “Problem Package”. In this package they will find a situation, profile, consequences, and technology options. Participants will work in groups to formulate questions, define trainable skills, develop a training approach, and then present their solution to the entire group. A collaborative summary session will consolidate what has been developed by the group.

202: Using a “Community Text” to Build Intellectual Competence and Cultural Literacy

(MGC 303A)

Mike Cabot (CAS-LIT), Mary Switalski (CAS-LIT) & Olivia Ivey (Library)

First-year students at AU read a community text that joins them in a dialog about challenging themes. Critical reading of this text serves as a foundation for the work that students do in their College Writing courses, and illustrates how writing is a social act at the heart of an academic community. Therefore, this text has the potential to reach across the curriculum, providing a foundation for ethical reasoning, socio-historical understanding, cultural interpretation, and aesthetic sensibility. This session will explore the potential value of the Writer as Witness text in multiple areas of study. Members of the College Writing Program will discuss our common reading program and its value in developing these habits of mind. The panel will also invite faculty from other disciplines across campus to share how they have used the Writer as Witness text in their own classrooms.

203: The Virtues of Lectures

(MGC 315-Wechsler)

Justin Jacobs (CAS-HIST)

This session reviews the advantages of dispensing with all forms of technology in the classroom and challenging students to process information as in the past. It provides a discussion of the rhetorical approaches and lecture strategies most suitable for the lecture format, including performance aspects. It also covers the mechanics of constructing an engaging lecture before delivery in the classroom, as well as tactics designed to elicit student enthusiasm. This session should interest both new and experienced faculty, and should be especially intriguing for those making extensive use of technology. Attendees are encouraged to reflect on the virtues and vices of technology in the classroom, and ponder the advantages of a “less is more” pedagogical approach.

204: Strategies for Guiding Students from Classroom to Career

(Library Mudbox)

Susan Gordon (Career Center), Gihan Fernando (Career Center) & Brian Rowe(Career Center)

“Written and oral communication” and “ability to work in teams” are among the top skills that employers seek in graduates. The Association of American Colleges & Universities (AAC&U) surveyed employers and identified the most highly-sought competencies. Key skills are developed through a liberal arts education, yet our students have difficulty articulating these experiences to employers. This session will provide an overview of the competencies sought by employers and how our “Career Skills Initiative” educates students on how their AU degree develops these skills. Furthermore, attendees will discuss how our existing classroom activities develop these skills and identify ideas and strategies to help our students make the connection between classroom accomplishments and employer-sought skills.

205: Inspiring Students to Love Research (And What You Can Get Out of It)

(MGC 200)

Aaron Boesenecker (SIS), Valentina Bruno (KSB-FIN), Leena Jayaswal (SOC) & Sagatom Saha (Council on Foreign Relations)

Students learn best when they are active, engaged learners, and first-generation and underrepresented domestic minorities make even more impressive gains when engaged. At the center of high-impact educational practices such as learning communities, service learning, internships, study abroad, and capstones lies undergraduate research. Easily embedded in coursework, undergraduate research can also require close mentoring when time is the scarcest of faculty resources. Yet some faculty have found that supervising undergraduate research can boost their own research. This panel includes students who will describe their research experiences, their expectations of faculty, and their presentations and publications alongside faculty who will discuss how mentoring undergraduates has benefited their scholarship.

206: Mindfully Constructed Class Culture: Tools to Teach Intersectionally, Multiculturally, and Cross-Racially

(McKinley 201)

Sarah J. Trembath (CAS-LIT) & Derrick Jefferson (Library)

This discussion will begin with an exploration of intersectionality and educator self-identity, and how these inform instruction. We will also discuss student identities: how students explore their identities, how those have been shaped by identity politics, and how students can be guided toward positive engagement and knowledge-growth as their world continues to grow increasingly more inclusive and diverse. We will also explore pedagogy around difficult classroom conversations, specifically those related to race and ethnicity. Facilitators will emphasize the importance of (a) being willing to explore majoritarian narratives in a new way; (b) bringing history into present understandings (i.e., the Sankofa ethic); (c) introducing a meta-dialogue about current cross-racial dialogues in society; and (d) centralizing critical thinking as a way to approach potentially conflictual topics. The goal of this lecture is to give teachers more tools to teach outside of their own racial perspectives and cultures of origin.

207: Students in Transition: The American University Experience (AUx)

(MGC 247)

Andrea Malkin Brenner (CAS-SOCY and AUx), Izzi Stern (AUx), Jimmy Ellis (Office of the VP for UG Studies) & Briana Weadock (SPA)

This panel presentation will update attendees on the first fall pilot of the American University Experience (AUx1), American University’s new mandatory transition class for first year students. Excerpts from students’ written reflections and experiential assignments from the first pilot will spark a discussion on the diverse experiences and skills that first year students are bringing to American University. Following a brief introduction to Student Development Theory, the foundational discipline of the course, the panel will discuss how AUx1 has provided a supportive atmosphere for first year students to grow and develop academically, socially and culturally. The scope of the AUx1 pilot, the course description, and the learning goals will be shared and examples of instructional videos, readings, the Blackboard course site, and class assignments will be shown. A preliminary pilot assessment will also be included.

208: Community-Based Learning: What? So What? Now What?

(MGC 245)

Marcy Campos (Center for Community Engagement & Service), Noemí Enchautegui-de-Jesus (CAS-PSYC), Alex Hodges (Library & SOE) & Jocelyn Mendez (Class of 2018)

Faculty at AU incorporate Community-Based Learning (CBL) as a teaching method to both achieve strategic university goals and bridge the “town/gown” gap that exists between the Ward 3 campus and the urban issues of this city. This workshop will sharpen an understanding of CBL, showing why it’s important and how faculty can revamp a course syllabus to obtain the University’s “CB” course designation. Key to the session is identification of the eight criteria that will set up your class for a highly impactful experience which benefits both students and the nonprofit community agency. Two types of CBL will be shared: project-based and direct service. Participants will hear from veteran CB faculty from different disciplines and a student with concrete examples of how they implemented this “high impact” educational pedagogy.

209: Pencils Down: What Student Success Looks Like for Online Learning

(Library 115)

Terra Gargano (SIS), Julia Throop (SIS) & Joy Adams (Library)

As the ways students participate in learning multiply and change, assessments and definitions of student success also change. With less focus on scores and more on authentic and competency-based learning, what are the aspects instructors should focus on? This presentation will address how re-tooling our understanding of assessments can influence interactions between faculty, students, and administrators. It will critically examine how student success can be measured, how to determine which outcomes are valuable, and which new assessment tools, standards, and practices are worth adding to our pedagogical toolbox. Through a lens grounded in online learning, this session will explore how available technology can help reconceptualize the way we employ assessments and engage with what is learned as a result.

210: Supporting Student Writing: Values and Expectations Across Disciplines

(McKinley 101)

Lacey Wootton (CAS-LIT)

Participants will discuss their disciplinary and personal values and expectations for undergraduate student writing in their courses. Faculty agree that students should write correctly, but what else do we value besides sentence-level correctness? This session has two purposes: First, participants will find common values and expectations so that they can then emphasize those writing skills, conventions, etc., in support of better undergraduate student writing across the university; in other words, faculty will be able to reinforce certain writing practices while also instructing students in disciplinary variations. Second, the resulting list of values and expectations will become a part of the development of the new AU Core W2 (writing-intensive) courses, and participants will be able to help shape the future W2 courses.

211: Teaching with Curricular Constraints: Balancing Consistency with the Freedom to Innovate

(MGC 324)

Jennifer Steele (SOE), Fred Jacobs (SOE), Chuck Cox (CAS-LIT), Kristina Crona(CAS-MATH) & Teresa Larkin (CAS-PHYS)

Many of us teach in programs in which learning outcomes are pre-defined: General Education courses, courses in externally accredited programs like teacher education, courses with multiple sections like introductory classes, foreign languages, and college writing. In a profession that prizes academic freedom, courses with pre-defined learning outcomes present a dilemma: How can we as faculty promote consistency in students’ experiences across sections without stifling faculty members’ ability to control and modify their syllabi, especially as they refine their courses and assignments over time? How best should alignment with goals and learning outcomes be measured? What should be the relative importance of syllabi audits versus direct assessment of student work, bearing in mind that faculty’s assignments vary considerably among courses? This session will involve the audience in a spirited discussion on how to balance students’ need for reliable program expectations with faculty members’ academic freedom to innovate.

212: Introduction to Blackboard

(Library 306)

Scott Vanek (Library)

This workshop explores how to set up a course in Blackboard and covers the most commonly used features, including adding items, assignments, discussions, and other features. The session also examines how to customize the menus and tools that faculty and students are most likely to use.

Session Three (11:15-12:15pm)

301: Scaffolding Prior Knowledge Using Triangles, Squares, and Circles
(MGC 315-Wechsler)

Art Conroy (KSB-ITEC)

Engaging the student’s prior knowledge is considered by educational researchers to be an important part of constructing a strong foundation for new learning, and diagrams are an excellent technique for doing this. This presentation describes a novel abstract diagramming technique designed to be facilitated in the classroom. Using paper and crayons, the participants will create three diagrams that represent the externalization of their own prior knowledge of concepts in an area of study. The presentation will illustrate how differences in prior knowledge can be visualized using diagrams with greater speed than traditional text-based descriptions. The session will illustrate how student diagrams were shown to contain a hidden conceptual topology that is recommended as a framework for structuring and facilitating student collaboration and the sharing of prior knowledge and new learning.

302: Talking with Colleagues to Reflect on Teaching, Learning, and Life

(MGC 203/205)

Scott Talan (SOC), Tony Ahrens (CAS-PSYC) & Christine Gettings (Center for Community Engagement & Service)

In 2013, a small group of staff and faculty from different departments and campus offices started to meet and talk about teaching, learning, and their working life at AU. The members call themselves “The Palmer Group” after using Parker Palmer’s Courage to Teach as their initial guiding book. The panel’s participants will share why this group works for them, the personal benefits and professional insights they have gained along the way, and why the “circle of trust” method of operation is vital to group success. They’ll also share specific tips, suggestions, and more on how to begin your own group as well.

303: Enhancing Student-Talk Time: How and Why

(McKinley 101)

Lauren M. Shea (SOE)

In a typical learning environment, teachers dominate classroom discussions and spend the majority of instructional time talking. Research in content and language acquisition demonstrates that giving students ample time to produce language through discussion affords learners deeper processing of content than simply listening does. Providing students with frequent opportunities to speak and listen to each other about their learning allows them to negotiate meaning, become aware of multiple perspectives, and frame ideas before writing. This presentation will briefly review the research on the importance of student-talk in coursework and the impact of certain student-talk strategies. Furthermore, participants will practice the research-based strategies to improve productive student-talk and meaningful discussion in their classes. Lastly, participants will partake in a brief sample lesson with embedded student-talk strategies. By session close, participants will learn the value of student-talk and how to encourage talking in their classes.

304: Success Stories: Why What Faculty Do Makes a Difference

(MGC 200)

Paula Warrick (Career Center), Jeff Middents (CAS-LIT), Dan Zak (Washington Post), Betty Malloy (CAS-MATH), Mark Meyer (Georgetown University), Kiho Kim(CAS-ENVS) & Susie Vulpas (Fulbright and Critical Language Scholar)

Join us for an interview with three AU faculty members and their former students, focusing on how their work together at AU affected these students’ career choices and careers in impactful and memorable ways.

305: Prepping Students for Successful Communication in the Professional World

(Library Mudbox)

Jody Gan (CAS-HS), Jolynn Gardner (CAS-HS), Stephanie Fischer (SIS), Susan Gordon (Career Center) & Eric Beinhart (U.S. Department of Justice)

Students view faculty not only as experts in their academic fields, but also as knowledgeable and respected guides and role models. Setting high standards in the classroom for student-teacher communication serves as helpful training for students who generally express themselves more informally. Often, students arrive at college with very little experience with professional communication and etiquette. The leaders of this session—faculty members involved with coordinating academic internships and capstone client-based projects—will share their first-hand observations of these patterns. They will also offer suggestions for giving constructive feedback in a respectful manner, modeling effective communication styles, and providing assignments designed to help students develop these important skills. Faculty who are invested in helping prepare students for life after college and those interested in high impact practices should not miss this timely session.

306: Mitigating Cultural and Racial Biases through Music
(MGC 303A)

Jerzy Sapieyevski (CAS-PERF)

Many studies show the impact of music as a tool for improving students’ intellectual and psychological well-being and quality of functioning. Music is universally unifying and can profoundly affect students’ stressors, alleviating cultural biases and improving race relations. Through music, this hands-on presentation reveals how the cultural environment can be a significant source of bias. Unconscious cultural prejudices and disguised cultural exclusivity avoid easy classification as disparate treatment. This lecture/performance will demonstrate why music is a powerful communicator, and could be further utilized in the urgent issue of mitigating cultural and racial biases. Music provides the refreshing elements of a direct, non-verbal communication. Incorporating music into education calls upon a different mode of thinking and can impact political and social attitudes.

307: Exploring disAbility: Access, Identity, and Inclusion

(MGC 245)

Meaghan Molineaux (Academic Support & Access Center) & Sara Bendoraitis(Center for Diversity & Inclusion)

Understanding disability as a facet of diversity and identity is an important element of inclusion of people with disabilities in the AU community. This session will examine the various attitudes and models of disability in society, both historical and contemporary. It will also discuss effective ally behaviors that challenge stereotyping and discrimination of individuals with disabilities. The main takeaways for attendees will include: the recognition of disability as both a facet of diversity and identity; an understanding of the diversity that exists within the experiences of people with disabilities; an overview of the changing attitudes and beliefs about people with disabilities throughout history through the lens of the Medical and Social Models of Disability; knowledge of various types of accommodations; and examples of effective ally behaviors that challenge discrimination against people with disabilities.

308: Learning Beyond Classroom Walls: Using AU’s Arboretum and Gardens

(Library 115)

Michael Mastrota (Facilities Management), Stephanie Destefano (Facilities Management), W. Joseph Campbell (SOC) & Sarah Menke-Fish (SOC)

American University’s campus is an accredited arboretum and recognized as one of the most beautiful and sustainable in the country. This landscape is not only a beautiful setting, but is also an exceptional resource for experiential learning. This panel unites faculty and staff to reveal how your colleagues are already taking advantage of this readily accessible opportunity. Research will be presented showing how AU’s Arboretum and Gardens is a successful teaching tool that has been incorporated across disciplines to provide students with a broad understanding of issues important to a liberal arts education and preparation for life after college. Through the arboretum, stress reduction, diversity and inclusion, history, international relations, policy making, environmental science, film and media arts, and music are all topics currently being explored in courses for everyone from first-year students to graduate students.

309: Partnering with Undergraduate Assistants to Enhance Student Learning

(MGC 324)

Brad G. Knight (Office of the VP for UG Studies) & Ricardo Maisonneuve (Academic Support & Access Center)

Faculty can enhance student learning in undergraduate classes by partnering with student assistants to make classes more collaborative, student-centered, and interactive. Student assistants can serve in a variety of different roles, and this session will share examples and best practices with faculty who wish to adapt a course or consider new strategies for working with an undergraduate assistant. Common learning assistant strategies include facilitating small-group learning in discussion or review sessions, guiding project work, and coordinating co-curricular experiences. American University supports undergraduate assistants in the classroom with several programs, including the General Education Faculty Assistance Program (GEFAP), Supplemental Instruction (SI), and our academic living-learning communities. The session will draw from lessons learned and evidence collected in these programs.

310: Developing High-Impact, Web-Based Student Writing: Using WordPress in the Classroom

(MGC 247)

Hunter Hoskins (CAS-LIT), Alex Hodges (Library and SOE) & Lindsay Murphy (CTRL)

Using Ruben Castaneda’s S Street Rising: Crack, Murder, and Redemption in D.C. as an initial guide, students in three First-Year Writing classes created and critiqued the rhetoric of space and place across Washington, D.C. as a Complex Adaptive System. Students developed their own WordPress blogs and maintained them as nodes within a multimodal course network to produce individual research that became part of a larger collaborative class project with the goal of writing themselves into DC’s network. Students learned advanced web skills as needed throughout the semester alongside their fluency in academic rhetoric. Digital writing added the immediacy and authentic audience of the modern web, while expanding the modality of student writing to include video, audio, images, and maps. This session will explore the process of designing and teaching technology-heavy courses like these, and session participants will learn and share ideas to apply to their own courses or ideas for future student collaboration across courses.

311: Complex Problems Community Pilot: Lessons Learned and Looking Ahead
(McKinley 201)

Laiko Quintero (Office of the VP for UG Studies), Noemi Enchautegui-de-Jesus(CAS-PSYC), Karl Kippola (CAS-PERF), Taris Lemaster (Housing and Dining Programs) & Benjamin Stokes (SOC)

This fall, eight intrepid faculty members launched the inaugural sections of Complex Problems, a new set of first-year seminars. From designing the learning outcomes to writing syllabi, from off-campus outings to late-night screenings, what have we learned about designing these courses? Moreover, what have we learned about teaching them? How have faculty adjusted their teaching styles? What kinds of assignments were successful—or not? Furthermore, how are first-year students living in a learning community different from traditional Gen Ed students? In addition to the faculty teaching the pilot, this panel also includes colleagues with expertise in applying high-impact practices for teaching in living-learning communities. Topics of discussion will include building experiential learning into your course, developing the syllabus, and the philosophy behind the notion of a First Year Experience. Panelists will share their experiences, offer valuable insights and tips, and discuss campus resources to support teaching in LLCs.

312: Advanced Blackboard

(Library 306)

Scott Vanek (Library)

This quick-paced workshop is designed for experienced Blackboard users who want to learn about the more advanced features within Blackboard. The session explores the grade center in depth, creating and grading with rubrics, how to check for plagiarism using Safe Assign, and using adaptive release.

Faculty Award Luncheon (12:30 P.M. – 1:15 P.M.)

Plenary Presentations with Discussion (1:15-3:00pm)


Anthony P. Carnevale (Research Professor and Director of the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce)

Higher education has become a crucial element in the historical bargain between democracy and capitalism in the 21st century. The current populist rebellion suggests that we need a new deal between capitalism and democracy. An expanded vision for higher education is a crucial part of the bargain. The dual role of higher education in serving both human flourishing and economic empowerment has also become one of the keystones in the social contract—the new deal—between democracy and capitalism. But there is not likely to be any “one size fits all” solution. Higher education must serve many masters at once.


Carol Geary Schneider (President Emerita of the Association of American Colleges and Universities)

More than is often acknowledged, higher education has already done the needed work to break free of the self-defeating opposition between “the true liberal arts” and strong preparation for the workplace. Hybrid models that blend liberal and career-related study are taking off. Moreover, there is abundant evidence that employers both seek and reward graduates who possess a full portfolio of big picture knowledge, work-related study, well-honed intellectual skills, civic, diversity, and ethical responsibilities, and the demonstrated ability to apply their learning to complex problems. How then do we move from islands of 21st century innovation to broadly embraced models for 21st century blended learning? How do we build the political will and alliances to resist narrow, blinkered, and illiberal learning for our students?

Session Four (3:15-4:30pm)

401: Encouraging Discussion, Participation, and Enthusiasm in Class

(McKinley 201)

Chris Palmer (SOC)

This interactive conversation provides an opportunity to learn various techniques and ideas for encouraging students to participate more in class discussions and to be more enthusiastic and motivated. Participants will learn how to create a classroom atmosphere of warmth and trust, so that students—even shy ones—are more willing to actively participate.

402: Using Mindfulness to Promote Well-Being and Effective Learning

(Library Mudbox)

Elissa Margolin (CAS-HS)

Now more than ever, innovative tools are urgently needed to manage stress and improve mental health and well-being on campus. Struggles to make sense of the changes in our political landscape are likely contributing to the already staggering mental health issues on campus: In a 2015 study, 91% of AU students reported feeling overwhelmed, 68% very sad, and 55.9% overwhelmingly anxious. Students note academics as a primary source of stress; this workshop equips faculty with concrete tools for alleviating some of this burden. Gain hands-on experience with various mindfulness techniques to enhance student engagement, improve your own well-being and your students’, and promote an optimal learning environment.  Mindfulness can increase productivity by stimulating attention, connection, and focus while also lowering stress. The session discusses why AU-based data provides a call to action to better serve our students as whole individuals, and reviews the evidence supporting the beneficial effects of mindfulness.

403: How You Say It: Presentation Skills for Teachers

(MGC 315 – Wechsler)

Caleen Sinnette Jennings (CAS-PERF)

Are you an extrovert or an introvert in the classroom? Do you prefer to lecture or to work interactively? Whatever your preferences, learn how to support your natural teaching style in this relaxed, collegial workshop. Discover how breath and vocal support, body and spatial awareness, articulation, and the selection of specific delivery options can enhance your classroom effectiveness and promote relaxation, energy, and self-confidence.

404: Helping Students Prepare for the Transition to Career and Graduate Education

(MGC 247)

Brian Rowe (Career Center), Jolynn Gardner (CAS-HS), Michelle Engert (SPA-JLC), Casey Evans (KSB-ACCT) & Michael Keynes (Office of Graduate Studies)

This dialogue-driven session will allow participants to discuss ways that faculty and advisors can support a student’s successful transition from a liberal arts undergraduate program to their first career or professional graduate degree program. We will review the most common career and professional degree application concerns and share best practices for helping students develop career-readiness skills through classroom and experiential learning. Participants will leave the session with ideas for new collaborations and possibilities for partnering with other university departments to assess and meet the needs of a changing and increasingly diverse student population at AU.

405: Overcoming Unconscious Gender Bias in Letters of Recommendation

(MGC 324)

Paula Warrick (Career Center), Andy Rich (Executive Director of the Truman Scholarship Foundation), Patricia Scroggs (Director, Charles B. Rangel International Affairs Program) & Lauren Weis (CAS-PHIL)

Through letters of recommendation, we strive to capture our students’ best qualities as scholars and student leaders. But how effective are we, and do societal expectations influence the language we use? A recent study reports that, nearly across the board, women applicants for postdoctoral fellowships in a certain field were described in less dynamic terms than men. Drawing upon the expertise of readers for prestigious, nationally competitive scholarships, this panel explores what “dynamic” language looks like in reference letters written for a variety of purposes. Our goals are to stimulate discussion on the elements of a truly favorable recommendation, and to explore the possible need to be more intentional in the language we use to support our best students.

406: Being a First Generation College Student

(MGC 303A)

Celine-Marie Pascale (CAS-SOCY), Noemí Enchautegui-de-Jesus (CAS-PSYC), Melissa Scholes Young (CAS-LIT) & Laura Owen (SOE)

First generation college students comprise 11% of the AU student body. This experience profoundly shapes their academic, social and financial circumstances; yet as a group, first generation students are often invisible in our classrooms and often miss opportunities outside of the classroom including internships and study abroad. In this workshop, first generation faculty examine the label of “first generation” and explore the power of intersecting identities among students. As a group we will work to better understand the challenges and strengths that are unique to being the first in your family to attend college. We raise critical pedagogical questions about implicit bias in the organization of our classrooms and pedagogical strategies, knowing the answers may not yet be at hand. The session closes with consideration of faculty allyship from matriculation to graduation for first generation college students.

407: Maximize Your Instructional Effectiveness with Universal Design for Learning (UDL)

(MGC 245)

Marianne Huger Thomson (Academic Support & Access Center), Joy Adams(Library), Dave Harr (KSB-ACCT), Melissa Hawkins (CAS-PUBH), Alex Hodges(Library and SOE) & Marnie Twigg (CAS-LIT)

E-Learning Support Services (Library) and the Academic Support & Access Center (Office of Campus Life) have created a self-paced and self-directed course that introduces faculty members to the key concepts of Universal Design for Learning (UDL) through the Blackboard platform. UDL allows classrooms to maximize student learning and the inclusion of all students, particularly those with disabilities. This course was piloted with eight faculty members during the summer of 2016 and held a focus group to assess its quality and effectiveness. It is now ready for a broader audience. This session will introduce faculty members to UDL concepts and will welcome them to join the next cohort for the course. Faculty members involved in the pilot will describe both their experiences with incorporating UDL into their courses and with the Blackboard course.

408: Plagiarism Now: Responding to New Forms of Academic Dishonesty

(MGC 203/205)

Alison Thomas (CAS-LIT)

What do you do when a student cheats on your exam? When a student copies and pastes a paragraph of text into their paper? What “Plagiarism Now” really investigates is the need to think more deeply about research behaviors, “academic integrity,” and the policies at AU that shape our views on these issues. Why do Code violations happen, and can you do something about it? The Academic Integrity Code aims to be a tool for education and a statement of the University’s values. This session will present common Code violations from CAS, through the use of case studies, and the opportunity to discuss the Code itself, why Code violations happen in the first place, and how we as faculty can create “teaching moments” about the behaviors behind responsible research. We’ll also discuss what kinds of tools and support are available for faculty when they do discover concerns about academic integrity in their classrooms. Where’s the line between education and punishment? How does the process of AIC adjudication work? How helpful are tools like SafeAssign?

409: Going Deeper into the Art of Online Teaching

(MGC 200)

Laura March (CTRL), James Lee (CTRL), Geneva Dampare (CTRL & KSB), Jennifer Hoeritz (KSB) & Scott Vanek (Library)

Learn how online instructors at American University redeveloped their classes to include active and student-centered activities. This showcase features work created by instructors who were part of the first Advanced Online Instruction course offered by CTRL. While online faculty are required to have some basic training in the fundamentals of virtual pedagogy and technology, there is often very little training after that first experience. This session is the culmination of a unique experiment in which instructors who have been trained to teach online – and taught in that milieu – assess their performance and undergo further coaching to take their online course to the next level. CTRL offered some support on learning advanced features of online instruction, but faculty were also asked to self-direct their preparation. Instructors who have previously taught online are encouraged to share their challenges and successes in this session, as well as their plans for improving their future courses.

410: Redesigning Courses with Open Educational Resources: Faculty Voices

(Library 115)

Lindsay Murphy (CTRL), Michele Lansigan (CAS-CHEM), Meredith Jacob (WCL) & Stef Woods (CAS-AMST & CAS-HIST)

Open Educational Resources (OERs) provide benefits for professors and students in increased adaptability and flexibility of learning materials, availability of materials to all students on day one (with improved student outcomes), and cost savings for students. Since 2015, faculty across campus have redesigned courses to replace commercial textbooks with OERs, saving students approximately $120,000 in new textbook expenditures through CTRL’s OER Course Redesign Grants. Faculty panelists will share their experiences redesigning courses to use OERs, including the impetus for change, the process in which each engaged, and student responses to redesigned courses. OER experts will provide details on the availability of quality materials and an overview of copyright and open licenses. Attendees will leave with increased awareness of the burgeoning OER community at American University, ideas for exploring OERs in their own courses, and an understanding of the process for redesigning a course to use OERs.

411: GenEd vs. Gravity: Forces and Frictions Shaping the New AU Core Curriculum

E. Andrew Taylor (CAS-PERF), Peter Starr (Dean, CAS) & Jessica Waters (Vice Provost for Undergraduate Studies)

The goals and values of General Education (GenEd) seem entirely aligned with higher education: shared, purposeful, and coherent curriculum supporting core outcomes essential to all students. Yet robust implementation of GenEd is more like an obstacle course than an open road. What forces, structures, or strictures make GenEd so difficult to design and deliver in higher education? And how does AU’s evolving redesign for GenEd attempt to build new bridges or break old walls? Join a frank interview and open discussion with CAS Dean Peter Starr and Vice Provost for Undergraduate Studies Jessica Waters, provoked and facilitated by Associate Professor Andrew Taylor.