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The CTRL Chalk Talk Series supports focused discussions that are timely and relevant to all faculty at American University. The series, which are 75 minutes long, are designed to be responsive to the needs of faculty: topics can be submitted by as early as two weeks in advance, and the event can be scheduled anytime that best meets the needs of the faculty. Light snacks and refreshments will be served. If you have ideas or topics for this series, please send them to

Spring 2019

Bringing Transparency to the Classroom in an Interactive Learning Environment

Wednesday, April 17 | 12:55 p.m. – 2:10 p.m. | CTRL Collaboratory (Hurst 202)

Krisztina Domjan (School of Professional & Extended Studies)

Mary-Ann Winkelmes’s award-winning research project, The Transparency in Learning and Teaching in Higher Education project (TILT Higher Ed) has opened many eyes and started conversations in many institutions on how to reshape course assignments in a way that assignments become achievable and successful tasks. While the research project was originally designed for student retention, the findings are indeed more universal and inclusive. Carefully designed, transparent assignments engage students, provide guidance, involve specific learning objectives, and promote metacognition. In this Noontime Conversation, instructors will learn about interactive tools that can help modify their assignments in order to guarantee that students complete assignments (especially the more complex, heavily weighted ones) with success.


Understanding Students’ Perspectives on the Learning Experience

Monday, April 8 | 12:55 p.m. – 2:10 p.m. | CTRL Collaboratory (Hurst 202)

Lara Schwartz (School of Public Affairs)

As instructors, we know far more about course subject matter than our students.  But when it comes to the 2019 college student experience, we are the least knowledgeable person in the room.  Our students bring diverse experiences with them that affect their engagement in class. In addition to disability, trauma, and distance from home (particularly in the case of international students), this discussion will explore intergenerational differences and the way that normative Boomer/Gen X behavior feels and reads to a Gen Z student.


Creating a Rubric

Thursday, March 28 | 12:55 p.m. – 2:10 p.m. | CTRL Collaboratory (Hurst 202)

Erin Horan (Center for Teaching, Research & Learning)
Kim Westemeier (Center for Teaching, Research & Learning)

In this session, Instructional Designers Kim Westemeier and Erin Horan will present tips and tricks to fast-track your rubric creation process. You will have the opportunity to create a rubric for an assignment of your choice using their rubric creation framework. At the end of the session, you will leave with a new rubric in hand (or deployed in Blackboard) ready-to-use in your course!

Feedback Tools for Writing Assignments

Thursday, February 28 | 12:55 p.m. – 2:10 p.m. | CTRL Collaboratory (Hurst 202)

Erin Horan (Center for Teaching, Research & Learning)
Kim Westemeier (Center for Teaching, Research & Learning)

Writing assignments are a great way to assess students’ learning, but grading can be tedious and time consuming. In this workshop we will discuss research-based strategies for effectively and efficiently grading your students’ writing assignments. After this Chalk Talk participants will be able to design assignments and utilize rubrics to effectively and efficiently grade writing assignments.



Bangert-Drowns, R. L., Kulik, C. C., Kulik, J. A., & Morgan, M. T. (1991). The instructional effect of feedback in test-like events. Review of Educational Research, 61(2).

Dukes, R. L. & Albanesi, H. (2013). Seeing red: Quality of an essay, color of the grading pen, and student reactions to the grading process. The Social Science Journal, 50(1), 96-100.

Fisher, R., J. Cavanagh, and A. Bowles. 2011. Assisting transition to university: Using assessment as a formative learning tool.  Assessment & Evaluation in Higher Education, 36(2), 225–237.

O’Donovan, B., Rust, C., & Price, M. (2016). A scholarly approach to solving the feedback dilemma in practice. Assessment & Evaluation in Higher Education, 41(6), 938-949.

Shute, V. J. (2008). Focus on formative feedback. Review of Educational Research, 78(1), 153-189.

Winstone, N. E., Nash, R. A., Rowntree, J., & Parker, M. (2017). ‘It’d be useful, but I wouldn’t use it’: Barriers to university students’ feedback seeking and recipience. Studies in Higher Education, 42(11), 2026-2041. DOI: 10.1080/03075079.2015.1130032

Fulbright Scholars Program for Faculty & Staff: Discover How You Can Make an Impact Abroad

Tuesday, February 19 | 11:20 a.m. – 12:35 p.m. | Mary Graydon Center 324

Michelle Bolourchi (Outreach and Recruitment Specialist, Institute of International Education)
Nathan Harshman (Department of Physics (Fulbright to Italy))
Elizabeth Worden (School of Education (Fulbright to Northern Ireland))

The Fulbright Scholar program offers approximately 1,200 grants annually to U.S. faculty and other established professionals, including artists, journalists, scientists, lawyers, independent scholars. The Core Fulbright Scholar Program provides teaching, research or combination awards in over 125 countries. Come and learn about these programs, get tips on how to craft a competitive application, and hear from your colleagues on the impact of the Scholars Program on their teaching and scholarship.

Fostering a Collaborative Learning Environment: Building and Assessing Student Cooperation

Wednesday, February 13 | 12:55 p.m. – 2:10 p.m. | Hurst 202

Lara Schwartz (School of Public Affairs)

In the best learning communities, students can learn as much from one another as from instructors. But how do we build learning spaces where students listen to and learn from one another?  In this talk, Lara Schwartz (School of Public Affairs) will present and discuss policies, exercises, and assessments that foster cooperation, listening, and shared responsibility for the learning process.