Noontime Conversations


The Center for Teaching, Research & Learning sponsors two or three conversational lunches per semester focused on topics of special interest to Faculty. Past Noontime Conversations have included Navigating Diverse Political Ideologies in the Classroom and Beyond, Addressing Students’ Stress and Mental Health Issues, Active Learning: Why It Matters, and Building a Culturally Sustaining Classroom. If you have a particular issue you would like to share with faculty in this venue, please contact Anna Olsson, at x6077.

Previous Session Topics

AY 19-20

In Their Own Voices: Perspectives of International Students

Moderator: Angela Dadak (International Student Coordinator, Literature)

Panelists: Pablo Molina Asensi (Class of 2022), Burist (Chris) Pituckanotai (Class of 2021), Valentina Porto Sampaio (Class of 2022) & Lingyue Zheng (Creative Writing MFA, Expected Completion: 2021), Kaitong Zhou (Class of 2020)

This noontime conversation will feature international students from around the globe. They will discuss factors that affected how they navigated challenges and found success in their academic life at AU, highlighting classroom and faculty practices that made a difference.

Creating the Undergraduate Teacher/Scholar

Gregg Ivers (Department of Government)

Undergraduates often work with professors as teaching and research assistants, helping with in-class assignments, grading and providing tutoring and review sessions. We often ask our undergraduates to help with our research as well. But how do we create the independent undergraduate teacher/scholar, equipping them with the tools to carry out their own projects and then transfer that information to fellow students and scholars? This discussion will draw upon my experience working with and training undergraduates to create and conduct interview-based oral history projects.

Dispelling Commonly Held Neuromyths About How We Think and Learn

Alida Anderson, Associate Professor, School of Education
Erin Horan, Instructional Designer, CTRL
Kim Westemeier, Instructional Designer, CTRL

Did you know we don’t only use 10% of our brains? This is one of many commonly held neuromyths that persists in society. Join us for a noontime session dedicated to uncovering common myths about how our brains work, and how these myths can impact how we teach in our classrooms. Using the science of learning as our lens, we will discuss neuromyths that are commonly adopted by education professionals and research on how to overcome them. Come ready to examine your own beliefs in a supportive environment.

Engaging International Students In the Classroom

Wednesday, September 18 | 12:00 p.m. – 1:30 p.m. | Butler Board Room

Shari Pattillo (Associate Director of International Student Development, KSB), Joseph Mortati (Professorial Lecturer, Department of Information, Technology and Analytics, KSB), Angela Dadak (International Student Coordinator for the Department of Literature) & Polina Vinogradova (Director of the TESOL Program, Department of World Languages and Cultures)

Fostering engagement from each student is important for not only an individual’s learning, but also the experience of the whole class, as students learn from one another. At this Noontime Conversation, we will discuss with colleagues in CAS and KSB the how and why for strategies that are effective for engaging international learners in the classroom. What approaches do they take for different types of assignments or learning outcomes? What strategies have they used for classroom activities? What lessons have they learned along the way, and how have their student outcomes and classroom experiences changed with the incorporation of these strategies? During this session the audience will hear a variety of classroom strategies that they can take back to their own classrooms. Our conversation will include consideration of graduate and undergraduate classrooms.

AY 18-19

Being a Part of DC, Not Apart from DC: Working with Community Partners for Research and Student Learning

Garrett Graddy-Lovelace, School of International Service
Jane Palmer, School of Public Affairs
Alicia Horton, Executive Director, Thrive DC

At this Noontime Conversation, we will discuss the opportunities and challenges of community-based learning, community-engaged teaching, and community-partnered research methodologies. In order to help forge an intellectual community of practice around this work, we focus this Noontime Conversation on “steps and missteps” for initiating and upkeeping community-university collaborations, along with best practices for mutually beneficial, meaningful partnerships with community organizations for faculty research, student community-based research, and in-class community-based learning. Experienced, novice and interested community-based learning and research faculty are invited to engage in this important discussion as AU embarks on its new “changemakers for a changing world” strategic vision. The conversation will culminate with a plan of action to propose to the Provost’s office.

Working with Students with Disabilities and the Accommodations Process

Erica Gillaspy, Assistant Director, Academic Support and Access Center
Anna Whiston, Disability Access Advisor, Academic Support and Access Center
Sarah Irvine Belson, Executive Director, Institute for Innovation in Education, School of Education
Christopher Tudge, Associate Professor, Department of Biology
Tanja Aho, Professorial Lecturer, Critical Race, Gender, and Culture Studies Collaborative

By this point in the semester, most faculty members have received at least one Academic Support and Access Center (ASAC) accommodations letter.  Knowing how to interpret and implement these accommodations can be challenging.  In this session, the panel will provide tips for engaging students in conversations about their accommodations, discuss why accommodations are necessary, and explain how the ASAC determines reasonable accommodations through an interactive process.  Finally, the panel will discuss frequently asked questions about specific accommodations, including testing arrangements, use of laptops and recording devices, and attendance and deadline accommodations.

When Things Get Heated: Navigating Disruptive Behavior in the Classroom

Justin Perillo, Associate General Counsel, Office of General Counsel
Dan Nichols, AVP Risk, Safety & Transportation Program, Office of Finance and Treasurer
Traci Callandrillo, Assistant Vice President Campus Life, Office of Campus Life
Philip Morse, Assistant Vice President of University Police Services & Emergency Management, Office of Finance and Treasurer

Many faculty members and classroom instructors report that a significant challenge in teaching is navigating student behavior in the classroom. This session will address this area of concern and provide strategies for managing classroom behaviors, setting clear expectations for classroom engagement, and utilizing outside resources for support. The session will also offer an overview of the legal and institutional parameters that guide the university’s approach to setting and enforcing student conduct expectations. The session will also offer a review of university resources and processes for engaging in consultation and support.

Classroom Observations and the Evaluation of Teaching

Sarah Irvine Belson, School of Education, CTRL Faculty Fellow

In spite of the well-documented short-comings and biases of Student Evaluations of Teaching (SET), the SET remains as the mainstay of how faculty are reviewed for merit, re-appointment, tenure, and promotion. Given that student evaluations are comparatively easy and inexpensive to collect, they are unlikely to be discarded anytime soon. As a counterweight to SETs, there is growing interest in employing classroom observation as a component of a broader approach to evaluating teaching. In this Noontime Conversation, we will discuss what this approach entails, what the best practices are, and when and how they should be deployed as part of a larger narrative of teaching by a faculty member.

Reducing Unconscious Bias in Teaching and Learning: Strategies for Inclusive Pedagogy

Amanda Taylor, Assistant Vice President of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion
Traci Dennis, School of Education
Lilian Baeza-Mendoza, CAS-World Languages & Cultures
Gorky Cruz, Center for Language Exploration, Acquisition & Research (CLEAR)

Despite our best intentions, our unconscious biases—and those of our students—often play a key role in shaping the quality of the learning environment in our classrooms.  This session will include but go beyond describing common manifestations of unconscious bias in teaching and learning, and will explore tools for inclusive pedagogy to recognize and address the impact of bias.

Watch the recording

All Due Respect: Speech, Inclusion and Academic Freedom in a Diverse & Politicized Environment

Lara Schwartz, School of Public Affairs, CTRL Faculty Fellow
Rose Shinko, School of International Service
Maya Vizvary, Health Promotion & Advocacy Center

Hardly a day goes by in which we don’t read about professors indoctrinating students, students protesting guest speakers, students demanding trigger warnings or safe spaces, or students being hostile to free speech.  This narrative persists in spite of the fact that data shows college students are more supportive of free speech than the general population; students who spend time with professors moderate their views.  This hostility, a polarized political environment, proliferation of opinion media, and student evaluation-driven contingent employment present challenges for faculty. At the same time, increasingly diverse student bodies require us to visit whether our learning spaces are truly inclusive. At American, we are engaged in efforts to address the fact that students of color report feeling less welcome and included. In this noontime conversation, we will talk about building learning environments that are equally respectful of intellectual and personal diversity. We will introduce concepts civil discourse, inclusively-designed curricula,  universal design for learning, trauma-informed discourse, and pedagogical strategies for balancing political neutrality with respect and inclusion.

Watch the recording

Collaborative Research: Understanding Benefits & Avoiding Pitfalls

Sarah Irvine Belson, School of Education, CTRL Faculty Fellow
Simon Nicholson, School of International Service
Maria Floro, CAS-Economics

Collaborative research is now de rigueur in many fields, reflecting the known benefits of multidisciplinary approaches to scholarship. Indeed, funding agencies and foundations have also embraced this trend and are favoring requests for proposals from multidisciplinary teams. However, collaborative research can present a set of challenges and costs related to finding and assessing potential collaborators, managing group dynamics, dilution of effort in multi-authored articles, among others. In this Noontime Conversation, we will reflect on several successful multidisciplinary research projects carried out at AU to highlight and offer insights into factors and approaches for ensuring that benefits of collaborative research projects outweigh their potential costs.

AY 17-18

Canons Under Fire: Struggles in Decolonizing University Curriculum
(4/25/18) (watch the video-recording)

Faculty Development Leadership Cohort: Creating Inclusive Classrooms

Enhancing Community-Engaged Scholarship and Teaching

Navigating Diverse Political Ideologies in the Classroom and Beyond
(3/6/18) (watch the video-recording)

Financial Challenges Faced By Many of Our Students
(2/19/18) (watch the video-recording)

Racial Literacy in the Wake of Charlottesville

Building a Culturally Sustaining Classroom
(9/19/17) (watch the video-recording)

AY 16-17

Judging the Veracity of Sources of Information
(2/28/2017) (watch the video-recording)

Bringing DC to Your Classroom

Strengthening Our Interactional Competence with Students

Free Speech and the Classroom: What to Consider
(10/20/2016) (watch the video-recording)

Examining Classroom Dynamics: Responding to Students
(9/21/2016) (watch the video-recording)

AY 15-16

Teaching First Year Students: Challenges and Opportunities
(3/31/2016) (watch the video-recording)

Transforming Courses through Open Educational Resources
(3/22/2016) (watch the video-recording)

Dealing with Conflicting Political Ideologies in the Classroom

Addressing Students’ Stress and Mental Health Issues: Strategies for Faculty
(1/28/2016) (watch the video-recording)

Internships as a Pathway from Liberal Arts to Careers

Active Learning: Why It Matters

Navigating Difficult Conversations in the Classroom
(8/26/15) (watch the video-recording)

AY 14-15

Reacting to the Past

Problem Based Learning

Combine Your iPad and iPhone To Teach, Present, Write, and Conduct Research

Doing the Reading: Is the Cost of Textbooks a Factor?

Student Voices: AU Undergraduate Curriculum

Ways To Help Students Improve Their Writing Skills

AY 13-14

eBooks in Higher Education: Reading Between the Lines

Learning and the Brain: Cognitive Processes that Underlie Learning (with Daniel Willingham)

“Out of Print” Film by Vivienne Roumani

Where’s Professor Waldo in the Lands of MOOCs

Connecting the Dots: Aligning Course Content in Undergraduate Curriculum

AY 12-13

Teaching with Research

Student Voices: Lessons from Student Survey Data

Another Student Recommendation?

Beyond SETs: Continuing the Conversation

The Art of Teaching – Perils and Pleasures of Pedagogical Interdisciplinarity

AY 11-12

Beyond SETs: Brainstorming the Possibilities

Teaching with Research

Can’t Get to Campus? How to Keep Your Class Going Anyway

Food for Thought – Using Gastronomy as an Incentive to Learn

Face time with the Teaching Coach: Tips and Tricks for Better Teaching

AY 10-11

Measures of Good Teaching

How to Quantify Great Ideas

Facebook Startup – New Classroom Tools

Valentine’s Luncheon: Researching Teaching and Teaching Research

Learning from Our Students: How Research on Our Teaching Informs Practice and Policy

Hybrid Courses: The Best of Both Worlds

AY 09-10

Mobility Learning in Education: The Future is Now

Reflections on What We Learned from the February Snow and Class Continuity

Evaluating Capstones, Comps and Significant Research Papers

Teaching with Research

Reflections on “Inspired Teaching”

Making Your Own Film As a Learning Tool