Thank you for attending the 27th Annual Ann Ferren Conference on Teaching, Research, and Learning
The 2016 Ann Ferren Conference on Teaching, Research, and Learning was held on January 8, 2016 in the Mary Graydon Center at American University. This year's conference continued the trend with more than 400 participating faculty, staff, and graduate students. The program featured 44 sessions; an early breakfast with thematic group discussions; and a luncheon and plenary session, featuring a keynote by Anthony G. Greenwald (Professor of Psychology at the University of Washington), titled "Putting the Implicit Revolution to Use (for Oneself and for Others)," as well as a presentation on work by the RiSE task force. A dessert reception followed the last session.
Save the date for the next Ann Ferren Conference: Friday, January 13, 2017. Solicitation for session proposals will begin in the early summer of 2016.
If I need to create a hybrid course from scratch—where do I begin? Using the new Hybrid Elementary Spanish Program as an example, presenters discuss the steps needed to create a hybrid course. The session discusses the creation process, shows concise examples to use in the classroom, and examines the incentives and challenges of teaching in a hybrid mode. At the end of the session, both the novice and experienced faculty will have the tools to start their own hybrid courses and the opportunity to ask questions.
T2: Geospatial Research Resources, and Data Publishing and Visualization
Learn more about research data services available through the American University Library. Meagan Snow, Program Director for Geospatial Research support, will provide a brief introduction to geospatial analysis and discuss resources and research support available on campus through the Geospatial Research Lab. Stefan Kramer, Associate Director for Research Data Services, will discuss the AU Open Data Portal (opendata.american.edu), a resource for the visualization and publishing of AU faculty research data.
T3: Beyond Old Newspapers: Local History Re-Examined
This session shows how DC history can be explained using little known University Library online tools such as primary source videos, photos, demographic Census data, and other items. Participants learn how to use these items to weave together demographic data and audiovisual resources to tell compelling stories about DC's urban history. The session uses the example of the 1968 riots to tell a story of DC's neighborhoods before, during, and after the riots—to illustrate how these events are still relevant today.
Creating a dynamic community of writers can support any class where papers are required. Class time is so precious; however taking the time to form and reinforce communities pays off. Using resources to help build classroom social identity, as well as proper use of the "writer's workshop" will create an environment where students want to achieve and participate. Using a series of interactive exercises, students learn about each other, how to connect, and how to support one another in the active process of learning, researching and writing. This session discusses a series of tools, empowering the students not only to learn, but also to teach, and in turn improve their own internal editors, while keeping the love of learning alive.
While we recognize the importance of preparing students to engage in conversation before entering class and the significance of continuing conversations after class ends, this session is specifically designed to demonstrate and explore innovative ways for online faculty to facilitate meaningful dialogues in synchronous (live) class sessions. Using the Adobe Connect platform, this session will include a student-centered synchronous discussion that models approaches for strategically broaching topics, actively listening and responding, questioning and sequencing discussions, and creatively grouping students. In addition, the session explores the ways in which faculty can creatively manage student interactions through online classroom tools that encourage students to co-construct meaning through student-centered dialogue, collaboration, and engagement.
Grants and contracts are the two most commonly used mechanisms for transferring money from external sources to the university. Many misconceptions surround what is involved in applying for and managing external funding for academic purposes. This session provides a brief overview of the grants and contracts world followed by some tips on how American University’s Office of Sponsored Programs (OSP) can bridge those gaps. The goal of this session is to build positive relationships and perception about the services that OSP provides and to set clear expectation from both the principal investigator (PI) and administrative points-of-view.
This session focuses on how you can help your students take better photographs and videos for class projects, regardless of your field. Most students coming into the university these days have already had some video making and certainly photography. But our expectations for what visual media should look like and how it should communicate a clear message is greater than what the students have created (generally). So to help increase the chances of success for you and your students, this workshop will provide tips and tricks for improving the quality of sound and images from the smartphone/tablet. As importantly, we will also provide you with tips and tricks to create visual stories with impact.
This session introduces faculty members and graduate students to EndNote Web as a tool for enhancing teaching and research. Known as a program for saving and managing references, EndNote Web has additional features that facilitate student collaboration on research projects and allow researchers to connect and share resources. EndNote can even play matchmaker by suggesting journals for manuscript submission. This session covers the basics of setting up an EndNote Web account and building a collection of references and then moves on to these wider possibilities. The presenters hope to inspire colleagues to incorporate this versatile program into their work with students and research partners. Please bring your own laptop or borrow one from the library for this hands-on experience.
This session introduces Kaltura, American University’s new media management solution, and prepares you to use the new Kaltura CaptureSpace software to record your classes, mini-lectures, student presentations, and more. You will learn not only the technical aspects of the software, but also how to integrate this technology into your class, which situations work best for lecture capture, and how to use it as a teaching tool rather than a record keeper. Please bring a laptop for this session.
Session One (9:30-10:30am)
101: Faculty Use of Social Media as Researchers and Public Intellectuals
Faculty are increasingly using social media and blogs to share their research findings with a broader public. This session examines ways that faculty can maximize the impact of their online presence. The session also looks to share with colleagues potential drawbacks of social media.
This session addresses the methods used to convey your curriculum to students, from required readings, exams, presentations to online videos and any interactive software/hardware. The session provides a discussion of different methods by implementing Universal Design when creating your curriculum. Participants should reflect on their role in creating accessible content. This begins by addressing key questions such as: Have you thought about your teaching style—visual, auditory/musical, kinesthetic/physical, combination, solitary, social, logical/mathematical? This exploration can result in finding pathways to work together, broadening our “reach” to diverse learners.
With 91% of AU students reporting feeling overwhelmed, 68% feeling very sad, and 56% experiencing overwhelming anxiety, innovative tools are urgently needed to manage stress and improve the mental health and well-being among college students. This workshop provides a hands-on experience with mindfulness tools to enhance student engagement, improve mental health, and promote an optimal learning environment. Mindfulness can increase productivity by cultivating increased attention, engagement, 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. It also reviews the evidence that supports the beneficial effects of mindfulness on mental health, attention, and overall well-being. Participants consider how mindfulness tools may be integrated into existing curricula to enhance the learning environment in classroom settings across many disciplines and departments.
This session explores what the College Writing Program teaches and ways for faculty to build on these skills. The session begins by introducing Atrium: Student Writing from American University’s College Writing Program, an online, yearly publication celebrating student academic writing and providing models for future students. This resource serves as an example of what college writing students accomplish. Next, the session explores how writing projects can echo what students learn in college writing to enhance learning across the curriculum. The session is intended for faculty who would like to reimagine their writing instruction.
105: Online Learning: What the Students Are Saying
Although online courses are increasingly popular with students, are they effective? The goal of this session is to improve online teaching by asking students about their online learning experiences. The intended audience is anyone who teaches online or hybrid courses. A growing literature addresses issues from technology to student engagement. One way to improve teaching is to fully consider what students themselves are saying. This presentation looks at mid-semester and end-of-course student evaluations from The Catholic University of America and end-of-course evaluations from AU. This information is supplemented with interviews of students from both universities, seeking additional insights on online teaching and learning.
This session encourages participants to discuss their strategies and failures related to teaching while considering learning outcomes. In particular, the session focuses on the General Education learning outcomes. However, all participants have an opportunity to discuss how their course content can merge with the explicit goals of learning outcomes set by the university, academic programs, and individual departments. This session aims to help new and seasoned teachers alike discuss how shifting attitudes toward learning outcomes, grading rubrics, and assessment affect day-to-day instruction. At the end of the session, participants should leave with several practical ideas to implement in the classroom, as well as a better understanding of how attending to learning outcomes can actually improve instruction.
107: Socializing New Graduate Students into Academia
This session presents strategies to socialize new graduate students into the academic community, which are used successfully in two AU graduate programs. New graduate students in the MA in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) are asked to complete a series of weekly tasks during their first semester to raise their awareness, knowledge, and skills in interacting with professors and peers; participating in academic literacies; becoming consumers of research; tying personal experiences and research to their writing; and bridging research and practice in their professional development. The semester-long Intercultural Communication (IC) Writing Fellows program is a writing workshop designed to help support and strengthen students' writing, editing, and reading skills, and to help incubate an understanding among graduate students of varied academic backgrounds that effective writing is not an inherent talent as much as an ongoing practice that can be learned and improved with effort and feedback from a community of colleagues.
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.
109: Supporting Student Engagement and Risk-Taking in the Classroom
In this session panelists will share how they create a classroom environment that connects students to each other and where students feel safe and supported, and as a consequence, are willing to take risks and be vulnerable. This strategy is used in two Executive Masters Programs at AU, as one way to continuously search for creative ways to prepare students for the increasing demands of leading in the public, private, and non-profit sectors. This approach to developing students who are not only leaders, consultants and entrepreneurs, but are also able to deal with multiple demands and uncertainty, can be useful in multiple classroom settings, including undergraduate classes over the course of a semester. The panelists will share their strategies, including group development and trust building in the classroom. Participants will have an opportunity to engage in a brief exercise as an example of experiential learning design.
One of the primary duties of a faculty member is to facilitate in-class discussions that are engaging, intellectually challenging, and inclusive. However, establishing and maintaining an environment in which students can express their ideas without fear of retribution or ostracization can be challenging. This session offers strategies for leading in-class discussions that are mindful of power, privilege, and racial, ethnic, gender and cultural considerations. The panel will debunk the myth that some courses are neutral by exploring how faculty members across the campus are managing in-class discussions and addressing so-called hidden curriculum—without neglecting the core subject matter they teach. Importantly, while in-class discussions ostensibly end when class periods do, the most impactful discussions have lasting effects on students, who walk out the door exhilarated and impassioned. By leading by example, faculty members can do their parts to ensure student discourse outside of the classroom is civil and inclusive.
Why do students not come to office hours? Why don’t they ask for help when struggling in a course? Academic stress, financial pressures, and shifting conceptualization of college can frame a student’s identity and behavior in the classroom. This session offers insights from our peer advising program as well as ongoing research concerning students’ self-understanding of their first year experience. Additionally, the session addresses first-year students’ challenges and suggests some proven solutions to enrich the classroom environment, and boost student engagement and retention. This session is ideal for those teaching first-year students, especially in general education classes, as well as anyone interested in student development.
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. The session provides a discussion of the rhetorical approaches and lecture strategies most suitable for the lecture format, including performance aspects. The session 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: Assessing and Responding to Academic Misconduct: Evaluating Student Use of Sources
This session explores topics and solutions related to plagiarism. The presenters are particularly interested in the intersection of information literacy and academic misconduct. For example, what should a professor do when a source cited in a student paper does not support the position for which it has been offered? This can range from a simple case of a student misunderstanding a complex or nuanced source, to a student intentionally misrepresenting a source in order to bolster his or her argument. On one end is poor subject matter knowledge and information literacy, and at the other end is deliberate academic misconduct. The area between the two leaves much to be explored. This session is intended for teachers with research paper requirements and those interested in ways to improve the quality of student writing and research.
205: Teaching Approaches Inspired by Teaching Online
For some, online education is seen as a second-best educational option when in-person learning is impossible. Yet, some aspects of online education rival or surpass what faculty accomplish in traditional face-to-face classrooms, ultimately inspiring new teaching approaches and methodologies. The goal of this session is to provide a forum for all faculty to explore the many ways teaching online might influence pedagogical approaches when teaching on-campus. Faculty who teach both online and on-campus share how the realm of blended learning environments informs their traditional on-campus teaching practices. This panel is intended to encourage all faculty to think differently about co-presence, interactions with students, definitions of the classroom space, and the way immediate access to information shapes learning.
Faculty learn much about students from their classroom experiences and evaluations of them. “I can’t believe they missed that!” can alternate with “Wow, that was effective—look at how well they did!” Faculty also learn where students are underperforming, and where they mastered a skill or lesson. With help from the Committee on Learning Assessment, participants learn how the knowledge you gain from your student assessments can be shared with colleagues, and brainstorm how to double-purpose that learning to strengthen a program. Targeted at faculty determined to get the most out of their evaluations, this workshop aims to help them understand how to incorporate student responses into future lesson-plans and curricula.
Used effectively, multimedia can have a powerful and transformative effect on teaching and learning. This panel discussion seeks to inspire faculty to develop their own instructional assets using AU’s Kaltura video-capture tool. Following an interactive brainstorming session and brief overview of multimedia’s pedagogical value, faculty members representing a range of disciplines showcase the ways in which they have created and used video to enhance and support their teaching. Through these examples, participants explore different strategies for delivering content, engaging students, and assessing learning using self-produced media assets. This session is appropriate for experienced instructors seeking new ideas as well as those who are just starting to consider creating instructional assets with Kaltura.
“Written and oral communication” and “ability to work in teams” are among the top skills employers seek. The American Association of Colleges & Universities (AAC&U) surveyed employers and identified the competencies they seek in college graduates. Although these skills are developed through a liberal arts education, students often have difficulty articulating these experiences to employers. This session engages participants in a discussion of skills that are developed in the classroom, and how they can help students to link these activities to the competencies most sought by employers. The Career Center provides an overview of the top skills employers seek and participants discuss how they currently develop these skills in the classroom. Through shared discussion, strategies are identified to enable students to link their classroom experiences to the skills employers seek, and to be able to clearly articulate them to employers.
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, as well as creating and grading with rubrics, how to check for plagiarism using Safe Assign and using adaptive release.
Luncheon and Plenary Session (12:00-2:15pm)
(MGC 2 - 5)
Part I: The Case for Change: Reinventing the Student Experience (RiSE)
How can we meet 21st-century needs and expectations in order to support student success? Learn about AU's Reinventing the Student Experience (RiSE) initiative. The presentation will report assessment results and will address how technology, our philosophy of service, organizational structure, and communication strategies influence the student experience.
Part II: Putting the Implicit Revolution to Use (for Oneself and for Others)
Implicit revolution is the label for a paradigm shift in understanding how the contents of human thought and judgment are shaped—outside conscious awareness—by residues of one’s lifetime experiences. This revolution’s applications now extend to business, education, law, justice, politics, and healthcare. Awareness is being spread both by knowledgeable academics and by journalists who report on the growing range of societal applications.
Following the Plenary Session, the Assistant Vice President of Campus Life and the Dean of Academic Affairs and Senior Vice Provost will continue the conversation on the topics from Dr. Greenwald's plenary speech and other issues regarding implicit biases.
302: Creating an Inclusive Classroom for Introverts, Ambiverts, and Extroverts
This panel of faculty and students discusses strategies for making the classroom inclusive to introverts (as well as ambiverts and extroverts). Traditionally in the college classroom, all students, regardless of where they fall on the introvert/extrovert spectrum, are expected to present themselves as extroverts if they are to excel in the classroom. Given that nearly half of college students fall on the introvert side of the spectrum, are these students being well served? Although introverts can recognize that they can gain from participating as if extroverts, faculty (many of whom are introverts themselves) may be missing opportunities to meet the unique needs of introverts with a more open and innovative approach to class participation (perhaps with the help of technology) and to use the unique contributions introverts are capable of providing.
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. It describes how to create an atmosphere in the classroom of warmth and trust, so that all students, even shy ones, are more willing to actively participate.
Information literacy, or the ability to find and critically evaluate information, is one of AU’s institutional learning outcomes, and is a crucial skill for every student. What is the best way to integrate these skills into the classroom and to assess the efficacy of our efforts? Panelists discuss two projects assessing information literacy integration in two very different programs. The first project centers on evidence of information literacy behaviors in College Writing, where a rubric was developed to assess research papers from Fall 2014. Presenters talk about how they created a rubric, the results obtained, and plans associated with the findings. The second project stems from a Curriculum Development grant focusing on the integration of information literacy into the Biology 110 labs in Fall 2015. The project’s purpose, assessment measures, lab assignments, and preliminary results are discussed.
At American University, there are approximately 900 undergraduate students who are the first in their families to attend college. First Generation students may face particular challenges such as navigating the university system, developing study habits, engaging cultural transitions, and planning for the future. For First Gen students, the road can be fraught with added anxieties related to their education as well as to their relationships with their families. In this session, five American University faculty reflect on their own experiences as first generation university students and consider the pedagogical implications for the classroom. The discussion will focus on how to recognize, value, and support the diversity of experiences that First Gen students bring to learning.
Traditional research papers at the undergraduate level and policy memos at the graduate level are useful for students. But students can demonstrate knowledge and build expertise in other ways. In this session, we will share ideas about the crafting of assignments that challenge and engage the creativity of students, in the service of learning objectives. We will share some of our motivations for such assignments and the meaningful risks such assignments present to teachers and students alike. In addition, attendees will have a chance to put these ideas into practice, as we work together not only to share creative approaches we’ve used in the past, but to devise new creative assignments for a range of courses and goals.
The AU campus is a natural treasure. It is an accredited arboretum and recognized as one of the most beautiful and well-tended college campuses in the country. This landscape is more than a scenic backdrop: It can be an exceptional resource for experiential learning. This panel brings together faculty and staff in an imaginative and interactive discussion about how AU’s Arboretum and Gardens can be, and have been, integrated creatively and effectively into classes. The campus environment lends itself well to exploring such topics as biodiversity, water management, sustainable development, and urban agriculture. Memorable moments in the University’s history also can be revisited in the arboretum: for example, President Kennedy’s 1963 commencement speech. Following the presentations, panelists and the audience brainstorm about opportunities and connections that can serve to enhance faculty and student familiarity with the campus and enrich the classroom experience.
How can teamwork and its real world payoffs be taught within an educational setting where individual effort rather than team output remains the primary source of evaluation and rewards? Can faculty go beyond the mechanics of team organization, incentives, and leadership to have our students learn how to be good team players? Can the norms that various cultures employ to solve the teamwork dilemma be taught within a university setting? Or, are they internalized at a much earlier stage within the family and community? Is there a common set of ethical precepts of teamwork and leadership that should be taught and discussed? This panel brings together multidisciplinary perspectives—from economics, sociology, business, and public administration—to discuss how educators can successfully bring into the classroom the varying real-world work contexts, incentive systems, and notions of fairness and justice that motivate successful teamwork.
In response to the rise of student-run, antiracist campaigns on campus, such as #TheRealAU and The Darkening, this roundtable explores pedagogical approaches to race in the classroom. In particular, it challenges popular discourses of “diversity,” and explores alternative frameworks for antiracist pedagogy. To jumpstart our conversation, Ellen Berrey’s recent article for the Atlantic, “Diversity is for White People: The Big Lie Behind a Well-intended Word” will be discussed. Find more information in this recent Washington Post article on #TheRealAU and The Darkening.
402: Millennial Students and Community-Based Learning (CBL): A Perfect Match
Jolynn Gardner (CAS-DHS) (Chair), Marcy Campos (Center for Community Engagement and Service), McKinley Doty (Class of 2016) & Roshan Thomas (Class of 2017)
Today’s college students crave exposure to and cultivation of “real-world experiences” that translates to the professional world. At the same time, they are seeking meaningful opportunities to “make a difference” in the world around them. The session is appropriate for all faculty—from those who have never taught a CBL course to those who are experienced in CBL, but want to explore new ideas and innovations. The goal of the session is to engage faculty in considering the unique interests and needs of today’s students and to introduce CBL course strategies to meet those needs. Additionally, two students who have engaged in a CBL course will share their experiences, its value, and impact. Specifically, the student panelists will describe CBL experiences with a local nonprofit organization, DC Doors.
What’s happening in the minds of students in class? What teaching style is likely to be successful in a first-year course? At what point are students most likely to learn what is taught in particular types of courses? The development of American college students’ cognitive thinking, identity, beliefs, and morals can impact faculty just as faculty impact students. This session explores theories of student development theory through the lens of the classroom experience. Class discussions, teaching styles, types of assignments and timing of particular types of courses in a student’s degree plan, have maximum success when combined with an understanding of the development process of college students. Academic Counselors and faculty offer insights into the development of college students and how their developmental process impacts your teaching and their learning. This session is ideal for both new and experienced faculty.
404: Developing Students Professionally through Client-Based Consulting Engagements
Experiential Learning comes in many shapes and sizes, ideally providing significant value to students and “hosts” alike. Targeted at faculty thinking about designing professional consulting experiences for students and adapting similar projects and programs, this session provides attendees lessons learned about engaging clients, defining projects, mentoring students and helping students achieve professional skills and networking goals. Panelists share their experiences designing and leading DC-based and international projects. Special attention is paid to the challenges of the professor’s role in these engagements (mentor, facilitator, and supervisor) and how to enable students to take charge without risking the downsides of sub-par performance on the professor’s reputation and professional network as well as the client’s time and good-will.
Mastering the intricacies of navigating an online classroom can be challenging. Aimed at both established and new faculty members, this roundtable consists of experts in online learning, a professor who recently launched her first online course, and a professor previously hesitant to take the plunge but who is increasingly getting ready. Learning outcomes in this SPExS-SOC roundtable are to give participants a clear and actionable plan of what is needed, emotionally and technically, to make this important move into the (Blackboard-driven) virtual classroom and to extend ones reach beyond the traditional classroom.
With the rise of digital video tools and internet distribution, many scholars are turning to visual storytelling to communicate research. Increasingly, videos are enhancing and in some cases replacing traditional print modes of communicating scholarship. This session showcases several examples, from the PEW Research Center to AU student research-based videos from interdisciplinary courses. The session covers some development and writing basics for visual storytelling. The session also includes a participatory segment during which teams will develop a short research-based video.
This session seeks to engage and collaborate with faculty who want to learn about incorporating issues relating to conservation, climate change, and/or sustainability into their courses. These are key challenges of our times and teaching these issues enhances students’ knowledge and capacity to make a difference. Attendees learn strategies for including environmental examples, topics, speakers, projects, assignments, current events, and site visits in any course. Participants who have never taught these topics before but who are interested in interdisciplinary teaching are encouraged to attend. The session focuses upon sharing ideas and discussion of opportunities for including environmental topics across the curriculum.
In this session, the Term Faculty Task Force presents the findings from its recent survey relating to CAS Term Faculty service and governance activities. The goal is to explore the level of inclusion and engagement among Term Faculty in service and department governance. In particular, the session is interested in assessing, (1) Are Term Faculty over or under burdened with service?; (2) Is the service of term faculty valued and/or recognized?; (3) Do Term Faculty have a voice in important department governance issues?; and (4) Are Term Faculty aware of the service and governance opportunities? Studying Term Faculty service roles and involvement in department governance can shed light on deficiencies and/or affirm areas where Term Faculty have a role or voice.
Using Collaborate, professors can talk with students, share applications, files and images, and record these sessions for future use. This session helps participants learn how Collaborate can help them offer a remote review session or office hours, face a weather emergency, or teach a hybrid class. This workshop discusses the steps to launch a "Live Classroom" in Blackboard, provides an overview of its uses, and hands-on practice with starting sessions, uploading and managing content, using the White Board, application sharing, adding quizzes, and providing feedback. The new version of Collaborate will be used in this workshop.