20th Annual Teaching & Learning Conference Program

Divergent Teaching: Empathy, Rigor, and Beyond

Tuesday, August 13th, 2024

9:00 am – 4:00 pm (EDT)



Below is a program at a glance. Login to Zoom after registration to see a full program with abstracts.

9:00 am – 9:10 am: Conference Welcome

9:10 am – 10:20 am: Keynote with Dr. Kevin M. Gannon

Rethinking “Rigor” and Centering Academic Wellness

What does “rigor” look like? We’re hearing a lot about it: we’re told we need to “return to rigor,” or “embrace rigorous standards,” or “bring rigor back into the classroom.” But what is it, exactly? After “pandemic pedagogy,” as we work to (re)connect with our students—with all of their diversity and talents—we ought to critically examine this question. There is research suggesting what we define as rigor and what students experience in so-called “rigorous” classes are vastly different things. What if, instead of promoting meaningful, challenging learning, we’re actually placing barriers in front of our students? This talk will explore the need to find balance between our conceptions of rigor and students’ academic well-being. We’ll consider the ways in which rigor manifests itself in our teaching and learning spaces, and how the concept is often weaponized against the very things we say are important to our courses. Finally, we’ll consider specific strategies to challenge our students in ways that promote, rather than prevent, their success.

10:20 am – 10:30 am: Break

10:30 am  – 11:20 am: Concurrent Sessions I

Participants may select to attend one of six concurrent rooms that will be hosting 50-minute Interactive Workshops.

Understanding the Affordances of Emerging Adults to Draw Learners into Deep, Rigorous Learning

Barbara Bird, Ohio Wesleyan University

Emerging adults have five characteristics, three of which significantly affect learning: Identity exploration, self-focus, and an openness to possibilities. Empathizing with where our student learners are in this life stage is important for our work with them; to move us beyond understanding these characteristics, Larry Nelson suggests we frame these characteristics as affordances to this population (for good or harm). This affordance lens is very useful to us as instructors because this lens helps us choose course designs that more effectively meet this population of learners right where they are so that we can motivate deeper, transformative learning.

Balancing Structure and Flexibility to Promote Student Thriving

Mac Crite, American University
Hannah Jardine, American University

Today’s students thrive in structured, yet flexible, learning environments. Structure creates a foundation that helps students understand expectations and goals, while flexibility allows instructors to be responsive to student needs and enables students to be creative and critical thinkers. How might we balance both such that we produce equitable learning environments where all students can achieve? In this workshop, we will explore how to provide students with structure and routine while also building in needed flexibility and agency for our increasingly diverse student population. Participants will leave with strategies they can implement in their course design and individual class sessions.

Soliciting and Implementing Midcourse Student Feedback: The value of course mapping

A Nicole Pfannenstiel, Millersville University
Leonora Foels

At most institutions of higher education, student feedback surveys and metrics are developed and deployed by central offices, and carry significant weight in contract renewal, reappointment, promote, tenure, and more. As educators, we know that student survey data is just one form of feedback on teaching. Instructor-created instruments – especially midcourse surveys – offer important midsemester actionable feedback allowing for minor curricular shifts to reconnect student learning and motivation. This interactive workshop demonstrates the value of mapping a college course in the Taxonomy Table (Anderson, et al.) as a necessary first step to help faculty build more effective mid-term student feedback surveys.

The Inclusive Teaching Toolbox: An Interactive Workshop

Jamey Harlow, South Piedmont Community College

This workshop aims to equip educators with the knowledge and tools to integrate inclusive practices and creative thinking into their teaching methodologies. Through an exploration of course design, assessment choices, and instructional strategies, participants will learn how to create a learning environment that fosters equity, diversity, and innovation. Attendees will gain insights into designing courses that accommodate diverse learning styles, developing assessments that encourage creative expression, and implementing instructional practices that promote an inclusive classroom culture. By the session’s end, educators will be inspired to transform their educational practices, ensuring that they cater to a broad spectrum of student needs while stimulating creativity and critical thinking.

Improving Student Success and Sense of Belonging by Design: How Students-As-Partners combined with Design Thinking Leads to Better Outcomes

Lynn Murray-Chandler, Clark University
Emily Gannon, Southern New Hampshire University

Many people attending this conference may have heard of the Learning Assistant Alliance or Students-As-Partners work. Presenters combined several ideas from the literature to develop a robust model where students are partners in the co-facilitation of courses and in the design of learning experiments that improve classroom culture, student learning and engagement. This model combines Relationship-Rich Education (Lambert & Felten, 2020), students-as-Partners work (Cook-Sather, Bovil & Felten, 2014), the Learning Assistant Alliance originating at the University of Colorado-Boulder, and the d.school Teaching and Learning Studio at Stanford University. Results at three different institutions show demonstrable gains in student learning and retention across a host of disciplines. When results are disaggregated, it is clear this program benefits student from historically underserved populations. Qualitative comments detail how this program has an effect on students overcoming the imposter syndrome and feeling a sense of belonging. Presenters will share their models, the tools they use, and how one might build a similar program on one’s own campus.

Strategies for Creativity, Relationships, and Community Beyond Class

Evan Small, Elon University
Marna Winter, Elon University

This interactive workshop will focus on the ways in which community, creativity, and relationships can extend beyond the classroom. Presenters will share ways in which they utilize a train-the-trainer model to empower students to foster and maintain space for critical communities while at school and beyond. While we will use examples from teacher education and experiential education classes, strategies will focus on ways to develop peer-to-peer relationships, create shared vulnerability, and strengthen creativity. This session will explore relationships with each other, with the instructor, with the self, with the content, and with the broader world.

11:20 am – 11:30 am: Break

11:30 am – 12:20 am: Concurrent Sessions II

Participants may select to attend one of six concurrent rooms.

Speed Teaching Presentations

Join us for four 10-minute presentations followed by a short group Q&A.

An exercise studies assessment that promotes creative and innovative thinking
Shawn R Cradit, North Carolina State University

Teaching Outside the Box: Exploring Innovative Techniques
Paula Fontana Qualls, Gardner-Webb University

Cultivating Creativity Through Divergent Thinking in Global Marketing
Lana Kurepa Waschka, Elon University

Building trust with and among your students
Peter Felten, Elon University

Innovative Pedagogical Strategies (Room 1)

Multimodality in Summative Assessment for Equity and Wellbeing
Alison Cook-Sather, Bryn Mawr College
Daniela Moreira, Haverford College
Piper Rolfes, Bryn Mawr College
Jess Smith, Bryn Mawr College

Multimodality meets the demands of an increasingly complex world and the needs and aspirations of an increasingly diverse group of learners in higher education. Focusing on multimodality in summative assessment, where inequities are an enduring concern, a faculty member and three students share uses of multimodality in the portfolios the students completed as summative assessment for an undergraduate education course. Guided by intention (to present a nuanced analysis), preference (as the most effective mode of expression for her), and necessity (because of a concussion), these students’ choices reflect self-empowerment, model diversity in expression, and foreground attention to equity and wellbeing.

Community-Based Writing to Ward off the Over-Use of AI
Erin Bell, University of Detroit Mercy

Over the last few semesters, most of us who assign written summative assessments (such as research essays) have grappled with the challenges presented by the proliferation of AI. So far, there is no guaranteed mode or tool that can prove an essay was produced by a large language model (such as ChatGPT) and not written by a student. In this session, I will map out a scaffolded assignment sequence that tasks students with going out into their communities and gathering their own research to assuage at least some of the over-reliance on AI. Inspired by composition theorist Ken Macrorie’s I-Search paper, the assignment sequence includes the development of interview questions as well as the submission of multimedia files to demonstrate the students’ work. By thinking more critically about the types of writing assessments we are assigning, we can provide students with meaningful experiences that foster critical thinking whilst mitigating the need to turn to academic dishonesty.

Innovative Pedagogical Strategies (Room 2)

Highlighting the Creative Process through Visualizing Data
Crista Arangala, Data Nexus

This workshop will focus on assessing and visualizing data through a creative lens. The presenter will highlight data sources that would align with discussions around inequity and justice and will focus on how to guide student in a creative, less traditional, data visualization journey.

Using Technology to Engage Students in Social and Environmental Problems
Mary Ann Smith, Penn State Schuylkill

Instructors may often see students on cell phones or laptops during class and them being distracted, but how can we take that technology and train them to use it for good? We may fear AI for use as a cheating tool, but can we teach students to harness it to create messaging that can change the world? This session will examine photo modification software, AI image makers, land imagining systems and virtual reality galleries that can be used to engage students in examining and potentially posing solutions to environmental and social challenges they see in their communities.

Innovative Pedagogical Strategies (Room 3)

Assessing Inclusive, Equitable, and Engaged Teaching: A Rubric for Course and Faculty Development
Joe Bandy, Vanderbilt University
Patti Clayton, UNCG

Higher education is undergoing a transformation as educators seek to support the success of an increasingly diverse student body and to address injustices in our broader society. Because the literature on inclusive and equitable teaching is proliferating and multifaceted, all educators can benefit from a tool that distills principles and practices in this arena. The session facilitators have developed, through peer feedback, an accessible, user-friendly rubric that synthesizes and operationalizes many promising teaching practices of equity and inclusion as well as community engagement. Through interactive dialogue, participants will have the opportunity to apply and adapt the rubric for their contexts.

Freeing the Body to Free the Mind: Stimming as a Pedagogical Tool
Brittany Anne Chozinski, Our Lady of the Lake University

Stimming techniques can be used in a classroom in multiple ways. By encouraging all students to use the space as needed or preferred, neurodivergent students are both welcomed and included in the classroom. Additionally, by normalizing stimming behaviors in a nondisruptive manner, the benefits are extended to all students. As needed more intense guided somatic practices such breath work, mindfulness exercises, movement, or vocalization can be used in a group context to help reconnect to the body, build resilience, and release stress.

Innovative Pedagogical Strategies (Room 4)

Student authored case studies: Adding creativity to the standard research paper

Michaela Gazdik Stofer, North Carolina State University

Case studies are an excellent pedagogical tool that use storytelling to contextualize complex concepts within real-world scenarios. Traditionally, students engage with a case study provided by the instructor. However, this session explores flipping this model, empowering students to become case authors. While crafting their own cases, students draw from personal experiences, news events, or create fictional situations, fostering creativity and innovation. Writing case studies builds research skills similar to those needed for standard research papers yet offers a unique avenue for demonstrating learning. This session will examine practical strategies for using a case writing assignment in the classroom.

Humanizing Cancer Care: Integrating Personal Student Narratives into Nursing Education
Brianna Blackburn, The Pennsylvania State University

Empathy is a cornerstone of nursing practice, yet it can be difficult to integrate in curricula. Nursing faculty are tasked with heavy course loads, meeting frequent benchmarks, and holding high standards for their students. These pressures can often manifest in lessons that are clinically focused, impersonal, and overlook the humanity so integral to the profession. This project highlights the use of personal student narratives in an undergraduate nursing class to promote humanization of material and empathy among peers. Join us as we explore how combining personal storytelling with classroom content can enhance the knowledge and attitudes of our students.

Innovative Pedagogical Strategies (Room 5)

Power to the Peers: Approaches & Strategies for Implementing Peer Mentoring in Introductory STEM Courses
Lauren Genova, University of Delaware
Jay Lunden, Temple University

Undergraduate peer facilitators can play a critical role in enhancing students’ success and well-being. During this session, we will explore different types of undergraduate peer facilitators that instructors can utilize in foundational STEM courses. We will share tips, tricks, and models for successful implementation, based on our own experiences in working with teams of undergraduate peer facilitators in our introductory STEM laboratory and lecture courses. We will also discuss strategies and benefits of utilizing undergraduate peer facilitators to build community among students, which is critical for students’ persistence and retention in their disciplines, academic achievement, and sense of belonging.

Making Connections: Fostering a sense of community to Support Student Engagement
Denise Wilkinson, Virginia Wesleyan University

As we navigate the impacts of the pandemic on learning and engagement, it’s essential to prioritize discovering inventive and effective methods to engage students in the classroom. Fostering a sense of community and belonging supports student motivation and active learning, leading to deeper engagement and academic success. The presenter will focus on three key categories of activities—Icebreakers, Storytelling, and Shared Reflections—that can be integrated into the classroom to cultivate a sense of community and belonging, while enhancing student engagement. Student feedback on these activities will be shared, and participants will engage in one of these activities during the session to experience its effectiveness.

12:20 am – 12:30 pm : Break

12:30 pm – 1:20 pm : Concurrent Sessions III

Participants may select to attend one of five concurrent rooms.

Speed Teaching Presentations

Join us for four 10-minute presentations followed by a short group Q&A.

Creating Inclusive Online Discussions Using Universal Design for Learning 
Peggy Kerr, Gwynedd Mercy University

Course Assignment Extension Policy
Stephanie Mathews, North Carolina State University

Designing HyFlex Multimodal  Learning Environments
Asmaa Albadawi, University of Missouri System (Missouri Online)
Elizabeth du Plessis, University of Missouri System (Missouri Online)

Embedding Digital Accessibility and Inclusive Design Competencies into Curricula
Karen Caldwell, SUNY Potsdam
Laura Perry, Clarkson University

Innovative Pedagogical Strategies (Room 1)

The Umbrella of Parity: Digital Equity Foundations

Donald Michael Jr, Central Piedmont Community College
Jen Vanek, Central Piedmont Community College
Krystal Rawls, Central Piedmont Community College

Since the pandemic, there has been a growing interest in the effect of digital technology on student learning, workforce digital skilling, technology training for the neurodivergent, and how to transition students from digital literacy to digital fluency. However, it is difficult to determine which topics are most important for discussion. Digital Equity serves as the “umbrella” or the overarching term covering several topics like digital discrimination, digital redlining, digital justice, and digital belonging support.

In our session, three perspectives will be presented on “the parity in digital equity” in higher education. We will open discussion from three points of view expressed in areas of digital equity support for neurodiversity, well-being, inclusive practices, and the embrace of trauma mitigation.

Cracking the Code: Break-In Rooms for Student Engagement
April Tallant, Western Carolina University

Discover how break-in rooms offer a creative twist on traditional teaching methods, drawing inspiration from the popular escape room concept. In this session, explore the development of a break-in room as a capstone course experience and its effectiveness in meeting learning outcomes. Gain practical insights into creating and implementing this game-based learning experience in your own curriculum, including opportunities and challenges. Engage in an interactive exercise to “create a clue” tailored to one of your courses. Discover student perspectives about the break-in room experience as it relates to teamwork, communication, and leadership skills and how future iterations will be improved.

Innovative Pedagogical Strategies (Room 2)

Promoting Creative Problem Solving: Using Design Thinking to Foster Student Engagement and Inclusivity 
Lindsey Caola, College of the Holy Cross

Design thinking is a human-centered approach to problem solving that encourages students to re-frame the way they think about problems or challenges. The iterative nature of design thinking fosters critical thinking, creativity, and innovation. In this session we will discuss a design thinking community-based learning (CBL) project. Specifically, we will discuss how students can apply their skills and talents to help address a meaningful challenge on campus or in the local community. This experiential learning opportunity can help students feel competent as scholars, autonomous in their learning, and connected to their community.

Using Art as a Pedagogical Tool: Divergent Ways to Make Connections
Nancy Carr, Carolina University

Photos have the possibility to capture what can be lost or misinterpreted through words (Latz & Mulvihill, 2017). In my own research study, photovoice served as a way to make connections between difficult concepts, particularly among participants who are historically marginalized. Arts-based research methods, such as photovoice, provide a space and place for participants to feel valued as they share their experiences and make meaning from them. Art as a pedagogical tool may help graduate students make connections and discuss difficult and hard to understand topics, particularly as it relates to research through art. Teaching practices, which support creativity, serve as a way for students and faculty to make connections together, while celebrating diversity, equity, and inclusion through art.

Innovative Pedagogical Strategies (Room 3)

Learning Kits by Mail in an Online Master’s Course: Making the abstract hands-on 
Sarah McCorkle, University of Virginia
Suzanna J. Ramos, Texas A&M University
Hector Ramos Garcimartin, Texas A&M University
Sean Kao, Texas A&M University

In a fully online master’s course, K-12 teachers and technology practitioners are introduced to emerging technologies: AI, AR, VR and Holograms. If this class were in-person, inexpensive materials would be provided to facilitate hands-on learning for each topic. Instead, online students are limited to reading about, imagining, and discussing the technologies. We mailed these inexpensive learning materials to the homes of online students (at a cost comparable to a textbook) as an equitable solution to resource-based design constraints, rather than burdening students with the task of purchasing or borrowing supplies that would have otherwise been distributed within a traditional classroom.

Discomfort and Growth
Jillian Auditori, Elon University
Israel Balderas, Elon University

In the classroom and beyond, we sometimes feel torn between wanting students to feel safe and wanting to challenge them in ways that make them uncomfortable. In our session, we will suggest that the two can—and should—co-exist. As we try connecting with learners whose life experiences have had far-reaching consequences, we must approach teaching as an opportunity to help them grow. And to do that, we must create an environment that feels secure so that they are willing to take the risks, to welcome challenging perspectives with an open mind, and to become comfortable with sitting in discomfort.

Innovative Pedagogical Strategies (Room 4)

Gen Z, Me, and Online Empathy: Mitigating Instructor-Student Frustrations 
Debbie K. Baker, UNC Charlotte

Generation Z students have matriculated to higher education with their technological dependencies and preferences for knowledge acquisition. Instructors embracing this digital generation with more divergent, traditional methodologies can experience frustration from the incongruencies in learning preferences and misunderstandings (Park & Rameriz, 2022; Szymkowiak, et al. 2021; Hernandez-de-Menendez et al., 2020). Examining the research from Park & Rameriz (2022) this session will explain how the psychological intervention approaches to mitigate instructor-student frustrations were utilized for online coursework. Participants will engage in self-reflexivity on how to best implement these approaches while exploring examples of adaptive ingenuities.

What I Wish My Colleagues Knew: Stories & Experiences From 2024
Constanza Bartholomae, Bryant University

Often times when we think about inclusion, we forget about pieces that might be invisible at first glance – like neurodiversity. In this session, we will discuss what some of the current needs of neurodivergent faculty and staff are and identify ways in which we can support those needs on our campuses. Together, we will examine what some of our neurodivergent colleagues wish we knew about them and their day-to-day struggles and frustrations navigating the workplace in higher education.

1:20 pm – 1:30 pm : Break

1:30 pm – 2:20 pm : Concurrent Sessions IV

Participants may select to attend one of six concurrent rooms that will be hosting 50-minute Interactive Workshops.

Context matters: How does institutional culture help or hinder your change efforts in teaching?

Jane Lubischer, NC State University

Sustainable transformation of STEM education requires more than the work of individual faculty, because those individual efforts to humanize our teaching are impacted by the departmental, disciplinary, and institutional cultures within which we work.  For example, how does your departmental view of “rigor” impact your own assessment and grading practices?  In this session, participants will work together to apply a four frames organizational change model to conceptualize their change efforts in teaching and to identify aspects of departmental, disciplinary, and institutional cultures that facilitate or impede our ability to be the inclusive, empathetic, and innovative teachers we want to be.

Transparency in Learning and Teaching (TILT) Advances Student Success Equitably

Mary-Ann Winkelmes, TILT Higher Ed
Raymond Emekako, Noordwes-Universiteit (North-West Univ.)

Across disciplines, cultures, and learning differences on 6 continents, TILT (transparency in learning and teaching) offers a small, evidence-based change to teaching/learning practice that reaps large, equitable rewards for students by reducing barriers to inclusion and understanding.
Participants in this interactive workshop will gain:
+ an understanding of how TILT works and what it looks like in practice
+ TILT tools and strategies to enhance students’ success and teaching satisfaction
+ a TILTed assignment or student-facing document/protocol of their own that they can use immediately with students. (Research indicates that only 2 such assignments in a course achieved equitable learning advances.)

Utilizing Elements of Online Engagement as a Strategy for Reflection

Stephanie M. Foote, Gardner Institute and Stony Brook University

Engaging in reflection is an important aspect of teaching, yet we lack time, space, and structure to support deep reflection. Without a framework or structure to guide reflection, we run the risk of simply affirming rather confronting beliefs (Fox et al., 2019). Given the importance of reflection in divergent teaching practice, this session will focus on approaches to apply the elements of online engagement, using guided reflection, in the intentional design and delivery of online courses. Participants will leave the session with ideas they can incorporate immediately into their own courses, and resources for continuous course improvement.

High structure course design to promote student learning and metacognition

Justin Shaffer, Colorado School of Mines

High structure courses are those that engage students via pre-class content acquisition and assessment, in-class active learning, after-class review assignments, and frequent formative and summative assessment. In this workshop, we will explore the theory behind high structure course design, the performance and attitudinal benefits of high structure course design, and resources available to help you modify or design a high structure course. Specific examples from the presenter’s own high structure STEM courses and research will be presented and participants will have time to begin to apply these principles to their own situations.

Empathetic, Asset-Based, and Identity-Affirming Practices to Support Autistic Learners

Leslie Bayers, University of the Pacific
Madhu Sundarrajan, University of the Pacific

College campuses are increasingly neurodiverse, but low graduation rates for autistic students point to systemic barriers to their success. In this interactive session, participants will unpack inherited mindsets around autism and, more broadly, notions of what learning should look like. We will contrast marginalizing attitudes still prevalent in education with the asset-based neurodiversity paradigm and discuss tangible steps instructors can take to affirm and support the success of autistic learners. The inclusive teaching strategies we enact with neurodivergent students in mind will help us better welcome and reach the wide variety of learners in our classes.

Internship Pedagogy: Creating and aligning internship learning outcomes and assessments

CJ Eubanks Fleming, Elon University
Nancy Carpenter, Elon University

Internships provide career-readiness skills and help students to approach their post-grad employment opportunities in a context outside of the classroom, both of which are increasingly important in our career-focused world. Faculty are a critical component for students to successfully approach and engage with these comprehensive and holistic internship experiences. In this workshop, you will explore evidence-based frameworks that can be integrated into your internship course design. Participants will develop learning outcomes that are considerate of disciplinary, interpersonal, and employer contexts, and focus on how they can create authentic assessments that align with those learning outcomes.

2:30 – 3:50: Annual Elon Faculty & Staff Plenary & Closing

Annual Elon Faculty & Student Plenary

For this year’s Elon Faculty Plenary, we will explore the intersection of design, technology, and creativity to foster learning opportunities in unconventional spaces. We’ll examine how non-traditional learning spaces (ex. Maker Hub, outdoor classroom, flipped classroom) create dynamic learning environments that cater to diverse needs and promote inclusivity. Additionally, we will discuss how we can make non-traditional learning spaces more inclusive by incorporating technology and/or other accommodations.