5th Annual Innovations in Pedagogy Summit

Date: Wednesday May 3, 2017
Location: Newcomb Hall

For additional workshop details, please click here.


The University of Virginia’s 5th Annual Innovations in Pedagogy Summit brings together faculty, staff, and students from across UVa and the Commonwealth to engage in conversation about excellence in teaching and learning. We welcome you to explore what is possible and see how colleagues across the University and beyond are innovating their classrooms. The day’s conversations will enlighten, inspire, and assist you regardless of your status, rank, or discipline. In both plenary and breakout sessions, instructors from across Grounds and from other Virginia universities will be sharing their insights on engaging students in the classroom. A number of these will involve collaborative presentations among faculty, graduate student, undergraduate students, and/or staff.

For additional details, and to Register, please click here.

Teacher as Coach: Strategies for Deep Learning Outside the Classroom

Date: 2:00-4:30PM, Thursday, March 23, 2017
Location: McKim Hall (School of Medicine) Room 1023

For additional workshop details and to register, please click here.

Susan RobisonDescription:

How do you structure out-of-class learning opportunities for your students when you advise and mentor them or direct their research? This practical, interactive workshop based on coaching skills drawn from executive, personal, and academic coaching will introduce skills that provide such a structure and produce the kind of deep learning our students long for. Skills covered will be setting an agenda, assessing student motivation, designing a learning plan, preventing obstacles, and planning accountability.


After attending in the session, participants will be able to:

  • listen deeply to students’ agenda for learning
  • assess student motivation for learning
  • design a learning program that matches interventions to the student’s stage of change
  • apply strategies drawn from research on goal-setting, brain pacing, work-rest rhythms, multi-tasking, accountability, and preventing obstacles to help students set realistic learning goals
  • implement accountability practices for students to pace their learning and use campus resources such as faculty, peers, and writing centers to help them achieve results.

Susan Robison, Ph.D. is a psychologist, author, and faculty development consultant. Susan’s Professor Destressor workshops and coaching help faculty improve their time and stress management, leadership, work-life balance, productivity and communication skills. Her book, The Peak Performing Professor: A Practical Guide to Productivity and Happiness, has been selected for faculty book clubs all over North America. In addition to authoring The Peak Performing Professor: A Practical Guide to Productivity and Happiness, published by Jossey-Bass in October, 2013, Susan is also the author of two leadership books (Discovering Our Gifts and Sharing Our Gifts), and a co-author with Barbara Walvoord et al. of a faculty development book, Thinking and Writing in College. She is a frequent workshop presenter at higher education conferences and colleges and universities including several visits to UVa. Her workshops have been described as “mind blowing,” “transformational,” and “life-changing.” A former academic department chair and professor of psychology at Notre Dame of Maryland University, Susan has provided leadership consultation work with non-profits and maintained a clinical practice at the Center for Extraordinary Marriages where she is co-director with her husband of over 40 years. Her awards include an early career NSF award and several business awards including the 2004 Mandy Goetze award from the Executive Women’s Network for service and leadership to business women in the Baltimore area and, in 2008, one of the Top 100 Minority Business Entrepreneurs in the Maryland, DC, and Virginia areas.


Providing Effective Feedback and Grading Student Work

Date: Friday March 17, 2017
Location: Monroe Hall 134

For additional workshop details, please click here.


As instructors, we know students are able to learn and develop more effectively if they receive frequent and focused feedback; we also know that evaluating their learning is a necessary part of teaching. In this workshop, you’ll learn how to turn the unavoidable and often time-consuming tasks of feedback and grading into a beneficial learning experience, both for you and your students. You’ll come away from the workshop with concrete ideas for making feedback and grading, in all types of learning environments, both efficient and valuable.


This workshop will be held in Monroe 134 on Friday March 17  from 2-3:30PM 




For additional details, and to Register, please click here.

Leveraging classroom observations to promote instructional change

Date: Friday February 24, 2017
Location: RBT 254 (ROBERTSON HALL ROOM 254)

For additional workshop details, please click here.


While the development and widespread implementation of new observation protocols for postsecondary classrooms is providing new insights into the instructional practices of faculty, it is also raising questions about efficient strategies to leverage these data to promote meaningful reflection by the faculty and inform change in their teaching. The goal of this working session is to identify effective strategies grounded in the literature and our own practices to provide actionable feedback to faculty based on results of classroom observations. In particular, we will 1) summarize the research on effective practices to provide feedback to faculty, 2) share our developing strategy to leverage data collected from the Classroom Observation Protocol for Undergraduate STEM (COPUS), and 3) brainstorm ways to align each other’s strategies to these research findings. Participants to this session are encouraged to bring drafts or fully developed strategies that they have used to provide feedback to faculty based on classroom observations. The audience targeted is staff and faculty who are involved in the professional development of faculty and graduate students

Presented by:
Dr. Marilyne Stains, PhD.
Associate Professor, Chemical Education
Chemistry Department
University of Nebraska – Lincoln


For additional details, and to Register, please click here.

What are students really typing?

During my graduate career at the University at Buffalo in the Anthropology program, I was occasionally invited to lead a class discussion.  The classroom itself could seat upwards of 200 students, many of which had brought along their laptops.

Photo from Wikimedia.org

On one balmy spring morning, I was asked to give a lecture on social scripts.  Seeing a natural connection to the classroom setting, I began my discussion from the back of the classroom, immediately breaking the students’ social expectations (i.e. their social scripts) for what a prototypical lecturer should be doing.

Although the strategy worked, that is not the point of this post.  Carrying on the theme of a recent “Flipping the Classroom” conversation within the Hybrid Challenge group, I was struck by the number of students who had their own laptops (this was about 8 years ago), and further struck by the percentage of those students who were updating their social network status, checking last night’s basketball scores, or browsing YouTube.

For someone who self identifies as an ‘engaging teacher’ (perhaps engaging teaching assistant would have been more accurate at the time), the students’ lack of engagement left me downtrodden.

Map of Online Communities from xkcd

It appears I was not alone, because recently a St. John’s University law professor had researchers look over students’ shoulders and two University of Vermont business professors used computer software to monitor what students were doing on their laptops during lecture. Though neither study had quite the precision of a true controlled experiment, these results are notable because they relied on observations of students instead of self-reporting and surveys.

In the Vermont study, students cycled through an average of 65 new windows per lecture, of which over half were considered distractions. At St. John’s, most second- and third-year law students used their laptops for non-class-related purposes over half the time.

Any visit to a large lecture is likely to reinforce these data. Students are apt to drift to email inboxes and social networking sites. Facebook is a staple of many college students’ laptop screens.

Many times, students will simply pull up Microsoft Word or PowerPoint to copy down bullets when the professor advances to the next slide, and then return to surfing the web.

The study also revealed a significant deviation between student survey results and actual computer-use practices. Students tend to under-report the amount of time they spend on distracting activities in class.

At this point, you may be saying to yourself, “Self, this is horrible!  By allowing my students to bring their laptops into my classes I am condemning them to a fate of distraction and disengagement.”

To which I reply,  “Wait!  The end is not nigh!”  Do not be so quick to ban laptops in your classroom.

In later posts, I will further discuss the consequences of laptops in the classroom, and propose a number of ideas to engage students through their technology.

This post is part of a series relating to TRC’s theme, “Face-to-Face Education in the Digital Age”.

Read the next post –>, “Engaging Students Through Their Laptops”.

About the author: Matthew Trevett-Smith, TRC Assistant Director & Assistant Professor

Engaging Students Through Their Laptops

As more and more faculty begin to flip their classroom, design blended learning experiences, and think about a hybrid model, it is important to consider how students use their technology.  In today’s college classroom, students are not only able to escape paying attention through daydreaming and crosswords, but also by text messaging, browsing millions of webpages, watching streaming videos, and updating social networking sites.  (for more background on this topic, please refer to “What are students really typing?”)

From your position at the front of the room you may notice that the laptop itself creates a physical barrier between you (the instructor) and your students. Furthermore, your students recognize that from the front of the room, you (instructors) can’t see what is happening on their laptop screens. This situation provides a lot of incentive for students to wander away from class-related activities.

Additionally, this means students around the laptop-user can become distracted as their eyes are drawn to web content on the nearby computer screen.

Notably, however, according to a recent PEW Research report students who checked email and distracting websites did not score lower than their less distracted peers did on homework, quizzes, or exams. Only one activity created significant negative correlation with performance: instant messaging.

This reinforces the notion that many students are effective multi-taskers, while tasks that demand constant attention (like IM) are detrimental to student learning.

The problem is many of our students use laptops legitimately, so anytime we ban laptops, we are cutting off the ability of students to do that. So it’s a decision that should be based on data rather than misconception.

Lectures that are taught interactively have been shown to improve student learning. Whether instructors are engaging students through Chromebooks, laptops, or traditional clickers, how effective the instructor is at facilitating interactivity determines how students are engaged.

Laptops enable students who are fast typists to take more comprehensive notes, curious students to quickly search for more information, and, with the right tools, confused students to seek clarification from teaching assistants or classmates.

There are many ways laptops can improve a student’s educational experience. The key to preventing students from spending the entire class on distracting websites is deliberately engaging laptops rather than ignoring them.  I find that the connectivist model of teaching fits perfectly when attempting to engage students through their technology.

Banning laptops eliminates the potential of such technologies as powerful learning tools, and it is unlikely disengaged students will begin to pay more attention. They are still able to find distractions via mobile phones, nearby friends, the student newspaper, or even an open window.

Instead, encouraging students to engage with the class via technology increases student attentiveness, student engagement, and promotes active learning. Students will act rationally and pay attention in class if incentives favor appropriate use of technology.

How do you encourage students to use laptops appropriately during lecture?

This post is part of a series relating to TRC’s theme, “Face-to-Face Education in the Digital Age”.

<– Read the previous post, “What are students really typing”.
–> Read the next post, “Three roles faculty have when incorporating technology into their course”.

About the author: Matthew Trevett-Smith, TRC Assistant Director & Assistant Professor


Three roles faculty have when incorporating technology into their course

Are you an instructor using technology in your classroom? Well, there are three roles that you should be taking as the instructor… Role model, tech support, and cheerleader!

Instructor as role model

image shared with creative commons

Any faculty member who is using technology in (or out) of class has the opportunity to become a role model for students in using particular technologies. This role allows you to demonstrate responsible and academically beneficial ways of incorporating technology into your students professional and personal lives.

Whenever I’m teaching a class, I immediately introduce my students to all of the different ways to witness my digital (and technological) presence. That means, giving out my Twitter handle, blog address, personal webpage, and class blog. Some faculty even invite students to connect with them on Linkedin, or friend them on Facebook. This then gives you the opportunity to interact with your students beyond class time (and beyond the semester), and continually model the benefits of using technology in an academic and professional context.

So if your class is examining Twitter as a journalistic tool, consider creating your own Twitter account, and invite your students to follow you and each other. This way, you have the opportunity to model using Twitter beyond your students existing capabilities. (Yes, Twitter can be used for more than sharing pictures of food and organizing a weekend party!)

Ditto for blogs and digital storytelling. If you ask your students to create DSTs, why not create one yourself? Not only does this allow you to model what an acceptable course project should accomplish, it has the added benefit of exposing you to the workload your students will experience throughout the semester. Your students will appreciate your effort!

Instructor as tech support

image shared with creative commons

This is the role that faculty often have the most difficulty accepting. Don’t worry, this faculty role will not put ITS out of a job. There will always be new technology coming over the horizon to keep them busy. We as instructors should have just enough training so that we can handle any initial difficulties (or questions) our students experience while taking our classes.

Using blogs as an example here. If a student wants to incorporate a YouTube video into the course website, it is very beneficial if you are able to tackle that question right in class (or over email), so that you can immediately tap into that student’s excitement and energy for sharing that YouTube clip with her fellow students (and you).

The alternative is the student having to wait a day or two to hear back from ITS, who may only be able to offer a general response because they to not know the particulars of your course. By that time, the student may have already moved on to a project that is not as pedagogically relevant to the course, but was easier to share.

This has the added benefit of adding a sense of legitimacy and authenticity to your teaching from your students’ perspective. “Oh my gosh! My professor actually knows what she’s talking about when it comes to this technology!” This concept ties into the idea of role modeling.

Instructor as cheerleader

image shared with creative commons

This is one of the most important roles an instructor has when incorporating any technology into their course! It all starts by devoting in-class time to the assignment that utilizes the technology. To many students, if something doesn’t happen within the physical confines of the classroom, the activity isn’t as valuable. The #1 misconception of technology-enhanced teaching, is that the physical classroom is the only space that learning happens. Online work is too often perceived as busy work. (Hopefully by the end of the semester you have broken this incorrect hypotheses.)

By devoting class time to showcase the course blog, student video projects, recorded interviews, forum discussions, etc., it adds that sense of legitimacy students recognize as a valuable learning experience. It also has the added benefit of enabling you to provide instant feedback to your students, and shape the future direction of the class project.

This post is part of a series relating to TRC’s theme, “Face-to-Face Education in the Digital Age”.

<– Read the previous post, “Engaging Students Through Their Laptops”.

About the author: Matthew Trevett-Smith, TRC Assistant Director & Assistant Professor

Making On-Grounds and Online Learning Inclusive of All Students through Universal Design and Practices

Date and Time: Tuesday, May 17, Time: 9 a.m. – 4 p.m.
Location: Bavaro Hall 116, Holloway Hall (main floor)

The University of Virginia will be hosting an Academic Accessibility Workshop and discussions with keynote and facilitation by Dr. Sheryl Burgstahler, Director of DO-IT at the University of Washington. In this workshop, Dr. Burgstahler will cover principles from her text and explore practical approaches and specific strategies that can increase the participation and learning of students with a broad range of characteristics such as varying English language skills, diverse cultural backgrounds, and hidden as well as visible abilities and disabilities. During the workshop, you will learn how to apply universal design strategies to maximize learning for everyone and decrease the need for individual accommodations.

Visit the event website for more information and to register.

Sponsored by the Department of Curriculum, Instruction and Special Education in the Curry School of Education. Presented jointly with the Office of the Executive Vice President and Provost.


4th Annual Innovation in Pedagogy Summit

Date: Wednesday May 4, 2016
Location:400 Emmet St South

For additional workshop details, please click here.


The University of Virginia’s Annual Innovation in Pedagogy Summit brings together faculty, staff, and students from across UVA and the Commonwealth to engage in conversations about teaching and learning in higher education. The Summit is designed to enlighten and inspire instructors from all disciplines about innovative approaches to engage students and foster learning.

For additional details, and to Register, please click here.

Mindful Classroom Assessment: What results from contemplative pedagogies?

Date: Friday February 26, 2016
Location: Center for Teaching Excellence

For additional workshop details, please click here.


A growing number of college faculty use contemplative pedagogies to support their students’ learning. While research has demonstrated the positive outcomes of many contemplative practices, little is known about the results of contemplative pedagogies in university settings. And some may reasonably wonder whether assessment and grading might undermine the purposes of contemplative pedagogies. In this interactive session, we will explore how our pedagogical intentions and disciplinary methods can inform the ways we assess our students, our courses, and our programs. We also will consider whether assessment practices truly can be mindfully aligned with course goals and classroom cultures.

Peter Felten is the Assistant Provost for Teaching and Learning, Director of the Center for Engaged Learning, and Professor of History at Elon University. His publications include the co-authored books Transforming Students: Fulfilling the Promise of Higher Education (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2014) and Engaging Students as Partners in Learning and Teaching: A Guide for Faculty (Jossey-Bass, 2014). He also is co-editor of the International Journal for Academic Development and president-elect of the International Society for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning.

For additional details, and to Register, please click here.