College of Liberal Arts and Sciences

Pres. Haas speaks with Prof. Austin and Prof. Menon Prof. Anderson & Prof. Libman Prof. Penning & Prof. Wagendorp
Prof. Aboufadel Prof. Barrows, J Jellema, Prof. Carlson  Photos from Teaching Roundtables


College of Liberal Art and Sciences Teaching Roundtables 2014

CLAS Teaching Roundtables November 24, 2014

Your Table choices: [will be loaded when confirmed]


The CLAS Teaching Roundtables bring together faculty from across the college for lunch, round table discussions, and sharing of ideas about effective teaching. Faculty members will present teaching techniques in small group settings to encourage discussion. Monday, November 24, 2014 from 11:00 a.m. - 12:30 p.m. in the XX room of KC.


Lunch menu [will be loaded when confirmed]



Please register for the Teaching Roundtables.  By clicking here, an e-mail will pop up that contains all the prompts for your registration.  If your browser does not allow e-mails to originate from webpages, please e-mail instead with this information:

  • your name
  • your department/school
  • your table first choice (such as "The Undergraduate Student Thesis"--read about all of your choices below)
  • your table second choice












2011 Teaching Roundtables Participant

Jennifer Gross                        Psychology Department                           

Nancy Mack                           Mathematics Department

Kim Roberts                          School of Communications [unfortunately, Kim is unable to participate due to illness.]

Merritt Taylor                         Biomedical Sciences Department

Richard Vallery                     Physics Department


Abstracts.  CLICK HERE

Menu (may be subject to slight changes):

- Autumn Vegetable Bisque (Vegetarian and Gluten Free)

- White Chicken Chili (Gluten Free)

- Sliced Turkey with Shaved Parmesan, Pesto and Caramelized Onions on 6 Grain

- Sweet Potato Salad (Vegan and Gluten Free)

- Chopped Romaine and Veggie Salad with Chef’s Vinaigrette (Vegan and Gluten Free)

- Hummus and Spinach Artichoke Dips with Pita Chips and Vegetable Platter

- Assorted Breads and Rolls



- Homemade Trail Mix Bars and Granola Bars,  Caramel Apple Dessert Bars, Chocolate Ganache Cookie Sandwiches



- Ice Water, Coffee, Assorted Sodas


2010 Teaching Roundtables Participants

Edward Aboufadel Mathematics
Bradley Ambrose Physics
Peter Anderson Classics
Nathan Barrows Chemistry
David Eick & Janel Pettes Guikema Modern Languages & Literatures
Deborah Herrington Chemistry
Karen Libman School of Communications
Gisella Licari Modern Languages and Literatures
Charles Pazdernik Classics
Tim Penning School of Communications
Stephen Rowe Philosophy
Stephanie Schaertel Chemistry

Monday, November 22, 2010

Time: 11:00 a.m. - 1:00 p.m.

Lunch provided


Butternut Squash Soup (Vegetarian, Gluten Free, Has Dairy)
Wild Rice & Chicken Soup (Gluten Free, Has Dairy)
Turkey with Mixed Greens, Caramelize Onions & Cranberry mayo on Ciabatta Bread
Ham & Swiss with Apple Cider Aioli and Greens on Sourdough
Sweet Potato Salad (Vegetarian, Gluten Free)
Chilled Green Bean and Cranberry Salad (Vegetarian, Gluten Free, Dairy Free)
Mixed Green Salad with Ranch & Chef's Vinaigrette
Dessert:  Caramel Apple Dessert Bites & Pumpkin Bars

Grand River Room (2250 KC)

Audience: This event is open to all CLAS instructors (including TT, AFF, VIS, ADJ and APs)

Contact: Keesha Hardiman (CLAS College Office, ph 1-2495)



Edward Aboufadel, Mathematics Department

“Writing Assignments in Mathematics”

MTH 210 (Communicating in Mathematics) is a key course in all three mathematics majors, as it is an important pre-requisite for most of our upper-level courses. In the course, students learn to write mathematical proofs and to understand the importance of proper mathematical reasoning. It is also an SWS course, so at least 3,000 words of writing is required, revision is expected to be taught as part of the writing process, and writing is expected to be taught. At the CLAS Teaching Showcase, I will indicate how our department teaches writing in MTH 210 through our Proof Portfolio Project and various other writing assignments.  

Bradley Ambrose, Physics Department

“Using Inquiry Methods to Improve Learning in Upper Division Science Courses: An Example in Advanced Mechanics”

Over thirty years of research in physics education has demonstrated that introductory courses delivered in a traditional lecture format (“teaching by telling”) do very little to develop conceptual understanding, problem solving skills, and scientific reasoning ability in students. More recent research has shown that even physics majors—who comprise a small percentage of students who take first-year physics—are not immune to the conceptual and reasoning difficulties identified among introductory students. In fact, many difficulties identified in the context of advanced physics classes seem to have their roots in basic concepts. This presentation will provide an example of how research has been used toward the development and refinement of guided-inquiry teaching methods in upper-level courses for majors. Participants will learn about how such methods have been used in advanced mechanics courses in a variety of institutions nationwide, with those results suggesting how this approach can be adapted for a wide range of courses and science disciplines.  

Peter Anderson, Classics Department

“Contemplative Pedagogy at Grand Valley State University

“The faculty of voluntarily bringing back a wandering attention, over and over again, is the very root of judgment, character, and will ... An education which should improve this faculty would be the education par excellence.”  William James (1890). *The Principles of Psychology*. A growing body of research shows that the deliberate use of mindfulness and other contemplative practices in higher education can increase student engagement, focus in the classroom, and academic performance. Indeed, contemplative components or courses of study have been adopted into many programs at many institutions, from the Contemplative Studies Initiative at Brown University to mindfulness initiatives in K-12 classrooms through programs such as the Inner Kids Foundation in Los Angeles. Professor Anderson will discuss some of this research, his own experiences in leading a class focused around a contemplative model, and the pitfalls and advantages of integrating contemplative learning practices into regular teaching. No matter our disciplinary methodologies, whether our subject matter is engaged in a spiritual tradition or secular, mindfulness practice in the classroom can be a support in our effort to educate the whole person. Please join us for an open and frank discussion.  

Nathan Barrows, Chemistry Department

“Promoting Student Engagement in an Asynchronous Culture”

As educators we are usually cognizant of shifts in student subculture; unfortunately, our application of “conventional wisdom” may lead us to an incomplete understanding of the impact of a shift on the efficacy of our pedagogical techniques. Although students have access to many modes of instantaneous communication (e.g. Facebook, Twitter, text messaging) in their “always on” culture, many use these services to slow and control the rate of communication. In this presentation, I will critique several techniques I use to engage students asynchronously (e.g. screencasts, online office hours, and website). In the subsequent discussion, I would like to learn about your perceptions of the impacts of the “always on” cultural shift on your classes.  

David Eick and Janel Pettes Guikema, Modern Languages and Literatures Department

"The iPod Project"

Thanks to generous support from the Pew Faculty Teaching and Learning Center and Academic Computing, the Department of Modern Languages and Literatures was an early adopter of iPods in foreign language instruction. The diminutive devices have since become ingrained in language programs at universities around the country. Janel Pettes-Guikema and David Eick will briefly explain the project and then offer up some reflections that they hope will be of interest to colleagues, both technophiles and Luddites alike.  

Deborah Herrington, Chemistry Department

“Using Clickers to Enhance Classroom Instruction”

If you are interested in learning about how clickers can be used to engage and assess students, thinking about using clickers in your class and wanting to know more about them, or are already using clickers in your class but are want to talk about issues you are having or other ways they can be used, then this session is for you! This session will be an interactive discussion so bring your questions, comments, and ideas. Having used clickers for several years at GVSU to engage and assess students in my larger section chemistry classes, and having read a lot of the research literature on the use of clickers to try maximize their impact on my teaching, I look forward to answering questions that people have about using clickers in their class or facilitating discussions about any issues of interest surrounding the use of clickers in the classroom.  

Karen Libman, School of Communications

“Teaching as Performance: Exploring Performance Techniques for more Effective Teaching Description”

Do teachers need to be performers? How can “performance techniques” enhance teaching? How much of teaching is performative? Can actor training help you to involve and engage students more successfully? Tips from actor training to inform your teaching style.  

Gisella Licari, Modern Languages and Literatures Department

“Enhancing Team Skills through Collaborative Projects”

Collaborative projects are powerful tools to strengthen linguistic and cultural skills in second language education. Student group work emphasizes collaboration with individual and team role participation. Digital teaching through iMovie videos, storytelling through Photoshop, and the use of selected iTunes lyrics are just a few of the various collaborative projects that I have implemented. Students from introductory through higher intermediate levels are required to create presentations or narrate short stories in order to strengthen linguistic and cultural tips. The incorporation of music into curricula is the ultimate core of my research because it enhances second language vocabulary and challenges in cultural acquisition.

Students have a chance to organize knowledge in steps and manage time within their group. They are able to share their individual gifts, sometimes hidden, when asked to produce individual projects. Students are able to engage in a small community further developing life-long learning and liberal education skills. The combination of graphics and text narration help them to work on content presentation through visuals. 

Charles Pazdernik, Classics Department

“Ready to work: A Quick and Dirty Approach to Holding Students Accountable for Course Content through Blackboard”

After much trial and error, I've found success in integrating automated assessment of student preparation, in the form of content-based online quizzes administered through the Blackboard system, into the design both of the large-ish (50+ student) GenEd classical civilization courses offered by the Department of Classics and the Honors Classical World sequence. What had been one of the most frequent grounds of complaint in student evaluations (too many quizzes/too hard/too much weight in the final grade) became accepted and even celebrated.

The solution, I found, was to hold students responsible for a moderate percentage of quizzes offered much more frequently than in the past (roughly, 60% of quizzes offered biweekly, on average, throughout the semester) while developing a routine and a set of tools that enabled me to administer the process with a minimum of difficulty.

This approach diminishes the stakes of any particular quiz, enables those who are well motivated and prepared anyway to discharge their obligation relatively early in the semester and to focus upon other things, and encourages those who have more difficulty in mastering the material to keep after it. My impression is that the quality of preparation and retention of the material is improved as a result, and class time is available for more productive uses.  

Tim Penning, School of Communications

“Using Social Media in Teaching”

Social media has been an explosive phenomenon in the past year, with millions of individuals and organizations using Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and other tools regularly. These same tools have exciting pedagogical uses that can extend the classroom by enhancing the relationships students have with their professors, peers, professionals in their field, and current relevant literature. The use of blogs, social networks, social bookmarking, aggregators, and topical networks will be discussed, as well as some of the cautions and concerns related to using social media for education. 

Stephen Rowe, Philosophy Department

“The Problem-Inquiry Method”

A brief description of the Problem-Inquiry Method: its orientation to problems, questions, and issues which we share in common as human beings/citizens, its assumption that we (along with our students) already have some “answer” to the question/problem which is under inquiry at any moment in a course, and that development of that answer can occur most effectively when our answer is put into dialogue with the answers of others to the same problem/question – others present both physically and bibliographically. Description will illuminate the Problem-Inquiry Method by contrast with the “traditional” method of dictation on one hand, and the “alternative” method of free discussion on the other (as reflective of the tension in Western culture and liberal education between Aristotle and Plato). And the case will be made, with reference to the “examined life” of Socrates, for engagement of the Problem-Inquiry Method as the most direct developmental practice through which the art of critical thinking emerges.  

Stephanie Schaertel, Chemistry Department

“A Mastery Approach to Grading Writing in an Upper Level SWS Course in the Sciences”

As professionals, when we submit an article to a journal we are evaluated in a pass-fail manner that corresponds to a "mastery" method of grading. The article is either accepted or rejected. Along with notice of acceptance/rejection, there is usually some feedback. I am seeking to make my grading process in an upper-level, writing-intensive laboratory course mimic this process. My goals are: to create an authentic writing experience, to improve student writing, to increase students' ownership of their own progress and learning, and to prepare students for the types of writing experiences they will have as graduates. I will share the methods and techniques that I have used in our course to achieve these goals and I will invite from participants their own ideas on this topic.

This event was held Monday, November 22, 2010

Page last modified June 5, 2014