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College of Liberal Art and Sciences Teaching Roundtables

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. 

2016 Teaching Roundtables

Date:  Monday, November 21, 2016

Time:  11:00 a.m. - 1:00 p.m.

Location:  Pere Marquette Room (2204 KC)

To register, e-mail your two preferred topics by clicking  here.  The deadlines for registrations is TBD.  

CLAS Teaching Roundtables November 23, 2015

Booklet for 2015 Roundtables

1. Successful Pedagogical Strategies for Using University Art Collections in Your Courses  (Melissa Morison/Stacey Tvedten)

From STEM to Stalingrad to Strategic Planning - we're here to help you discover how the University Art Collections can help you meet your teaching goals, no matter what your background or discipline.  This roundtable will provide examples of how GVSU faculty are engaging students by incorporating the University Art Collections in their curricula. We will share specific ways the Art Gallery supports GVSU faculty in using art to build proven class and program projects, helping students develop transferable, 21st century skills and helping departments to connect with university strategic planning goals.     


2. Challenge Table (Brad Ambrose/Chuck Pazdernik)

Based on last year's popularity, we are bringing back the "Challenge" table where faculty can submit other topics related to pedagogy for discussion and brainstorming.  This year's event features outstanding faculty members from both the humanities and the sciences. Organizers encourage topics from any area of pedagogy. Challenge table participants are asked to provide prompts and questions of interest by November 16 along with their sign up information.


3. Teaching First-Generation Students (Bob Hendersen)

At Grand Valley State University, 37% of first-year students who enter directly after completing high school and 47% of the students who transfer to GVSU after having completed some college work  come from families where neither parent earned a four-year college degree.  This roundtable will discuss how instructors and advisors can support first-generation college students.  We shall identify some of the areas where instructors and advisors can provide information and guidance useful to first-generation students, recognizing that practices that support first-generation students are also useful for students whose parents did earn college degrees.


4. Using Reader's Theater to Teach This Year's Community Reading Project (Dawn Evans)

What is the 'fine art' of reader's theatre? How does it help students better understand complex texts? Dawn Evans (ENG) shares her experiences with using Reader's Theatre to help developmental reading students better comprehend the 2016 GVSU community read, Citizen: An American Lyric by Claudia Rankine. Reader's Theatre also has the potential to make an impact beyond language arts and literature. The roundtable organizer, who has taught biology in high school, will offer an opportunity to brainstorm about how this pedagogical approach might be used in different disciplinary settings. Warning: you must be prepared to participate. The first four people to sign up for this roundtable will receive a complimentary copy of the book.


5. Raising Standards and Improving Student Work with Specifications Grading (Robert Talbert)

The traditional form of grading student work, based on point accumulations and partial credit, fails to serve students - and professors - in several ways. In this roundtable we'll discuss an emerging alternative form of grading known as specifications grading in which points and partial credit are replaced by simple pass/fail grading rubrics, increased student choice in assessment, and multiple student opportunities for revision augmented with rich instructor feedback. 


6. High-Impact Learning Experiences (Paul Wittenbraker, David Eick, Richard Lord, Matthew Daley)

Credited with increased rates of student retention and student engagement, high-impact teaching practices have, according to the AAUP, "been widely tested and have been shown to be beneficial for college students from many backgrounds." Are you interested in organizing more high-impact learning experiences with students? Do you have questions about how to identify potential students for collaboration or how to secure internal funding for your students? The four co-presenters have all had extensive successes facilitating learning experiences outside the classroom. Paul Wittenbraker (ART) has worked with students in his Civic Studio for many years, Matthew Daley (HST) incorporates students into local and regional history projects, David Eick's (MLL) students have presented their work at national conferences, and Richard Lord (CHM) has co-authored numerous articles with students. They will bring their unique disciplinary perspectives and diverse teaching and collaborative experiences to this discussion.

2014 tables

Challenge Table (Brad Ambrose, Physics Department)

Based on a suggestion by a previous year’s participant, we will also have an additional “Challenge” table where faculty can bring up for discussion and brainstorming other topics related to pedagogy. Challenge table participants are asked to provide prompts and questions of interest along with their sign up information.

“Find Your Weaknesses, Build on Your Strengths: Online Teaching and Learning” (Peter Anderson, Classics Department)

The Department of Classics has continuously sought out new audiences for our courses while also trying to integrate students who encounter Latin or Ancient Greek  after they come to Grand Valley into a scheduling system that (for a small department) works against scheduling innovation and change for 4 day/week classes. I saw the potential for a fully online Elementary Latin sequence, and worked for instructor and course approval, finally running the sequence last Winter and Spring semester. I shall discuss my experiences in preparing for online instruction, in designing online content and in the success and failure of the effort. 

Experiences of Teaching MTH 110 as a Hybrid Course” (Marcia Frobish, Mathematics Department and Kim Kenward, Instructional Design for eLearning [iDel])

This roundtable discussion will center on teaching a math class in the hybrid format.  We will discuss the training that is helpful to go through before teaching a hybrid class, the important details of converting a traditional class to a hybrid class, as well as some tips to remember as you are teaching in the hybrid format.  This will be an interactive discussion that includes an iDeL expert, so please bring your questions!

“Incorporating International Perspectives in the Classroom” (Laurence José, Writing Department)

The main goal of this roundtable will be to foster a discussion that explores the affordances of international perspectives in the classroom to enhance students’ learning. Specifically, I will discuss strategies for incorporating international and cross-cultural perspectives in the classroom. Drawing from my work in 200, 300, and 400-level writing courses, I will provide examples of assignments and activities that invite students to consider their practices beyond national and cultural borders to help them develop an awareness of the contextual dimension of writing conventions.

“Cross-Cultural Learning in a Capstone Course” (Lisa Kasmer, Mathematics Department)

Learn how GVSU students engage in cross-cultural learning, personal and professional growth through interactions with teachers, students, and locals in Tanzania during a month long study abroad experience. Our students begin to develop cultural competencies as they gain knowledge through experiences that reflect a different cultural frame of reference, and stimulate their interest in cross-cultural and international learning. Students become aware of how teaching is practiced in a cultural context different from their own as they develop self-confidence and self-reliance, while stimulating a desire for exploration and trying new things, and expanding their ability to interact in unfamiliar situations.

You will also have an opportunity to ask questions of two of our graduates that have accepted full-time teaching positions, where they will teach mathematics and science in a secondary school in Tanzania.

“Lessons Learning on Flipping College Algebra” (Lynne Mannard, Mathematics Department)

Several years ago I was inspired to change my college algebra class.  My time in class was spent talking and demonstrating techniques and problems on the board. Little time was spent observing student work and fielding questions.  Moreover, few questions came from students after they had attempted the material because there wasn’t any class time. Minimal time was devoted to questions the following class period because we had to dive right into a new lesson. Clearly, a new approach was needed.

I spent considerable time researching the new trend of flipping the classroom and implemented my own version of it several years ago. Student response was divided; loved it or didn’t. What was not divided were results: improved exam scores and final grades.

In this roundtable discussion I will present my original concept of the flipped classroom, discuss positive and negative outcomes, many changes I have implemented, and future direction.

“When a Course Serves Multiple Masters: Building Syllabi (and Programs) through Backwards Design” (Carolyn Shapiro-Shapin, History Department)

Courses that serve as electives for majors and also as options for General Education and SWS attract students from across the university. Such courses pose two challenges: first, they must meet the content and skills goals for multiple programs; and second, students enter these courses with widely varying levels of content exposure and writing skills. Backwards Design offers a strategy for intentionally and organically structuring a series of assignments and classroom exercises to facilitate the acquisition of the desired knowledge base and skill set. Backwards Design is also useful in program design. I will share Backwards Design strategies used in my HST 370: History of Medicine and Health class and in the formation of the Certificate in Medical and Health Humanities, and welcome input from roundtable participants.