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. 

2018 Teaching Roundtables

Date:  Monday, November 19, 2018

Time:  11:00 a.m. - 1:00 p.m.

Location: Pere Marquette Room, KC

The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences invites you to participate in our 2018 Teaching Roundtables which will take place Monday, November 19 from 11:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. in the Pere Marquette Room (2204 KC).  

To register, click  here.  When you register, you will be asked to make a first and second choice based on table number tables are numbered below). The deadline for registration is November 12, 2018.

NEW OPTION for 2018: Two of the six topics will be open to faculty who can only attend the Teaching Roundtables for one of the two hours. The sessions on Academic Advising and on the Flipped Classroom are open for one-hour sessions. You can sign up for one hour only or attend two one-hour sessions. Note that faculty can attend the roundtable on “Academic Advising” for the full two hours, as case studies will not repeat. Please indicate your preference when your register for the Roundtables.


Chicken Souvlaki Skewer



Roasted Eggplant with Sautéed Spinach

Israeli Couscous

White Pita

Whole Wheat Pita

Assorted Dessert Bars

2018 Teaching Roundtables

Tables by number:


1. Creating Context for the First-Year Experience: What can we do in the classroom to support a Strong Start for students at GVSU? (Quinn Griffin, Brian Hatzel, LeaAnn Tibbe)

Every generation of students brings new experiences, perspectives and expectations to GVSU.  What should we all know about our students to help give them a Strong Start? What can faculty do with this knowledge? This session will begin with a discussion of Grand Valley’s newest generation of students, the factors that have shaped their views, and the challenges they face in the transition to college. The story of first-year students is a story of transition—they are adjusting to new academic expectations in an unfamiliar environment. How can we help Gen Z students meet the demands of the rigorous college classroom? How can we make it clear that we want them to succeed? This session will facilitate a discussion about small changes to classroom practices that have the potential for large impacts on student success.


2. Teach Together Initiative (Mike Henshaw, Dave Kurjiaka)

Collaborative teaching practices benefit both students and faculty when disciplinary problems and perspectives are effectively integrated. Join us for a discussion of how to navigate the challenges involved in initiating a collaboration that effectively incorporates different disciplinary and pedagogical approaches. At this round table, we will discuss ways to develop these collaborative efforts, as well as ways to overcome common challenges, including the careful selection of appropriate collaborative models. We will also discuss the resources available to support collaborative teaching at GVSU.


3. Hybrid and Online Teaching (Whitt Kilburn)

Come for a sumptuous repast and jovial, open conversation on the challenges of teaching in an online and hybrid environment. We will reflect on our collective interest and experience to discuss questions such as why should we teach online or hybrid courses? How do we maintain rigor and student engagement online? And how should such courses fit into a department’s curriculum? The table facilitator, Whitt Kilburn, has taught Political Science and General Education courses in both hybrid and online formats over several semesters.


4. Promoting Student Engagement and Active Problem Solving in Large Lecture Courses (Jessica VandenPlas, Nate Barrows)

Many faculty love group work and active problem-solving activities, but these are time-intensive to prepare and difficult to facilitate in large lecture courses. As a result, the balance between delivering a breadth of content knowledge and allowing students opportunities to apply that knowledge often leans toward content coverage and not deeper understanding. This roundtable will discuss methods for incorporating group work and active problem-solving tasks into large (70+ students) lecture courses, with a focus on improving student engagement and learning without sacrificing content.


5. Academic Advising: A Discussion of Case Studies (Betty Schaner, Lorie Jager, Len O’Kelly, Michelle Redmond, Julie Amon-Mattox, Janel Pettes Guikema, Neal Rogness, Colleen Lewis)

Seasoned professional and faculty advisors will offer strategies and tips for dealing with the different issues and challenges that can arise when advising students. The focus will be on ways for faculty to become more informed and effective advisors. The discussion will be centered around case studies based on real-life advising scenarios. Participants are invited to sign up for the full two-hour session (Advising I and Advising II) or to attend either one of the two sessions as their schedule allows.   [11 am-12 pm, 12 pm-1 pm, or 11 am-1 p.m]


6. Flipped Learning in 2018 -- What works, what works better, and what we don't know yet (Robert Talbert)

It's been nearly 20 years since flipped learning first emerged as an organized concept, and 5 years since the concept exploded in popularity through the book and workshops of Jon Bergmann and Aaron Sams. Over half of the published research on flipped learning has been published in the last 18 months. What do we know about this teaching paradigm today? What seems to be working well, what isn't working as well, and what are the things we don't know about flipped learning today? In this roundtable we'll look at answers to these questions and think about what flipped learning can look like, when done well, in our classes at GVSU. Questions and skepticism welcome. [12 pm-1 pm only] 

2017 Teaching Roundtables

Table 1. Online Teaching: How a Skeptic Became a Believer (Jeff Rothstein)

Pick the brain of a former skeptic of online education who now teaches lower and upper level Sociology and General Education courses online. Hear why online courses can be more rigorous than their face-to-face counterparts, with enhanced class discussion, and greater student accountability. Learn about the students who seek out these courses, the pedagogical opportunities and challenges to teaching online, and the technology and support that make it possible.


Table 2. Collaborative Teaching (Heather Van Wormer, Michael Henshaw, Gretchen Galbraith)

Collaborative teaching practices benefit both students and faculty when disciplinary problems and perspectives are effectively integrated. Join us for a discussion of how to navigate the challenges involved in building an effective collaboration that effectively incorporates different disciplinary and pedagogical approaches. At this round table, we will discuss a workflow for developing collaborations, as well as the ways in which common challenges can be addressed, including the careful selection of appropriate collaborative models. We will also discuss the resources available to support collaborative teaching at GVSU.


Table 3. Pedagogical Strategies for Creating an Inclusive Classroom (Charles Ham)

What does it mean for a classroom to be inclusive? What strategies can faculty, regardless of discipline, employ to foster inclusivity? This roundtable will discuss the concept of inclusive teaching and provide concrete strategies gained from the session leader's participation in the Inclusive Excellence Teaching Institute at GVSU in 2014 and his experience — including the challenges — of attempting to implement some of these strategies in his own courses.


Table 4. Fake news and evaluating sources?  Evaluating Resources, Misinformation, and Fake News: Promoting Advanced Information Literacy in the Classroom (Debbie Morrow & Hazel McClure)

In a “post-truth” society how do we know what we “know” – how can we tell what news is “fake” and which facts are “alternative”?  Moreover, what strategies can we use and refine to educate students to evaluate the information they encounter in a variety of contexts and disciplinary conversations? This session will explore approaches to teaching information literacy skills such as evaluation of information and understanding the nuances of authority and credibility, especially given the ubiquity of these issues in modern media and politics.  Ideally, the group that comes together will represent a wide variety of disciplines, in order to enable mutual exploration of familiar and unfamiliar contexts in this roundtable discussion. This topic is essentially the basis for our Fall ‘17 Faculty Learning Community, minus the book the FLC is reading and discussing as well.


Table 5. Fifteen Steps to Group Project Success (Robin Spring)

Collaboration is an essential skill, yet group projects often induce anxiety in students. Robin Spring will present a multi-step process that guides students to successful experiences with group projects. During the roundtable discussion, this roundtable will reflect on the factors that create great (and not-so-great) groups, discuss how we can teach students positive group dynamics, and outline steps to assist students through the group project process in a fair and transparent way.


Table 6. Non-Academic Challenges Our Students Face (Nikki Gaines, Brian Hatzel)

What are the non-academic challenges that Grand Valley students face and to what extent do they affect the performance of our students in the classroom? In what ways might an understanding of these issues inform our approach to engaging with students in the courses we teach? This roundtable will be both informational and practical. Dr. Nikki Gaines, Director of TRiO STEM-Health Science, will draw on case studies to engage faculty in discussion about student experiences. Brian Hatzel, who recently led a faculty taskforce on the first-generation experience, will discuss concrete strategies faculty can employ to support student success while maintaining rigor. Roundtable organizers want to hear from faculty about what they are experiencing in their interactions with students. Are faculty aware of the many different and oftentimes challenging circumstances that students are navigating?


1. Teaching First-Generation Students (Bob Hendersen)

At Grand Valley State University, 35% of first-year students who enter directly after completing high school and 45% 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. Back by popular demand, this roundtable is open for those faculty members who were unable to participate in 2015.


2. Advising: The Art of Having the Hard Conversation (Colleen Lewis, Jo Ann Litton, Kelly McDonell)

Having hard conversations with students is often critical for helping them lay the foundation for academic success and providing the information and perspective to make good decisions about their academic and career trajectories. However, these discussions are not easy. We often ask our colleagues for guidance on having tough conversations with students. How do we address the hard realities about secondary admit programs, study habits, and time management skills? Honest conversations with students can help them find an alternate path, and good advisors can help students find a meaningful direction much earlier in their college careers. This Roundtable will discuss strategies for how to engage students in these difficult conversations. The organizers will also facilitate discussion of advising questions and concerns participants bring to the roundtable.


3. How to Deepen Community Engagement: Experiences and Insights from the Engaged Department Initiative (Kin Ma and Russell Rhoads)

What should faculty and departments consider when engaging the community? This session will be led by two faculty, Russell Rhoads (Anthropology) and Kin Ma (Geography and Sustainable Planning), who will share ideas for developing curricula, strengthening community partnerships, and engaging student learning. Perspectives from community partners and students will also be provided. This session will provide new ideas and resources for your community engagement initiatives.


4. Trigger Warnings, Colorblindness, and the Persistence of Social Problems (Jennifer Stewart)

In this roundtable, I will discuss the issue of "Trigger Warnings", a topic of much discussion after a letter on the subject was sent to students attending the University of Chicago.  While well intentioned, meant to mitigate trauma that students can experience in the process of becoming educated, there may be a slippery slope argument to consider.  I will link trigger warnings as a solution to trauma with colorblindness as a solution to racism and offer some potential implications of this remedy to serious social issues.


5. Exploring Digital Projects and the Implications for Teaching (Chris Toth)

This CLAS roundtable is aimed at faculty who are interested in exploring digital projects in their discipline. The workshop session will begin by investigating and sharing digital projects in participants’ respective disciplines. We will then consider how we can use these digital projects to inform our pedagogies and engage students with digital resources. No highly specialized technology skills are required, but participants should bring a curiosity to explore the digital and a laptop/tablet with internet capabilities. A laptop can be provided if needed. Please contact Roxanne Mol at


6. First-Year Students: Helping Students Learn How to Learn (Janet Vigna)

The first-year college experience includes a variety of challenges, both social and academic.  Many incoming students have not yet learned the study and time-management skills required to meet college-level rigor and expectations.  They are ill-equipped to problem solve their way through difficulty, and are hesitant to get help for academic and emotional support.  Many have not developed the key tools for effective learning, including the practices of self-reflection and metacognition.  While many of these issues cannot be fully addressed in the classroom, it may be valuable to consider the role of curriculum in first-year courses and how we can optimize it for the success and retention of all students.  Are we giving students authentic practice in critical learning strategies as part of our basic college curriculum?  Do our strategies best support the academic needs of a diverse student population? Are we inspiring internal motivation and the habits of self-reflection in students that have never before needed it to succeed?  Are there special curriculum strategies needed with regard to gateway courses specifically?  This faculty roundtable will discuss the key issues surrounding student success in first-year courses and work to brainstorm classroom strategies that support the most effective learning environment for students in that first-year transition.


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.

Page last modified October 30, 2018