Note: this list is an archive of speakers and presentations from the 1st Annual SoTLA Conference, held on January 20, 2017.

2017 SoTLA Banner

Keynote Speaker

Maryellen Weimer

Maryellen Weimer Ph.D. Keynote address: Friday, January 20, 2017 @ Sykes Student Union 9:00 – 9:45 am

In 2007 Maryellen Weimer retired from Penn State as a Professor Emeritus of Teaching and Learning. For the last 13 years of her career at Penn State she taught communication courses, first year seminars and other courses business students at one of Penn State’s regional campus colleges. In 2005 she won Penn State’s Milton S. Eisenhower award for distinguished teaching. Since 1987 she has edited the Teaching Professor, a monthly newsletter on college teaching with 15,000 subscribers. Her blog, found at has 125,000 subscribers.

SoTLA - Speakers

Teaching and Learning Techniques for Students on the Autism Spectrum
Cherie Fishbaugh, Director of Autism Services, Dub-C Autism Program, West Chester University

The Dub-C Autism Program (D-CAP) at West Chester University provides services to full-time, matriculated students on the Autism Spectrum, as well as training and support for faculty and staff. The goal of this session is to increase autism awareness by assessing and recognizing common cognitive, communication, and behavior characteristics that are exhibited by students on the spectrum; as well as discussing strategies for teaching and learning to communicate effectively with this population of students.

Advancing SOTL through a Professional Learning Community
Jennifer Fisler, Director of Teaching and Learning, Messiah College
Rodney Sauder, Assistant Professor of Accounting, Messiah College
Cynthia Wells, Associate Professor of Higher Education, Messiah College

The Ernest L. Boyer Center and the Teaching and Learning Initiative at Messiah College co-sponsor an internal grant program supporting faculty in completing and disseminating a Scholarship of Teaching and Learning project. Faculty propose a SOTL project and then participate in an 18 month professional learning community (PLC) in which they develop and implement that project in the context of a small community of SOTL scholars. In this presentation, participating faculty will describe the projects they're doing and how the professional learning community has contributed to clarifying purpose, refining research questions, and selecting appropriate methods. The role of the PLC in providing support and accountability will also be described.

Quantitative Assessment for Qualitative Practices: Creating Effective Rubrics and Assessment Practices for Studio-Based and Other Traditionally Qualitative Courses
Dana Scott, Assistant Professor, Director of Assessment for Student Learning, Philadelphia University

This interactive session will discuss the difficulty in effectively measuring outcomes when assessing creative practices, process-based, and studio-based courses. A general Design rubric will be used to illustrate how to bring quantitative value to qualitative assessment. Performance task assessment should be both norm-referenced and criterion-referenced. The key is in breaking down the outcomes into clear and measurable language for the rubric. Examples of rubric values and how they were calculated based on each level of competency will be given. The use of rubrics to clarify, as well as ease the process of grading, will also be examined. Download presentation (PDF)

Adaptive Learning Technology to Teach Background Material in Intro STEM
Colleen Richardson, University of Pennsylvania

As many instructors of intro STEM courses can attest, there are no safe assumptions regarding students' background knowledge; even when we know what courses they've taken the material may have been forgotten. In most courses there is no time to cover this material in class, so we have begun exploring ways to use adaptive learning technology to take these lessons online. Not only does this approach ensure valuable in-class time, but the adaptive aspect allows us to customize the content and duration of the review to each student's knowledge level. Download presentation (PDF)

Using Self-Designed Points (SDP) to Promote Student Autonomy
Jeff Sommers, Professor of English, West Chester University

My students eagerly fulfill course requirements, but few take the initiative to go beyond those requirements. To encourage students to take more responsibility for their own learning, I now reserve a portion of their course grade to reward them for exercising their own initiative. This session will demonstrate how to use Self-Designed Points (SDP) by providing samples of student work that illustrate how they have earned SDP. Session participants will think-pair-share their own ideas for applying the SDP. The entire group will then produce a takeaway master list of SDP possibilities. Download presentation (Microsoft PowerPoint file)

Improving and Assessing Teaching using Evidence-based Criteria
Phyllis Blumberg, Assistant Provost, University of the Sciences

Using SoTL evidence-based teaching practices should increase student learning. Given a list of SoTL-based practices, participants will discuss their varied use. However, existing teaching assessments do not encourage using these evidence-based approaches. Since faculty teach to be consistent with how they are assessed, educators need a new model of assessing teaching that incorporates SoTL practices. Therefore, participants will learn to use a hierarchical model and supporting rubrics for assessing teaching that integrates essential SoTL-based, best practices of teaching with good assessment principles. Good assessment principles define how to assess teaching: 1. Use explicit, objective and uniform criteria. 2. Triangulate data from a variety of different sources of information. 3. Tie into SoTL, evidence-based literature and data The model's hierarchy identifies the lowest acceptable level as critical assessment of data from many sources, followed by using evidence-based literature to support teaching practices, and the highest level as using SoTL to inform teaching. Faculty can show evidence of critically reflecting on information from 4 types sources of information: themselves, their students, literature on how to teach in higher education or in their own discipline, and how their own SoTL supports their teaching. Download presentation (PDF)

Do Online Students Need to "Interact" with Content?
Shannon Mrkich, Assistant Professor of English, West Chester University
Tom Pantazes, Instructional Designer, West Chester University

Join a lively simulation and discussion of a research study measuring the impact of interactional content delivery on student learning. You will participate in a mini-experiment that highlights what it means to "interact" with content. Then, we will compare your learning to an on-going study measuring online composition students' gains. Finally, we will discuss the creation of, pedagogical advantages of, and ideas for implementation of interactive content. Download presentation (PDF)

Creating Intentional Partnerships: Capitalizing on Collaboration to Impact Student Success
Jacqueline Hodes, Assistant Professor of Education, West Chester University
Zeb Davenport, Interim Vice President for Student Affairs, West Chester University

A high impact practice is to create seamless learning environments to ensure student learning and success. The knowledge, skills and competencies students learn through co-curricular involvement completes the knowledge, skills and competencies they learn in the classroom. "It is simplistic to think that the curriculum is the realm of learning, and the co-curriculum is the realm of personal development. Learning and development are integrated, symbiotic processes." (Woodard, Love, & Komives, 2000, p. 50-51) Still, the gap between student affairs educators and faculty remains large. In this session we will discuss the type of learning that takes place through co-curricular involvement. We will also provide insight about faculty and student affairs educator culture and how we can impact student success through intentional collaborative efforts. Download presentation (PDF)

Awake, Accountable and Engaged
Lisa Lucas, Associate Professor of Education, West Chester University

This session will focus on understanding how to generate high levels of attention and engagement as a result of careful course and lesson design and execution of specific strategies. Key research will be summarized and translated into recommendations for classroom practice that builds accountability and strategic focus, and help students with retention and memory. This interactive workshop will offer proven strategies on how to increase motivation, promote active learning and accountability and build community in the classroom. Instructors looking for ideas to heighten student engagement in their courses will find useful techniques that can be adopted, adapted or extended. Download presentation (PDF)

Student Participation: What's In a Grade?
Gabriele Bauer, Director, Villanova Institute for Teaching and Learning, Villanova University

We know how essential it is for students to actively participate in their learning. But how do we document and/or assess their participation? Our syllabus might state, "Participation is worth fifteen percent." How might we determine this percentage? How might we clearly communicate expectations? Why are we evaluating participation?
This session centers on strategies for determining students' participation, both in face-to-face and online contexts. Participants will discuss core topics, such as participation goals, types, feedback and assessment of participation. They will apply their findings to developing participation rubrics that are informed by peer feedback. Resources and references will be provided.

Run, Jump, Code. Everyone Can Do It?
Chris Penny, Professor of Education, West Chester University
Heather Schugar, Associate Professor of Education, West Chester University
Jordan Schugar, Assistant Professor of English, West Chester University

Did Apple just launch the best way to teach anyone to code? Is the coding revolution afoot? Can everyone really code? This study aims to bring together a diverse team of humanities and education professors here at West Chester University in Pennsylvania who are interested in helping prepare current and future teachers for the classroom of the future which will most likely include elements of coding.

Engaging Transfer Students In and Out of the Classroom
Lisa Calvano, Assistant Chair & Associate Professor, Department of Management, West Chester University
Kathy Koval, Director of Business Programs, College of Business & Public Management, West Chester University
Jared Brown, Director, New Students Programs, West Chester University

Our presentation will focus on the challenges and opportunities of meeting the academic and social needs of transfer students. We will discuss student development issues and the transfer process, highlight pilot projects developed respectively by the Management Department and the Office of New Student Programs at WCU, and present ideas for future collaboration. We will also engage the audience in a discussion of how we can work together to ensure that transfer students make a successful transition. Download presentation (Microsoft PowerPoint file)

Trauma-Informed Inter-Professional Education among Health Science Graduate Programs
Stephen DiDonato, Assistant Professor, Community & Trauma Counseling, Philadelphia University
Richard Hass, Assistant Professor of Psychology, Philadelphia University
Amy Baker, Associate Professor of Physician Assistant Studies, Philadelphia University
Michelle Gorenberg, Assistant Professor of Occupational Therapy, Philadelphia University
Jeanne Felter, Associate Professor of Community & Trauma Counseling, Philadelphia University

The overwhelming incidence of childhood adversity requires trauma-informed education and clinical practices. Entry level students must be prepared to serve as integral members of interprofessional teams providing trauma-informed health care to individuals and communities. Interprofessional education involves experiences in which "students from two or more professions learn about, from and with each other to enable effective collaboration and improve health outcomes" (World Health Organization, 2010, p. 13). Positive outcomes of IPE have included changes in attitudes toward collaborative practice, enhanced professional identity, and skills required for working as part of interprofessional teams (Cameron, et al, 2009. Olsen & Bialocerkowski, 2014). With this understanding, faculty from Philadelphia University's Community and Trauma Counseling (CTC), Physician Assistant (PA), and Occupational Therapy (OT) programs have a unified (immediate) goal of developing a comprehensive trauma-informed inter-professional educational model to be utilized within higher education settings that will enhance the students' trauma-informed clinical skills and knowledge within these three programs. This model introduces interprofessional education and trauma-informed care principles to ensure that entry level practitioners (health science graduate students) are prepared to analyze, evaluate, and apply discipline specific learning and transform this learning into real-world trauma-informed practice. Learning takes place using a real-life case study within the framework of team-based learning. This model can be expanded beyond these three health programs into other health science disciplines in a continuous fashion in order to enhance the student's experience and the care that they deliver to their future patients. Download presentation (PDF)

Experimenting Team-Building Strategies in an Innovative Nexus Learning Capstone Course
Gulbin Ozcan-Deniz, Assistant Professor of Construction Management, Philadelphia University

This proposal aims to analyze team-building and collaborative working problems by re-designing the Construction Capstone Course at Philadelphia University. Currently, the course does not support teamwork and fulfill what students expect from a capstone course, which should be a culminating learning experience. Capstone is re-designed as an active and collaborative course with team-building activities around a real construction project. The presentation will include the re-design steps, the details of the course delivery methods, and student assessment results. The results include the background, characteristics, and dynamics that contribute to team-working as well as the success of team-based and peer learning strategies. Download presentation (PDF)

A Case Study of a First-time Online Cultural Studies Instructor
Esther Smidt, Associate Professor of Languages, West Chester University
Michelle McGowan, Graduate Student, Department of Languages and Cultures, West Chester University
Timothy Kochem, Graduate Student, Department of Languages and Cultures, West Chester University
Maria Van Liew, Professor of Languages, West Chester University

With enrollment in online courses continuing to rise, student learning and satisfaction have become the focus of a growing body of research. However, the first-time online instructor experience has not been as widely investigated. This study examines the experience of Pamela, a first-time online Cultural Studies instructor, through interviews conducted at four points in the semester. It seeks to track her progression throughout the semester and determine what factors the first-time online instructor perceives to have the greatest impact on course creation and teaching strategies, discussing the nature of course content, assignments, students, instructor, best practices and solutions for constraints. Download presentation (PDF)

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