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Teaching and Learning Innovation Conference Inspires Faculty


The Teaching, Learning and Innovation Summer Institute looked at issues of tolerance and diversity in the classroom, how to address stumbling blocks in learning and the use technology to advance instruction.

June 3, 2011 – Nearly 60 Georgetown faculty members from 24 departments participated in the university’s16th annual Teaching, Learning and Innovation Summer Institute (TLISI), a conference that explores teaching innovations and student learning and engagement.

“It’s important to offer space and support for faculty to dig more deeply into the practice of teaching and to reflect on their teaching, particularly across multiple disciplines,” says John Rakestraw, director of faculty programs at the Center for New Designs in Learning and Scholarship (CNDLS).

Randall Bass, executive director and assistant provost for teaching and learning initiatives, leads CNDLS, which organizes the conference every year.

Teaching Challenges

This year’s weeklong session looked at issues of tolerance and diversity in the classroom, how to address stumbling blocks that regularly prove challenging for students, and how to use technology to advance learning goals and interactive instruction.

“The benefit of TLISI is having a place where colleagues from different departments can talk about the commonalities of teaching challenges, since during the year we don’t often have that space,” says psychology professor Jennifer Woolard. “It gives us the space to think about our course as a course and not just putting together a syllabus or trying to get assignments together.”

Critical Consumers

Woolard plans to apply what she learned this week to her Research Methods and Statistics class, a required course for psychology majors.

Her goal is for students to become critical consumers of science and to understand research methods.

She plans to incorporate wiki pages into her classroom, creating an online forum where students will not only post their work but also explain why they chose certain research methods. Students will read and comment on each other’s work, increasing class contributions and interactions, she says.

Unmasking Methods

Sue Mulroney, a professor in physiology and biophysics, plans to use blogs in her classes to help medical students and nursing students better understand each other’s perspectives and roles.

“What I loved was that everybody was not just finding some way to use the technology, but finding the technology to unmask some really good way to improve the teaching, which is what the objective here is,” Mulroney says.

The faculty members also heard from guest speaker Mark Sample, an assistant professor of English at George Mason University, give a talk on “Designing for Failure: Innovation and Social Pedagogy.”

Sample is also a visiting scholar at CNDLS this summer.

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