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Mike Welch speaking at Excellence in Teaching Day


2018 Excellence in Teaching Day


We were pleased to have Professor Cathy Davidson, Founding Director of the Futures Initiative and a Distinguished Professor of English at City University of New York, and Professor Randy Bass, Vice Provost for Education and Professor of English at Georgetown University, serve as the keynote speakers for our May 7, 2018 Excellence in Teaching Day. Professor Davidson and Professor Bass engaged in a conversation around the theme of “Imagining the Future of Learning.”

Excellence in Teaching Day Keynote 2018

Cathy Davidson’s presentation copyright Cathy Davidson (2018)

Excellence in Teaching Day Schedule Overview

8:30 - 9:00

Light Breakfast

Fulton 110

9:00 - 10:15

Breakout Sessions I

Fulton Hall

10:15 - 10:30



10:30 - 11:45

Breakout Sessions II

Fulton Hall

11:45 - 12:45

Lunch & Resource Tables

Lyons Dining Hall, Lower Level

12:30 - 1:15

Teaching Innovation Poster Session

Bonn Studio Theater

1:30 - 3:00

Keynote Conversation: Cathy Davidson & Randy Bass

Robsham Theater

3:00 - 4:00


Robsham Lobby

Breakout Sessions I (9:00 - 10:15)

#MeToo in the Classroom

Fulton 425

Tiziana Dearing (SSW), Rachel DiBella (Women’s Center), Régine Jean-Charles (Romance Languages and Literatures), and James Keenan, S.J. (Theology/Jesuit Institute)

This roundtable discussion invites participants to consider the various ways the #MeToo conversation has entered our classrooms. The group will discuss what they’ve learned from reflecting on their teaching during a period when public conversations about sexual violence and harassment were inescapable, focusing on how student experiences and responses, attentiveness to trauma, faculty experience, and an emotionally and intellectually charged public moment invite us to revisit our pedagogical practices and the role of gender in the classroom.

Space Matters: How Use of Our Classrooms Impacts Our Teaching

Fulton 453

Jenna Tonn (History) and Stacy Grooters (CTE)

How much does space matter in the classroom? This interactive session invites faculty to consider creative ways to use pedagogical spaces on campus. First, Professor Jenna Tonn will situate 21st-century academic spaces within the long history of university architecture, from the invention of the seminar table, to the construction of scientific laboratories, to the introduction of active learning technologies into the modern classroom. Together we will then interrogate classroom spaces as a function of the built environment, as a collaborative process of engagement, and as a space increasingly mediated by digital technologies. Participants will leave with new ideas for making use of their own classroom spaces.

Teaching Empathy

Fulton 115

Amey Adkins (Theology), Karen Arnold (LSOE), Sarah Cabral (CSOM), and John Makransky (Theology)

From close reading of texts in the humanities to treatment of patients in clinical settings, many of our fields require empathy as a foundational skill. Yet finding ways to center empathy as a learning goal can be tricky. Join faculty from varied disciplines for a round-table discussion about the role empathy plays in their work and how to help students cultivate deeper empathy for others as well as greater self-understanding.

Karen Arnold slides

Ways to Support Low Income and First Generation College Students

Fulton 145

Heather Rowan-Kenyon (LSOE), Rossanna Contreras-Godfrey (McNair Scholars Program), and Yvonne McBarnett (Montserrat Coalition)

We know the effects of economic disparity follow our students to campus, but how do these differences manifest in the classroom?  And just as importantly, what resources does BC provide to assist low income and first generation students? This series of short presentations and a case study will explore how BC works to support all of our students, regardless of inequalities in wealth and opportunity. Participants will have the opportunity to reflect on how their own classroom practices impact low income and first generation students.

Yvonne McBarnett handout

Breakout Sessions II (10:30 - 11:45)

The Future of the Liberal Arts at Boston College

Fulton 115

David Quigley (Provost and Dean of Faculties), facilitating; panelists: Andy Boynton (John and Linda Powers Family Dean, CSOM), Mary Crane (Director, Institute for the Liberal Arts), Gregory Kalscheur, S.J. (Dean, MCAS), and Martin Summers (Director, African & African Diaspora Studies)

Boston College in particular and the Jesuit educational tradition more generally have long insisted that the liberal arts are central to their educational mission. Despite the fact that many in our society question the value of the liberal arts in today's world, BC insists that the liberal arts "promote integration of students' intellectual, spiritual, social, and affective lives, inspiring them to reflect on who they are and how they want to engage the world." But the world is not static, and our students will face challenges that we who teach them could scarcely have imagined only a generation ago. The University's strategic plan calls on us to re-envision liberal arts education, to consider anew how to prepare our students to live rich and fulfilling lives for others. How can the liberal arts promote our students' integration of the various aspects of their lives? How can they help students to engage a changing world? Join us for a panel discussion on the future of the liberal arts at Boston College.

Innovative Approaches to Grading

Fulton 145

Nathaniel Brown (LSOE), Sean MacEvoy (Psychology), Chris Polt (Classical Studies), and Andrés Castro Samayoa (LSOE)

Grades do more than simply measure student learning; they communicate to students what we value. And the values communicated by most traditional grading systems (of product over process, performance over mastery) can actually undermine our goals to help students become self-directed, personally motivated, and resilient learners. For this panel, BC faculty will share the innovative approaches to grading they’ve experimented with in response to these challenges. They will discuss why they made the change away from more traditional approaches and how that has impacted both their own teaching and their students’ learning. These approaches include negotiated weighting of assignments, specifications grading, mastery-based grading, and adapting scoring guides and rubrics to support self and peer assessment.

Nathaniel Brown handout

Andrés Castro Samayoa handout

Sean MacEvoy handout

Sean MacEvoy syllabus

Chris Polt handout

Making Learning Public: Fostering Student Engagement with Authentic Audiences

Fulton 453

Lauren Diamond-Brown (Sociology), Lori Harrison-Kahan (English), Alan Kafka (Earth & Environmental Sciences), and Chelcie Rowell (O’Neill Library)

This panel, organized in collaboration with BC Libraries Digital Scholarship group, will feature faculty who have invited students to create work for a public audience with the goal of enhancing student learning. They will reflect on both the benefits and challenges they experienced when extending the audience beyond the classroom and will offer some best practices around such topics as student privacy and copyright.



Simulations in the Classroom

Fulton 425

Sarah Ehrich (English), Tracy Regan (Economics), and Carolyn Romano (SSW)

Simulations can be the vehicle for authentic learning of concepts as well as skills, in classes of any size and seemingly on any topic. A panel drawn from this year’s Faculty Cohort on Teaching exploring Simulations in the Classroom will discuss how they’ve planned and carried out these interactive exercises from student preparation to debriefing, and what they’ve learned in the process.

Handout: Where to Start

Handout: Simulations Checklist


The Teacher's Presence: Insights from Theatre

Carney 302

Patricia Riggin (Theatre)

Actors are keenly aware of maintaining audience attention during performances, and they train their focus, intentions, and voices to maximize this effect. As teachers, we can learn from these methods to enhance communication skills and motivate more engaged learning in the classroom. In this interactive workshop, Patricia Riggin will introduce participants to exercises that release tension, heighten motivation, and increase the free flow of communication that can help them bring greater mindfulness and intentionality to their work.


Held prior to the keynote conversation, the Teaching Innovation Poster Session featured the creative pedagogical work of faculty from across the institution. Find PDF versions of the faculty and staff posters, below. If you are using a screen reader, please note that you will need to download the poster files first:


During lunch in Lyons Dining Hall (11:45-12:45), representatives from several BC offices and programs offered information meant to support faculty in supporting their students. Participants included:

  • Boston College Internal Grants
  • Boston College Libraries
  • Disability Services Office
  • Office of International Programs      
  • University Council on Learning Outcomes


For Excellence in Teaching Day participants visiting Boston College on May 7th: