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2016 Excellence in Teaching Day

Find breakout session content below

Sherry Turkle headshot

We were pleased to feature Professor Sherry Turkle of MIT, a nationally renowned expert on the impact of technology on personal engagement, as the keynote speaker for our May 9, 2016 Excellence in Teaching Day. Spurred by her provocative claim that technology has led us to “sacrifice conversation for mere connection,” we organized a day of discussions around the theme of “Rethinking Connection.”

Once a vocal advocate for the transformative potential of technology to build connection, Turkle argues in Alone Together (2012) and Reclaiming Conversation (2015) that our current age of pervasive technology has disrupted our ability to develop the necessary skills for connection. The CTE is grateful to the Institute for the Liberal Arts for helping support Turkle’s visit.

Find the full schedule and detailed program descriptions below.

Faculty Cohort Panel Discussions (8:45 - 10:00)

Faculty who participated in the CTE’s Faculty Cohorts on Teaching will discuss results of their year-long inquiry into new teaching approaches.

Engaging Students in the “Flipped” Classroom

Nanci Haze (CSON), Annie Homza (LSOE), Ellen Winner (Psychology), and George Wyner (CSOM)

A panel of faculty from the CTE’s “Flipping the Classroom” cohort will discuss their experiments with shifting content delivery outside the classroom to free up more time for meaningful student interaction in class. Cohort members taught classes as small as 16 and as large as 70. The challenges they addressed included developing new content, ensuring students had support and were held accountable, and managing workload.

Annie Homza presentation slides

Reimagining Course Content and Teaching Using MediaKron

Stephanie Leone & Nancy Netzer (Fine Arts), Bonnie Rudner (English), David Scanlon (LSOE), and Eric Weiskott (English)

A panel of faculty from the CTE’s MediaKron Cohort will discuss how they have used this BC-developed software to engage students with course materials in more creative and critical ways. Projects have varied from teaching visual analysis with curated sets of images to guiding students as they built a virtual textbook.

Disney images

MediaKron site

Workshops and Panel Discussions (1:30 - 2:45)

Concurrent breakout sessions in the afternoon allow for smaller group conversations about a variety of teaching questions.

Advocating a Space for Learning Diversity

Matthew Kim and Michael Riendeau (Eagle Hill School)

In this interactive workshop, faculty from the Eagle Hill School in Hardwick will present a model for inclusive pedagogy centered around the idea of “learning diversity” rather than “learning disability.” Participants will be introduced to alternative theories of disability and concrete classroom practices meant to create more inclusive learning spaces for all students.

Learning Diversity presentation slides

Dr. Michael Riendeau Paper

Affordable Course Materials

Sergio Alvarez (Computer Science), Lynne Anderson (English), Howard Straubing (Computer Science), and Pieter VanderWerf (CSOM)

The high cost of textbooks is a well-publicized problem for students in higher education. Actual costs for course materials may be over $1000 per semester, double the maximum allotment from financial aid. In this session we will hear from Boston College faculty members from a range of departments who are exploring ways to provide alternative, affordable course materials to their students. They will describe what the process has involved, and the differences they have observed as they lower costs and tailor content more responsively to course needs. Library and CTE staff will be on hand to share information about the support they can provide.

Contemplative Pedagogy

Brian Robinette (Theology), David Storey (Philosophy), and John Rakestraw (CTE)

This workshop will explore how instructors might integrate different sorts of mindfulness or contemplative practices into their teaching. More and more college and university instructors teaching in a wide range of disciplines have incorporated such practices into their teaching. At Boston College, we often speak about educating the whole person; contemplative pedagogy may be an effective strategy for pursuing that goal. Participants will learn about particular pedagogical practices, have the opportunity to share their own experiments in contemplative pedagogy, and explore how they might judge the effectiveness of these practices.

Dharma Dialogues

Reflection Paper #1

Technology Retreat

Two Kinds of Intelligence

Fostering Student Resilience in the Classroom

Tom McGuinness (Provost’s Office) and Stacy Grooters (CTE)

The question of whether today’s students lack “resilience” has taken on a particular urgency in recent years both at BC and nationwide. In this workshop, we will discuss the most common ways we see students struggle with resilience in the classroom and review simple strategies that faculty can implement to help foster greater resilience within their students.

Increasing Student Participation with In-Class Polling Software

Nathaniel Brown (LSOE), Judy McMorrow (BCLS), and Colleen Simonelli (CSON)

Fostering student engagement in the classroom can be challenging, especially in a course with large numbers or sensitive content. Personal Response Systems such as clickers allow students to answer questions anonymously, giving the instructor a way to assess comprehension, open difficult dialogues, or invite students to learn from each other. This panel offers an opportunity to hear from faculty members who have been working with i>clicker and other alternatives that allow students to use their own devices.

Poll Everywhere Presentation Slides

Instructional Practices for Increasing Student Motivation

David Miele (LSOE) 

In this session, David Miele (Buehler Sesquicentennial Assistant Professor in the Department of Counseling, Developmental, and Educational Psychology) will discuss two types of instructional practices for increasing student motivation. The first type involves fostering students' "growth mindsets"; that is, helping them to think about intelligence and ability as something that can be improved over time with effort. The second type aims to enhance the perceived utility or relevance of course content. The session will begin with a presentation that briefly reviews the theoretical basis for these instructional practices, as well as empirical research examining their efficacy in different learning contexts and for diverse groups of students. The presentation will be followed by an extensive group discussion.

Student Motivation

Teaching About Whiteness and Privilege

Rhonda Frederick (English), Yonder Gillihan (Theology), Anjali Vats (Communication), and Catherine Wong (LSOE)

This interdisciplinary panel of faculty will delve into the question of how best to engage students in conversation about race, whiteness, and other areas of privilege. Relevant for faculty teaching courses explicitly about race and ethnicity, as well as for those who want to be better prepared when unexpected conversations arise, participants will leave with a better understanding of the challenges of engaging students in conversations about race as well as strategies for making those conversations more productive.

Teaching Scientific Thinking

Ken Galli (EES), Jim Lubben (SSW), Kate McNeill (LSOE), Clare O’Connor (Biology), and Neil Wolfman (Chemistry)

Whether their students will someday be conducting social work research, teaching in elementary schools, interpreting geologic data or pursuing medical training, instructors in the sciences share a common challenge. This panel of faculty from a variety of fields will talk about their efforts to teach their students to “think like scientists,” in courses ranging from first-year introductions to graduate seminars.

Scientific Thinking: PDF document

Scientific Thinking Presentation slides

Scientific Thinking video

Teaching the Core: What We’ve Learned

Julian Bourg (History), Brian Braman (Philosophy), Tara Pisani Gareau (EES), Paula Mathieu (English), Michael Naughton (Physics), and Meghan Sweeney (Theology)

Teaching in the Core can present a unique combination of challenges and opportunities as we seek to engage students from across the university in the fundamental questions that define a BC education. This panel discussion features faculty who take very different approaches to teaching in the Core. Participants can expect to learn more about common challenges across Core classes as well as a variety of creative strategies for meeting them.

Teaching with Simulations and Creating Immersive Material

Warren Dent and James Kerwin (Program on Negotiation, Harvard Law School)

Teaching with simulations is an exciting and immersive experience for both instructors and participants. We will explore the benefits of teaching with simulations in an active learning environment by running some short exercises with workshop attendees. We will also discuss the choices facing faculty and staff who want to write and produce their own immersive teaching material. Warren Dent manages the Teaching Negotiation Resource Center at the Program on Negotiation, Harvard Law School. James Kerwin is Assistant Director of the Program on Negotiation, Harvard Law School.


Excellence in Teaching Day Schedule overview

8:30 - 10:30


Robsham Theater Lobby

8:30 - 10:00

Teaching & Learning Resource Fair

Light Breakfast

Corcoran Commons (2nd Floor)

8:45 - 10:00

Faculty Cohort Panel Discussions

Corcoran Commons (2nd Floor)

10:15 - 12:00

Keynote Speaker: Sherry Turkle

Robsham Theater

12:15 - 1:15


Lyons Dining Hall, Lower Level

1:30 - 2:45

Breakout Sessions

Fulton Hall

3:00 - 4:30

Teaching Innovation Poster Session

Wine & Cheese Reception

Gasson 100

The Teaching and Learning Resource Fair is an opportunity to learn about the programs at BC meant to support you in supporting your students.  Participants will include:

  • Academic Technology Advisory Board
  • Career Center
  • Center for Teaching Excellence
  • Connors Family Learning Center
  • Dean of Students
  • Disability Services
  • Internal Grants
  • International Students and Scholars
  • Learning Resources for Student-Athletes
  • Mission & Ministry (Intersections)
  • Office of Graduate Student Life
  • Office of International Programs
  • Technology Services
  • Thea Bowman AHANA and Intercultural Center
  • University Counseling Center
  • University Libraries
  • Women’s Center
  • Writing Fellows Program

Held during the Wine & Cheese Reception that concludes the day, the Teaching Innovation Poster Session features the creative pedagogical work of faculty from across the institution. Featured faculty will include:

  • Stephanie Berzin (SSW)
  • Maureen Connolly (CSON)
  • Karen Daggett (Romance Languages & Literatures) and Atef Ghobrial (Slavic & Eastern Languages and Literatures)
  • Ikram Easton (Slavic & Eastern Languages and Literatures)
  • Silvana Falconi, Esther Gimeno Ugalde and Andrea Javel (Romance Languages & Literatures) with Cindy Bravo (Language Laboratory)
  • Nick Gozik (International Programs)
  • Theresa O’Keefe (STM)
  • Brian Quinn (BCLS)
  • Bonnie Rudner (English)
  • Taylor Stevenson (FWS, English)

For Excellence in Teaching Day participants visiting Boston College on May 9th: