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May 6, 2010 Volume 31, No. 30

Two-day event May 18-19 will celebrate teaching and learning at Mizzou

Conference will feature workshops and national speakers

Teaching and learning is vital to everything that goes on at Mizzou, and later this month the campus will celebrate teaching excellence at a two-day event that will feature national speakers and 20 different workshops and sessions that cover a wide range of teaching issues. MU’s “Celebration of Teaching Excellence” on May 18 and 19 will put the spotlight on teaching as the academic year concludes.

There will be two keynote speakers: Dan Heath is a co-author of Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die, a consultant for the Aspen Institute and a former Harvard Business School researcher. Judy Willis is a neurologist and middle school teacher in Santa Barbara, Calif., and the author of Research Based Strategies to Ignite Student Learning.

“We wanted to really bring a national prominence to the campus to help kick off this campuswide conversation about teaching and learning,” says Jim Spain, vice provost for undergraduate studies. The keynote speakers will begin their presentations at 1:30 p.m. Tuesday, May 18, in Cornell Hall’s Bush Auditorium.

Following those talks, the campus will host a reception from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m. in the Reynolds Alumni Center to recognize MU’s three nominees to the national Professor of the Year Award. That award is sponsored by the Council for the Advancement and Support of Education and the Carnegie Foundation.

MU’s nominees for professor of the year are John Adams, professor of chemistry; Anthony Lupo, professor of atmospheric science; and Wendy Sims, professor of music education.

The second day of the teaching celebration will feature sessions and workshops devoted to teaching issues. There will be five concurrent sessions on the second floor of Cornell Hall during each of four time blocks throughout the day. Lunch will be provided in the Reynolds Center for those who have registered for the conference.

The goal of the sessions is to generate “a scholarly communication about teaching topics,” says Margaret Gunderson, associate director of Educational Technologies at Missouri. The presentations will be aimed at encouraging discussion among participants on specific topics and will be led by people who have experience in each area. “They will talk about their experiences and what did and did not work,” Gunderson says.

Session topics were developed with input from faculty around campus, and the conference was scheduled after final grades are due so as many faculty as possible will be able to attend. The topics are:

  • Assessing Student Learning
  • Making Teaching Relevant
  • Understanding Today’s Students and Their Learning Styles
  • Group Projects and Problem-Based Learning
  • Instructor Awareness: Cultural, Gender and Individual Differences
  • Undergraduate Research’s Impact on Learning
  • Blackboard 9 Guided Tour
  • Mentoring Graduate Student Teaching Assistants
  • Classroom Management and Teaching Success
  • Evaluating Teaching
  • Visual Literacy Tools for Teaching — PowerPoint, Wikis, Blogs, GapMinder, Tegrity
  • Mentoring and Advising Graduate Students
  • Faculty as Academic Advisers for Undergraduate Students
  • Working with Teaching Assistants

Registration is strongly encouraged. A complete schedule along with online registration information is available at

“We will have just finished up the academic teaching year, and this gives us the opportunity as a campus to come together and reflect on how the past year has gone for us and our efforts at teaching and learning,” Spain says. “The sessions also will help us think about what we want to do differently for the next academic year and consider some new things we’d like to think about trying.”

This two-day teaching celebration was preceded by an event that was previously held in February or March each year and was called the Teaching Renewal Conference. The timing for that event presented conflicts for faculty members who were in the thick of their teaching loads.

Why is the campus pausing to celebrate teaching when teaching and learning already are such a part of everyday life at MU? “Teaching is core to our mission as the land-grant, flagship university in Missouri,” Spain says. “It’s also central to how we impact the quality of life, not only for our graduates, but for the communities our graduates are going to become a part of as they leave Mizzou.”