The CAT Celebrates 20 Years of Advancing Teaching Excellence!

Author: 
Cliff Rouder

More than 220 faculty from universities across the region came together with the CAT for the 2023 Annual Faculty Conference on Teaching Excellence co-sponsored by Temple Libraries, the Office of Digital Education, Information Technology Services, and the General Education Program. We were delighted to be back in-person on January 11th and 12th to celebrate the 20-year anniversary of the CAT. The CAT was founded in 2002 as the Teaching and Learning Center (TLC). In 2016, the TLC merged with the Instructional Support Center and was renamed the Center for the Advancement of Teaching. In celebration of the 20-year anniversary, the CAT invited and honored past directors of our center.

 

This year’s theme was Achieving Rigor Without the Mortis: Keeping High Standards While Rejuvenating Our Students, Ourselves, and Our Communities. Participants grappled with the notion of rigor–its different meanings, how the pandemic may have reshaped our notion of rigor, and how that is being played out in the policies and practices in our courses.

 

Keynote and Plenary Address

 

Marcus Johnson and Derek Bruff

The CAT was honored to have Dr. Marcus Johnson, Professor in the Educational Psychology and Educational Research and Evaluation programs at Virginia Tech, as our keynote speaker and Dr. Derick Bruff, author, consultant and Visiting Associate Director of the Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning at the University of Mississippi, as our plenary speaker. 

Dr. Johnson’s day one keynote was titled, Motivation and Rejuvenation with Rigor + Care. After defining motivation and its characteristics, he shared common misconceptions about what motivates students. He then discussed three constructs from different theories of motivation that could guide us as we consider ways to spark students’ motivation through our assessments, learning activities, and classroom environment: purpose, mastery, and autonomy. By considering our students’ diverse motivations, experiences, and identities, we can target a variety of motivational strategies that can lead to better outcomes for more of our students. Dr. Johnson concluded by encouraging us to help rejuvenate our students by supporting their well-being, helping them to become better self-directed learners, and by giving them opportunities to be inspired and engaged cognitively, behaviorally, affectively, and socially

Dr. Bruff’s Plenary on day two was titled, Intentional Tech: Reconnecting Our Students to Learning. He discussed three principles and then asked us to generate and consider a variety of technologies to address these principles, which are to 

  • structure ways for students to learn from and with each other to enhance learning for all and for creating a sense of community;

  • incorporate multiple modalities (audio, visual, embodied) for teaching content that can help more learners succeed;

  • connect our students to authentic learning experiences to raise the value of what they’re learning and to help students see themselves in their desired majors and as future professionals in their field of interest.

He reminded us to base our choice of technologies on whether they help students meet the learning goals for the course. 

 

Building on the Keynote and Plenary Sessions

In addition to keynote and plenary speakers, the conference featured interactive workshops, breakout sessions, lightning talks, and poster sessions–all designed to generate discussion and share ideas for creating challenging, inspiring, inclusive, and equitable learning experiences. 

 

 

New this year was our resource fair, where representatives from a variety of Temple support units explained their services and provided informational materials. Representatives from the Student Success Center, Temple Libraries, The Wellness Resource Center, CARE Team, Disability Resources and Services, and Instructional Technology all joined us for this fair. Additionally, two tables were set up for CAT staff to provide information about the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL) scholarship and another table for information regarding CAT’s Teaching in Higher Education Certificate.

 

This year we invited representatives from a variety of Temple support units to provide resources and explain their services during the luncheon on day 2. Representatives from the Student Success Center, Temple Libraries, The Wellness Resource Center, CARE Team, Disability Resources and Services, and Instructional Technology joined us to share resources. In addition, CAT staff who are leading efforts to expand its outreach for Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL) scholarship and another table for information regarding CAT’s Teaching in Higher Education Certificate.

 

Let’s Continue the Conversation

Our annual faculty conference generated many thought-provoking questions and teaching strategies, so let’s continue talking! Here are some ways you can keep the conversation going:

  • Share what you’ve learned with your program/department faculty.

  • Visit our faculty commons to ask questions, pose ideas, and get feedback from the CAT and faculty across disciplines.

On behalf of everyone at the CAT, we wish you a joyous new year and a fullfilling spring semester!

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