Faculty Conference

The Faculty Conference is a forum for academic dialogue where instructors from across the disciplines exchange developed ideas and ruminate together over questions about the craft of teaching at this unique university. The conference is organized by the Dialogue Committee and is held prior to the start of fall semester. 

The theme of the 2014 conference was "Facilitating Deep Learning in a Student-Centered Classroom: What Works?" 

Faculty who presented at this year's conference were invited by the Dialogue Committee members from a list of Examplary Faculty Award winners and Dean/Department Chair recommendations. Faculty presenters for the 2014 conference were as follows:

Walter Gong Keynote Address:

Brian Memmott - Art: Curiosity and Creativity in Learning

The relationship between creativity and curiosity is symbiotic. One simply cannot thrive without the other. Although the value of creativity is receiving greater acknowledgment in education, curiosity is often overlooked, little understood, and seldom encouraged. To help students develop their creative abilities, educators must first foster their students' curiosity. As those students shift from an extrinsically motivated approach toward education to an intrinsic approach - something curiosity produces - creativity will develop more quickly and completely. 

Breakout Sessions:

1. David Collins - Chemistry: iPads in the Classroom

Is it wise to support, or even orchestrate the usage of "mobile" devices within the classroom? The incorporation of such devices into student-centered deep-learning experiences is nascent; however, because these devices are very personal and commonplace, they may provide a niche for learning. Ideas for both student and faculty use will be presented.

2. Lary Duque - Teacher Education: Misadventures in Engaging Students in the Process of Learning

In the research literature on teaching, we learn that engaging students in the learning process increases their attention and focus, motivates them to practice higher-level critical thinking skills, and promotes meaningful learning experiences. In this workshop, the presenter will share his favorite mistakes in his attempts to engage students. He will then present his newest adventures in encouraging, involving, and inviting students to join the learning process. 

3. Richard Grimmett - Computer Science and Electrical Engineering: Learning on the Edge of Chaos

What happens when we focus on learning instead of teaching? Really important, amazing, unpredictable, inspiring results. If retained knowledge is our ultimate goal, then active learning is the process to get us there. It is so effective because the learning becomes student driven. But active learning can move us all into a space where we lose control. Is this OK? How do we know what our students are learning? And what about failure, how are our students to deal with that? What if they get discouraged? These are all important questions not because they are relevant to learning at the BYU-Idaho, but because they are key life skills. Let's discover together how to move into the unpredictability of tackling problems in the real world.

4. Mark Orchard - Communication: The reflective journal - a tool for deeper learning in a discussion based classroom

Discussion in the classroom can be strengthen through the use of a reflective journal. The reflective journal helps students bridge the gap between the known and the new. Students reflecting on past experiences strengthens their capacity to resolve new challenges. This presentation will demonstrate reflection as a tool for deeper, more applied learning.

5. David Peck - Religion: World Cup Teaching

This past year the world has watched some of the finest displays of soccer talent. Many of the principles that led to success for these teams can do the same for our classroom. For this session, we will look at some practical classroom techniques that will get students in the game, participating and enjoying the learning experience.

6. Anne Papworth - English: "The Not-So-Easy-A": Using Initiative Projects to Engage Student Learning

The university defines an A grade as reflecting "extensive evidence of original thinking" and "initiative in serving other students." Based on this premise, "A" students complete initiative projects that increase their knowledge in a single concept and promote their classmates' learning. In this presentation, I will share examples of effective projects and discuss ways to ensure success for the student and the class.

7. Marcia McManus - Teacher Education: Engage the Frontal Lobe!

An inviting climate and meaningful learning opportunities can be sabotaged in the first 15 minutes of any classroom experience.  When opening strategies include "death by PowerPoint," instructor lectures, or daily quizzes, an inviting learning environment is threatened and lightweight or meaningless rehearsals are generated.  Such strategies reduce peripheral learning, a critical component to intrinsic engagement.  Individual frontal lobe action means deeper learning opportunity.  Come enjoy good times with 15 minutes of strategies and practices that engage the frontal lobe.

8. Ed Kumferman - Languages and International Studies: 20+ Years of Teaching in 20 Minutes

In keeping with the theme of the conference, I will present several tried and true teaching techniques that have "worked" for me in my teaching career. I will also connect them with the areas of my teaching philosophy that make them relevant and meaningful to me.

9. Ben Woodruff - Mathematics: Inquiry Based Learning - Engaging students through inquiry

When I came to BYU-Idaho, lecturing was all I knew. Over the next two years, I learned to use more than half my class time for group practice. However, while student morale went way up, their exam scores and the fail rate remained constant. I was missing something to help the students learn deeply. Three years ago I decided to try something new, inquiry based learning. Students now work though a sequence of problems that help them struggle with and master the big ideas on their own. We use class time for student presentations and questions. And I finally found something that lowers the drop rate, raises exam scores, and keeps morale high. Come learn more about inquiry based learning.

10. Forest Gahn - Geology:  Deep Learning Begins with the Faculty

It is difficult to engage students in effective learning if we are not engaged ourselves. Arguably the best forms of personal engagement include the study of primary literature, independent research, and professional service and practice in our chosen fields. Being deeply engaged in our subject matter outside the classroom fuels an infectious enthusiasm for the material and enhances our ability to direct meaningful discussions and exercises in the classroom. Examples of this principle will be shared and discussed during this presentation.