2016 President’s Awards for Distinguished Scholar-Teachers

For four years, Georgetown has acknowledged distinguishing faculty who have had an extraordinary impact on research and student engagement through the President’s Award for Distinguished Scholar-Teachers. In recognition of their incredible dedication to both the formation of young people and unrestrained scholarly inquiry, President DeGioia has named Darlene Howard (Psychology), Donald Langevoort (Law), and Anton Wellstein (Oncology & Pharmacology) as the recipients for 2016.

Darlene Howard, a dedicated researcher and professor in our Department of Psychology, has motivated her students and fellow colleagues since her arrival at Georgetown more than four decades ago. She is a prolific researcher and has published more than 90 papers, in addition to authoring Cognitive Psychology: Memory, Language, and Thought, a textbook that is relied upon in the field of cognitive psychology. Her research and contributions to the growth of the study of “implicit learning” is exemplary, and her students consistently remark on the extraordinary influence she has had on their lives.

Donald Langevoort is a renowned expert in the field of securities law and is deeply valued as a consultant and a collaborator by students and colleagues at our Law Center. He is often sought out for his expertise—his work has been cited in opinions issued by justices of the Supreme Court—and he has testified multiple times before Congressional committees on issues relating to insider trading and securities litigation reform. Langevoort is also known for his dynamic classroom teaching, instilling a passion in his students for corporate and securities law.

Anton Wellstein is a committed teacher and a creative researcher who fosters an environment of growth and exploration, both in his classroom and throughout our Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center and our Departments of Pharmacology and Oncology, where he serves as a professor. He is known for his dedication to mentoring students and for his relentless commitment to encouraging the development of scientists willing to explore new territories and make significant contributions to the body of knowledge in his field.

The Georgetown community is welcomed to hear from all three awardees at the Fall Faculty Convocation on Thursday, October 20, at 5 PM in Gaston Hall. This event is also an opportunity to celebrate faculty members who have recently received tenure or promotion and to hear from guest speaker David Skorton, Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution.

To learn more about the President’s Awards for Distinguished Scholar-Teachers and view previous awardees, visit the website. CNDLS extends a warm congratulations to all recognized faculty!

Poised to Support Innovation in Higher Education, Georgetown Announces New Master’s in Learning and Design

For more than 15 years, CNDLS has worked to encourage a rich culture of learning for students at Georgetown, supporting faculty through a variety of programs, services, events, and resources. From curating effective teaching practices on the Teaching Commons, to shepherding campus courses into global online learning environments, to leading faculty in workshops about inclusive pedagogy, our Center has always strived to be leader in the scholarship of teaching and learning.

In an effort to expand the scope and impact of this work, we are delighted to share the approval of a new graduate program in learning and design at Georgetown. The Master of Arts in Learning and Design (MLD) is designed to prepare students to serve as creative thought leaders, technology innovators, and learning designers who are ready to engage with the most pressing questions influencing the future of higher education, in the classroom and across colleges and universities. A focus on design means seeing teaching and learning as a space that should be shaped intentionally, based on multidisciplinary research, the needs and characteristics of the learners, and an understanding of the entire learning ecosystem. At the same time, the program approaches learning as complex problem without a single “designable” solution.  We recognize that learning sits at the intersection of interdisciplinary knowledge, action, formation, and social justice.  Bringing together teaching expertise from multiple academic fields and drawing from Georgetown’s philosophical tradition of educating the whole person, MLD equips students across four tracks—Learning Design, Technology Innovation, Learning Analytics, and Higher Education Leadership—to address challenges and create environments that enable students to navigate this complexity.

CNDLS’ own responsive, collaboration-oriented practices—honed from years of experience partnering with faculty, departments, and centers across Georgetown and other universities—are deeply embedded in the curriculum. Innovation at the intersection of analytics, inclusion, technology, and design has always been at the heart of our work to advance teaching and learning on the Hilltop, and MLD students will have the opportunity to draw from evidence-based practices across these fields as they work with CNDLS to apply their learning—and own discoveries—in classroom settings. We look forward to shaping a new generation of educators as MLD welcomes its first cohort in August 2017.

Those interested in learning more about the Master of Arts in Learning and Design can visit the program website at learninganddesign.georgetown.edu or view admissions information through the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences. Any department at Georgetown, as well as teaching and learning centers at other schools, are encouraged to share this announcement with prospective students. If you have any questions, please contact the program at learninganddesign@georgetown.edu.

Hear from Faculty, Share with Faculty: Peer Perspectives on the Teaching Commons

This fall, we’re using the CNDLS blog to highlight the Teaching Commonsa compilation of resources and case studies designed to help faculty revitalize their courses and gain insights into practical issues in pedagogy at Georgetown. As a living resource, the site continually evolves to encompass new scholarship in teaching and learning, as well as technological innovations that are changing and enhancing the current teaching landscape. To help you explore all that the Commons has to offer, we’re showcasing tools and other information on a semi-weekly basis, guiding you through the semester in real time. Missed the other posts? Check out our takes on crafting a syllabus, starting the semester, leading discussions, evaluating learning, designing assignments, and active learning.


What’s the equivalent of getting a cup of coffee with a fellow teacher and picking their brain about pedagogical practice, but without ever leaving your desk? Our hope is you think of the Teaching Commons!


What we imagine you’d think of had the question ended with “… but you’re a cat.”

At CNDLS, we see the Teaching Commons as, in part, a virtual meeting place, a space where teachers can share their experiences—the good, the bad, and the complicated—with their peers, whether they’re in the same department or on a separate campus. With that in mind, we’re trying to bring a multiplicity of voices to the conversation, and we’ve got some fresh (yet seasoned) perspectives for you to check out.

In a variety of new videos, you can hear from Georgetown professors Betsy Sigman (Business) and Marcia Chatelain (History) on building great syllabi; Heidi Elmendorf (Biology) on working with teaching assistants; Jason Tilan (Nursing) and Nora Gordon (Public Policy) on finding productive ways to integrate technologies into your courses; Josiah Osgood (Classics), Deb Sivigny (Performing Arts), and Gordon on fostering vibrant class discussions; and Chatelain on balancing emotionally challenging material in the classroom.

We’re also interested in your thoughts. At the bottom of Teaching with Technologies and Difficult Discussions, you’ll find links where you can submit your own experiences and ideas, and we hope you will. Likewise, if there’s something you’d like to see on the Teaching Commons that isn’t there yet, feel free to reach out to us at cndls@georgetown.edu—we’re here to help support faculty as they lead the charge of teaching and learning on the Hilltop, but we’re also here to listen!

Beyond the Starting Line: Resources for Keeping Pace this Semester

This fall, we’re using the CNDLS blog to highlight the Teaching Commonsa compilation of resources and case studies designed to help faculty revitalize their courses and gain insights into practical issues in pedagogy at Georgetown. As a living resource, the site continually evolves to encompass new scholarship in teaching and learning, as well as technological innovations that are changing and enhancing the current teaching landscape. To help you explore all that the Commons has to offer, we’re showcasing tools and other information on a semi-weekly basis, guiding you through the semester in real time. Missed the other posts? Check out our takes on crafting a syllabus, starting the semester, evaluating learning, designing assignments, and active learning, then hear from fellow faculty in our interview highlights.


It happens fast, that transition from “the semester is coming” to “the semester is underway.” If it feels like you’re suddenly shifting from sprint to marathon, keep in mind that the Teaching Commons has gathered a wide range of resources and ideas to support your teaching all semester long. Need an example? As you think about how to make the most out of each class session, check out our page on planning and leading class for strategies you can put into use right away. If you’re going to be giving lectures, our page on lecturing effectively might also come in handy.

Whatever your teaching style, some sessions can—intentionally or unintentionally—get intense. Whether because of unexpected world events, happenings on campus, or the nature of your subject matter, you may find yourself in the middle of a challenging conversation about sensitive topics, and it’s important to feel prepared. Our page on difficult discussions brings together a host of resources to help, including everything from advice on how to handle “hot moments” in class to strategies for guiding your students toward challenging discussions in productive ways. Much of the advice was created by faculty for faculty, including the above interview with Marcia Chatelain (History), and we encourage you to share your own resources, experiences, techniques, and anecdotes. The Teaching Commons is, after all, a living resource—one that can benefit from all of our faculty here at Georgetown.

Enjoy these first weeks and, as always, let us know how we can help!

Working Group on Slavery, Memory, and Reconciliation Releases Report

This morning, the Working Group on Slavery, Memory, and Reconciliation released their recommendations for acknowledging and responding to Georgetown’s historical ties to the institution of slavery in a report to President DeGioia. The full report is available publicly at slavery.georgetown.edu.

CNDLS was honored to have worked alongside UIS, the Office of the President, and the Office of Communications in the redesign of this website, which features interviews, recommended readings, and links to coverage of the conversations happening at Georgetown, as well as the Georgetown Slavery Archive, a digital repository of materials relating to slavery and slave life on Maryland Jesuit plantations, including the Georgetown campus.

We congratulate both our partners and the members of the Working Group for their extraordinary commitment to interrogating and understanding the legacy of slavery at Georgetown, and their efforts to engage our community in this necessary work. We encourage faculty to join us in these conversations, starting at 4:00 PM in Gaston Hall, when Working Group Chair Fr. David Collins, S.J., will share the recommendations with the Georgetown community. This conversation will continue tonight at 8:00 PM on Facebook, where members of the Working Group will host a live conversation inviting community feedback on their recommendations and the continued work of the university.

Advice for New (from Not-So-New) Faculty

The start of the academic year brings several thousand new Hoyas to the Hilltop, but not all of them are students!

As part of New Faculty Orientation, CNDLS spoke with ten experienced Georgetown faculty—Nathan Hensley (English), Leslie Hinkson (Sociology), Theresa Keeley (SFS), Jason Tilan (Nursing), Matthew Pavesich (English), Lahra Smith (SFS), Dennis Williams (English), Yulia Chentsova Dutton (Psychology), Jennifer Fink (English), and Huaping Lu-Adler (Philosophy)—about advice for their newest peers. You can watch the full video here, or check out a few highlights below the break.

Whether you’ve been on the faculty for two weeks or two decades, we’re glad you’re here and we’re here to help. Reach out at any time with questions or concerns about teaching at Georgetown, and happy first day of classes!

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Create Meaningful Learning Experiences with Curricular Enrichment & Diversity Grants

Want to add a co-curricular activity to your course, but need additional support? Have a guest speaker in mind who would be perfect for your course, but your department doesn’t have funds available? There are many ways to engage students and offer transformative experiences in (and outside of) your classroom, but it’s not always easy—and not always free.

CNDLS is here to help. Throughout the years, CNDLS has awarded hundreds of grants to faculty across departments in support of engaging class-related activities in introductory undergraduate courses. These curriculum enrichment grants (CEGs) have funded field trips, performances, class dinners, guest speakers, film screenings, workshops, and more, and have also been used to support larger events with additional co-sponsors and collaborators. Ben Harbert (Performing Arts) was part of such a collaboration in Spring 2016. Combining a CEG with funding from the Music Program and Film and Media Studies, Harbert brought guitarist and composer Marc Ribot to campus for a week-long residency, during which he visited five classes, held two concerts, and attended a dinner with American Musical Culture majors.

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According to Harbert, the activities energized students, who received practical advice and dedicated time with the famous artist in a small group setting: “Bringing outsiders into the classroom helped inflect the space—our classroom became a place of work that mattered to the artistic community at-large.” Acknowledging that these interactions with students are rare, Ribot expressed his own appreciation for the opportunity to meaningfully connect with students about the role of music and the impact of their studies outside of the classroom. In his eyes, the biggest value for students came from meeting someone in the field and recognizing that they’re not so different—specifically, that people who are “working” are also still learning and making mistakes.

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While CEGs are intended for lower-level undergraduate courses, Doyle diversity grants are open to all undergraduate courses. Supported by the Doyle Engaging Difference Program, these grants have another specific goal: to engage students with issues of diversity and difference through co-curricular activities. A recent Doyle grant supported “Immigration and Social Justice,” a community-based learning course taught by Diana Guelespe (JUPS), in which students volunteered with weekend citizenship classes at the Central American Resource Center (CARECEN). In addition to attending Saturday classes, students had the opportunity to accompany CARECEN students on a field trip to the Newseum, and created driver education materials for undocumented immigrants in DC. Guelespe found that these activities deepened student engagement not only in their academic work but also in their community, offering them the opportunity to use their skills in meaningful, impactful ways.

If you’re interested in learning more about these opportunities or applying for a grant this fall, please visit our website. Applications received by September 9 will receive first consideration for the current term. If you are unsure whether a particular activity might be eligible, feel free to get in touch—we’re happy to talk!

Fall 2016: Getting Off on the Right Foot

This fall, we’re using the CNDLS blog to highlight the Teaching Commonsa compilation of resources and case studies designed to help faculty revitalize their courses and gain insights into practical issues in pedagogy at Georgetown. As a living resource, the site continually evolves to encompass new scholarship in teaching and learning, as well as technological innovations that are changing and enhancing the current teaching landscape. To help you explore all that the Commons has to offer, we’re showcasing tools and other information on a semi-weekly basis, guiding you through the semester in real time. Missed the other posts? Check out our takes on crafting a syllabus, leading discussions, evaluating learning, designing assignments, and active learning, then hear from fellow faculty in our interview highlights.


What’s the worst way to start the semester?

According to Kevin Gannon, history professor and director of the Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning (CETL) at Grand View University, the worst move is to treat the beginning of the term like something that doesn’t matter—just an opportunity to hand out the syllabus and then dismiss the class.

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Instead, as he argues in “The Absolute Worst Way to Start the Semester, the first day is an opportunity for students to “get some idea of what’s expected of them throughout the semester, and also have the opportunity to discern their place in the class and its activities.”

At CNDLS, we couldn’t agree more. Check out Starting the Semester on our Teaching Commons for a host of ideas on how to get ready for the first day, make that initial encounter engaging and productive, and keep the good momentum going in the weeks to follow. Feeling like you have that material down? Keep exploring from there! The Teaching Commons offers thoughts and resources on a variety of issues that are bound to come up throughout the fall semester, including communication with students. We also recommend this crowd-sourced grab bag of “Jedi Mind Tricks” for teachers, recently posted on Vitae.

All the best as you get off to a great start this semester and—as always—let us know how CNDLS can help!

Syllabus Panic? CNDLS Can Help!

This fall, we’ll be using the CNDLS blog to highlight the Teaching Commonsa compilation of resources and case studies designed to help faculty revitalize their courses and gain insights into practical issues in pedagogy at Georgetown. As a living resource, the site continually evolves to encompass new scholarship in teaching and learning, as well as technological innovations that are changing and enhancing the current teaching landscape. To help you explore all that the Commons has to offer, we’ll showcase tools and other information on a semi-weekly basis, guiding you through the semester in real time. Missed the other posts? Check out our takes on starting the semester, leading discussions, evaluating learning, designing assignments, and active learning, then hear from fellow faculty in our interview highlights.


If you’re like a lot of professors, you may be starting to experience the common malady known as syllabus panic: the fall semester is approaching fast, and you still have syllabi to write! Maybe you’re teaching something new and starting from scratch, or perhaps you’re returning to something you’ve taught before and dusting off an old syllabus that needs some revising. Either way, the work of syllabus building is (or ought to be) more than an administrative exercise—this is an opportunity to create a written first impression for your students of the excellent semester you’re hoping will follow.

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Don’t worry, CNDLS has you covered. Check out Creating Your Syllabus on the Teaching Commons for ideas on what to include and where to find other resources, including samples of Georgetown professors’ syllabi in a variety of disciplines. While you’re there, you can explore other pages to help you think through the elements of your course, from teaching assistants, classroom space, and Georgetown University policies to getting ready for potentially difficult discussions and promoting active learning.

And remember: if you need help or advice on anything related to your teaching, CNDLS is here!

Experimenting with Digital Identities: Georgetown Domains and Beyond

For almost a year, CNDLS has been working with UIS and Reclaim Hosting on Georgetown Domains, an effort to give students, faculty, and staff the opportunity to claim a web hosting environment and personal domain name free of cost. Launched this past fall, Domains is part of the larger Domain of One’s Own effort on campuses nationwide aimed at helping students understand, develop, and curate digital identities through their own website. About 250 Georgetown faculty and students are already exploring Domains, including those in the fall 2015 ITEL cohort, “Student-Centered Learning through A Domain of One’s Own.”

CNDLS has partnered with several groups on campus to work on Domains, including The Red House and GU Women Coders (GUWWC), a campus group whose mission is to demystify code, build digital literacy, and raise the odds that women will consider careers in technology. Several Domains were the result of a workshop during a March GUWWC coding party wherein CNDLS staff introduced students, faculty, and staff to the project, sharing step-by-step instructions on building their own website and using WordPress, Omeka, and a slew of other applications meant to make good use out of the university-sponsored web space. During TLISI, CNDLS reached a wider audience with the Domains and Digital Identities Lab and Showcase, a session introducing faculty and staff to three unique Domains created by Erika Bullock (COL ‘17), Nandini Mullaji (SFS ‘17), and Alex Luta (COL ‘16).

Using these events as inspiration, CNDLS hopes to find additional opportunities to support student and faculty experimentation with digital technologies like Domains. At the University of Mary Washington, this type of space exists in their Digital Knowledge Center, which provides peer tutoring on digital projects and assignments, as well as general support for systems like UMW Blogs, akin to Georgetown Commons. Working alongside other studio environments like those provided by Gelardin New Media Center, a Georgetown version of this space would allow students and faculty alike to workshop digital projects while thinking through pedagogical implications with CNDLS team members.

In the meantime, faculty interested in learning more about implementing digital tools in the classroom, including Georgetown Domains, are encouraged to visit Teaching and Learning Technologies or to reach out to CNDLS for recommendations and support. We’re here to help!