Inclusive Pedagogy Series Brings Faculty Together in Learner-Centered Conversation

This fall, CNDLS is excited to launch the Inclusive Pedagogy Series, a set of workshops and discussions focused on bringing inclusive pedagogy to the forefront of teaching and learning at Georgetown.

Drawing on the work of Doyle and Engelhard, these workshops invite faculty to discuss issues of teaching and learning through the lens of inclusive pedagogy. As a “learner-centered” approach, inclusive pedagogy frames our classrooms as spaces where all students should be equally valued, invited, included, and honored—an effort made possible through the work and intention of both faculty and students. The workshops and discussions planned for this fall cover a range of topics and are meant to engage faculty in conversation on these issues as they share experiences, tips, and perspectives.

The series kicked off with “Trigger Warnings: Beyond the Buzz” on October 6. Co-facilitated by Ohnona (CNDLS, Women’s & Gender Studies) and David Ebenbach (CNDLS, Center for Jewish Civilization), the conversation focused on the role of faculty in supporting student learning and well-being. Across the country, there is a growing awareness that learning experiences can sometimes directly interact with past life trauma and we as educators want to find ways to support students through the learning process. At Georgetown, this conversation was foregrounded by the recent results of the Sexual Assault Climate Survey, which indicates that sexual assault is an issue of critical concern on our campus.

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Beyond Busywork: Designing Assignments that Work

This fall, we’re using the CNDLS blog to highlight the Teaching Commons, a 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, and active learning, then hear from fellow faculty in our interview highlights.


Assignments—papers, projects, tests, performances—are crucial opportunities for students to practice the skills and test out the knowledge they’re gaining in your courses, but are your assignments fostering the kind of student work you were hoping to see? Are they helping you reach your goals for students and for the course as a whole? With these questions (and others) in mind, we recently added Assignment Design to the Teaching Commons and we hope it can help you think about what goes into designing a really productive assignment. The page talks about learning goals and reinforcing learning, articulating good instructions and assessing the work that comes in, and shares several examples—everything from a take-home exam to an iterative design project— from faculty from across the university, including Sherry Linkon (English), Joshua Meredith (SCS), Deb Sivigny (Performing Arts), Ernesto Vasquez del Aguila (Anthropology), and Sabrina Wesley-Nero (EDIJ). Check it out!

As always, let us know how else we can help!

Terrorism, Dante, and Global Business: GeorgetownX (re)Launches Three MOOCs

It’s been a busy season for online course development at CNDLS.

Over the past month, GeorgetownX (GUx) has launched three MOOCs, each one unique in what it brings to online learning at Georgetown. The first of these is Terrorism and Counterterrorism, led by Daniel Byman (SFS), which is in its third iteration and has netted 15,000 registrations since its last run. First launched in October 2014 as an 8-week, instructor-led course, Terrorism and Counterterrorism is now offered as two separate courses on edX: the original full-length version running seven weeks and an abbreviated three-week introduction to the topic. A third, campus-only version of the course was offered this past summer through the edX Edge platform, which allows institutions to develop SPOCs—small private online courses—rather than MOOCs.

The biggest shift in this iteration is the move to a self-paced structure in which students have five months to complete seven sections of coursework. Allowing students to set the pace of their learning isn’t new for GUx—in fact, half of its courses are self-paced—but recent research informed a few changes to course activities aimed at supporting student capacity to plan, monitor, and assess their own understanding and performance. In order to help students judge whether they’re learning in a sustainable way, the MOOC team introduced two modifications: a list of learning goals for each unit alongside a prompt encouraging students to reflect on their progress, as well as refresher questions at the end of each section. In both cases, the goal is to reinforce and assess what students have retained, helping them determine their progress.

Filming for the original launch of Terrorism and Counterterrorism in 2013.

Filming for the original launch of Terrorism and Counterterrorism in 2013.

In its second iteration is The Divine Comedy: Dante’s Journey to Freedom, Part 2, the second in a series of three MOOCs led by Frank Ambrosio (Philosophy) that follow the Dante Alighieri epic. Unlike most GUx MOOCs, the Divine Comedy courses use their own unique platform—MyDante—created specifically for the series. We wrote about the contemplative reading theory behind MyDante and the MOOCs on the edX blog in March, but a few learning design changes are particular to this course, including the addition of new assessment questions and an updated peer assessment rubric that more closely examines students’ use of three specific types of reading. In addition, students now have access to the week-by-week schedules for Inferno and Paradiso—the first and third courses—allowing them to go through the entire series.

Our newest course, Global Business in Practice (GBiP), won’t launch until October 25, but there’s already quite a bit to share—so much so, in fact, that we dedicated our last blog post to it. Created to preserve and digitize the signature lecture series for Global Business Experience (GBE), a foundational course in the Georgetown MBA program, GBiP is the first GUx MOOC tied directly to graduate curriculum at the university. Georgetown students enrolled in GBE will participate in an exclusive version of GBiP that constitutes one credit of the 4.5 credit course. Students enrolled through edX will participate in a modified version of the lecture series, alongside assessment and discussion exercises. Another first for Georgetown is a series of radio spots with instructor Ricardo Ernst (MSB) that will run in tandem with the MOOC, exploring in more depth some of the real-world implications of business practices covered in the course.

Interest piqued? For more information about these and upcoming MOOCs—or to register for free—visit the Georgetown course page on edX. Faculty interested in learning more about online course development can visit GeorgetownX on the CNDLS site and send any additional questions to cndls@georgetown.edu.

Rethinking Residential Teaching and Learning: Global Business Experience Goes Hybrid

This fall, the Global Business Initiative goes even more global.

CNDLS and the McDonough School of Business have partnered to create online course content for Global Business Experience (GBE), a foundational course for second-year Georgetown MBA students. Taught by Ricardo Ernst, Director of the Global Business Initiative, and various faculty from the areas of strategy, operations, and finance, the GBE is a 4.5 credit course that responds to the question “What does it mean to be a global leader?” by pairing students with multinational organizations on a consulting project, giving them the opportunity to apply their learning to real-world contexts.

Featuring signature GBE lectures and interviews with leading executives from the world of global business, this “Global Business in Practice” lecture series will be offered in slightly differing formats to two different audiences. In its MOOC format, an abbreviated version of the lecture series will be open to learners around the world through the edX platform, introducing some of the questions that drive studies in global business using lecture videos, poll questions, discussions, and peer assessment exercises. An extended version of the online course available exclusively to MSB students will include additional material that will provide students with a reflective framework for their coming consulting work and equal one credit hour—equivalent to and a direct replacement for the lecture series.

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Teach Responsively: Hear from Students with a Mid-Semester Group Feedback Session

How are your classes going? The middle of the semester, while there’s still time to make adjustments, is a great time to ask that question, but we know finding the answer might be difficult. Luckily, CNDLS is here to help.

assessment cartoon

As part of our assessment work, CNDLS offers Mid-Semester Group Feedback sessions—otherwise known as MSGFs—to any and all interested faculty. As part of an MSGF, you can meet with one of our seasoned teachers to formulate questions specific to your course, and then we spend a session meeting with your students to get their impressions, thoughts, and suggestions. With student feedback in hand, we meet with you again to discuss what we’ve learned and develop ways to implement changes in the classroom. This is a great way to get some feedback on the course mid-stream, giving you a chance to not only listen to student concerns but also respond in ways that make the classroom a more productive space for everyone. In addition, none of this information is ever shared with anybody but you—for any reason whatsoever—so it’s designed purely to support your teaching.

If this sounds promising to you, don’t hesitate to reach out and ask us about scheduling an MSGF. Set on assessment but interested in something else? Ask us about any other area where we might be able to help!

Work Starting to Pile Up? Here’s a Little Help with Responding to Student Work

This fall, we’re using the CNDLS blog to highlight the Teaching Commons, a 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, designing assignments, and active learning, then hear from fellow faculty in our interview highlights.


By now the dynamic of the semester is probably shifting. At the start, you prepared students to do interesting work; now, they’ve started doing it. This can be a wonderful thing, watching students engage actively with class material, but it does mean that you’ve probably got new (and considerable) work of your own: evaluating, responding, and grading. Luckily, there’s no need to start tearing your hair out—you’re not alone.

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On our Teaching Commons, Evaluating Student Learning connects you to a wealth of strategies (from informal to formal, formative to summative) to make sure your students are learning what you’re hoping they’ll learn, Responding to Student Writing offers tips and best practices for how to make your feedback focused and productive (be sure to check out the video of Georgetown professor Matthew Pavesich on getting the most out of student peer review), and Grading can help you think through efficient and fair assessment. We hope you’ll leave with enough ideas to keep the semester from becoming a slog.

As always, let us know how else we can help!

(We can’t do your grading for you, but we’re always happy to talk.)

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!