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Speaker Abstracts



Technology: Its Potential Impact On The National Need To Improve Educational Outcomes And Control Costs
William G. Bowen

The first part of the talk will focus on the extent to which we are falling short of meeting the national need to improve educational outcomes (completion rates, time-to-degree, and disparities in outcomes tied to SES) and control costs.  The second part will discuss opportunities to do better and how technology, rightly viewed, can help; there will also be a discussion regarding barriers that stand in the way of progress.  The final part will focus on the need to re-think aspects of “shared governance.”



Meaning Versus Utility: Balancing the Demands of an Age-Old Dilemma
Ruth Simmons, President Emerita and Professor of Africana Studies, Brown University
I want to speak about the urgent task of University boards, administrators and faculty to support broad innovation and research in universities in the context of a universe that lists understandably in the direction of science and technology.  How can we ensure that the traditional role of universities to further the advancement of all areas worthy of scholarly inquiry remains a dominant aim of the university of the future?


The Engaged University: More Connected, More Diverse, More Responsive
Nancy Cantor, Rutgers University-Newark
We live in a time when advances in technology have precipitated an increasingly “flat world,” defined by more connectedness – economic, social, geographical – and more opportunities for distributed learning.  Yet, at the same time, the evolution of the research university has progressed toward more place-based connections, emphasizing the role of universities as anchor institutions promoting social mobility and innovation.  More than 150 years ago, the Morrill Act created “democracy’s colleges” to connect public universities to their agrarian communities. Today’s increasingly urbanizing world invites both private and public institutions alike to reach more of the increasingly diverse next generation of talent in the fastest growing metropolitan centers, and to partner to meet the challenges of failing schools, degraded environments, economic and health disparities, that hold back progress.  These “geographies of opportunity” provide an exciting landscape for anchor institutions to become more diverse and more responsive, even as this local connectivity resonates globally.


Minerva:  A New Kind of Higher Education
Stephen M. Kosslyn, Dean, Minerva Schools of Arts and Sciences
Minerva is a new approach to higher education. In this talk, I focus on key aspects of the Minerva program. First, the entire curriculum is designed to help students master three core competencies: critical thinking, creative thinking, and effective communication. Second, all of our courses are “fully active learning” seminars; these seminars are designed in accordance with the science of learning, which helps students easily absorb and apply the material. Third, we use technology in novel ways to teach. The Minerva Active Learning Forum software allows us to teach effectively and to collect data that help students to learn effectively. All of our seminars are face-to-face, in real time, have a professor guiding the class, and are delivered over the computer. Fourth, we also recognize that college is more than classwork: Students live together in Minerva residential halls, which allows them to have a full social life as well as to engage in co-curricular and extra-curricular activities. All students live in San Francisco during their first year, but then live in other cities around the world during subsequent years. We treat each city as a campus, and make use of its resources in our curriculum and in other aspects of student life.


Applying Principles from Cognitive Psychology to Improve Education: 
Retrieval and Enhanced Learning

Henry L. Roediger, III, James S. McDonnell Distinguished University Professor of Psychology
Cognitive psychologists have a long tradition of research about human learning and memory, yet their findings have rarely penetrated educational practice. I will present one attempt to change this state of affairs by reporting on a program of research about the benefits of retrieval practice through quizzing as an aid to learning. Testing or quizzing is a practice usually considered only to measure what a student knows, but experimental research shows that retrieving information helps to stabilize the knowledge and make it easier to recall on future attempts. My presentation will provide evidence advancing from laboratory experiments to field experiments in classrooms showing how frequent quizzing can improve educational outcomes. If adopted, retrieval-enhanced learning may have far-reaching implications for education at all levels.


Reinventing Education
Anant Agarwal, Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, MIT and President, edX
Digital technology has transformed countless areas of life from healthcare to workplace productivity to entertainment and publishing.  But education hasn’t changed a whole lot.  EdX is a non-profit MOOC (massive open online course) initiative that aspires to reinvent education through online learning based on an open source platform.  EdX’s mission is to dramatically increase access to education for students worldwide through MOOCs, while substantially enhancing campus education in both quality and efficiency through blended online approaches.

This talk will provide an overview of MOOCs and edX, and share student stories that reveal how they are gaining increased access to education worldwide. The talk will also discuss where MOOC technologies are headed, and how they can enhance campus education. Finally, the talk will provide some recent research results that will allow us to improve education online and on campus, and discuss how MOOCs might evolve in the future.


The Online Revolution: Education for Everyone
Daphne Koller, Coursera President and Co-Founder
We are in the midst of a major transformation in higher education.  In the past two years, we have seen the advent of MOOCs - massively open online classes (MOOCs) - top-quality courses from the best universities offered for free.  These courses exploit technology to provide a real course experience to students, including video content, interactive exercises with meaningful feedback, using both auto-grading and peer-grading, and rich peer-to-peer interaction around the course materials.  We now see MOOCs from dozens of top universities, in multiple countries, offering courses to millions of learners from every country in the world.  The courses range from college gateway courses all the way through graduate courses, and span a diversity of topics including computer science, business, medicine, science, humanities, social sciences, and more.  In this talk, I'll discuss this far-reaching transformation in education, including some examples of the innovative pedagogy that it enables. I’ll also include analytics on learner demographics, and examples of impact.  I'll discuss how this model can support an improved learning experience for on-campus students, via blended learning, and provide unprecedented access to education to millions of students around the world.


MOOC Balance of Trade:  Where are the Importers?
Kevin M. Guthrie, President, ITHAKA/JSTOR

If one thinks of the opportunities to take courses online as a marketplace, there are producers and consumers, exporters and importers.  Engagement also happens between businesses/universities and individuals (B-to-C) and between and among businesses/ universities (B-to-B). With MOOCs, attention has been almost exclusively focused on the producer/exporter side of the B-to-C market – the faculty who teach a MOOC, or a university that supports faculty in offering MOOCs, to tens of thousands of students.  This presentation will focus on the consumption side of the B-to-B marketplace, where one might imagine institutions using content and tools produced outside the university to teach courses to registered, credit-seeking students more effectively and more efficiently.  It will consider briefly the potential impact on learning outcomes and costs, but will focus mostly on the barriers to adoption of this approach at colleges and universities.


From Cobblers to Cooperators: Sharing a Researched Future
Researched-Based Educational Resources Must be Widely Shared
David Pritchard, Cecil and Ida Green Professor of Physics, MIT

Authoritative recent reports on education from the National Research Council (Discipline-Based Educational Research, and Adapting to a Changing World--Challenges and Opportunities in Undergraduate Physics Education) strongly urge the use of research-based educational resources. Yet despite the National Science Digital Library, (both no longer funded by the NSF),, numerous “how to” books, and individual researchers’ web sites, most teachers base their courses on a mix of old course materials and problems, possibly joined with commercial online homework systems (developed by the speaker and his son) and which contain traditional homework and concept questions.  These systems, used by ~ 2/3 million physics students, have crossed the barrier of widespread adoption: teachers assign problems selected from a trusted vetted library, these are actively graded in real time, and recorded in a gradebook.  I will discuss my vision of how crowd-sourcing, education research, data mining, and psychometrics can produce an open, assignable library of cataloged research-based educational resources that teachers will trust and assign for the benefit of themselves and their students.



The Critique Model
Karim Al-Zand

Whether an instructor works with students individually or within a group “workshop” setting, an effective critique requires a unique set of pedagogical strategies and techniques. This presentation uses as its basis, my own experience as a studio teacher of musical composition to offer a few observations, several helpful approaches, and some potential pitfalls within the critique model. Creative work is especially challenging to critique constructively, since it naturally involves an element of personal expression and notions of artistic “voice”—not to mention tricky questions of aesthetics. Throughout the talk, commentary on a hypothetical student composition will help to illustrate and clarify didactic concepts and their implementation.


Teaching with Clickers
Derek Bruff
Classroom response systems (“clickers”) are technologies that enable teachers to rapidly collect and analyze student responses to multiple-choice questions during class.  In this demonstration, you’ll play the role of a student in an introductory statistics course and experience how clickers can be used to surface and resolve student misconceptions, facilitate peer-to-peer learning, and structure and motivated engaged class discussions.


Reassessing Assessment:  The new tools and teaching techniques that put learning at the center (and technology behind the scenes)
Paul Corey

We have arguably seen more change in higher education in the early years of the 21st century than in the prior century's entirety. One needn't enumerate the "headline grabbing" themes, technological advances, and pedagogical innovations that have been among the agents of change in higher education, if for no other reason than they have, in fact, grabbed headlines.  Amid all the change, and the scrutiny it brings, many educators are taking a hard look at the role, purpose and means of assessment.  This session explores and demonstrates assessment in the context of some of the new tools and teaching techniques that are helping make assessment as much a learning event as a ranking or grading event. 


Teaching Quantitative Methods to Social Science Undergraduates with a Flipped Classroom
Justin Esarey
Quantitative analysis is at the heart of social scientific research, but our undergraduate majors typically have a limited background in these subjects and have no desire to expand that knowledge. This situation creates a pedagogical challenge: how do we give our students the tools they need to critically engage with substantive debates that use statistical evidence? The flipped classroom can help students with a limited background learn at their own pace and opens up class time for additional problem solving and discussion. As an illustrative example, in my demonstration I will teach the concepts of sampling variation and the central limit theorem and why they matter for social scientific inquiry with a flipped approach assuming minimal mathematical and statistical background.


Teaching in the Humanities: a Discipline Without Right Answers
Dennis Huston
In the Humanities there are certainly wrong answers to the kinds of questions we confront, but those questions also can have a number of different right answers.  In this lecture I will compare two radically different movie versions of 'Romeo and Juliet' that interpret the play in radically different——but equally convincing——ways.


Implementing Constructivism in General Chemistry
John Hutchinson

Many approaches have been developed to implement active learning in Chemistry classrooms, many approaches have been developed to implement inquiry learning in Chemistry laboratories.  Constructivism tells us that we should implement inquiry learning in the classroom as well.  The questions then are, what should we inquire about and how should we conduct the inquiry?  To implement constructivist, inquiry learning in General Chemistry, we have developed a series of Concept Development Studies, each of which leads from experimental data through scientific reasoning to the creation of a fundamental concept in Chemistry.  These modules thus develop critical scientific reasoning skills and a deeper foundational understanding of concepts.  They also complement, support and facilitate active learning methods in the classroom, including Socratic dialog.  We will illustrate this approach by analyzing and discussing a set of observations which demonstrate the dynamic nature of phase equilibrium.



Beyond Surface Learning: Teaching with Clickers to Motivate and Engage Students
Derek Bruff
Classroom response systems (“clickers”) are technologies that enable teachers to rapidly collect and analyze student responses to multiple-choice questions during class.  Although clickers can be used to ask students the kinds of multiple-choice questions you might put on a test, other kinds of questions can often promote deeper learning.  In this workshop, we’ll explore ways to craft clicker questions that help students to engage more meaningfully with course content, including questions designed to address student misconceptions, surface student opinions and experiences, and foster critical thinking skills.  We’ll also discuss strategies for leading class discussions using clicker questions that frame and motivate those discussions.


Learning Catalytics:  A cloud-based platform for personalized and interactive teaching
Brian Lukoff

Peer instruction and other interactive teaching methods have been shown to dramatically improve conceptual understanding.  While no technology is necessary to take advantage of these teaching methods, technology can enable the instructor to better apprehend student understanding, personalize and customize the classroom for each student, and facilitate more productive student discussions in the classroom.  This workshop will build on Paul Corey's teaching demonstration to introduce Learning Catalytics, a cloud-based platform for interactive teaching that allows students to use web-enabled devices—laptops, smartphones, and tablets—to engage in rich, authentic tasks in class and allows instructors to go beyond clickers and other response systems to create an interactive environment that integrates assessment with learning. For this workshop, please bring your electronic device that connects to the internet.


Illusions of Learning:  Why Teachers and Students Often Use Ineffective Techniques
Roddy Roediger
Educators often suggest that the task of learning should be placed in the hands of students. They would then move forward at their own pace, mastering one subject and turning to another. This noble sentiment assumes that students are in touch with their own cognitive processes and know best how to learn and study. Unfortunately, this assumption often appears unfounded. In experiments in which students are given choices among ways to study information, they often pick the ineffective strategies (as shown by research outcomes). Curiously, even when students use two strategies and experience for themselves that using one leads to better learning outcomes than another, they still pick the less effective one when asked to learn something new. The workshop will discuss some of the most common illusions of learning to which students fall prey as well as some possible solutions.


Successful Implementation of Project- and Problem-Based Learning Courses
Ann Saterbak

Structuring a class around students tackling complex problems or creating novel solutions reorients faculty instruction and student learning. In this workshop, participants will learn about problem-based learning (PBL), a teaching method in which student teams tackle authentic unsolved challenges in their discipline, and project-based learning (PjBL), a similar pedagogical method in which students create solutions to client-driven challenges. Practical tips for implementing PBL and PjBL courses will be included, such as how to evaluate individual contributions on a student team, how to properly scope projects, grading strategies, and working with clients. In addition to learning about courses at Rice University in engineering and other disciplines that incorporate PBL and PjBL, workshop participants will have time to brainstorm possible problems and projects in their field, appropriate for their own courses.


Leveraging Lessons from a MOOC in a Flipped Classroom
Joe D. Warren

MOOCs and flipped classrooms share the common feature that much of the class materials is available online to the students. In this talk, we will present several ideas for enhancing the effectiveness of a flipped classroom using lessons learned from teaching a MOOC on a similar topic.



Transforming Students into Effective Communicators
Tracy Volz & Jennifer Wilson
Whether students are giving traditional platform presentations, recording podcasts, or presenting digital posters, two communication competencies are necessary:  organizing the message in a way the audience can follow and delivering the message in a dynamic manner.  Using an activity-based approach, this workshop will provide participants with concrete strategies for teaching and assessing both competencies.


Teaching Naked and Flipping: How Technology is Changing the Campus Classroom
José Antonio Bowen
The greatest value of a physical university remains its face-to-face (naked) interaction between faculty and students. The most important benefits to using technology occur outside of the classroom. Students already connect on social media and find content online, but new technology and more robust interactions with material before class can increase student preparation and engagement. This creates more class time for the activities and interactions that most spark the critical thinking and change of mental models we seek, and make the campus experience worth the extra money it will always cost to deliver.


The Science of Learning and Why It Matters
Josh Eyler
Recent intersections between cognitive neuroscience and educational research have yielded important findings about the ways in which students learn most effectively.  This interactive workshop explores the biology of learning and its significance for our students, our classrooms, and our pedagogical innovations.



On the Clock: Small Interventions to Maximize Student Learning in the Classroom
James M. Lang
Ongoing calls to revolutionize and revitalize higher education need balancing with the everyday work that many faculty do in educating their students in traditional classroom spaces.  A small number of key principles from the learning sciences seem to have the power to make a powerful impact on student learning in almost any type of course, from traditional lectures to flipped classrooms.  This workshop will introduce some of those principles, drawing from recent publications in the learning sciences, and focus especially on how to use the "edges" of the class period--the opening and closing minutes--to provide powerful learning experiences for students.


What Should They Learn, and How Will We Know? 
David Pritchard, Cecil and Ida Green Professor of Physics, MIT

Before investing in new technologies and other new approaches for helping students learn, we have to decide what we want them to learn – both at college and from our course.  We shall start with our survey of 400 teachers and 300 students on what they want to teach or learn besides the syllabus topics (it’s glaringly different).  Then groups of participants will read and discuss opinions on what students should learn from various sources: Next Generation Science Standards, Partnership for 21t Century Skills, an article by an education researcher I respect, or your favorite paper. Then we’ll concentrate on what really drives student learning – the assessments!  First I’ll give an examples of evidence that a course I teach seems to impart expertise; then we’ll discuss how the previously discussed sources propose to assess their programs, and what we ourselves might accept as valid evidence that students have learned what we intend.  Hopefully our discussions will give us all ideas about how we can better assess what we really want students to learn.


DeLange Conference Home Rice University September 17, 2014