Seminars for Excellence in Teaching – Spring 2014

2013-14 Seminars for Excellence in Teaching 

Since 2008, the Academy for Teaching and Learning has hosted a series of one-hour Seminars for Excellence in Teaching (SET) to help colleagues meet the historic expectations of excellence in teaching at Baylor. For new Teachers of Record (TOR), the SET satisfy SACS requirements for professional development in teaching. For more experienced TOR, SET facilitate the sharing of ideas and insights about teaching and learning today and encourages participants to renew their commitments to inspirational teaching.

Seminars are limited to 20 participants. All faculty members and graduate students, even those not serving as TOR, are invited to register for SET. Please see the schedule below for topics, dates, and times.

To register for a SET, please follow the link after each description and register through POD. Participants are selected on a first-come, first-served basis. For questions, contact the ATL at or by phone at (254) 710-4064. If you are from the nursing school or another Baylor program outside Waco, let us know in advance of your interest in a particular seminar, and we may be able to accommodate you.


SETs for Spring 2014:


THURSDAY, JANUARY 30 | 3:00-4:00 PM


Often, students express their dissatisfaction with the “relevance” of what they are learning in the classroom, bemoaning the seeming distance between their own lives and the intricacies of a traditional discipline. As instructors, we want our students to see the vitality of our disciplines as vividly as we do. One method of doing so, documented and supported by a number of pedagogy theorists, has been the skillful use of popular culture in the classroom as a point of entry into more academic disciplinary training. While this session will be most beneficial to humanities instructors, its focus on the benefits and pitfalls of using popular culture will explore the use of such a method as a way of making the educational experience relevant to students’ lives in a dynamic way.

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TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 18 | 3:00-4:00 PM

EVIDENCE-BASED CLASSROOM ASSESSMENT - A. Alexander Beaujean (Educational Psychology; Director, Baylor Psychometric Laboratory)

Assessment is a central and inescapable aspect of living in the 21st century, especially for those who are part of educational institutions. The ubiquitous use of assessment, however, does not mean that it is always valued or done in manner consistent with the best practices. This session will introduce an approach to educational assessment that uses research and theory to guide the assessment process. Attendees will (a) learn some benefits of using classroom assessments, (b) learn some evidence-based methods for constructing objective classroom assessments, and (c) learn some evidence-based methods for scoring subjective classroom assessments.

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In this SET, Dr. Holleyman will address two difficulties teachers often face: bringing a text to life in the classroom and engaging students in larger classes.  He’ll describe his approach to the content, or text, of the course, with a focus on selection and asking questions.  As he explains, engaging the audience often means engaging a few students in an exchange that others in the room want to “listen in” on.  Students can engage deeply with what they overhear if it is interesting and relevant.

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This seminar will explore ways to reenergize your teaching and revive student engagement during the middle weeks of the course.

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THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 27 | 1:00-2:00 PM

ADVISING THE HONORS THESIS - Albert Beck (Admissions & Advisement Coordinator, Honors Program)

Advising the undergraduate thesis can sometimes feel mysterious and challenging, though it need not.  Dr. Beck will outline an approach to the process, addressing issues such as the role of the advisor in generating project ideas, establishing high academic standards, creating acceptable timelines, and communicating clearly with students.

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TUESDAY, MARCH 4 | 2:00-3:00 PM


Microsoft PowerPoint and other presentation software programs have become a ubiquitous part of the modern college classroom, so much so that most students expect to see such visuals as support for any lecture. While PowerPoint presentations can greatly enhance the learning environment and increase both student attention and retention, it is also all to easy to fall back on them as a crutch. This presentation will explore some of the beneficial uses of PowerPoint presentations in the classroom and some tricks for making those presentations both more visually dynamic and intellectually engaging.

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THURSDAY, MARCH 20 | 12:15-1:15 PM

MATCHING TOOLS TO GOALS WITH TECHNOLOGY-ENHANCED LEARNING – Jim Heston (Coordinator of Academic Technology, School of Social Work)

Too often a new technology is recommended as a way to improve instruction without enough consideration as to whether it addresses an actual problem for your class. In this session, we’ll not only look at a variety of technologies including BlackBoard Collaborate, Cisco/Jabber, Prezi, YouTube, ZamZar, QuickTime Player, but, more importantly, we’ll look at designing a lesson pulling ideas from backward as well as flipped and hybrid classes in order to analyze needs and match them with the best technological tools.

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More Resources:

*“Engaging the Future of Higher Education,” a report by the Teaching, Learning & Technology Committee, 2013

TECH4Social, the Baylor School of Social Work technology website


TUESDAY, MARCH 25 | 3:00-4:00 PM

TRANSITIONING FROM STUDENT TO TEACHER - Courtney Lyons (Religion; Assistant Director of Student Success) and David Echelbarger (Philosophy)

Courtney Lyons (Religion; Assistant Director of Student Success) and David Echelbarger (Philosophy) will offer strategies for the Teaching Assistant to cope with his/her workload and adjust to being the authority figure in a college class.

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TUESDAY, APRIL 15 | 3:00-4:00 PM

CONTEMPLATION IN THE CLASSROOM   - Blake Burleson (Associate Dean for Undergraduate Studies, College of Arts and Sciences)

Faculty members at private and public universities are experimenting with contemplative pedagogies that help students cultivate inner resources of spirit so they might better engage the grand challenges of the day with clarity about their own commitments and values while, at the same time, developing the capacity to listen empathically to themselves and to others.  I have found that contemplative practices in the classroom provide an opportunity for students to develop interiority of character, conscience, and values.  These outcomes are consistent with the comprehensive guide to essential learning outcomes for all collegiate institutions published in 2007 by the Association of American Colleges and Universities.  Included in the guide are the intellectual and practical skills such as “inquiry and analysis,” “critical and creative thinking,” and “written and oral communication.”  In addition to these traditional skills, the learning outcomes included “soft skills” that enable individuals to contribute to society and the environment, such as “personal and social responsibility, “ethical reasoning and action,” “collaborative skills,” and “intercultural literacy.”  “In a democracy that is diverse, globally engaged, and dependent on citizen responsibility, all students need an informed concern for the larger good because nothing less will renew our fractured and diminished commons.”  Clearly, the developments of these “soft skills” are interior accomplishments which may be cultivated in the classroom through the engaged technologies of contemplation.

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WEDNESDAY, APRIL 23 | 3:00-4:00 PM

HOME IS GOOD AND ABROAD IS BETTER: STUDY ABROAD MODELS AND OUTCOMES Laine Scales (Higher Education; Associate Dean for Graduate Studies and Professional Development) and Jennifer Good (Modern Foreign Languages; Associate Director, University Scholars, Honors College)

Baylor University and other Institutions of Higher Learning encourage study abroad for their students. What about faculty? In this SET we will outline models of study abroad from a faculty perspective and discuss the outcomes you can expect from organizing, directing and participating in study abroad experiences with students.

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