2023 Rutgers Active Learning Symposium


Event Location

Richard Weeks Hall of Engineering (Busch Campus)
RALS logo

The Rutgers Active Learning Symposium (RALS) was a day of discussions, presentations, panels, and workshops relating to various topics in active learning. The sixth edition of the annual Symposium was an opportunity for faculty and staff at Rutgers and beyond to come together to share and learn pedagogic practices in this exciting area. The 2023 RALS took place on Thursday May 18th in Richard Weeks Hall of Engineering on Rutgers-NB's Busch Campus in Piscataway, NJ.

Andrew Butler The 2023 keynote speaker was Dr. Andrew C. Butler, who joined us from Washington University in St. Louis. Dr. Butler is the chair and an associate professor in the Department of Education as well as an associate professor in the Department of Psychological & Brain Sciences. He earned a Ph.D. in cognitive psychology at Washington University in St. Louis in 2009 and completed a postdoctoral fellowship at Duke University. Dr. Butler’s research focuses on applying the science of learning to enhance educational practice with a particular emphasis on the complexity of implementation within context. He is interested in student-centered interventions that involve implementing simple but powerful principles within educational contexts to improve long-term retention, promote deeper understanding, and motivate engagement and persistence in the face of challenge. In addition, he is interested in helping teachers to acquire knowledge about how to use principles from the science of learning to improve and expand their pedagogy. Finally, he also investigates how technology can be leveraged to facilitate learning inside and outside of the classroom.

We were also thrilled to be able to highlight explorations in active learning from colleagues at Rutgers and beyond. Click through the sessions below to learn about the day's sessions. To access resources from the 2023 and past Symposia, join the Active Learning Community Canvas page.


Keynote Presentation - Creating Learning Environments that Support Student Motivation 

Andrew C. Butler

feedback-workshop Dr. Butler is the chair and an associate professor in the Department of Education as well as an associate professor in the Department of Psychological & Brain Sciences. He earned a Ph.D. in cognitive psychology at Washington University in St. Louis in 2009 and completed a postdoctoral fellowship at Duke University. Dr. Butler’s research focuses on applying the science of learning to enhance educational practice with a particular emphasis on the complexity of implementation within context. He is interested in student-centered interventions that involve implementing simple but powerful principles within educational contexts to improve long-term retention, promote deeper understanding, and motivate engagement and persistence in the face of challenge. In addition, he is interested in helping teachers to acquire knowledge about how to use principles from the science of learning to improve and expand their pedagogy. Finally, he also investigates how technology can be leveraged to facilitate learning inside and outside of the classroom.

Keynote Workshop - Providing Feedback on Assignments and Assessments: Type, Timing, and Other Considerations

Andrew C. Butler

feedback-workshop Dr. Butler is the chair and an associate professor in the Department of Education as well as an associate professor in the Department of Psychological & Brain Sciences. He earned a Ph.D. in cognitive psychology at Washington University in St. Louis in 2009 and completed a postdoctoral fellowship at Duke University. Dr. Butler’s research focuses on applying the science of learning to enhance educational practice with a particular emphasis on the complexity of implementation within context. He is interested in student-centered interventions that involve implementing simple but powerful principles within educational contexts to improve long-term retention, promote deeper understanding, and motivate engagement and persistence in the face of challenge. In addition, he is interested in helping teachers to acquire knowledge about how to use principles from the science of learning to improve and expand their pedagogy. Finally, he also investigates how technology can be leveraged to facilitate learning inside and outside of the classroom.

Choose Your Own Adventure Lecture and Discussion on Large Classroom Activities

Kessler McCoy-Simandle

workshop In this session, Kessler discussed strategies for doing active learning activities in a large classroom. The first activity was a Choose your Own Adventure lecture. This starts with group work doing a guided concept map which moves into a filled concept map with links to other lecture material and activities. Students as a whole pick the direction and order of the class. Through this example, Kessler discussed how she manages her active learning activities and the students. This includes envelopes that she made with activity materials. Kessler's class had more than eighty students, but she believes the information is applicable to much larger groups as well. Kessler showed how she classifies active learning activities and how she thinks about development of the activities to further the progression of the class. Participants saw practical examples of activities, reasoning for the activities, and organization of material for the activities.

Kessler McCoy-Simandle is a Teaching Instructor in the SEBS Biochemistry and Microbiology department currently teaching the two-semester general biochemistry sequence.  Dr. McCoy-Simandle received her PhD in Microbiology and Immunology from Northwestern University in 2012. After completing a NIH IRACDA postdoctoral fellowship at Albert Einstein College of Medicine, she worked on several DOE and NSF grants focusing on STEM education while teaching a variety of chemistry and biology classes.

Designing for Belonging: Creating Conditions for Active Learning

Pauline Carpenter

workshop Even with the best laid plans for active learning in our classrooms, learning processes can be corrupted if learners experience “belonging uncertainty." Not feeling as though you belong or matter creates barriers to engaging in active learning and the benefits it can provide. And learners who are traditionally marginalized and historically minoritized in higher education settings are more likely to encounter this phenomenon, contributing to equity gaps in educational opportunities (Walton & Cohen, 2007). So, how can we create conditions for active learning to thrive by nurturing learners’ sense of belonging? We can mitigate belonging uncertainty by designing for belonging. This session modeled strategies and interventions for building inviting and humanized learning environments that we know result in an increased sense of belonging among our learners. These design-for-belonging elements can begin before the course starts, prime learners for course engagement, and enhance learner willingness to take risks and learn from mistakes. Participants were invited to experience some of the strategies, including contributing to a “wisdom wall” to share their own successes in nurturing a sense of belonging among learners. All strategies can be implemented across course modalities.
Walton, G. M. & Cohen, G. L. (2007). A Question of Belonging. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 92 (1), 82-96.

Pauline Carpenter is an instructional design and technology specialist with the Office of Undergraduate Education in the School of Arts and Sciences. She partners with SAS instructors and colleagues to promote inclusive, equitable, and evidence-based learning across course modalities. She holds an MA in Education from McGill and a graduate certificate in Learning Design and Technology from Harvard Extension. Previously, Pauline worked to advance college teaching in various roles at Montclair State’s Instructional Technology & Design Services, Harvard’s Derek Bok Center for Teaching & Learning and Cornell’s Center for Teaching Innovation.

Developing Personalized Learning Strategies for Inclusive Teaching and Learning

Annalisa Scacchioli

workshopThis seminar described personalized learning strategies for enhancing a large-enrollment engineering course, a project sponsored by the 2022-2023 Rutgers-New Brunswick Chancellor-Provost Teaching Fellow Program. The U.S. Department of Education defines personalized learning strategies as “instruction that is paced to learning needs (i.e., individualized), tailored to learning preferences (i.e., differentiated), and tailored to the specific interests of different learners.” This presentation highlighted learning strategies implemented in engineering mechanics dynamics course. In a large-enrollment mandatory engineering course where students’ needs and background are different, it is necessary to design strategies and implement pedagogical tools that support a learning experience that is inclusive and equitable for all. This project focused on providing strategies to personalize PACE, PATH, and PALCE/TIME of the student learning experience. First, strategies to offer students some control over the pace of their learning (PACE) were shared; an area of focus in this category is how to improve course accessibility. Second, providing students with multiple paths to enhance the learning experience and to reach learning outcomes (PATH) were discussed; how to provide students with choices and opportunities of learning is one of the main areas of focus in this section. Finally, incorporating options for when, where, and how students engage with course content (PLACE/TIME) were presented; an area of focus in this category is how to offer students the flexibility of the learning experience.

By the end of this session, participants were able to: 1) Implement learning strategies to give students some control of the pace of learning; 2) Design different paths to reach learning outcomes; 3) Incorporate strategies allowing students the option on where, when, and how to engage with course content.

Annalisa Scacchioli’s background is in electrical engineering and computer science, and the focus of her research is on design, analysis, and implementation of control and optimization algorithms in transportation systems. She is also interested in research in education with a focus on student success in engineering. Her experience in teaching large-size classes in mechanics, robotics, and controls is extensive. In the classroom, she applies active learning strategies based on a systems approach aimed at fostering problem solving while focusing on foundational knowledge in engineering. At Rutgers Annalisa received the 2022-2023 Chancellor-Provost’s Teaching Fellowship, the 2021-2022 Chancellor-Provost Faculty Excellence Award for Excellence in Teaching Innovations, and the Engineering Governing Council Students’ Professor of the Year Award for two years in a row, 2020-2021 and 2021-2022.

Empowering Undergraduates in Active and Personalized Learning through Collaborative Team Projects and Authentic Research

Yanhong Jin, Cara Cuite, Gal Hochman, Sheila Tabanli, & Mary L. Wagner

workshopEngaging undergraduate students in research, both within and outside the classroom, have proven to be a highly effective way to enhance their learning experience and provide them with valuable opportunity for personal and professional growth. Actively participating in research projects not only benefits undergraduate students, but it also allows faculty to identify and recruit promising young minds to expand our own research endeavor. This panel discussion centered around four main topics to provide valuable insights and strategies for effectively engaging undergraduate students in research, including: 1) the different types and formats of undergraduate student research at Rutgers University; 2) challenges and strategies associated with engaging undergraduate in research; 3) practical tips for faculty to stay realistic and plan effectively; and 4) opportunities for collaboration within and outside of the campus. Panelists shared their experiences, successful projects, best practices, and strategies for effective mentorship and student support. Attendees gained valuable insights, strategies, and tips for engaging undergraduate students in research and fostering a supportive and inclusive research culture that nurtures the next generation of scholars and researchers.

Yanhong Jin (moderator) earned her Ph.D. in agricultural and resource economics from University of California, Berkeley. She is a professor in the Department of Agricultural, Food and Resource Economics at Rutgers University, where she conducts applied economic research with a specific focus on food, health, and the environment. She has more than 50 peered reviewed publications and presented her work at numerous conferences. She serves as an associate editor for Agricultural Economics, the journal of the International Association of Agricultural Economists. She is a devoted and nurturing mentor to students, inspiring them with her passion for research and teaching. As a Provost Teaching Fellow in 2022, Dr. Jin developed innovative team-based research projects in undergraduate teaching. These projects not only provided valuable opportunities for students to participate in the entire research process, from formulating research questions to publishing their findings, but also fostered collaborations at Rutgers and with external organizations.

Cara Cuite (panelist) is an Assistant Extension Specialist in the Department of Human Ecology at Rutgers University. Dr. Cuite is a health psychologist who studies food insecurity, as well as risk communication and public perceptions of food-related issues such as food safety and genetically engineered foods. She also studies communication about weather-related emergencies and interventions to reduce household food, energy, and water use. Her work has been funded by the National Science Foundation, the United States Department of Agriculture, and New Jersey Sea Grant. She received her Ph.D. in Psychology from Rutgers University and a B.S. in Psychology and Modern Languages from Union College. 

Gal Hochman (panelist) is a Professor at the Department of Agricultural, Food, and Resource Economics at Rutgers University. Dr. Hochman received his Ph.D. in Economics at Columbia University in 2004. Although, while coming out of his Ph.D., he focused on international trade agreements and crony capitalism, his stay at UC Berkeley introduced him to energy and agricultural biotechnology; his current focus includes issues related to development, energy, the environment, technology, and trade. Dr. Hochman is also keen on understanding the importance of policy in facilitating the transition to sustainable and resilient supply chains and an improved understanding of aquaculture technologies and their role in future food supply chains. Dr. Hochman presented his work at numerous conferences, has 58 peered-review publications, some in top journals, and has 116 publications. He is currently the Council On Agricultural Food & Resource Economics board chair.

Dr. Sheila Tabanli (panelist) is an Assistant Professor of Mathematics at Rutgers University. Her interests include developing student-centered, evidence-driven instructional strategies to improve student learning outcomes. Sheila has extensive experience designing and implementing curricula to offer inclusive learning practices. In her innovative course, she passionately teaches cognitive science based learning strategies coupled with SEL principles to empower students in order to address the Math achievement gap. As a Provost teaching fellow, she developed individualized student pathways to identify and close their success gaps. Currently, she is leading a faculty support group focused on reducing the research-to-practice gap in undergraduate teaching. 

Dr. Mary Wagner (panelist) is a clinical pharmacist and Associate professor at the Ernest Mario School of Pharmacy (EMSOP) involved in teaching, service, and scholarship. As a clinical pharmacist, she evaluates patient medication and medical history, provides medication therapy management, and performs limited physical exams. Medication therapy management includes providing advice about medication selection, dosing, drug interactions, and adverse effects via therapeutic drug monitoring, outcome assessment, and pharmacokinetic dosing analysis. Her teaching focus is the pharmacotherapy of neurologic diseases. She is co-director of the EMSOP honors research program and director of Inter-Professional Education (IPE) along with faculty from other health schools at Rutgers. She is a member of the New Jersey Interagency Council on Osteoporosis for the State of New Jersey, Department of Health. Her scholarship involves IPE, policy change related to interprofessional practice, medication use in patients with neurologic conditions, and evaluation of behavioral change models aimed at addressing lifestyle changes needed to improve chronic disease.

Ethical Scholarship Across the Disciplines: In-class Activities to Promote Academic Integrity and Develop Students’ Information Literacy

Alex Gatten, Mary Emenike, & Julia Maxwell

ethical-scholarship-workshop Academic integrity conversations on campus often seem to focus on preventing, catching, and/or disciplining cheating and ‘plagiarism’ among students. In contrast, an active learning approach to ethical scholarship - the process of critically considering the ethics of what scholarship we engage with and how—and its companion framework for information literacy disrupt this traditional disciplinary (punitive)/hierarchical mindset and instead asks students to explore how ethical scholarship affects their own worlds and contexts.

In this workshop, the leaders briefly presented the frameworks of ethical scholarship and information literacy and shared examples of in-class activities. Participants discussed how concepts from these two frameworks manifest themselves in their disciplines and adapted one framework-based activity to be used in one of their courses. Alex, Mary, and Julia also demonstrated how these concepts could be applied to any academic and/or professional discipline. Their goal was to provide instructors the tools and opportunities to use active learning practices to reframe both their own and their students’ assumptions about working with varieties of sources and voices.

Alex Gatten is an Instructional Designer in the School of Social Work and the Instructor for the Doctorate of Social Work Multimedia Project. He received his PhD in English and a Certificate in Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies at the University of Connecticut, where he also served as the Associate Director and Curriculum Designer of the First-Year Writing program. His research and specializations are in implementing principles of active learning, digital literacy, instructor development, and inclusive pedagogy both online and on the ground.

Mary Emenike is an Assistant Professor of Professional Practice in the Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology at Rutgers-New Brunswick. She is a chemistry education researcher and directs the TRIAD Coalition in the School of Arts and Sciences. She supports faculty in their course transformation efforts and collaborates on various discipline-based and STEM education research projects. She teaches an Introduction to Chemistry Education course to chemistry teaching interns pursuing a Certificate in Chemistry Education or a chemistry education minor. Mary is a founding member of Rutgers Active Learning Community. Through the Learning Assistant Alliance (LAA), she supports faculty development and adoption of the Learning Assistant Model nationally. Mary earned her BS in Chemistry from Nazareth College and her PhD in Chemistry Education Research from Miami University.

Julia Maxwell is the Social Sciences Librarian and library faculty at Rutgers Libraries – New Brunswick. She is the librarian liaison to the students, faculty, and staff of the Rutgers School of Social Work and the Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy. In her role as a liaison, Julia offers workshops, consultations, and course instruction on discipline-specific information literacy skills, consults on faculty and student research and evidence synthesis projects, and develops learning objects and tools that allow learners to gain library and information confidence. She is also part of the Libraries’ Open and Affordable Textbook Initiative team and Research Services unit. Julia’s research interests center around information self-efficacy and library-mediated learning in social science academia. Julia holds an MS in Information Science, an MA in Education Design, and a Certificate in Learner Experience Design (LXD), all from the University of Michigan.

Experiences in Flipping the Classrooms for Relatively Large Classes in Geology and Business

Bari R. Hanafi & Gabe Zenarosa

workshopThe presenters find that their students in courses in Geology (i.e., Planet Earth) and Business (i.e., Management Information Systems [MIS]) learn key concepts better when they actively engage in a Flipped Classroom compared to attending traditional in-class lectures. Planet Earth used two flipped classes and MIS is entirely flipped. In their Flipped Classrooms, students viewed and interacted with PlayPosit lecture videos as homework then they participate in the hands-on, concept-clarifying small-group activities in class (i.e., including think-pair-share/square and jigsaw). Because their class sizes are relatively large, their Flipped Classrooms with peer learning help them reach all students (directly and indirectly) who may otherwise struggle with complex concepts. Their preliminary assessments indicate their Flipped Classrooms positively impacts student learning and provide them feedback for adjusting our methods. 

In their experience, flipping classrooms is an iterative and incremental process. They require good designs and redesigns of both the recorded lectures and the follow-on collaborative activities for higher-order learning. Many versions of their lecture videos were discarded, and the acceptable versions were continuously improved—some being replaced whenever most of the content are obsolete and some are split, reassembled, and edited to avoid fatigue and retain attention using well-timed embedded prompts and questions. They will continue to record and re-record lecture videos and adjust our in-class activities as we continuously improve our teaching through updated pedagogical training and course feedback from peers and students.

Bari R. Hanafi is an Assistant Teaching Professor in the Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences at Rutgers University. He works collaboratively with other faculty to develop geoscience courses that promote student engagement and experiential learning. He is also actively exploring new ways to integrate technology into his courses to make geology courses more accessible and inclusive. 

Gabe Zenarosa (he/him) is an Assistant Professor of Professional Practice in the department of Management Science and Information Systems at Rutgers University. He is the course captain for Management Information Systems, teaching RBS students Tableau, Excel, and SQL to combine multiple datasets into visual dashboards affording informed managerial decision-making. Gabe holds an ACUE certificate in Effective College Instruction and completed the Teaching Excellence Network Course Transformation Summer Institute. Contact him via his website at https://www.business.rutgers.edu/faculty/gabriel-lopez-zenarosa.

Guiding Student Discovery

Veronica Armour

workshopThis workshop introduced participants to guided inquiry, a framework at the nexus of information and learning sciences grounded in constructivist theory for how students learn and make meaning from content. The framework is based on the research of Rutgers Professor Emeritus Carol Kuhlthau's work on the information search process.  The Information Search Process (ISP) highlights the importance for educators to recognize the cognitive and affective elements of the student search process as they work to complete an inquiry or active learning project.

Participants learned how to use the guided inquiry framework as a complement to an active learning or inquiry project; and left with a toolkit for tracking changes in student knowledge throughout the active learning or inquiry project along with strategies for implementing guided inquiry with an active learning project.

Veronica Armour is an educator and learning experience designer interested in how undergraduate students seek, use, and share information to navigate the college journey with the aim of landing their first job after graduation.  She is the Director for the Innovation, Design, & Entrepreneurship Academy at Rutgers University-New Brunswick where she also teaches part-time for the Information Technology and Informatics program at the School of Communication and Information.  Her research focuses on socio-technical networks, knowledge brokering, and university innovation spaces.  It is centered on non-academic teaching units, informal learning spaces, and innovation education to reveal insights in how actors and context collectively operate to form learning networks as part of an undergraduate student's transition from college to career. 

How to Scale the Design of Active Learning Experiences Across Course Sections

Deanna Acosta, Karen Harris, Sari Katzen, Anna Sandberg, & Lucille Leung

workshopThis workshop provided insight on the strengths and challenges of using active learning to create experiences that are well-aligned, engaging, and learner-centered across multiple sections of a course. The scalability proposed can be extended to multiple courses in a degree program. The presenters' example is the Learning Centers at Rutgers University-New Brunswick's hybrid course, Pedagogy of Peer-Led Learning (01:090:322), required for Learning Assistants (a peer leader position) to take during their first semester working. They shared their implementation of active learning design across the ten sections of the pedagogy course delivered by different instructors in Fall 2022. The discussion presented the course coordinators’ efforts to guide and motivate instructors to consistently offer active learning opportunities, and the instructors’ perspectives on developing and facilitating those experiences. Learner feedback from student evaluations on the hybrid format and how that influences decision-making by the pedagogy instructional team was also shared. Participants explored the design and facilitation of active learning in a hybrid multi-section course through a simulation of the weekly meetings held for pedagogy instructors and coordinators to improve an active learning lesson plan from the course. They also reflected on how collaborating within a community of faculty could be implemented in their own departments and programs, with the goal of incorporating active learning techniques in courses across a curriculum.  

Deanna Acosta is the Director of Integrated Academic Support Programs at the Rutgers University- New Brunswick Learning Centers. She oversees the Learning Assistant Program and co-coordinates the Pedagogy of Peer-Led Learning course. She earned her Ph.D. in Genetics from Albert Einstein College of Medicine and her B.S. in Biochemistry from Northeastern University. Deanna was first trained in pedagogy and the science of teaching and learning as an IRACDA postdoctoral scholar at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, TX. Prior to working at Rutgers, Deanna taught Biology and Anatomy & Physiology courses at Alamo Colleges in San Antonio, TX. During this time, she also led and co-organized faculty development workshops and symposia focused on implementing evidence-based active learning practices in the classroom. 

Karen Harris is a Senior Instructional Designer and Assessment Specialist with the Teaching & Learning with Technology (TLT) team at the Rutgers Division of Continuing Studies and an Adjunct Instructor. She has been working for over 20 years in the varied and evolving roles of instructional designer, curriculum specialist, and technology trainer, administrator and consultant. Her prior experience has been focused on supporting teaching, learning and professional development at Rutgers University New Jersey Medical School, Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, Kean University, Monmouth University and Columbia University. She enjoys participating in University life to the fullest by supporting interest groups such as Rutgers Group on Women in Medicine and Science, Rutgers Women in Technology, and Kean University Be the Change NJ. She has an Undergraduate Degree in Russian Area Studies from Columbia University and a Masters Degree in Computing and Education from Teachers College, Columbia University. 

Sari Katzen works as the Developmental Specialist of Training and Professional Development Programs at the Learning Centers for Rutgers-New Brunswick, which involves overseeing their Peer Leader Training Program and co-coordinating and teaches their Pedagogy of Peer-Led Learning course. She earned her M.S. in Biology from the College of Staten Island and her B.A. in Biological Sciences from Rutgers. Sari has held several positions at the Learning Centers since 2012, including an undergraduate physics Learning Assistant (LA), academic coach, and coordinator for the LA Program. She also served as an advisor for programs such as RU-FIT, a transition course for first-year international students and the SAS First-Year Retention Program (FRP). 

Anna Sandberg is the Senior Program Coordinator of Integrated Academic Support Programs at the Rutgers University-New Brunswick Learning Centers and manages the Learning Assistant Program. She has worked at the Learning Centers for over 6 years and previously served as Administrative Coordinator of the Cook/Douglass Learning Center and Learning Assistant Program. Dr. Sandberg received her Ed.D. in Education, her Ed.M. in Social and Philosophical Foundations of Education, and her B.A. in Italian and European Studies from Rutgers University. She has experience teaching several courses at the university, including the Pedagogy of Peer-Led Learning course for first semester Learning Assistants, and recently earned the Level 3 Learning Center Leadership Certification from NCLCA. 

Lucille Leung is the Assistant Director of Academic Coaching at the Learning Centers. She is currently an Ed.D Candidate at the Graduate School of Education in Education, Culture & Society. She has earned her Ed.M in Social and Philosophical Foundations of Education from the Graduate School of Education at Rutgers University, and her B.A. in Economics also at Rutgers University. In addition, she teaches Methods of Inquiry for the School of Engineering as well as a section of the pedagogy course (Pedagogy of Peer-Led Learning) required for all first-semester learning assistants. She has earned the Level 3 Learning Center Leadership Certification from NCLCA and an Academic Coaching Certification from the Association of Coaching & Tutoring Profession (ACTP).

Teaching Failure: When Imperfection Becomes the Perfect Active Learning Opportunity

David Goldman & Jenny Yang

workshopIt's natural to talk about what it would look like if things went perfectly in the classroom. But the classroom is a complicated place, and learning is a messy process. This session explored the ideas that don't work out, the gap between expectation and reality, and strategies for shifting mindsets.

In this session, participants used active-learning activities, including anonymous response cards and "bad ideas first" and "expectation vs. reality" small-group discussions, to explore their own experiences and develop strategies to persevere and work through setbacks. As they did, they also reflected on ways these strategies could be implemented in their own classrooms, to help students do the same—and unlock failure as a powerful learning opportunity.

David Goldman works with SAS instructors and teammates on the Teaching and Learning Team to cultivate and support a community of excellent teachers at Rutgers. He also coordinates assessment practices that emphasize improving student learning. David has a Ph.D. in Philosophy from UCLA and has taught at UCLA, Yale, Ohio State, and Rutgers. Before coming to Rutgers, he was Program Director for Humanities and Social Sciences at UCLA Extension, where he helped to build the UCLA Prison Education Program.

Jenny Yang is Associate Teaching Professor and Language Program Coordinator in the Department of Asian Languages and Cultures, as well as Chair of the Curriculum and Pedagogy Board of the Language Engagement Project at Rutgers. Having received her Ph.D. in Linguistics from Yale, Jenny currently teaches undergraduate courses on Chinese language and culture, and graduate seminars on teaching Chinese as a foreign language. She is passionate about innovative approaches in the language classroom, initiatives to promote language education in K-16, and strategies to advance student success in higher education and beyond. 

Ungrading: An Approach to Teaching Environmental Justice in Social Work

Christine Morales & Mariann Bischoff

workshopThis workshop described Morales and Bischoff's revamping of their Environmental Justice course in the social work program. The session explained how an “ungrading” model supports the design of the course. The session detailed various course activities, such as student-led discussions and major assignments, for example, an intervention paper that encouraged students to be innovative and think critically. The presenters enumerated non-hierarchical approaches in which students have control over the course syllabus. They also explained the application of interconnection as fundamental to environmental justice. Finally, the presenters reflected on the evaluation of the course and the immediate impacts. 

Christine Morales is an assistant professor for the Rutgers School of Social Work; she teaches undergraduate and graduate courses such as Diversity and Oppression, and Environmental Justice. Born and raised in a sacrifice zone, Christine is personally and professionally motivated to promote environmental justice. She has extensive experience working in nongovernmental organizations, providing clinical and case management services to medically needy children, resource parents, and adolescents in out-of-home care. Her management positions have given her experience in accreditation for service providers and training facilitation. Christine earned a BA in psychology at Rutgers University and an MSW from the University of Southern California. Currently, she is a doctoral candidate at the Rutgers Graduate School of Education.

Mariann Bischoff is an assistant professor and management and policy field education coordinator at Rutgers School of Social Work. Areas of interest include environmental justice, decolonization, mindfulness, and trauma. She earned her MSW at Monmouth University, concentrating in International and Community Development; her MS at Cornell University in Soil & Water Engineering and International Development, where she completed research in the Middle East examining the interconnections between water use and gender relations. Previous positions include Clinical Supervisor at Catholic Charities, Clinical Case Manager at Carrier Clinic, Executive Director of Meals on Wheels of Greater New Brunswick and at Ford Motor Company, Finance Coordinator, Human Resources Associate, and Quality Engineer. At Ford, Mariann received hands-on leadership training as part of the Manufacturing Leadership Program. She applies to social work the formal analytical disciplines of systems, root cause, and risk analysis. Mariann practices mindfulness and interbeing in the tradition of Thich Nhat Hanh.

Using Primary Literature to Teach Principles of Environmental Microbiology

Abigail Porter

This talk described the transformation of a 400-level undergraduate course.  Two approaches were used to replace lecture content with active learning and discussions of primary literature.  In one exercise, students were divided into groups, and each group was assigned a different research article to read as homework. During class, the students discussed the reading within their group and developed a study guide based on their reading. Next, the groups were recombined, and students were asked to explain the highlights of their journal articles to the other group members. The second activity used social annotation to facilitate an asynchronous discussion of primary literature.  Using a Canvas-based tool, students could directly comment in the margins of a journal article with the summary of a figure and pose questions about the content. These activities are examples of interventions that can be used to include primary literature in the classroom.

Abigail W. Porter, Ph.D. of the department of Environmental Sciences within the School of Environmental and Biological Sciences, has a B.S. in Biotechnology from Rutgers University and a Ph.D. in Microbiology from Cornell University. She is an Assistant Teaching Professor in the Department of Environmental Sciences at Rutgers University. She teaches lab and lecture-based courses in microbiology for Environmental Science majors. In addition, she is an instructor for Introduction to Environmental Science, an online course for non-majors.