SoTE 6 Keynote & Plenary Speakers

Jenny Shanahan

Keynote Address: Dr. Jenny Shanahan

Keynote Title: Inspiring Student Inquiry in Courses that Matter: The Case for Undergraduate Scholarship Across the Curriculum

Keynote Abstract:

Undergraduate scholarship is a high-impact practice that sparks students' interest in learning and inspires creativity and independent thought. Research shows compelling benefits of participating in scholarly work for students across demographic groups and disciplines—and even higher gains for women, first-generation, and minority students. Yet undergraduate scholarship opportunities are often optional and highly selective, missing the very students who could benefit most from them. The primary reasons for its exclusivity are its high costs, especially in terms of faculty workload, and persistent beliefs that not all undergraduate students—and not all disciplines—are suited for conducting research and creative scholarship.

Integrating undergraduate scholarship in the curriculum effectively addresses these concerns and provides all students with more equitable access to its benefits. Disciplinarily appropriate, inquiry-driven assignments can be "scaffolded" throughout the curriculum, intentionally building students' creative and critical thinking, analytical skills, and oral and written communication. Such an approach also ensures that mentoring undergraduates in scholarly work counts in faculty teaching load. This address provides practical ideas for individual faculty to create inquiry-based assignments and courses, as well as offers guidelines for departmental conversations about curriculum mapping and design, with the particular aim of building scholarly experiences throughout an undergraduate program. It identifies the introductory research skills students need early in their college career, in first-year and general-education courses; explains how students develop those skills for disciplinary scholarship in content-rich and methods courses in the major; and shows how those skills come to fruition in advanced courses and capstones. A redesigned curriculum of integrated scholarly opportunities has been shown to increase student achievement and excitement about one's field of study, as well as better prepare students for post-college demands.

Dr. Shanahan's Bio: 

Jenny Shanahan is Director of Undergraduate Research at Bridgewater State University in Massachusetts, where she oversees student grants for semester and summer projects and travel to conferences, two annual campus symposia of several hundred students' research, and annual publication of The Undergraduate Review: A Journal of Student Research and Creative Work. In her previous position as Associate Professor of English and Director of the Honors Program at St. Mary's University of Minnesota, Dr. Shanahan taught writing, American literature, and Great Books courses and mentored students conducting senior theses and research-based internships.

Dr. Shanahan wrote the curriculum for the Council on Undergraduate Research (CUR) Institute on Creative Inquiry and Undergraduate Research in the Arts and Humanities; she has facilitated over a dozen CUR Institutes for faculty in the sciences, mathematics, and social sciences; and she is a CUR Councilor in the Undergraduate Research Program Directors (URPD) Division. Dr. Shanahan is co-editor of the CUR publication, Models of Undergraduate Research, Scholarship, and Creativity in the Arts and Humanities, and wrote chapters for two other CUR books: on integrating research in the curriculum and on administering an undergraduate research program.

Dr. Shanahan earned a Ph.D. in Literature from Marquette University, with a focus on Multi-Ethnic Literatures of the United States, particularly Chicana/o and African American literary traditions. Her scholarship of teaching and learning is particularly focused on high-impact practices for first-generation and underrepresented college students.

Susan Larson Plenary Address: Dr. Susan Larson

Plenary Title: Using Assessment of Undergraduate Research to Improve Programming and Student Outcomes

Plenary Description: 

Given the numerous benefits of undergraduate research, many institutions are seeking to enhance and expand their undergraduate research programs. Associated with an increase in undergraduate research is a need to assess the effectiveness of related programming and activities in order to demonstrate that with one's own student population undergraduate research produces desired learning outcomes and serves the institution's mission and vision. Strategies for developing a sustainable assessment plan for undergraduate research that focuses on assessment of student learning and evaluation of program effectiveness will be described. The session will also discuss how CUR's Characteristics of Excellence in Undergraduate Research can be used for institutional evaluations of the undergraduate research experience.

Dr. Larson's Bio: 

Susan Larson is a Professor in the Psychology Department at Concordia College in Moorhead, MN and in 2009 she was appointed the College's first Director of Undergraduate Research, Scholarship and National Fellowships. She also serves as the director of Concordia's honors program. An active member in the Council on Undergraduate Research, she has served as the Chair of the Psychology Division of CUR and on CUR's Executive Board from 2009-2012. Larson recently co-authored CUR's publication Characteristics of Excellence in Undergraduate Research (2012) and has given several presentations on the topic of assessment of undergraduate research. Larson's research investigates behavioral and cognitive changes associated with immune system activation and she regularly mentors students in her laboratory. She also engages students in undergraduate research through course-embedded research experiences in Research Methods and Learning and Behavior.


Ed NuhferPlenary Address: Dr. Ed Nuhfer

Plenary Title: Tuning Undergraduate Research into a Model of Reflective High Impact Practices

Plenary Description: 

Since 2008, High Impact Practices or "HIPs" promoted by the American Association of Colleges and Universities (AAC&U) include First-year experiences, Common courses, Learning communities, Senior capstone experiences, Service learning, Internships, Study abroad, Writing-intensive courses, Collaborative assignments, and Research experiences. Writing-intensive courses and Collaborative assignments are within the power of all faculty to enact, and Research experiences probably lie within the power of at least most full-time faculty to provide. Discussions on HIPs rarely mention: (1) Metacognition, (2) Learning How to learn and (3) Learning how to reason. These final three areas involve mindful, reflective personal internalization. There is solid research confirming the importance of all three to life-long learning and educational quality, but a more nebulous connection between self-reported learning and direct assessments of gains. Possibly this results because not all HIP experiences are enacted in ways that are equally effective. In this keynote, we consider HIPs as form, and mindful learning and reasoning as substance. We focus on undergraduate scholarship consider in this keynote by reflecting on our assumptions about it, what we explicitly convey to students, and how we might design our these experiences in scholarship that promote deeper learning. Finally, we consider how such design might be employed generally to inject more substance into the varied forms of high impact practices.

Dr. Nuhfer's Bio: 

Ed Nuhfer is currently the Director of Educational Effectiveness at Humboldt State University where his duties span assessment of student learning, faculty development, and curriculum development. His prior career time included being a director of an interdisciplinary Reclamation Program and serving as a tenured geology professor and faculty developer at four different universities. Ed also has served as a national/regional officer in four professional organizations, has national awards from professional societies in both geology and faculty development and has provided keynotes and workshops for many institutions and organizations. For over ten years, he has been the columnist for the Developers' Diary of National Teaching and Learning Forum. His current research lies in curriculum development through metadisciplinary awareness, reflective learning through a "learning-across-the curriculum" model, assessment of science literacy, and the development of students' metacognitive learning skills. Unless carefully supervised, he seizes every opportunity to escape outdoors into nature via hiking boots, bicycle, or motorcycle.

Plenary Address: Dr. Norm Jones 

Plenary Title: Undergraduate scholarship and other High Impact Practices: Assessing the Outcomes not the Content

Dr. Norm JonesPlenary Description:

High impact practices enhance learning, but they do not require any particular content. This makes them hard to compare to courses that are focused on disciplinary content, and often make the assessment process uncomfortable and difficult. If we are to promote and nurture them, we need to see them in the context of the institutional and major degree profiles and ask how they facilitate the achievement of student success. We must assess them by what they do to make students into learners, and as embedded parts of a larger curriculum. This talk will explore the issues of identifying outcomes appropriate to them and to changing the way we talk about curricular success.

Dr. Jones' Bio:

Norm Jones wears several hats. He is Professor of History, Director of General Education and Curricular Integration at Utah State University, and Chair of the Utah Regents' General Education Task Force.

He began his higher education at the College of Southern Idaho, graduating from Idaho State University in 1972. An MA in History followed from the University of Colorado and a PhD in History from Cambridge University in 1978. His first and only permanent job, at Utah State, came later that year.

An active scholar and teacher, he is the author and editor of ten volumes, including Faith by Statute. Parliament and the Settlement of Religion, 1559; God and the Moneylenders. Usury and Law in Early Modern England; The Birth of the Elizabethan Age: England in the 1560s, The English Reformation, Religion and Cultural Adaptation; The Elizabethan World, and Governing by Virtue, The Management of Elizabethan England. He has been at Utah State for thirty-two years, but he gets out a lot. In 2011 he was a Francis Bacon Fellow at the Huntington Library. In the academic year 2008-2009 he was a Visiting Senior Research Fellow at Jesus College, Oxford. Previously, he held visiting fellowships at Harvard University, the Huntington Library, the Folger Library, the University of Geneva, Cambridge University and Oxford University, as well as being a New Zealand Vice Chancellor's Casual Lecturer.

Teaching every semester, he is especially interested in historical pedagogy, how historians develop competencies in their students, and how the entire university curriculum fits together to produce an educated person.

His interest in teaching got him involved in issues of general education and curriculum reform, and he has been a curricular activist his entire career. First elected to a general education committee in 1981, he is now Director of General Education at Utah State University. He is also Chair of the Utah Regents' General Education Task Force, the group charged with articulation and assessment of general education for the Utah System of Higher Education. In that capacity, he has organized sixteen state-wide conferences on general education.

He has consulted widely on general education issues, most recently as a Fulbright Program Specialist in Hong Kong, where its universities and colleges have just begun offering general education. A consultant to the higher education systems in various states, he has worked mostly recently in Idaho. He serves on the Board of Advisers of Liberal Education, the Advisory Board of the Lumina Foundation/Institute for Evidence Based Change "Tuning USA" project, and on the Advisory Board of the Carnegie Foundation's study of the Carnegie Unit.


Special Guest: Patrick Blessinger

Speech Title: Engaged Learning through International Collaborations
Patrick Blessinger


A core aim of the International Higher Education Teaching and Learning Association (HETL) is to transform learning engagement through international collaborations among individual educators and between higher education institutions. HETL thus serves as a global organizing body to strengthen academic institutions. HETL organizes research on engaged teaching and learning that informs higher educational policy. HETL provides opportunities for exchange of ideas by leveraging its worldwide network of scholars and leaders in higher education to improve and transform teaching and learning, including related areas such as curriculum, assessment, service, community engagement, and academic leadership at the institutional, national, and international levels. HETL's core values of integrity, collegiality, and diversity drives a policy of inclusiveness that supports democratic principles of shared governance, institutional diversification, pedagogical pluralism, learning diversity, and freedom of inquiry.

Mr. Blessinger's Bio: 

Patrick Blessinger is the founder and Executive Director at the International Higher Education Teaching and Learning Association and Co-founder and Senior Scholar at the Institute for Meaning-Centered Education. Patrick has received several educational awards including a Fulbright Scholarship (Denmark) from the US Department of State and a Governor's Teaching Fellowship from the State of Georgia, USA. Patrick has a passion for transforming education and learning through interdisciplinary and international collaborations. Patrick has co-edited and co-authored seven textbooks on learning-centered teaching using innovative technologies and one textbook on meaning-centered education and learning. He is the editor of two academic journals and a contributing writer for several academic blogs. Patrick has taught over 170 college and university courses and he has administered academic programs in the USA and EU. Patrick specializes in qualitative research with a special interest in grounded theory, ethnography, and phenomenology. Patrick enjoys living in New York City with his wife and two cats.