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Penn Active Learning Symposium

Convener: Keynote Speaker: Sehoya Cotner, University of Minnesota

Penn Active Learning Symposium Full Description

Thursday, May 9th, 1:00 – 4:30pm, Stiteler Hall B26

1:00-2:00pm – Stiteler Hall B26. Keynote talk: “Low Risk, High Reward Strategies for Making Your Classes More Active” by Dr. Sehoya Cotner

I will draw from my own, sometimes disastrous, experiences exploring the impact of active learning (versus traditional pedagogies) and share evidence-based strategies for making large-enrollment courses more active and more equitable. In this interactive discussion, we will:

• Identify and use several in-class assessment techniques

• Discuss active-learning pedagogies that are suitable in a variety of educational settings, with a special emphasis on the unique challenges of large-lecture settings

• Introduce, through my own experiences and those documented in the literature, the evidentiary basis behind these teaching techniques

• Develop strategies for implementation in your own courses

2:00-3:00pm – Stiteler Hall B26. Lightning Round: Penn instructors will share activities for and outcomes of their active courses, providing concrete examples of strategies and approaches that work at Penn. The lightning round will conclude with a break for discussions with the presenters.

3:00-4:30pm – Stiteler Hall, Rooms TBA. Activities Workshop: Led by CTL staff, this workshop will guide participants through developing an activity or small set of activities for their course or course that they imagine teaching in the future, based on their course goals, style, and size. Sessions will be available for both faculty/staff and graduate students/postdoctoral fellows.

Sehoya Cotner earned her PhD in Conservation Biology, but has turned her research focus to undergraduate biology education. She is particularly interested in evidenced-based teaching, especially as it relates to reducing or removing barriers to equity in STEM fields. Sehoya is currently focusing much of her work on performance and retention gaps that arise in introductory-level courses. Sehoya is PI of several NSF-funded initiatives emphasizing inclusive teaching, training teaching assistants to facilitate inquiry, and course-based research experiences. She has most recently published on the effect of class size on gender-biased performance gaps, participation gaps in biology and chemistry courses, the role of high-stakes tests in observed performance gaps (between men and women, and between first-generation college students and their continuing-generation counterparts), and how gender ratios impact in-class group dynamics. Current work highlights the role of hidden identities in active-learning settings. Sehoya has proposed, and continues to explore, the “Course Deficit Model,” whereby instructional choices can either increase or lower barriers to equity.

Following the talk, The Penn Active Learning Symposium will bring together faculty and graduate student to discuss the benefits and challenges of using active learning techniques, and how to do so, no matter our class size. During the lightning round, we will hear from Penn instructors about the range of active learning techniques that they are deploying, while exploring the opportunities to reach large numbers of students. The symposium will culminate in hands-on workshops allowing participants to strategize about ways to incorporate active learning in their own teaching.

The symposium is open to all instructors at Penn, including faculty, staff, postdoctoral fellows, and graduate students. Participants will have the opportunity to attend all or some of the sessions. To RSVP and hold your space, please register here:

Registrations are closed for this event

Thursday, May 9, 2019

1:00 pm to 4:30 pm
Room B26
Stiteler Hall
208 South 37th Street
Philadelphia, PA 19104 United States
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