On May 4, nearly 200 faculty, staff, and graduate students from across campus gathered for a full day dedicated to sharing impactful teaching practices that happen at Ohio State. This was our biggest gathering to date with 40 presenters from 20 units on campus. The theme of the conference was “Building a Community of Teacher-Scholars,” a topic which sparked lively interdisciplinary conversations and inspired President Drake to thank Ohio State teachers for their dedication, saying, “student success depends on continuous refinement of our teaching practices.”

Our keynote speaker, Dr. Randy Bass, gave a talk entitled “Integration and Integrity: Higher Education in the New Learning Ecosystem”. He asked participants to consider how we might transform undergraduate learning in the face of modern challenges, and to seek out ways to integrate student learning in three areas: domain knowledge, knowledge of the world, and knowledge of yourself. In his closing remarks, Dr. Bass asked us to work toward making more adaptive connections in our teaching by “start[ing] with engagement. Not engagement that entertains, but engagement that empowers.”

Some of the afternoon sessions presented research on and hosted conversations about ways to close the performance gap and make our classrooms more inclusive. Presenters from the Nisonger Center introduced participants to OSU’s TAPP program and helped teachers reflect on ways to better accommodate student disabilities. Afterward, one participant remarked, “I want my teaching quality to be high enough so that every student in my class, regardless of socio-economic status, gender, high school attended, culture, race, ethnicity, religion, etc. can have equal education and perform to the best of their abilities.” Other topics covered during the conference included increasing student metacognition, pathways to professional development, and increasing Culturally Responsive Practices, which provides a framework for connecting our content to student prior knowledge in culturally-centered ways.

Other sessions focused on improving our pedagogical techniques and showcased Scholarship of Teaching and Learning from Ohio State faculty. UCAT’s own Anne Wilson presented best practices for using lecture effectively, and how to leverage images to create a meaningful story with content. There were also sessions on effective use of clickers, clinical simulations, and creative ways to integrate technology into any course.

Participants provided feedback after each session; many expressed interest in collaborating across departments with one another or trying out a new method or activity. One participant is thinking of changing the very structure of their course, writing their interest in presenting “the semester as a 15-week project instead of a week-by-week stop sign on the road of education.” Many others indicated interest in collaborating across departments; we’re so excited to witness future work!

The conference is hosted by The Academy of Teaching, members of which are comprised of past recipients of Ohio State’s most prestigious awards for teaching. Each year the Academy presents The Founder’s Award to recognize individuals or units for meritorious service in promoting teaching excellence on the campuses of The Ohio State University.  This year’s Founder’s Award was received by Dr. Caroline Breitenberger, Director of the Center for Life Sciences Education, for her engagement with supporting undergraduate STEM education. The Academy and the Ohio State teaching community thank Dr. Breitenberger for her continued dedication to improving undergraduate learning and supporting GTAs in her unit.

Thank you to all the wonderful teachers and staff who made this year’s conference another successful and inspirational event! We welcome all who teach at Ohio State to join us next year. If you are interested in developing a session proposal for next year or exploring ways to apply conference concepts to your own teaching, please contact ucat@osu.edu for a consultation.