Invited Speaker Program

Each year, the Teaching Consultants have an opportunity to invite a guest speaker to Brown. This annual professional development event is coordinated by graduate students in line with their interests. Sheridan Teaching Consultants also have the opportunity to participate in a workshop or master class with the invited guest.

Invited Speakers, 2011 – present


In this workshop series, Jamiella Brooks and Julie McGurk explore rigor as an inclusive practice.

Jamiella Brooks is the Director of Equity & Inclusion Initiatives at University of Pennsylvania Carey Law School, a Faculty Fellow of Gregory College House, and a writer. She holds a Ph.D. in French Literature from the University of California, Davis. She participated in the McNair Scholarship and Mellon Fellows programs and has served as a Fulbright Teaching Assistant in France. Formerly, she served as an Associate Director of the Center for Teaching and Learning at both Berea College and University of Pennsylvania where she focused on programming and support for equitable and inclusive teaching practices. 

Julie McGurk is the Director of Faculty Teaching Initiatives at the Poorvu Center for Teaching and Learning at Yale University. She holds a Ph.D. in neuroscience from Johns Hopkins University. Formerly, she served as an Associate Director of the Center for Teaching at the University of Pennsylvania’s after postdoctoral work at the same institution. She is no stranger to the classroom, having taught online and in-person classes, including the large lecture, Intro to Brain and Behavior, common to many college campuses, and a smaller, more active learning course, more unique to Penn’s campus, Developmental Neurobiology. In 2013, students in the UPenn Biological Basis of Behavior Program honored her with the “Teacher of the Year” award. 

“Rigor as Inclusive Practice: Improving Equitable Outcomes in Teaching”
Rigor and inclusion are often seen in opposition to one another, despite the evidence that inclusion necessitates rigor to empower all of our students to grow, build on their strengths, and learn. Additionally, ill-defined or false notions of rigor lead to practices in teaching that are neither inclusive nor equitable and produce unnecessary stress. This interactive workshop illuminated the ways that the term rigor is often misused or misunderstood, guiding participants to a more inclusive and substantive enactment of rigor in their teaching.  The workshop introduced participants to research demonstrating the importance of rigor to inclusive practice, organized around three guiding principles. 

“Rigor as Inclusive Practice: Applying 3 Principles”
This follow up workshop focused on applying the three principles of rigor as an inclusive practice, and the research underlying it, to our courses and disciplines. We examined specific examples of inadequate definitions of rigor, and developed activities and assessments that more clearly incorporate rigor framed by inclusion and equity.


Dr. Stephanie Jones received her B.A. in Philosophy and Rhetoric & Communications from the University of Pittsburgh and continued her education at the same institution earning a Masters in English Education. Dr. Jones went on to the University of Georgia where she earned a Ph.D. in Language and Literacy Education. Although she wears many hats, Dr. Jones is currently an Assistant Professor of Education at Grinnell College whose courses include: Principles of Education in a Pluralistic Society and Teaching Risky Texts in the Classroom. Her research focuses on the ways in which Black girls and women engage with literacies in and outside of the classroom, and specifically how those literacies can help shape culturally relevant and engaging pedagogy and curriculum for the secondary classroom. She has published numerous book chapters and articles and today’s seminar as part 1 of a two part Invited Speaker Series will be titled “Curriculum Violence, Anti-Blackness, and Academic Rigor in the College Classroom”. Thank you and welcome, Dr. Stephanie Jones.

"Curriculum Violence, Anti-Blackness, and Academic Rigor in the College Classroom"
Dr. Jones expounded upon the origins of curriculum violence in classrooms and its antiblackness roots – perspectives that are typically overlooked in professional development for faculty. We considered these pressing questions together. How can the study of racialized trauma help fuel collective understandings of how curriculum violence is embedded in classrooms and often mistaken for academic rigor? What does it look like for educators and academics to engage in a process of reflecting upon their own pedagogical stances for the goal of racial justice and liberation?

"Liberate your Syllabus: A Hands On Workshop on How to Create an Anti-Racist Intersectional Classroom Environment"
In this workshop, Dr. Jones covered syllabi (re)construction which included discussions and takeaways on: building classroom community, increasing classroom participation, holding tough conversations, calling out anti-black and ableist policies, and centering culturally relevant text selection.


Lourdes Alman is an Associate Director for Teaching and Learning at MIT's Teaching and Learning Lab

"Reflections on Fostering Growth Mindset and Resilience"
Recent research has highlighted the importance of both organizational and classroom mindsets on student outcomes. For instance, a fixed mindset held by professors is associated with larger racial achievement gaps among their students in the classroom. Specific academic disciplines in which success tends to be attributed to raw, intellectual brilliance (vs. effort, persistence, and growth) generally have fewer women and African-American students enrolled in their doctoral programs. In this seminar, we explored the importance of mindset on student achievement and self-efficacy. We also explored strategies that you can use in your educational environments to help your students adopt a growth mindset. This seminar was led by Dr. Lourdes Alemán, Associate Director for Teaching and Learning at MIT's Teaching and Learning Lab.

"Put on Your Own Oxygen Mask First: Cultivating a Growth Mindset for Yourself & Your Students"
As we tackle increasing complexity and new academic challenges, it is inevitable that we will experience setbacks. How we react to these setbacks depends a great deal on our inclination towards a fixed or growth mindset. Students are able to perceive a teacher’s mindset through both formal and informal interactions. To exhibit a growth mindset as teachers, it is important to examine our own beliefs and inclinations about the malleability of human traits. In this workshop, we explored how our own notions of potential and ability can have a fundamental impact on how we approach our work and our teaching roles. We discussed strategies to personally cultivate a growth mindset so that we can more authentically create a growth mindset environment in our classrooms. This workshop was led by Dr. Lourdes Alemán, Associate Director for Teaching and Learning at MIT's Teaching and Learning Lab.


Mary-Ann Winkelmes is the executive director of the Center for Teaching and Learning at Brandeis University, where her aim is to promote teaching and learning initiatives, student success, faculty development, and instructional research across the University’s academic and service units. Her work to improve higher education learning and teaching, especially for historically underserved students, has been recognized nationally by the Chronicle of Higher Education and with the POD Network’s Robert J. Menges Award for Outstanding Research in Educational Development. She founded and directs the Transparency in Learning and Teaching in Higher Education Project (TILT Higher Ed), which promotes direct conversation between teachers and students about methods of teaching and learning and helps faculty to share data on students’ learning across institutions and countries.

“Transparent Instruction Promotes Equitable Opportunities for Student Success”
Transparent assignment design has been shown to increase students’ success with greater gains for historically underserved students. In this interactive presentation, Dr. Mary-Ann Winkelmes discussed the concept of transparent teaching and learning (which involves faculty/student discussion about the relevant knowledge, skills to be practiced, required tasks, expected criteria and examples before students begin working), shared data from an AAC&U study of students' learning at seven Minority-Serving Institutions that identifies transparent assignment design as a replicable teaching intervention, and discuss examples. Participants left with a concise set of strategies for designing transparent and equitable assignments that promote students’ learning.

“Using a Transparent Framework with Your Students and Mentors”
The majority student population in US higher education is increasingly diverse and instructors must provide equitable educational opportunities for a broad variety of learners. Transparent instruction shows great promise for increasing the confidence, sense of belonging, persistence, and success of non-traditional and underserved students. In this workshop facilitated by Dr. Mary-Ann Winkelmes, participants applied the Transparent Framework to the design of their own in-class activities and assignments to provide equitable learning experiences for students. We also considered the framework as a tool for discussing course design ideas with mentors and faculty--even when you are not the primary designer of the course.


James M. Lang is a Professor of English and the Director of the D’Amour Center for Teaching Excellence at Assumption College in Worcester, MA.  He is the author of five books, the most recent of which are Small Teaching: Everyday Lessons from the Science of Learning (Jossey-Bass, 2016), Cheating Lessons: Learning from Academic Dishonesty (Harvard University Press, 2013), and On Course: A Week-by-Week Guide to Your First Semester of College Teaching (Harvard UP, 2008). Lang writes a monthly column on teaching and learning for The Chronicle of Higher Education; his work has been appearing in the Chronicle since 1999.  

"Cheating Lessons: Learning from Academic Dishonesty"
When students engage in academically dishonest behaviors, they may be responding to subtle pressures in the learning environment that interfere with deep learning and nudge them toward cheating. Hence if we can gain a better understanding of the reasons for academically dishonest behavior, we can use that knowledge to improve our course design, teaching practices, and communication with students. This interactive lecture provided an overview of the various pressures that push students toward academic dishonesty, propose solutions for helping students learn how to do their work with integrity, and invite discussion about how to build a campus culture of academic integrity. 

"Teaching Distracted Minds"
As instructors struggle with the problem of distracted students on our campuses and in our classes, they have become increasingly frustrated by the ways in which digital devices can interfere with student learning. But are students today more distracted than they were in the past? Has technology reduced their ability to focus and think deeply, as some popular books have argued? This workshop draws upon scholarship from history, neuroscience, and education in order to provide productive new pathways for instructors to understand the distractible nature of the human brain, work with students to moderate the effects of distraction in their learning, and even leverage the distractible nature of our minds for new forms of connected and creative thinking. 


Rachel Niemer is the Founding Director of the Gameful Learning Lab in the Office of Academic Innovation at the University of Michigan. Prior to joining the AI team, Rachel served as the Assistant Director at the Center for Research on Learning and Teaching at U-M, where she specialized in health sciences educational development and instructional technology. Rachel has also taught pedagogy courses at the University of Rochester, where she was an Assistant Director of Learning Assistance Services. Previously Rachel was a chemistry instructor at Gustavus Adolphus College in Minnesota and a postdoctoral scholar in pharmacology at the University of Rochester Medical Center. Dr. Niemer's PhD is in Chemistry from the California Institute of Technology.

"Going Gameful: Level Up Your Learners' Motivation"
We all want learners to be deeply engaged, to take risks and be resilient in the face of failure. To increase learner engagement we need to tap into their intrinsic motivation. Gameful pedagogy, and gameful course design in particular, is a framework for giving learners agency and supporting their intrinsic motivation inspired by game design principles.  This session explored the philosophy behind gameful pedagogy, the principles, derived from that philosophy, which can guide your course designs, and the teaching practices that can further support the intrinsic motivation of your learners. Participants will reflect on the alignment between their own teaching philosophy and gameful learning and brainstorm ways they can give students choices in how to demonstrate their learning. 

"Better Slide Design to Support Student Learning: Sheridan Invited Teaching Consultant Morning Workshop"
Although the “chalk talk” isn’t dead, PowerPoint, Keynote and Google Presentations are some of the most frequently used instructional technologies. Whenever deploying technology in the classroom, it’s important to consider the why and how of your implementation, but many of us aren’t familiar with the evidence-based practices for effective slide design. What information should go on slides and what should be left off? How many words is too many or two few? During this session we’ll discuss cognitive science and media studies findings that can guide our slide designs and lecture planning. Participants will have an opportunity to critique and improve example slides and explore templates that can facilitate effective slide design.


Derek Bruff is Director of the Vanderbilt Center for Teaching and a principal senior lecturer in the Department of Mathematics. His research interests include educational technology, visual thinking, and social pedagogies, and he teaches courses on cryptography, linear algebra, and statistics. Learn more about Derek’s work, including his 2009 book Teaching with Classroom Response Systems: Creating Active Learning Environments, on his blog, Agile Learning.

"See What I Mean: Visual Thinking Tools for Deep Learning"
Dr. Bruff held a master class for graduate students: Our brains are wired to rapidly make sense of and remember visual input. How might we tap into our students' ability to think visually when teaching? In this session, the group explored ways that visual thinking tools such as concept maps, coordinate axes, timelines, and sketchnotes can help students refine, share, and receive feedback on their understanding of relationships among ideas. These tools can thus help students build more robust mental models useful for solving problems, thinking critically, and learning deeply.

"More Than Just Shiny Objects: Using Technology to Support Student Learning"
Dr. Bruff held a presentation for all members of the Brown teaching community: An understanding of how learning works can help us make teaching choices that more effectively foster student learning. When new technologies enter the scene, however, it's not always clear how they fit into this process. Educational technology can facilitate new avenues for student learning, but if we're not careful to use that technology in ways consistent with principles of learning, the technology can become just a distracting shiny object. In this talk, the group explored a few of those principles of learning and how they can help us be more intentional and effective as we integrate technology in our teaching. This was a BYOD talk—bring your own device. Audience participation with mobile devices (phones, tablets, laptops) was encouraged.


Amy Vollmer is Professor and Chair of Microbiology at Swarthmore College and the President of the Waksman Foundation for Microbiology

“Teaching enjoyably: Liberating yourself from unnecessary constraints”
Amy Cheng Vollmer has been teaching Biology in a small liberal arts college setting for 30 years. She shared three major pieces of advice applicable to all disciplines: put the focus on the audience, don't be a slave to the syllabus, and know that giving up control can be liberating and allow you to play to your strengths.


Daniel Barbezat is Professor of Economics at Amherst College & Executive Director of the Center for Contemplative Mind in the Society.

"Contemplative Pedagogy & the Transformation of Education"
Prof. Barbezat delivered a lecture exploring how contemplative pedagogy can be a powerful way in which we can work together to reclaim the transformative nature of education. He described the ways in which first-person critical inquiry can cultivate better discernment and attention in students, provide the means for deepening their understanding of the material they are studying, and foster environments to inquire about and live meaningfully.


Steven Volk is Professor of History & Director of the Center for Teaching Innovation and Excellence, Oberlin College. He received the the 2011 US Professor of the Year award.

“Building an Imagined Future: Teaching as Architecture”
Using architecture and construction as an extended metaphor for teaching, Prof. Volk probed the challenges of teaching, which is a creative and imaginative act rooted in the present but directed to the future. In his talk Prof. Volk suggested a few approaches that have proven to be highly productive in his own teaching; he engaged in a larger discussion on how to make the most of on-site learning.


José Feito is Professor of Psychology at Saint Mary’s College of California

“How Class Discussions Help Students Learn”
This workshop explored Prof. Feito’s insights from his ongoing research investigating the development of intellectual community and collaborative discourse within seminar classes. Potential conceptual models for understanding students’ cognitive and social work within classroom discussions were explored. These models were intended to offer new ways to parse the complex flurry of student discussion and arrive at a deeper understanding of the kinds of learning that we hope to facilitate through this type of pedagogy.