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University hosting ELEVATE conference on inclusive teaching Aug. 16

A college professor lectures to his class.
Online registration is now open for Washington State University’s inaugural, annual conference to support faculty and graduate students to “engage learners, enhance voices, and advance teaching excellence” (ELEVATE).

Online registration is now open for Washington State University’s inaugural, annual conference to support faculty and graduate students to “engage learners, enhance voices, and advance teaching excellence” (ELEVATE).

The all-day, system-wide conference will be held Aug. 16 concurrently on all six WSU campuses. The conference program features invited presenters from WSU recognized for their reflective and evidence-based teaching practices, interactive sessions designed to foster collaboration, and a dynamic lunch-time workshop. Participants are encouraged to attend in person at their own campuses to view the presentations that will be broadcast university-wide and gather with colleagues during the interactive sessions to reflect on how to translate the presenters’ ideas into action in the classroom.

“The theme of the conference is ‘inclusive teaching’, and through brief presentations, dialogue, and engaged participation, we will demonstrate how structured, active learning can create more equitable classrooms and improve learning for all of our students,” said Erika Offerdahl, director of the Transformational Change Initiative (TCI), based in the Office of the Provost and Executive Vice President. One TCI goal is to foster student success by building resilience, purpose, and growth through faculty support.

TCI is co‑sponsor of the ELEVATE conference along with Academic Outreach and Innovation and the provost’s office.

UNC‑Chapel Hill special guests

Erika Offerdahl teaches a class prior to the pandemic.

“The lunchtime workshop will be led by University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill professors Kelly Hogan and Viji Sathy, experts and authors on inclusive teaching,” said Offerdahl. “They will encourage us to identify potential inequities and reflect on diversity in our WSU classrooms through interactive, hands‑on activities.”

After providing a framework for inclusive design and their own research results, Hogan and Sathy will lead participants through active-learning exercises and case studies that explore inclusive techniques. They will model approaches that can be readily implemented with any discipline or class size to help all students achieve their potential.

The session will highlight the need for high structure in learning environments, and help teachers to model techniques designed to elicit equity in the classroom.

Both Hogan and Sathy are active in the scholarship of teaching and learning in their respective disciplines of biology and statistics at UNC‑Chapel Hill. Their work has been featured in such national publications as The Chronicle of Higher Education and the New York Times.

WSU presenters in four sessions

Four topical sessions will break up the day that runs from 8:30 a.m.–4:15 p.m. Those sessions and confirmed presenters, from WSU Pullman unless otherwise noted, include: 

  • Session 1: Supporting student belonging and well‑being, featuring Gina Cronrath, nursing, WSU Tri‑Cities; Cara Hawkins-Jedlicka, strategic communication; and Leann Hunter, English 
  • Session 2: Improving student learning with technology tools, featuring Joy Egbert, teaching and learning; Anne Kim, pharmacotherapy, WSU Spokane/Yakima; and Brett Atwood, strategic communication, WSU Everett
  • Session 3: Improving student’s competencies and skill development, featuring presenters from the Core-to-Curriculum initiative in University Common Requirements (UCORE) general education
  • Session 4: Improving student learning through well-designed assessments, featuring Samantha Gizerian, integrated physiology and neuroscience; and Aaron Welchel, history, WSU Vancouver

Following each set of presenters will be an interactive opportunity. These are intended to increase the likelihood that lessons learned will be translated into the classroom by providing dedicated time for participants to follow up with presenters, discuss with colleagues how to apply ideas to classroom practices, and connect with collaborators to continue a dialogue.

“This first conference is going to be amazing and truly system-wide. The format is fresh with an emphasis on engagement and collaboration,” said Offerdahl.

All faculty and graduate students are welcome and encouraged to register soon. The most current updates and information will be on the conference webpage. Questions about the conference or details can be emailed to the sponsors.

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