2012 i teach offers faculty opportunity to exchange ideas on teaching

Daylong symposium at Seigle Hall Jan. 12

Most WUSTL faculty members teach a variety of courses to both graduate and undergraduate students but can have limited opportunities to discuss teaching with colleagues outside of their department.

WUSTL offers i teach, its biennial symposium on teaching, to provide such an opportunity.

The 2012 i teach symposium will take place from 9 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 12, at Seigle Hall on the Danforth Campus. The symposium is sponsored by Arts & Sciences, The Teaching Center, University Libraries, and the Office of the Provost. It is free and open to all WUSTL faculty members.

Bill Buhro, PhD, the George E. Pake Professor and chair of the Department of Chemistry in Arts & Sciences, has attended multiple i teach symposia and says i teach has introduced him to new ideas about teaching.

“I initially believed that one either had a knack for teaching or, sadly, did not,” Buhro says. “In addition, I believed that everything that could possibly be known about teaching had been discovered a long time ago — and endlessly discussed since.

“I have more recently developed a ‘growth mindset’ about effective teaching, which I now see as the product of knowledge and skills developed over time,” Buhro says. “Participating in i teach has fed that growth, giving me new insights into recent advances in research on cognition and learning — and new teaching methods that can be used to increase student motivation and learning in tough curricula.”

“The i teach symposium provides an excellent opportunity to learn from each other and be more effective teachers,” says Provost Edward S. Macias, PhD, executive vice chancellor and the Barbara and David Thomas Distinguished Professor in Arts & Sciences. “This is a very high priority for Washington University.”

This year’s i teach will feature a plenary and 16 sessions about topics ranging from using Twitter while teaching to academic integrity at WUSTL.

Sessions also include “Team-Based Learning: An Alternative Active-Education Model,” “Polling in the Classroom: Pedagogical and Practical Issues,” “Applying Research on Learning to Improve Teaching,” and “Blackboard: Grade Center.”

This year’s i teach also features a plenary, “Fostering Creative Learning,” by Keith Sawyer, PhD, associate professor of education in Arts & Sciences.

In the plenary session, Sawyer will draw on research from the relatively new field of learning sciences to describe specific strategies for fostering creativity in WUSTL students. His talk will include discussion of recent discoveries about how people learn — including insights about the kinds of knowledge, and the learning environments, that support creativity and innovation.

“The i teach symposium offers faculty a wonderful opportunity to discuss what is new in our teaching and to learn about current research on teaching and learning,” says Gina Frey, PhD, director of The Teaching Center, professor of the practice in chemistry, and associate director of the Center for Integrative Research on Cognition, Learning, and Education (CIRCLE).

“Building on the success of the last symposium, when the focus was on the scholarship of teaching and learning, i teach 2012 will provide insights on a wide range of effective teaching approaches — including those that apply cognitive-science research to improve learning,” Frey says.

“While opportunities on campus to talk and learn about teaching have increased in recent years, the i teach symposium is still the best forum for doing so,” says Nancy Berg, PhD, professor of modern Hebrew language and literature and of comparative literature, both in Arts & Sciences. Berg has attended i teach regularly since it began, in 2002.

Berg is looking forward to i teach 2012: “As we gear up for the spring semester, we can spend an entire day learning from one another: authentic peer-led teaching,” she says.

For more information about i teach or to register, visit iteach.wustl.edu.