Tools for Active Student Learning – Summer Faculty Workshops

Tools for  Active Student Learning

This August, two professors from Ursinus College, a well-known liberal arts college in the U.S., will share their experiences and strategies for stimulating active learning in GE courses.  These workshops will lead us to rethink the way we teach, from course content, delivery methods to assignment designs. Useful tools and tips will be provided in the workshops through discussions and reflections with other colleagues.  Don’t miss the chance to learn and excel together!

Three Hands-on Workshops

The workshops are free to attend, of course. Just pick whichever you are interested in! All are welcome!

Learning Goals Lead the Way: Backward Design for Courses & Curricula
Dr. Argondezzi & Dr. Round
12 Aug 2014 (Tue)
10am - 1pm

When designing a course, professors usually decide what content they want to teach, build a syllabus to organize that content, and then create assessments to test student understanding. Such courses often feel rushed and disjointed, with assignments that seem arbitrary to students, and many students leave these courses without achieving the desired learning goals.

In this workshop, we will reverse the traditional order of course planning by employing the principles of “Backward Design” to revise an old course or design a new course .

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We will begin by identifying the learning goals of the course, and then we will devise assessments that address those goals. Finally, we will brainstorm ideas for activities and readings that make up the “content” of the syllabus and achieve desired outcomes. Our goal is to leave the workshop with fresh approaches to course design. Finally, we’ll discuss ways in which backward design can be applied to curriculum development for major programs or general education.

 To Prepare: Please bring an idea for a new course, or a syllabus you would like to re-consider. 

Letting Go of the Lecture: Active Learning in Large Classes
Dr. Jennifer Round
12 Aug 2014 (Tue)
2pm - 5pm

Many large enrollment courses still use a traditional lecture format, in which the instructor delivers content to a passive student audience. Mounting evidence indicates that this method of teaching is not only ineffective, but also results in higher student failure rates.

In this workshop we will explore  simple ways to transform our courses into more engaging, active learning environments .

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We will  discuss strategies that encourage students to speak, write, and solve problems , instead of simply listening and taking notes. We will also explore the notion of “ Flipping the Classroom ”, in which students master basic content before class and apply their new knowledge in an interactive setting. Finally, we will  reflect on the barriers , both physical and psychological, that prevent us from changing the way we teach.
Inspiring Writing Projects from Start to Finish
Dr. Talia Argondezzi
14 Aug 2014 (Thur)
10am - 1pm

Because we have not been explicitly trained in how to teach writing, we often feel that we are not qualified to teach writing in our own courses. However, writing is not an exclusive activity practiced only by language experts: we all generate and convey new ideas through writing in our everyday lives and in our academic areas of expertise. Indeed, no one is better qualified to help students become confident writers than professors who have mastered communication in their own fields! This workshop will focus on  writing instruction across the curriculum .

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We’ll talk about our past experiences and explore strategies for creating a  writing project  that motivates student thinking, formatting an  assignment sheet  that maximizes student understanding, developing a  sequence of in-class activities and at-home mini-assignments  that build toward more nuanced student writing, and providing  feedback  that helps students improve.

 To Prepare: Please bring a syllabus of a class to which you would like to add more writing projects as well as any writing assignments or assignment drafts you would like to revise.  If you do not have any syllabi or assignments to revise, that’s perfectly fine! Just bring your ideas.

*Breakfast and lunch will be provided at 9:30am and 1pm on both days.

Venue: WLB602, The Wing Lung Bank Building for Business Studies, Shaw Campus, HKBU

Presenters from the U.S.

Dr. Talia Argondezzi

Dr. Talia Argondezzi

Director, Center for Writing and Speaking, Ursinus College

Dr. Talia Argondezzi, Director of the Writing and Speaking Program at Ursinus, supports faculty as they integrate writing and speaking into their courses, oversees the Writing Fellows program, participates in College-wide assessment, and teaches interdivisional courses. Prior to her arrival at Ursinus, she was at Duke University where she was a lecturing fellow and an Associate Director of First-Year Writing.

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Dr. Argondezzi has taught writing and literature courses at Duke, the City College of New York, Baruch College, the Fashion Institute of Technology, and Suffolk County Community College. Argondezzi spent two years as a Writing Fellow at the Bernard L. Schwartz Communication Institute and five years as a consultant at the Baruch College Writing Center. She received her Ph. D. in early American literature from the City University of New York.
Dr. Jennifer Round

Dr. Jennifer Round

Assistant Professor, Department of Biology, Ursinus College

Dr. Jennifer Round is a cellular neurobiologist and a tenure-track assistant professor at Ursinus College. She is a magna cum laude graduate of the University of Rhode Island and earned a Ph.D. at Yale University. Before her arrival at Ursinus, she held a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Postdoctoral Teaching and Research Fellowship and visiting assistant professorship at Davidson College.

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Dr. Round has an active research laboratory at Ursinus, and she holds a NSF grant to support her and her undergraduate research team. Her research centers upon signaling mechanisms that shape neuron morphology during embryonic development, using zebra fish as the model organism. She teaches cellular neurobiology, cell biology, and genetics of health and disease, among other courses.
Ursinus College

A selective, independent, nondenominational coed liberal arts college of 1,700 students in suburban Philadelphia, Ursinus is nationally recognized for fostering undergraduate research through faculty mentoring, internships, study abroad programs and comunity service. Its celebrated core curriculum, The Common Intellectual Experience, is an interdisciplinary program required for first-year students.

With an outstanding record of placing students in graduate, law and medical schools, Ursinus is one of only 50 colleges nationwide whose seniors may compete for Watson Fellowships and one of 10 founding institutional members of Project Pericles, which fosters civic engagement among college students nationwide. Ursinus competes in Division III athletics in the prestigious Centennial Conference, along with Bryn Mawr, Franklin & Marshall, Haverford, Johns Hopkins and Swarthmore. Newer majors in Neuroscience, Environmental Studies, Biochemistry, Music, and Theater and Dance, as well as a new performing arts center have enhanced the curricular offerings of the college.
Students enjoy proximity to the cultural and business advantages of the city of Philadelphia, while living on a traditional tree-lined suburban campus. The college is named for scholar Zacharias Ursinus, and students today embody his legacy of carefully thought-out values, curiosity and work ethic, and a desire to serve and inspire others.
For enquiries, please contact Miss Ada Chan at or 3411 2106.