Seminars For Excellence in Teaching

Since 2008, the Academy for Teaching and Learning has hosted a series of one-hour Seminars for Excellence in Teaching (SET) to help colleagues meet the historic expectations of excellence in teaching at Baylor. For new Teachers of Record (TOR), SET satisfy SACS requirements for professional development in teaching. For more experienced TOR, SET facilitate the sharing of ideas and insights about teaching and learning today and encourage participants to renew their commitments to inspirational teaching. SET are also a valuable resource in the preparation of graduate student Teachers of Record.

All members of the Baylor community are invited to attend SET in accord with our core commitments to seek learning and apply knowledge and to pursue excellence through continuous improvement.

Please see the schedule below for topics, dates, and times. Participants are registered on a first-come, first-served basis. If you have questions, contact the ATL at or by phone at (254) 710-4064.

SET Schedule for Fall 2019

Why Teach When They Can Google the Information They Need?
Christina Iluzada (Information Systems, Hankamer School of Business)
Wednesday, September 4, 3:30-4:30
Location: Jones Library 200 (Dennis Campbell Innovative Learning Space)

In a day when every student's phone gives access to more information than all the books in the school library, colleges and instructors are no longer the gatekeepers of information they once were; faculty members are simply not needed to dispense facts. But rather than a cause for despair, this development is an opportunity for reflection and refinement of the purposes of higher education. Specifically, it is an opportunity to maximize the benefits of the centerpiece of higher education—face-to-face interaction. In this session, participants will hear ideas about what can uniquely be done in class versus outside of class and brainstorm ideas for their own settings. We will also consider how we can use technology wisely in isolating the most valuable in-class activities and how to explain these strategies to students.

Writing and Learning Across the Curriculum: Lessons from the University Writing Center
Kara Poe Alexander (English, University Writing Center)
Tuesday, September 10, 3:30-4:30
Location: Jones Library 200 (Dennis Campbell Innovative Learning Space)

There is a close relationship between writing and learning. Writing must be learned; students must learn how to write anew in different contexts and disciplines; and writing is a powerful tool for helping students learn. This SET explores the following questions: In what ways are the processes of learning and writing similar? How do the two processes interact? How might you use writing as a way of learning in your own classes and disciplines? This SET will offer easy-to-implement suggestions for facilitating student learning by exploring more deeply students’ attitudes toward writing, the role of reflection and metacognition in student learning, and the particular challenges facing students in disciplinary writing. Participants will be encouraged to reflect on ways to design intentional assignments that place learning at the center of writing and that help identify what students know and need to be taught when they write across the curriculum.

Supporting Graduate Student and Adjunct Instructors
Janet Bagby, Jessica Akers, Nicole O’Guinn (Educational Psychology)
Tuesday, September 17, 2:30-3:30
Location: Jones Library 200 (Dennis Campbell Innovative Learning Space)

Baylor’s graduate student and adjunct instructors have the same charge as full-time faculty to facilitate transformational education. But they have many distinct needs. Some may be new to teaching. Some may have crucial time constraints. Some may be unfamiliar with the logistics of university teaching. Some may have important professional commitments outside of academia. Recognizing that departments and individual instructors benefit from intentional support, the Department of Educational Psychology (School of Education) recently piloted then adopted a new approach to the development of graduate student and adjunct instructors. This SET will describe the process, sharing insights from the best practices of both pedagogy and professional development. Participants will hear firsthand from instructors involved and be challenged to imagine how instructor support might be advanced in their own departments. 

Classroom Community: The Pedagogical Importance of Getting to Know Each Other
Jane Haas Damron (Communication)
Thursday, October 3, 3:30-4:30
Location: Jones Library 200 (Dennis Campbell Innovative Learning Space)

Learning is not a purely cognitive process; it is also inherently social. Classrooms with a strong sense of community have students who are more likely to contribute, display a higher quality of interaction, and have greater interest in the subject. Great teachers understand the social dimensions of learning and infuse the learning process with opportunities to develop community. In this SET, we will investigate one set of practices for developing community in the classroom, particularly focusing on what can be done on the first week of class to habituate students to learning in community and understanding knowledge construction as communal. Participants will brainstorm and get feedback on ways to develop community in their own classrooms.

Funding Your Teaching Development: The University Teaching Development Grant
Lenore Wright (Baylor Interdisciplinary Core, Academy for Teaching and Learning), Craig Clarkson (Academy for Teaching and Learning)
Thursday, October 10, 1:00-2:00
Location: Jones Library Creekmore Conference Room

University instructors work in an arena of ongoing development. New knowledge in our fields, evolving departmental needs, and the findings of educational research encourage all faculty to seek continual growth and improvement as instructors. Since 2001—and administered by the Academy for Teaching and Learning (ATL) since 2008—Baylor University has provided University Teaching Development Grants (UTDG) to support faculty in their teaching roles. Instructors can receive up to $1,500 every two years. In this presentation, ATL staff will explain the application and award process, and recent UTDG recipients will share their stores, describing the impact of the grant on their teaching development and offering ideas on how to craft a successful application. Participants will brainstorm application ideas and get guidance on crafting a strong application. 

Teaching as Performance: A Stanislavskian Acting Approach to Learning
Steven Pounders (Theater Arts)
Tuesday, October 29, 2:00-3:00
Location: Jones Library 200 (Dennis Campbell Innovative Learning Space)

Teachers often find themselves competing for the attention of their students even within the limited amount of class time given during a semester. Digital devices, lack of sleep, note-taking for other courses, and a plethora of other distractions can get in the way of meaningful classroom exchanges. The early 20th century acting methodologist, Konstantin Stanislavski, created an approach to acting that involves a deceptively simple misdirect: engaging one’s own subconscious through the goal of engaging another person. In this SET, we will examine approaches to communication in a learning environment using some of the tools and exercises that actors use to communicate on stage.

Public Deliberation Initiative
Craig Clarkson (Academy for Teaching and Learning), Joshua Ritter (Spiritual Life)
Monday, November 4, 3:00-4:00
Location: Jones Library 200 (Dennis Campbell Innovative Learning Space)

Abstract forthcoming. Learn more about Baylor's Public Deliberation Initiative at

Improving Learning Outcomes through Empathy and Mindfulness
Mike Whitenton (Baylor Interdisciplinary Core)
Wednesday, November 13, 4:00-5:00
Location: Jones Library 200 (Dennis Campbell Innovative Learning Space)

In this seminar, we explore ways to enhance learning across disciplines by cultivating empathy and mindfulness in the classroom. Tradition and empirical data suggest that empathy and mindfulness go hand-in-hand: being truly present with oneself or with another person fosters feelings of compassion, belonging, and connectedness. Less appreciated, however, is the link between mindful awareness, empathy, and learning toward enhancing the effectiveness of learning communities. Mike Whitenton will lead our exploration of empathy and mindfulness as they relate to learning, introduce the research linking the two to enhanced learning outcomes, and demonstrate accessible in-class activities to help you foster greater connection and transformative learning in your classrooms. No prior experience with mindfulness required.