Previous Speaker Series

Fall 2015

Title: Creating Careers of Powerful Teaching and Learning - Core Premises and Practices

Speaker: Dr. Anna Neumann - Professor of Higher Education, Director of the Metropolitan Colleges Institute for Teaching Improvement, and Chair of the Department of Organization and Leadership Teachers College, Columbia University

Abstract: Because everyone goes to school, and increasingly to college too, most Americans hold strong views about good teaching and learning that are rooted in their personal experience.  But the personal views of individuals are less complex and nuanced than what we've learned from large-scale and long-term research on teaching and learning.  This is because teaching and learning depend on who the learner is and what she or he brings to a classroom; who the teacher is and what she or he brings; where and when the learning and teaching happen; and perhaps most importantly, what’s being taught and learned.  In this talk, Professor Neumann argues that learning and teaching, done well, unfold in dramatically different ways in different institutions of higher education, for different areas of study, at different levels of our system, at different historical times, for different student populations, and for different teachers.  Efforts to strengthen teaching and learning require definitions that are, at once, encompassing and specific, powerful and flexible, general and concrete.  Drawing on research on how college students learn and how teachers can help them do so, Professor Neumann will discuss concepts that illuminate how students develop in-depth substantive knowledge, what instructors can do to support this, and how those instructors may work together to build workplaces and careers committed to advancing their students’ and their own learning.

Spring 2016

Title: A Practical Approach to Implementing  Constructivist Teaching Approaches in the Classroom

Speaker:  Dr. Stephanie Farrell Professor of Chemical  Engineering at Rowan University and a Fellow of ASSE (American Society for Engineering  Education)

Abstract: Constructivist approaches to teaching motivate students to learn skills through authentic problem solving, link new knowledge to prior knowledge, and refine knowledge so that it can be applied in other contexts. Evidence from years of educational research overwhelmingly recommends a paradigm shift from traditional, teacher-centric methods to learner-centred practices.  Knowledge construction and cognitive development are consistently increased when pedagogy and delivery are designed to promote learners’ active participation in the learning process. In a constructivist learning environment, the instructor moves away from the role of teacher and becomes a facilitator of the learning process. This talk features several educational innovations that are based on constructivist approaches to teaching and highlights their benefits in terms of better learning for students with diverse backgrounds.  Participants will step through a working example of retrofitting existing course material into a constructivist framework using a structure called Learning for Use. 

Spring 2017


Speaker: Dr. Carolyn Sealfon- former Associate Director of Science Education at Princeton University

Date/Time: Monday April 24, 2017 2:30 PM-4:00 PM

Description: Dr. Sealfon will lead a discussion (not a lecture) with NJIT faculty and instructional staff about methods that she taught to Princeton University science faculty over a number of years. She will emphasize how to increase student success while maintaining high standards of rigorous learning, and making more efficient use of instructional resources such as faculty time and teaching assistants. 


Title: Learning by Doing Rather than Teaching by Telling - Teaching Your Students the Way You Actually Learned

Presentation Slides From Presentation

Speaker: Distinguished Professor Laurie McNeil - University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Location: Central King Building, Room G8 (NJIT’s new SCALE-UP Classroom)

Date/Time: Friday, January 27, 2017 - 11:30 A.M. - 1:00 P.M.

Abstract: Many of us were once science and engineering students before becoming professors.  We know that the core of our learning took place not when our instructors lectured but rather when we figured out how to apply technical concepts as we wrestled with solving problems.  The SCALE-UP mode of instruction, and other studio-based models, reflects this reality.  

In a traditional lecture-based classroom, the instructor presents information in the classroom and the students then struggle to apply that information to specific situations (frequently in homework when they are on their own).  Studio-based instruction in a SCALE-UP mode reverses this model. The information transfer takes place outside of class, and class time is used for the students to work collaboratively as they engage in hands-on, minds-on application of that information while the instructor provides support.  

Research has shown that this mode of teaching results in better conceptual understanding and problem-solving skills than does traditional instruction, as well as a reduction in failure rates (especially for women and minorities).