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Teaching and Learning Conference Held at UD

By Stacey Ortman

DUBUQUE, Iowa - Before classes start in the fall, University of Dubuque faculty, adjunct instructors, and others gathered on campus for a two-day professional development learning conference to learn from their colleagues and continue to collaborate on student success.

"The conference allows them a chance to collaborate, to mingle, and to share ideas on what works in their classrooms. We have a lot of amazing instructors and staff on this campus. They have a lot to share and, I think, it's healthy for them to share that," said Debra Stork, PhD, associate dean for teaching and learning.

The UD Teaching and Learning Conference was held Tuesday, Aug. 16, through Wednesday, Aug. 17. It included sessions on a variety of topics like cultural competence in the classroom, student collaboration, how to implement social and emotional learning into every classroom, Microsoft Teams, and more.

"Faculty do a lot of scholarship and individual professional development on their content, but, I think, everybody feels the need and desire to really be excellent teachers here. This gives us a focus on the classroom, on teaching, on student success in addition to professional development in their content area," Stork said.

The conference kicked off with a general session focused on continued collaboration to support student success. Attendees rotated through three panels composed of representatives from Academic Support Services, the Department of Athletics, and the Office of Student Life.

"The more we can have these events and hear from each other and see it from each other's point of view, hopefully the more successful it's going to be for UD student-athletes not just now but as we move into the future," said April Elsbernd, EdD, head volleyball coach and panelist.

Ellen Carr, MBA, director of the Office of Vocation, Career Services, and Community Engagement, was a panelist for the Office of Student Life. She enjoyed being given the opportunity to continue to think about how people across campus can help each other to help students be successful.

"I am so appreciative of the opportunity to get in front of these faculty and our campus partners to talk about the things that we do. I started right at the start of the pandemic, so I feel like I missed out on a lot of the introductions that would have normally happened when you're face-to-face and in a non-COVID environment," she said.

Attendees appreciated the opportunity to start the academic year with their colleagues as well.

"It's a nice way to start the year and renew understanding what some of the resources are available on campus," said David Koch, PhD, associate professor of environmental science, adding, "There's oftentimes students that are having problems in classrooms and the things that they are having troubles with are not related to that class. Knowing what those resources are and understanding all of that is helpful."

Started in 2018, the UD Teaching and Learning Conference was organized by members of the Faculty Development Committee.

"It's a chance to reaffirm that all of us are in this student success business together," Stork said.