All posts by browncenter

Call for Proposals: Teaching and Scholarly Inquiry Circles

(as long as funding is available)

The Brown Center for Faculty Innovation and Excellence is pleased to announce the return of Stetson Teaching and Inquiry Circles. These Circles are a wonderful opportunity to engage with your colleagues throughout the year while learning and making progress on your academic goals.  

Teaching Inquiry Circles bring together groups small groups of faculty and/or faculty/staff, who meet regularly during the academic year to form a community of practice around an aspect of teaching and learning. Teaching inquiry circle members disseminate what they have learned together to the Stetson community and beyond. Where appropriate, students are invited to be members. Detailed proposal guidelines, criteria and reporting requirements are available at this link.

Scholarly Inquiry Circles bring 4-6 faculty members, preferably from more than one discipline, together consistently during the academic year to support each other’s writing, provide feedback on writing projects and hold each other accountable. Detailed proposal guidelines, criteria and reporting requirements are available at this link.

Proposals are invited for circles comprised of any combination of Stetson University Faculty and/or CLaSS staff.

G.I.F.T. ~ Moving from Teacher-Centered to Learner-Centered

Great Ideas for Teaching (G.I.F.T.) is an occasional series featuring Stetson faculty. To submit your G.I.F.T., contact the center staff

by Alicia Slater

There have been very few moments in my life when I’ve read something that permanently changed my teaching philosophy. Here is one of them (from Huba & Freed 2000):

“The individuals learning the most in teacher-centered classrooms are the teachers there. They have reserved for themselves the very conditions that promote learning.”

  • Actively seeking new information
  • Integrating it with what is known
  • Organizing it in a meaningful way, and
  • Explaining it to others

After I read this, I reflected on how much I had learned preparing lectures as an assistant professor at Stetson, and knew it was time for me to create those same experiences for my students. Thus began my efforts to shift my courses from teacher-centered to learner-centered.  In a learner-centered classroom, the students are actively engaging with the material, and the teacher becomes the expert ‘guide on the side’.  This practice recognizes that in order for students to develop the higher order cognitive skills we value most, such as thinking critically, asking questions, and generating examples, they need practice. Indeed, expecting students to do this without adequate practice is like expecting a musician to perform a piece they’ve never seen.


A lot changes when a classroom becomes learner-centered.

  • The role of the teacher changes from telling students what they should know and be able to do to promoting learning through the acquisition of knowledge.
  • The balance of power shifts as responsibility for learning transfers to the students and they become autonomous, self-directed, and self-regulating learners.
  • The function of content changes; teachers use content instead of covering it.
  • Finally, the purposes and processes of evaluation change. In addition to certifying mastery of material, assessment experiences give students an opportunity to explore and develop their self-assessment skills.

How then, does one make the shift from teacher-centered to learner-centered courses? First, seek out colleagues who are modeling the pedagogy you would like to adopt. If there aren’t any on your campus, seek them out at professional conferences and meetings. Seek out professional development workshops, such as Stetson’s Brown Innovation Fellows Program, webinars, or conference sessions on teaching and learning. Finally, read as much as you can on the topic! Two very good resources are listed at the end of this article—although one is calledScientific’ Teaching, the methods can be used in any discipline.

Learner centered teacher is grounded in constructivist theory, which asserts that knowledge can’t be given to students; instead, students must construct their own meaning in order for learning to occur. Constructivist theory is evidence-based; numerous studies have shown that learner-centered teaching facilitates deep rather than surface learning, and learning that lasts.

Huba ME & JE Freed. 2000. Learner-Centered assessment on college campuses: shifting the focus from teaching and learning. Pearson. 286 pp. 2006
Handelsman, S. Miller & C.Pfund. 2006. Scientific Teaching. W.H. Freeman. 208 pp.

About the Author

alicia_schultheisAlicia Slater is professor of biology and chair of the Department of Biology and Department of Health Sciences at Stetson University. She is also the director of curriculum and assessment, a role that supports institutional effectiveness efforts through consultation with faculty on curriculum design and assurance of student learning.

Prior, she served as  Provost Faculty Fellow for Faculty Development and Program Design and Learning Assessment Coordinator. Her interest in teaching has focused on learner-centered teaching. Dr.  Slater was instrumental in the development of Stetson’s SCALE-UP classroom and led the inaugural Brown Innovation Fellows Institute in summer 2014 during which faculty from across the University learned how to develop learner-centered course components. As Provost Faculty Fellow, she co-developed yearlong workshop series aimed at teaching, learning and other professional development. In her newest role as 2016-17 Lynn and Mark Hollis Chair of Health and Wellness,  Dr. Slater will focus on successful intervention and proactive actions to improve student retention.

Professor Slater  studies freshwater invertebrates and endemic siltsnails as well as Plecoptera (stoneflies)and conducts research in the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SOTL).  Dr. Slater received  both her Ph.D. and M.Sc. In biology from  Virginia Tech and a  B.S. in biology from Georgia Tech. She enjoys exercising, reading, and going to the beach.

NYU Faculty Resource Network Offers Faculty Development Across the World

The Brown Center for Faculty Innovation and Excellence invites you to take advantage of the valuable resources available through our membership with the NYU Faculty Resource Network (FRN).  This membership provides access to enrichment seminars, scholar-in-residence programs and much more.  Deadlines for many of these opportunities are rapidly approaching!

2017 Network Winter Seminar

American College of Greece
Athens, Greece
January 9-13, 2017

Nomination packets due to the Brown Center by September 26.  Click here for complete nomination guidelines.

The 2017 Network Winter seminars provide a comprehensive study of the global migration crisis through the theme of “Migration and Identity.” The winter seminars will examine this theme from various disciplinary perspectives, and the schedule will include plenary sessions where each seminar convener will present an overview of their seminar topic to the entire group of program participants.  Click on the following links to learn more about each of the three available seminars.

2016 National Symposium

November 18-19, 2016
Teaching a New Generation of Students
Atlanta, GA
Register online before October 27th

The college classroom of the future will become more diverse than ever in our history. Are colleges and universities prepared to educate increasing numbers of historically under-represented students? In what ways will increased student diversity influence classroom conversations, or the types of courses offered within the curriculum? How will faculty members respond to students with varied backgrounds and experiences that may differ from their own? How can colleges and universities promote the retention, progress, and success of first-generation students? The 2016 FRN National Symposium will examine these questions by drawing on our collective expertise as scholars, educators, practitioners, and administrators.

Scholar in Residence

Have a sabbatical coming up? The Semester Scholar-in-Residence program provides faculty on leave or sabbatical a residency at New York University Fall or Spring semester.

The Summer Scholar-in-Residence program provides faculty a residency at New York University during the month of June.

Applications for summer or fall 2017 are due to the Brown Center by January 20th, 2017.  Contact us for more information.

Stetson University is a member of the FRN consortium.  The membership supported by the Brown Center covers the majority of the costs.  Typically, the only cost to participants is travel.  If you are interested in seeking support for travel, please contact us to discuss funding scholarships.



UCF Statewide Symposium: Researching Undergraduate Research

The University of Central Florida invites faculty, administrators, and professional staff to participate in a two-day symposium focused on strengthening and developing undergraduate research. All of Florida’s public and private 4-year universities and community colleges are invited to participate in the eighth annual event. Last year, at the seventh annual event, over 90 faculty and administrators from throughout the state participated. Some of the topics for presentations and workshops include, but are not limited to, best practices in undergraduate research, research on undergraduate research, resources to develop strong programs, networking between campuses, and issues in undergraduate research. Click here to review the 2015 event program.

For information visit the symposium website.

Call for Proposals: Diversity, Learning, and Student Success conference in Jacksonville

Diversity, Learning, and Student Success: Voices Leading Change

A Network for Academic Renewal Conference
March 16–18, 2017
Jacksonville, Florida
Proposals due Monday, September 12

The Association of American Colleges and Universities  Call for Proposals for AAC&U’s 2017 Conference on Diversity, Learning, and Student Success: Voices Leading Change was just released.

The conference will explore how the individual and collective voices of students, faculty, staff, and community partners can be catalysts for transformative campus and social change. Affirming that people will be the drivers of the institutional and structural transformation needed to support the success of today’s students and prepare them for unscripted challenges, participants will explore strategies for leading inclusive campus dialogues and strategic visioning that value and embrace diversity of thought, identity, and beliefs.

Visit the Call for Proposals to learn more about the conference and learn how to submit a proposal.

RECAP: Stetson Intergroup Dialogue Institute, Aug 26-28

In response to a recent call, 21 Stetson faculty and staff from diverse areas of campus spent three days in an Intergroup Dialogue Institute.  The facilitators, Dierdre Johnston and Lorna Hernandez-Jarvis, pioneered the Intergroup Dialogue program at Hope College through which numerous faculty and staff have been trained to facilitate dialogues around issues of diversity and inclusion. Intergroup dialogue is distinct from debate and discussion in that the goal of dialogue is understanding not necessarily agreement.  A successful dialogue requires significant trust among participants and engages active listening skills.

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More photos

Over the course of three days, participants were guided through five stages of intergroup dialogue:

  1. Understanding Dialogue and Developing Conversation
  2. Developing Communication Skills
  3. Exploring Identity and Relationships
  4. Embracing Conflict
  5. Building Alliances and Making Commitments

we penned some dreams

we evaluated where our community stands …

we made some plans …

and we created a story by reflecting on our history, identity and culture …

[NOTE:  The presentation files will be added to this post as soon as they are available.]

Resources for continued Learning

  • Adams, M., & Bell, L. A. (Eds.). (2016). Teaching for diversity and social justice. Routledge.
  • Stone, D., Patton, B., & Heen, S. (2010). Difficult conversations: How to discuss what matters most. Penguin.
  • The National Intergroup Dialogue Institute at the University of Michigan
  • Nagda, B. A., Gurin, P., Sorensen, N., & Zúñiga, X. (2009). Evaluating intergroup dialogue: Engaging diversity for personal and social responsibility. Diversity & Democracy, 12(1), 4-6.
  • Dear Colleague Letter, published on December 31, 2015 by the Education Secretary and Deputy Secretary, outlines the Federal Government’s position on learning environments in which students are free from discrimination and harassment based on their race, religion, or national origin.
  • Nagda, B. A., & Maxwell, K. E. (2011). Deepening the layers of understanding and connection: A critical-dialogic approach to facilitating intergroup dialogues. Facilitating intergroup dialogues: Bridging differences, catalyzing change, 1-22.
  • Wijeyesinghe, C. L., Griffin, P., & Love, B. (1997). Racism curriculum design.Teaching for diversity and social justice, 82-109.
  • The Feelings Wheel developed by Dr. Gloria Wilcox
  • Johnston, D. D., Stinski, M., & Meyers, D. (1993). Development of an alexithymia instrument to measure the diminished communication of affect. Communication Research Reports, 10(2), 149-160.
  • The Critical Mind is A Questioning Mind Learning How to Ask Powerful, Probing Questions – The Critical Thinking Community
  • Huang-Nissen, S. (1999). Dialogue groups: A practical guide to facilitate diversity conversation. Medicine Bear Publishing.
  • Linehan, M. M. (2014). DBT® skills training manual. Guilford Publications.
  • Intent versus Impact: Two Kenyon Students Offered An Incredibly Sincere And Thoughtful Apology After Accusations Of Racial Insensitivity
Funding and support

This institute was generously supported by the following  groups:

  • Campus Life and Student Success (specifically the Center for of Community Engagement,  Cross Cultural Center, and Housing and Residential Life)
  • College of Arts & Sciences
  • Brown Center for Faculty Innovation and Excellence
  • Office of Human Resources
  • University Honors Program
  • Faculty Senate, via a gift from Patrick Coggins
  • University Curriculum and Assessment Office
  • Department of Accounting
  • Department of Religious Studies
  • Department of Sociology and Anthropology
  • Department of Counselor Education
  • Department of World Languages and Cultures
  • Gender Studies Program


Florida Sea Grant Researcher Helps Cities Plan For Sea-Level Rise

Dr. Jason Evans, a Florida Sea Grant researcher and assistant professor of environmental science and studies, is finding ways for communities to adapt to sea-level rise. His work was recently featured in an article on the Florida Sea Grant website.

“I strongly believe in the liberal arts mission that gives professors the opportunity to provide undergraduate students with high quality teaching and research experiences,” Evans said. “Because I so firmly believe that environmental sustainability is a critical issue for both the present and the future, it energizes me to help undergraduates make connections about the world that are difficult to make inside the classroom.”

Read the entire article: Florida Sea Grant Researcher Helps Cities Plan For Sea-Level Rise

New Faculty Orientation Thank You

The 2016 new faculty orientation was a resounding success.  The Brown Center for Faculty Innovation and Excellence welcomed 16 tenure-track and 15 visiting faculty from 27 institutions as well as 12 adjunct faculty, an ALLEX Asian language scholar and two Fulbright Language Teaching  Assistants.  The orientation consisted of a diverse program designed to orient our new faculty to the policies, practice and community at Stetson.  Each participant received a Roadmap for Success with resources and information to help them in their first year.  Additional copies of the roadmap are available – please send your request to the Brown Center.

2016-2017 New Faculty Cohort (click on photo for names)

A special thanks goes out to over 40 faculty and staff that provided information and facilitated workshops on topics that included inclusive excellence, career and academic advising, a syllabus bootcamp and the general education curriculum. To dig deeper into the program, visit the 2016 New Faculty Orientation Recap on the Brown Center Blog.  A big thank you to those of you that participated in the Third Annual Resource Fair.

None of this would have been possible without the work and dedication of the New Faculty Orientation committee – our hats are off to you!  If you would like to join this dynamic group of movers and shakers, please contact the Brown Center.

Warm regards,

Julia K. Metzker, Ph.D.
Executive Director,
Brown Center for Faculty Innovation and Excellence
Stetson University

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Values Day Common R.E.A.D: Americanah by Chimanda Ngozi Adichie’s

Values Day: September 20, 2016

Values Day, celebrated in September, is an annual tradition established by Stetson University’s eighth president, H. Douglas Lee. It is a day dedicated to Stetson University’s core values of personal growth, intellectual development and global citizenship.

This year, the Values Day Planning Committee has selected Chimanda Ngozi Adichie’s powerful and award-winning book Americanah (2013) for a common R.E.A.D (Read Engage and Discuss; Reflect, Engage & Affirm Diversity) on September 20th, 12:30 PM – 1:45 PM.  For more information, including how to get your copy of the book read the announcement at Stetson Announce!.

RECAP: New Faculty Orientation Days 2 & 3

[Looking for Day 1?  Click Here!]

Days 2 & 3 of new faculty orientation provided some important resources and a time to think about your course design and syllabus. We rounded out the orientation with a faculty resource fair where campus departments shared the resources available to new faculty and the all important overview of HR benefits.

[View photos on our facebook page]

Wednesday, August 17

Information Technology – What You Need to Know

Don Burrhus, Director of User Services
Lisa Sawtell, Director of Online Learning and Education Technology

All Learners Welcome: Living Our Value of Inclusive Excellence

Stacy Collins, Director, Academic Success
Aaron Distler, Associate Director, Academic Success & Accessibility
Kimberly Flint-Hamilton, Professor and Chair Sociology and Anthropology

Lunch with the Center for Community Engagement

Savannah-Jane Griffin, Director of Community Engagement & Inclusive Excellence
Kevin Winchell, Associate Director of Community Engagement

Syllabus Boot Camp

Rob Berwick, University Registrar
Diane Everett, Professor of Sociology, Associate Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences
Andrew Larson, Professor of Music; Associate Dean of the School of Music
Danielle Lindner, Assistant Professor of Psychology
Julia Metzker, Executive Director, Brown Center for Faculty Innovation and Excellence
Megan O’Neill, Director, The Writing Program
Alicia Slater, Professor and Chair of Biology; Chair, Integrative Health Science; Director, Curriculum and Assessment

Useful links for teaching
Collaborative Team FSEM Design

Leigh Ann Dunning, Director of the Writing Center; Assistant Director of the Writing Program
Lua Hancock, Vice President of Campus Life and Student Success
Julia Metzker, Executive Director of Brown Center for Faculty Innovation and Excellence
Megan O’Neill, Director, The Writing Program
Maria Rickling, Assistant Professor of Accounting and FSEM Coordinator

Thursday, August 18

Campus Tour & Photos
Equality, Safety, & Awareness: Title IX at Stetson University

Matthew Kurz, Director, Student Development and Campus Vibrancy; Title IX Coordinator

Human Resources Orientation

Christopher Chellberg, Assistant Director of Total Rewards, Compensation and Benefits, Human Resources
Lori Kasbeer, Benefits Administrator, Human Resources

Third Annual Faculty Resource Fair

List of participating groups (pdf)