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Empowering Teaching Excellence 

Seminar Series

The Empowering Teaching Excellence Seminar Series features speakers selected from USU's faculty and occasional visiting guest speakers. Topics pertain to various aspects of effective teaching and primarily focus on practical application, learned through experience, by seasoned teachers. 


1 Wednesday, November 15, 2017, 3:30 - 5:00 PM LIB 154 (Logan Campus)
Faculty Seminar

Community Engaged Learning 

with USU Faculty Panel:

  • Debra Jenson, Assistant Professor of Journalism and Communication
  • Windi Turner, Assistant Professor School of Applied Sciences, Technology and Education (ASTE)
  • Randy Martin, Associate Professor Civil and Environmental Engineering; Research Associate Professor Utah Water Research Laboratory
  • Jennifer Reeve, Associate Professor of Organic/Sustainable Agriculture with Plants, Soils, and Climate

Community Engaged Learning is a teaching and learning strategy that integrates partnerships with community agencies, meaningful community service, and reflection to enrich the learning experience, teach civic responsibility, and strengthen communities. Join us on November 15th to hear about the Community Engaged Learning Program at USU and how you can apply this pedagogy to your classes. Our Faculty Panel will discuss examples of projects implemented, the Community Bridge Initiative Partnership program, how to use students for community research, and lessons learned in creating meaningful classroom learning experiences.

RSVP for this event now:
Questions about this event? Contact Travis Thurston: or 435-797-4950.

Broadcast to All Campuses

  • Roosevelt - SC-173
  • Vernal - B-125
  • Ephraim - E
  • Moab - N
  • Kaysville - KEC-111
  • Brigham - D217
  • Tooele - 168
  • Orem - T108
  • Price - RV-128
  • Salt Lake - GEC-510
  • Blanding - Adm-125



1 March 30, 3:30 - 4:30 PM, LIB 154 (Logan Campus)
Faculty Seminar

Competency Based Education: Separating Fact from Fiction

Matthew Pellish, Senior Director of Strategic Research and Education, Education Advisory Board

MOOCs are a thing of the past, and many parties within and outside of higher education (media, government entities, foundations) have turned their attention to competency-based education (CBE). As with MOOCs, the hope is that CBE will lower costs, increase access, and improve outcomes—and the fear is that those who don't adopt it will lose relevance and market share if new programs scale quickly.

Feeling beset by "disruption" fatigue—but fearful of dismissing a model with the potential to spur gains in enrollment and student success—higher education leaders are struggling with how fast and how far their institutions should venture into CBE.

Based on interviews with over 100 experts and practitioners, this presentation aims to separate the hype from what's really working. We examine CBE's primary objectives, the most prevalent myths in the field, and which factors are likely to accelerate CBE's competitive threat to current higher education programs.

 In This Session, Members Will Learn… 

  • What lessons have CBE's early adopters learned from their experiences? 
  • Under what circumstances, and for what institutions, is personalized learning the right fit for an institution? 
  • What pedagogical elements of competency-based education can be replicated within traditional program structures? 

2 Tuesday, September 19, 2017, Seminar 2 - 3:30 PM, Workshop 4 - 5 PM, LIB 154 (Logan Campus)
Faculty Seminar

The Future is Open - Open Educational Practices Seminar & Workshop

Rajiv Jhangiani, Kwantlen Polytechnic University

Seminar Keynote
Higher education promises to be a vehicle for economic and social mobility; however, this promise increasingly goes begging as our institutions are structured to reinforce existing inequalities, with engagement, persistence, and achievement still closely tied to affordability. The oft-heard institutional claim to be student-centered is similarly hypocritical, as it is usually faculty, accreditation requirements, and budgetary constraints that dictate both the structure and content of the learning experience. It is against the backdrop of such paradoxes that open education practices have emerged as a transformational force in higher education.

Open educational practices (OEP) encompass the creation, adaptation, and adoption of open educational resources, open course development, and even the design of renewable assignments where students are empowered as co-creators of knowledge. OEP represents a truly learner-centered approach to education that radically enhances both agency and access. This presentation will draw on a diverse set of examples to make a case for why the shift away from traditional (closed) practices is not only desirable but also inevitable, and how OEP support the modern university’s mission by serving both social justice and pedagogical innovation.

OER Creation/Adaptation Workshop
This hand-on workshop is designed to help you locate relevant and high quality open educational resources (OER) for adoption in your classes. Attendees will become familiar with large, curated repositories for OER (including open textbooks, images, and videos) and will learn how to use Pressbooks, a popular open-source platform, to create, revise, or remix OER.

3 Tuesday, October 17, 2017, 3:30 - 5:00 PM, LIB 154 (Logan Campus)
Faculty Seminar

Objective and Subjective Truth in the Classroom

Norm Jones, Professor, History
Rose Judd-Murray, 
STEM Educator, School of Applied Sciences, Technology and Education
Peter Crosby, 
Instructor, Political Science
Moises Diaz, 
Clinical Assistant Professor, Sociology, Social Work & Anthropology
Idalis Villanueva, 
Assistant Professor, Engineering Education

The panel will address the curriculum and processes used to help students make informed judgments in areas of objective and subjective truth in the classroom. The panel will explore ways we build on the skills students develop in general education as they continue into their major. General topics will include instructional methods at the curriculum and teaching level that help students think critically and incorporate multiple viewpoints, “in-the-trenches” experience dealing with classroom issues and challenges relating to the nature of objective and subjective truth, and how to identify and address the hidden curriculum in our courses.

Infographic on "Engaging Students through Issues-Based Topics"

Past Events

Empowering Teaching Execellence Conference Image

Several past Empowering events have been recorded and are available for viewing. Click the links below to see what has already been shared.

Faculty Seminar Series

Empowering Teaching Excellence Conference

The Empowering Teaching Excellence Conference occurs every August as teachers from the regional campuses, Eastern campuses, and Logan campus gather for departmental retreats. All instructors at USU are invited.