Author gallery: Meet the experts in our series Teaching and Learning in Higher Education

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Authors in WVU Press’s series Teaching and Learning in Higher Education, edited by James M. Lang, have given successful talks and workshops around the world and are available for a variety of programming on topics ranging from small teaching interventions to universal design to neuroscience. When you bring a WVU Press author to your campus or conference, we’ll work with you to get books in the hands of your audience or participants; we offer bulk discounts for all-conference reads, faculty reading groups, or even just a few books for raffle prizes. Contact sales and marketing manager Abby Freeland for details, and get to know our authors below.

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Series editor James M. Lang is a professor of English and the director of the D’Amour Center for Teaching Excellence at Assumption College in Worcester, MA. He is the author of five books, the most recent of which are Small Teaching: Everyday Lessons from the Science of Learning (Jossey-Bass, 2016), Cheating Lessons: Learning from Academic Dishonesty (Harvard, 2013), and On Course: A Week-by-Week Guide to Your First Semester of College Teaching (Harvard, 2008). He is also coeditor of Teaching the Literature Survey Course, published by WVU Press. Lang writes a monthly column on teaching and learning for The Chronicle of Higher Education; his work has been appearing in the Chronicle since 1999. His book reviews and public scholarship on higher education have appeared in a wide variety of newspapers and magazines, including the Boston Globe, Chicago Tribune, and Time. He has conducted workshops on teaching for faculty at more than a hundred colleges or universities in the US and abroad.  In September of 2016 he received a Fulbright Specialist grant to work with three universities in Colombia on the creation of a MOOC on teaching and learning in STEM education. He has a BA in English and philosophy from the University of Notre Dame, an MA in English from St. Louis University, and a Ph.D. in English from Northwestern University.


Small Teaching: From Minor Changes to Major Learning

Research from the learning sciences and from a variety of educational settings suggests that a small number of key principles can improve learning in almost any type of college or university course, from traditional lectures to flipped classrooms. This interactive lecture introduces some of those principles, offers practical suggestions for how they might foster positive change in higher education teaching and learning, and guides faculty participants to consider how these principles might manifest themselves in their current and upcoming courses.

Cheating Lessons: Learning from Academic Dishonesty

When students engage in academically dishonest behaviors, they may be responding to subtle pressures in the learning environment that interfere with deep learning and nudge them toward cheating. Hence if we can gain a better understanding of the reasons for academically dishonest behavior, we can use that knowledge to improve our course design, teaching practices, and communication with students.  This interactive lecture provides an overview of the various pressures that push students toward academic dishonesty, proposes solutions for helping students learn how to do their work with integrity, and invites discussion about how to build a campus culture of academic integrity.

New Approaches to the Traditional Survey Course

Many humanities departments require students to take survey courses of major thinkers or movements within their disciplines.  While these courses can provide an essential service to students, they can also stifle creative thinking and deep learning.  This conversational lecture introduces a variety of ways in which instructors of survey courses can explore new organizational structures, invite their students into deeper and more creative forms of learning, and develop alternative forms of assessment.


Reinventing the Survey Course

Small Changes in Teaching

News flash . . . Harvard students cheat too

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Kirsten Tilney Behling is the director of student accessibility services at Tufts University, an adjunct professor in the disability services in higher education graduate certificate program at Suffolk University, and coauthor of Teach Everyone, Reach Everyone: Universal Design for Learning in Higher Education, forthcoming from WVU Press. Prior to working at Tufts, Kirsten developed and managed the office of disability services at Suffolk University. While at Suffolk she worked to ensure that while students were accommodated the university was also proactively addressing the access needs of diverse learners. She helped to develop the graduate certificate program in postsecondary disability services at the University of Connecticut. Behling is also heavily involved in New England AHEAD, a regional affiliate of AHEAD. Her research interests include campus-wide buy-in to access needs, access in online learning, teaching the diverse learner, and educating current and future disability service professionals. She can be reached by email at:


Evaluating the Effectiveness of College Disability Services Offices

Behling serves as a consultant for universities looking to evaluate the impact that their disability offices have in a time of change or in a time of growth. She provides a comprehensive review of the functionality of disability services as a consumer-end need and provides best practices for disability-related advocacy across the university.

Building Inclusivity into Online Learning

As the diversity of students in higher education grows so too does the need to ensure that the courses offered online are accessible for all types of learners. The challenge lies in how to do this easily and with the greatest impact. This workshop will acknowledge the busy schedules that faculty have by providing a hands-on opportunity to create personalized course templates with everyday tools that faculty can use for years to come. By knowing how to check current course materials for accessibility issues and how to design new material, faculty are empowered to effectively reach the diverse learners in their courses.

Influencing a Culture of Universal Access across Campuses

Universal Design for Learning is a good idea–we all know that. But bringing it to a campus and getting it to stay there can be a challenging task. This workshop is designed to help institutions identify the best ways to bring UDL to their campus and keep it there. Participants will have opportunities to apply content to their individual campuses though the development of a doable, next step process when they leave.

Implementing the New Norm: Managing Increased Requests for Exceptional Accommodation

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) defines disability as “anything that limits one or more major life activity.” You can imagine the breadth of diversity that institutions of higher education are seeing then when it comes to students with disabilities. This workshop will address some newer common requested accommodations: excused absences, the presence of emotional support animals, the ability to attend class remotely, etc. We will discuss if these are indeed accommodations and if so, how to navigate them on your campus.

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Sarah Rose Cavanagh is currently on the faculty at Assumption College, where she directs the laboratory for cognitive and affective science and serves as associate director for grants and research in the D’Amour Center for Teaching Excellence. Sarah’s research considers whether the strategies people choose to regulate their emotions and the degree to which they successfully accomplish this regulation can predict trajectories of psychological functioning over time. Sarah’s first book, The Spark of Learning: Energizing the College Classroom with the Science of Emotion, was published by West Virginia University Press. She has given keynote addresses and workshops on the topic of the book for a variety of venues, including many campuses and regional conferences. Her second book HIVEMIND: The Perils and Promise of Our Collective Social Selves will be published by Grand Central Publishing in 2019.


Spark of Learning Keynote

Traditional views of education assume that reason should reign over emotion, and that the classroom should be a quiet, dispassionate space where students and instructors impartially engage with facts, figures, and theories. However, emotions possess the power to arrest attention, enhance memory, and mobilize efforts. Cavanagh brings to bear a wide range of evidence from the study of education, psychology, and neuroscience to suggest that targeting emotions in your presentation style, course design, and assignments is a highly potent teaching strategy.

Spark of Learning Workshops

All sessions involve both new research content and modeling of active learning and discussion:
Be the Spark: Performance, Presence, and Relationships
Mobilizing and Motivating: Assignments and Activities
Solving Problems: Reducing Text Anxiety and Reactance


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Josh Eyler is director of the Center for Teaching Excellence and adjunct associate professor of humanities at Rice University. After receiving his Ph.D. in Medieval Studies from the University of Connecticut in 2006, Josh moved to a position as assistant professor in the English department at Columbus State University in Georgia.  Although he was approved for tenure at CSU, his love for teaching and his desire to work with instructors from many different disciplines led him to the field of faculty development and to George Mason University, where he served as an associate director of the Center for Teaching and Faculty Excellence from 2011-2013. In August of 2013, he came to Rice to take the position of director of the CTE. He has published broadly on medieval literature, and his eclectic research interests include the biological basis of learning, evidence-based pedagogy, and disability studies. His current projects include the book How Humans Learn: The Science and Stories behind Effective College Teaching, which is forthcoming from West Virginia University Press.


The Science of Learning, and Why It Matters

Recent intersections between anthropology, psychology, cognitive neuroscience, and educational research have yielded important findings about the ways in which students learn most effectively. This interactive workshop explores the biology of learning and its significance for our students, our classrooms, and our pedagogical innovations.

Why Failure is Essential for Student Learning

Students are frequently asked to achieve, on their first attempts, stellar results on high-stakes, high-pressure assessments. New research on the science of learning is beginning to show us that this strategy does not work well, though, because it is not how human beings naturally learn. We need to make mistakes before we can get the right answers. In this talk, I’ll be reviewing some of the most important findings in this new area of inquiry and suggesting ways that we can generate “opportunities for failure” in our courses so that our students may learn more effectively.

Curiosity and the College Classroom

Curiosity is an essential part of the way human beings learn, and it always has been. In order to learn something, we must first wonder about it. This was true of our distant ancestors, and it is true of all of us. Researchers have shown, though, that somewhere between the time when children are very young and when they find their way to our college classrooms, the lion’s share of this curiosity is lost. I suggest some ways that we might try to find it again and why the search matters so much for higher education.

The Important Role of Effective Teaching in Student Retention and Persistence Efforts

One of the most important discussions in higher education today centers around the ways in which we help our students to succeed once they are admitted to our colleges and universities. The conversation often focuses on data regarding retention, progression, and graduation (RPG) percentages, but the issue is far more nuanced than the numbers convey. One important tool for student success is effective, evidence-based teaching, yet pedagogy is often left out of the RPG debate. This talk outlines a model for student success that places transformational teaching and social-psychological interventions at the forefront and suggests ways that we might implement such a framework at our institutions.


To Ban or Not to Ban? Technology, Education, and the Media

Against Student Shaming

Teaching Is Messy. We Need to Embrace That.

Instructional Design, Trust, and Discovery

Biology, the Brain, and Learning

Teaching Lessons from Pixar


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John A. Staunton is professor of English education and American literature and the 2017 recipient of the Ronald W. Collins Distinguished Faculty Award for Teaching at Eastern Michigan University.  He publishes on English teacher education, literature pedagogy, and multi-modalities in literacy education.  Currently, he is the coordinator of English education programs and the faculty associate for university studies. A past co-director of the National Writing Project site at Eastern Michigan (EMWP), John has been involved with local and national teacher research networks for the past 15 years, most recently to support site-based teacher research and teacher inquiry groups in southeast Michigan. Staunton is coeditor of the book Teaching the Literature Survey Course, published by WVU Press.


Transmediations across the Curriculum:  Multi-Modal Strategies for Teaching and Learning

Research in new literacies studies, multimodality, and aesthetic education suggest that how students design and represent their initial understandings of new material has lasting effects on their long-term learning and development.  This interactive workshop and demonstration introduces participants to the multi-modal techniques of “transmediation”—how they work, how to introduce them to students, and how to use them across content areas.

New Approaches to the Traditional Survey Course

Many humanities departments require students to take survey courses of major thinkers or movements within their disciplines.  While these courses can provide an essential service to students, they can also stifle creative thinking and deep learning. This conversational lecture introduces a variety of ways in which instructors of survey courses can explore new organizational structures, invite their students into deeper and more creative forms of learning, and develop alternative forms of assessment.

Failing to Learn:  Knowing when to Abandon Prior Knowledge to Advance Understanding

Research on high impact practices in teaching and learning highlights the importance of threshold moments and signature work in student learning.  This conversational lecture explores the pedagogical benefits of helping students understand the importance of “expectation failure” in developing metacognitive and disciplinary understanding.


Deranging English/Education: Teacher Inquiry, Literary Studies, and Hybrid Visions of “English” for 21st Century Schools


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Thomas J. Tobin is the conference program chair at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, as well as an internationally-recognized speaker and author on topics related to quality in tech-enhanced education, especially copyright, evaluation of teaching practice, academic integrity, and accessibility/universal design for learning. Since the advent of online courses in higher education in the late 1990s, Tom’s work has focused on using technology to extend the reach of higher education beyond its traditional audience. He advocates for the educational rights of people with disabilities and people from disadvantaged backgrounds. His books include Evaluating Online Teaching: Implementing Best Practices (2015), The Copyright Ninja (2017), Reach Everyone, Teach Everyone: Universal Design for Learning in Higher Education (forthcoming from WVU Press in 2018), and Going Alt-Ac: A Guide to Alternative Academic Careers (in press, 2019). Visit his website here.


Evaluating Online Teaching

How are online courses taught differently than face-to-face? I’ll show you how student ratings, peer observations, and administrative evaluations align to the online medium via five use-them-now practices from my book Evaluating Online Teaching (Jossey-Bass).

Reach Everyone, Teach Everyone: Universal Design for Learning

Universal Design for Learning (UDL) strategies are typically discussed as ways to accommodate learners with disabilities, but they make courses more engaging and flexible for everyone. This workshop, presentation, or keynote increases student retention through UDL in higher-ed course design in five practical steps from my book Reach Everyone, Teach Everyone: UDL in Higher Education (WVU Press).

Copyright for Faculty and Administrators

Faculty and administrators often don’t have clear guidance about copying materials for teaching, or who owns content they create. I offer plain-language best practices in these areas—for both US and Canadian audiences. Help the learning to “stick” with copies of my comic book, The Copyright Ninja, for your participants, too.

Three Paths to Academic Integrity across Campus

The primary approach to academic integrity on many campuses is “catching cheaters.” From this presentation, you’ll get seven specific strategies that your institution and faculty members can implement within the next ten days to help increase campus-wide academic honesty (and, yes, still catch those cheaters).


Improve the Flipped Classroom with Universal Design for Learning

How Universal Design for Learning Supports the Flipped Classroom

How Universal Design for Learning Supports Concept Mastery in the Flipped Classroom

Increase Online Student Retention with Universal Design for Learning

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