Conference on

TEACHING   LARGE   CLASSES

Saturday, February 17, 2018 • Virginia Tech, Virginia USA

Keynote Speakers

Jill Sible, Ph.D.

Associate Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education and Professor of Biological Sciences

Virginia Tech

Title: THINK BIG: Moving from My Class to Our Institution Through Learner-Centered Pedagogy

Description: Through effective teaching practices, we can impact lives, one student at a time. When we bring those practices to scale in large classes, we may reach hundreds. But how can we as faculty catalyze campus-wide changes in the learning experiences of our students? Follow the journey of one professor-turned-administrator to discover strategies for scaling up student engagement in your large classes and becoming an effective champion for institutional change. How can you influence decisions about curriculum, space, and budget? How can you play a bigger role in the learning revolution?
Short Bio: Jill Sible, a first-generation college student, earned her BS in Biochemistry at the University of New Hampshire and her PhD in Cell, Molecular and Developmental Biology at Tufts University School of Medicine. She completed postdoctoral students at a Howard Hughes Medical Institute laboratory at the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center. At Virginia Tech, Jill Sible led an innovative cell biology research program for a decade then moved into university administration eight years ago to work for the improvement of the undergraduate learning experience. She introduced her campus to the SCALE-UP concept and spearheaded the design and construction of SCALE-UP classrooms and adoption of the associated pedagogy at Virginia Tech. She has led over $10M in sponsored research projects including $6M in STEM education grants. She is currently the lead investigator for projects funded by the National Science Foundation and Howard Hughes Medical Institute, which focus on increasing success, retention and diversity among undergraduate programs in STEM. Sible is a National Academies of Science Education Fellow in the Life Sciences. Her current projects include leading a revision of Virginia Tech’s general education curriculum to be more integrated, outcomes-oriented and infused with contemporary pedagogy and chairing a Beyond Boundaries committee to develop strategies to bring experiential learning opportunities to every Virginia Tech student. She has also worked on the vision and programming for Virginia Tech’s new classroom building and new undergraduate science laboratory building. Sible has taught courses in cell and molecular biology, developmental biology, and cancer biology and cites the learning experiences she shares with her students as her greatest professional reward.


Brian H. Lower, Ph.D.

Associate Professor
School of Environment & Natural Resources

The Ohio State University

Title: Creating the greatest opportunity for success for the greatest number of students

Description: A large-enrollment class provides a unique opportunity to offer rewarding educational experiences to a large number of students. In fact, large classes offer several advantages to students. These include providing students with a greater number of peer-to- peer interactions, exposing students to diverse ideas and views, and allowing students to participate in different active learning environments. These experiences can have a profound impact on a student’s development and ultimately help shape her or him into a responsible citizen and well-respected professional. When teaching a large- enrollment class, an instructor must develop creative ways to engage all students. This can be challenging, especially given the number and diversity of students. In this talk, Dr. Lower will describe the strategies he and his colleagues have used in their large- enrollment, general education science course “Introduction to Environmental Science.” He will describe their endeavors in detail, discuss the outcomes, and talk about the challenges that they present for both live and distance-education courses.
Short Bio: During his 10 years at The Ohio State University (OSU), Brian Lower has taught 40 courses to over 8,000 students, including both live and 100% online distance education courses. Class sizes range from 10 students in his graduate courses to 800 students in his introductory undergraduate courses. Brian strives to develop innovative ways to engage students in the scientific process and encourage their educational development. Examples include publishing free environmental science textbooks authored by undergraduate students, chairing the annual Environmental Science Student Symposium at OSU where 750 students present individual posters of their work each year, and launching a free Environmental Science course through Apple iTunes U and Canvas Network to reach a global audience. Brian is passionate about the use of technology and distance education to increase student access, reach a more diverse audience and make college affordable to everyone.

Brian is a member of OSU’s Academy of Teaching. Brian received the 2017 Alumni Award for Distinguished Teaching at OSU, the 2016 North American Colleges and Teachers of Agriculture Educator Award, the 2015 Rodney F. Plimpton Outstanding Teacher Award and the 2009 Virginia Tech Outstanding Biochemistry Alumni Award.

Brian serves several student programs at OSU, including the Second-Year Transformational Experience Program (STEP), the Graduate Teaching Associate Development and Enhancement Program, the Graduate Research and Scholarship Awards Committee, the Graduate Associate Teaching Awards Committee, the Distance Education Steering Committee and the Ohio Science Olympiad.

Brian’s research focus is in environmental microbiology, working with magnetotactic bacteria and is funded by the U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF). As part of his research, he has published 30 journal articles, given over 100 professional presentations, and advised 7 graduate students and 12 undergraduate students.

Brian earned his B.S. from Kent State University in 1995 and Ph.D. from Virginia Tech in 2001. He was a post-doctoral associate in the Departments of Biochemistry and Geosciences at Virginia Tech from 2002-2004. Brian was a senior scientist at the U.S. DOE Pacific Northwest National Laboratory from 2004-2008. He joined the faculty at OSU’s School of Environment & Natural Resources in 2008, where he is now an associate professor.










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