First Thursdays

First Thursdays are monthly lunchtime gatherings focused on different aspects of teaching and learning and are open to all faculty. Topics of conversation are based on faculty needs and current issues and vary from month to month. Ample time for questions and discussion is provided. First Thursday participants also enjoy a free catered lunch (12pm-1pm). Emails promoting the events and requesting lunch reservations are sent 2-3 weeks in advance.

Presentation topics from recent academic years are described below. Where possible, pdf versions of slides or handouts are provided. (Please note that you must be logged into your UNC Asheville Gmail account to access google files.)

2023-2024 Presentations and Think Tanks

Incorporating AI: Assignment Sharing and Course Technology Policies (8.16.23): Presented by Renuka Gusain (Interdisciplinary Studies) and Robert Bell (Writing Center)

Supporting Students’ Mental Health and the Stepped Care Model (9.7.23): Presented by Megan Pugh (Dean of Students), Julie Townley (Residential Care Coordinator), and Laura Carper (Associate Dean of Students)

2022-2023 Presentations and Think Tanks

Learning in Action: Uniquely Asheville Connections (9.1.22): Presented by Irene Rossell (Environmental Studies), Leslee Johnson (English and Humanities Program), and Ameena Batada (Health & Wellness).

Playful Pedagogy: Making Learning (and Teaching!) Fun (10.6.22): Presented by Angel Kaur (Neuroscience), Rob Berls (Drama), and Bill Bares (Music).

Teaching and Learning Approaches to Ta-Nehisi Coates’ “The Case for Reparations” (11.3.22): Presented by Leah Matthews (Economics), Reid Chapman (Education and Humanities Program), and Dwight Mullen (Political Science, Emeritus).

Our Digital Toolkits: Lightening Round on Digital Tools in the Classroom (2.2.23): Participants included: Anne Slatton (Mass Communications), Angel Kaur (Neuroscience), Leslee Johnson (English and Humanities Program), Valeria Tezzon (Humanities Program), Ellen Pearson (History), Victoria Bradbury (New Media), Anne Ogg (CTL), and Laurie Miles (CTL).

“Considering A.I. Writing: A CTL Think Tank.” (2.3.23): Facilitated by Jessica Pisano (English/First Year Writing Coordinator).

SHIFT Showcase (3.2.23): Presented by Oksana Love (Chemistry), Amanda Wray (WGSS), Jen Rhode Ward (Biology), Landon Ward (Biology), Ashley Moraguez (Political Science), and Lei Han (New Media).

Let’s Talk About Teaching: Compassionate Accountability  (4.6.23): Facilitated by Renuka Gusain (Interdisciplinary/International Studies).

2021-2022 Presentations and Think Tanks

“What are we keeping from the 2020-2021 Academic Year?” (9.2.21): Presented by Brittani McNamee (Environmental Studies) and Angel Kaur (Neuroscience).

“Engaging with Indigenous Materials in the Classroom” (10.6.21): Presented by Sol Neely (Cherokee Nation, Heritage University).

“Introduction to Racial Healing Circles” (10.7.21): Facilitated by Renuka Gusain (Humanities) and Luke Givens (Institutional Equity).

“Inside the Minds & Hearts of Community Co-Educators” (11.4.21): Facilitated by Nicole Hinebaugh (Bountiful Cities), Mirian Porras (Poder EMMA), and Brandon Whiteside, MSW-SSW (Asheville City Schools Foundation).

“Jumping off a cliff,” “easing on out,” and advice for soft landings (2.3.22): Presented by Melissa Himelein (Psychology).

“I Can’t Come to Class!” CTL Think Tank on Student Absences (2.11.22)

“Re-imagining Safe Spaces” (3.2.22): Presented by Shawn Mendez (Sociology and WGSS), Jordan Perry, and Heidi Kelley (Anthropology).

2020-2021 Presentations

Calling Out, Calling In, and Cancel Culture in the Liberal Arts Context (2.4.21): Presented by Resharia Keller (Residential Education), Toby King (Music), and Shawn Mendez (Sociology).

Writing Across the Curriculum at UNCA: What Do the Data Tell Us? (3.4.21): Presented by Brian Graves (English) and Jessica Pisano (English).

Understanding and Responding to Student Feedback on Instruction (SFIs) (4.1.21): Presented by Evelyn Chiang (Psychology) and Christine Boone (Music).

2019-2020 Presentations

The Professor is Listening: Amplifying the Voices of Underrepresented Students (9.5.19): Lyndi Hewitt (Sociology & Anthropology) and Lise Kloeppel (Drama), co-facilitators of the 2018-2019 faculty learning community on intersectional feminist pedagogies, shared findings from a survey of students regarding individual and institutional barriers to being seen, heard, and affirmed.

Trigger Warnings and Safe Spaces (10.3.19): Anne Jansen (English) and Luke Givens (Director of Multicultural Affairs) shared research and historical trends along with current UNC Asheville practices.

Trauma-Informed Teaching: Faculty Roles and University Supports (11.7.19): Melissa Burchard (Philosophy), Melissa Himelein (CTL), and Elizabeth McCorvey (Health & Counseling) discussed the impact of trauma on student learning, the relationship between trauma and PTSD, and university supports at UNCA.

SOTL-Informed Pedagogy – (2.6.20): James Perkins (Physics), Nancy Ruppert (Education), and Jason Wingert (Health and Wellness) discussed various projects and strategies surrounding the scholarship of teaching and learning (SoTL).

2018-2019 Presentations

Fall 2018 First Thursday events focused on the theme of saving time:

  • Saving Time with Specs Grading (9.13.18): Three members of the Spring 2018 learning circle on specs grading (Brian Graves, Shawn Mendez, and Melissa Himelein) discussed the philosophy of this innovative approach to evaluation and their experiences piloting it in classes.
  • Saving Time with Instructional Technology (10.4.18): The CTL’s instructional technology team (Laurie Miles, John Myers, and Anne Ogg) introduced time-saving digital tools, including videoconferencing, Chrome extensions, and Moodle gradebook features.
  • Saving Time in Evaluating Writing Assignments (11.1.18): Faculty from all University divisions (Jessica Pisano, Elizabeth Porter, Ellen Pearson, and Oksana Love) shared their tips for evaluating student writing more efficiently and effectively.

Spring 2019 First Thursdays focused on the theme of student success:

2017-2018 Presentations

“Instant” Accessibility: Small Changes, Large Effects (4.5.18): Evelyn Chiang (Psychology), Carolyn Ogburn (Accessibility), Heidi Kelley (Sociology & Anthropology), Greg Boudreaux (Math), & Jessica Pisano (English/Writing Center) shared ideas for enhancing a course’s accessibility. Based on Universal Design for Learning principles, these strategies can benefit all learners.

Open Textbooks: Can We Save Students Money Without Sacrificing Quality? (3.8.18): Scott Walters (Drama), Brian Graves (English), & Mark McClure (Math). Textbooks have been called the “second tuition” by students burdened with increasing costs of course materials. Could open texts (free and online) meet your needs? Faculty panelists discussed their experiences, and librarian Jon Morris introduced a related UNC System initiative.

Writing Instruction at UNC Asheville: How Can We Encourage Transfer across the Curriculum? (2.1.18): Brian Graves & Jessica Pisano (English). As both teachers and researchers of writing, Brian and Jessica shared findings from their recent study of faculty writing instruction practices and facilitated discussion about how faculty across the curriculum can work together to assist students in transferring first-year writing course concepts to subsequent writing experiences.

Engaging with Michelle Alexander’s Work (11.02.17): Patrick Bahls (Math, Honors), Reid Chapman (Education), & Elizabeth Porter (Economics). In preparation for Michelle Alexander’s visit to UNC Asheville in January, 2018, Patrick, Reid, and Elizabeth shared ideas for introducing students to Alexander’s work.

Writing Strategies for Faculty with No Time to Write (10.05.17): David Clarke (Biology), Melissa Himelein (Psychology, CTL), Erica Abrams Locklear (English), Leah Mathews (Economics), & Tracey Rizzo (History). A multi-disciplinary panel of faculty described strategies they have found helpful in making time for scholarship, ranging from scheduling solitary time or short daily sessions, to using deadlines to one’s advantage, to organizing writing groups and collaborative research teams.

Course-Based Undergraduate Research Experiences in Science and Humanities (9.7.17): Eva Bares (Art & Art History), Mark Harvey (Psychology, Undergraduate Research), & Jen Rhode Ward (Biology). Mark described the benefits of course-based undergraduate research experiences (CUREs), considered a “high-impact” practice in undergraduate education; Jen shared how biology has successfully incorporated CUREs across the curriculum, and Eva presented her redesign of an art history course to be a CURE.

2016-2017 Presentations

Facilitating Civil Discourse in Uncivil Times (CTL-sponsored Provost’s Forum, 9.9.16): Mirlesna Azor, Rick Chess, Anne Jansen, and Lorena Russell provided guidance to faculty whose course content includes discussion of challenging or politically-charged topics. Ideas for constructive management of diverse perspectives included the use of contemplative pedagogy, “leaning in” to discomfort, and encouraging critical thinking.

Building an Inclusive Classroom (10.6.16): Guest speaker Keith Woods, NPR’s Vice President for Diversity and Inclusion, applied his experience strengthening diversity in journalism to consideration of equity in the college classroom. Co-sponsored by the Center for Diversity Education.

Why Educational Technology Works and Why It Doesn’t (11.3.16): Guest speaker Michael Vaughn, an educational technology designer at Elon University, presented strategies for assessing the utility and benefit of innovative digital tools.

Inclusive Pedagogy: Reaching All Learners (2.3.17): Melissa Himelein and Evelyn Chiang provided an overview of inclusive pedagogy and some concrete strategies for teaching; Tiece Ruffin offered a perspective on responsive teaching and Universal Design for Learning principles.

Block Grant Blitz: Lightning Presentations from 2016-2017 Interdisciplinary Grant Teams (3.2.17): Final reports of Block Grant recipients are now posted here.

Inquiry ARC: Where Have We Been and Where Are We Going? (4.6.17): Faculty, students, and members of the Inquiry ARC Assessment Team shared their perspectives about the successes of our campus Quality Enhancement Plan.

2015-2016 Presentations

Innovative Technology Tools (9.3.15): Presentations by Anne Ogg, Laurie Miles, and John Myers (Teaching & Learning with Technology Resources). What’s new and different in instructional technology in higher education? Our TLTR team designed a workshop to demonstrate innovative tech tools and to assess your interest in using them, introducing options designed for teacher-student communication, content creation, active learning, and collaboration.

Liberal Arts Colloquium in Lightning Format (10.1.15):Materials from presentations by LA 178 instructors Jerad Crave, Regine Criser, Rodger Payne, Tracey Rizzo, & Lorena Russell (google file).

Diversity Pedagogy (11.5.15): Looking for new approaches to teaching about diversity? This “ideas exchange” featured brief presentations from faculty about an assignment or activity that they have found effective in their diversity-oriented or diversity-intensive courses, shared in a google file.

Impressions of Cuba: Opportunities and Challenges (2.5.16): Greta Trautmann (Modern Languages and Literatures) introduced COPLACuba, a December, 2015, COPLAC-sponsored faculty development program in Havana. Till Dohse (Mathematics) and Jennifer Rhode Ward (Biology), who participated in the trip along with 18 other COPLAC faculty, presented their experiences, and ideas for future COPLAC and UNC Asheville initiatives in Cuba were shared.

Mentoring Relationships (3.3.16): Dr. Cerise Glenn, associate professor of communication studies at UNC Greensboro and a UNC Asheville alum, discussed her research on mentoring relationships in academic environments.

Students in Distress: How Faculty Can Help (4.1.16): Karen Cole (Academic Advising), Jay Cutspec (Health & Counseling), Gabby Porcaro (Student Affairs Case Manager), and Sue Lipiec (Health and Counseling) discussed contemporary students’ emotional challenges and offered advice about how faculty can best assist students in obtaining the coping resources they need.

2014-2015 Presentations

Using Critical Thinking Tools to Teach about Diversity (9.5.14): Inquiry ARC faculty participants Ameena Batada, Lyndi Hewitt, and Lorena Russell demonstrated how the tools of critical thinking can be applied to classroom conversations about diversity.

Triggers in the Classroom: Join the Debate (10.2.14): Lori Horvitz, Lorena Russell, and Melissa Himelein provided background on the “trigger warnings” debate, offered examples from their classes, and shared recommendations.

Applying the Principles of Universal Design to College Classrooms (11.7.14): Guest speaker Barbara Levin, Professor of Education at UNC Greensboro, reviewed principles of Universal Design for Learning, educational practices that give all individuals – regardless of abilities or disabilities – equal opportunities for classroom learning.

Translational Science Education Research in the Classroom: From Theory to (Successful) Practice (2.5.15): Guest speaker Anna Hiatt, Assistant Professor of Biology, East Tennessee State University, described innovative teaching strategies in STEM classrooms.

Innovations in the Humanities Program (3.5.15) Kate Zubko, Coordinator of Humanities 124, explained recent updates in Humanities 124, including flipped classroom segments and a thematic approach.

Teaching Students to Respond to and Incorporate Sources in their Writing (4.16.15), Patrick Bahls and Deaver Traywick provided tips for helping students use references appropriately and thoughtfully in writing assignments.