For More Information

Mark Lange
Conference Director
Associate Dean for Undergraduate Education & Executive Director of the SBS Advising Center

College of Social and
Behavioral Sciences
UMass Amherst

128 Thompson Hall
200 Hicks Way
Amherst, MA 01003-9244


Conference Details

Rationale | Schedule | Speakers | Logistics | Exhibitor Info | Sponsors | Exhibitors | Program | Registration


Teaching for Student Success

The demand for technological competencies is expanding in higher education. From blended and fully on-line classes, to flipped classes, MOOCs and SPOCs, instructors have a variety of options to consider. As the impact of technology increases, however, it also invites us to reconsider past and current practices.
How do we know what really works to enhance student learning while maximizing accessibility and affordability in higher education? Which technologies are demonstrated to be effective? Are recently identified "high impact practices" consistent with technology-based course designs? How should our student affairs and student services programs respond to the evolving needs of today's students? Since student learning is our goal, what kinds of assessments reveal where and how that learning takes place, both in the classroom and out of the classroom?

Technology also comes in many forms—from cutting-edge learning analytics platforms to face-to-face discussion. The multi-modal nature of technology invites us to investigate the underlying reasons for the instructional decisions that we make in and beyond the classroom. Are there particular strategies and approaches that work nearly universally? Should anyone only "stand and deliver?" What are some of the supplemental programs and services that enable students to get the most benefit from what goes on in a course, and, in particular in the classroom? Is advising also a teaching process that could be informed by effective instruction techniques? Should we be trying to ensure that best practices are used in all courses and in all instructional formats? Inherent in the answers to these, and similar questions, is the likelihood that some approaches are more valuable for some students than for others.

To encourage exploration of the diverse answers to these questions, this conference will provide opportunities for participants to learn about and share various strategies in teaching and learning that appear to have the most positive impact on student learning.  Participants – tenured professors, contingent faculty, and student affairs staff alike – will discuss how we can encourage and support each other to learn about different strategies, to focus on student learning, to experiment with different course designs and to adopt and retain best practices.


8:00 – 9:00 am   Registration and Continental Breakfast, UMass Amherst Campus Center Concourse
9:00 – 9:45 am   Welcome by UMass Chancellor Kumble Subbaswamy
Morning Plenary: Donna Lisker, Dean of the College & VP for Campus Life, Smith College
“Setting Students Up for Success: Addressing Analog Issues in a Digital World”
10:00 - 11:15 am   Concurrent Sessions, Campus Center Lower Level and 9th Floor
11:30 – 12:45 pm   Keynote Address, Campus Center Auditorium
Mary Deane Sorcinelli
"Evidence-based Teaching: What We Know and How to Promote it On Your Campus”
12:45 – 1:30 pm   Lunch, Campus Center Auditorium
Dessert will be available on the Campus Center Concourse
1:45 – 2:45 pm  

Invited Addresses, Campus Center Lower Level and 9th Floor

Cheryl Foster, University of Rhode Island
Tactile Teaching as Classroom Technique

Tom Schiff & Oscar Collins, University of Massachusetts, Amherst
Thinking Outside the (Classroom) Box: The Role of Student Affairs in Student Success

Terry McNulty, Middlesex Community College (CT)
The Practice of Education: The Transitional Year Program at Middlesex Community College

Andrew Koch, John N. Gardner Institute for Excellence in Undergraduate Education
Gateway Courses— Catalysts for Completion or Barriers to a Better Life? It is up to you . . .

Kate Hudson, University of Massachusetts, Amherst
From Clickers to Clouds: How Technology is Transforming Learning in Higher Education

3:00 – 3:45 pm   Panel of Afternoon Speakers, Campus Center Auditorium
Want to hear what another speaker had to say?
Come to this wrap up and ask your questions.
3:45 – 4:30 pm   Wine and Cheese Social, Campus Center Concourse, Lower Level
Come follow up with presenters, and catch up with colleagues.


Keynote Speaker

Mary Deane Sorcinelli is a well-known researcher in the areas of academic careers, faculty professional development, and higher education teaching and learning. She has written more than 100 articles, book chapters, and books in a wide range of sources. At the University of Massachusetts Amherst, she founded the Center for Teaching and Faculty Development (CTFD). The Center supports the professional development of UMass faculty across all career stages and disciplines with a wide range of programs and resources focused on teaching, mentoring, scholarly writing, career advancement, and work/life balance.  Under her direction, the CTFD has promoted instructional and faculty development innovations that have been recognized with a range of national awards and externally funded grants.

In 2013, Sorcinelli was named the inaugural Distinguished Scholar in Residence at Mount Holyoke's Weissman Center for Leadership. She was honored with the University of Massachusetts' 2013 Distinguished Alumni Award and the 2014 Lifetime Achievement Award from Massachusetts/ACE Network of Women Leaders in Higher Education.  In 2006, she was awarded the Bob Pierleoni Spirit of POD (Professional and Organizational Development) Award for outstanding lifetime achievement and leadership in the enhancement of teaching and learning.  She also served as president and executive board member of the POD Network (2000–2004) and as senior scholar to the American Association for Higher Education.

Sorcinelli has provided faculty development teaching and consultations in international settings that include Canada, China, Egypt, England, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Puerto Rico, Saudi Arabia, and Taiwan.

She holds a B.A. in English from Westfield State University, an M.A. in English from Mount Holyoke College and an ED.D in Educational Policy from UMass Amherst.

Morning Plenary Speaker

Donna Lisker

Donna Lisker was appointed Dean of the College and Vice-President of Campus Life at Smith College in July 2014. Prior to coming to Smith, she had a 15-year career at Duke University in Durham, NC. From 2007-2014, she served as the Associate Vice-Provost for Undergraduate Education (along with a temporary stint as Interim Vice-Provost for Duke Kunshan University and China Initiatives). Her portfolio encompassed coordination of all aspects of the undergraduate experience – academic, residential, social and co-curricular – with particular focus on strategic planning for global education, redesigning Duke's residential system, and studying the experiences of financial aid and first-generation students. In 2004 Lisker founded the Baldwin Scholars, Duke's prestigious women's leadership program, and served as its co-director until her departure from Duke.

From 1999-2007, Donna Lisker was Director of the Duke University Women's Center, where she led the undergraduate research component of the Duke University Women's Initiative. She came to Duke from Virginia Tech, where she was a faculty member and administrator, 1995-1999. A native of Philadelphia, Donna received her B.A. from Williams College, and her M.A. and Ph.D. in English from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She's married to Peter Schwaller, an open-source software development manager, and they have two teenage daughters, Samantha and Veronica. Donna is a fitness enthusiast and competitive masters rower.

Featured Speakers

Cheryl Foster

Cheryl Foster is Professor of Philosophy and Associate Director of the Honors Program at the University of Rhode Island. In addition to writing, teaching and advising, Professor Foster co-hosts The Beauty Salon, a weekly talk-format radio show about all things aesthetic in the state of Rhode Island. In March 2013 she was one of 7 educators nationally to receive the Kennedy Center/ Stephen Sondheim Inspirational Teacher Award and in November 2013 was named the CASE Carnegie Professor for Rhode Island.

Tactile Teaching vs. Focal Point Displacement

This session explores the physicality of effective classroom techniques in light of fragmented student attention spans. Emphasis on discovery of one's own presence as a teacher, the interpretation of haptic signals, and the creation of memorable heuristic bridges between abstract ideas and concrete understanding. Some reflection on taking inventory of the tools at one's disposal in the face to face classroom setting.

Tom Schiff

Tom Schiff, Ed.D, was recently named as Director of the new Men and Masculinities Center at UMass. Prior to that, he was a Health Educator at the UMass Center for Health Promotion for 12 years, including being interim lead for close to 2 years. Tom has over thirty years of experience as an educator, counselor, trainer, and consultant. His work at UMass has included a focus on men's health, violence prevention, outreach to International students, addressing racial health disparities, tobacco education and cessation, and a host of other topics. He has a particular expertise in working with men on issues of health, leadership development, violence prevention, sexual harassment, sexism, and homophobia. His work ranges from residential treatment with abused boys, psychiatric and substance abuse rehabilitation work, organization development and human relations for schools, businesses, and non-profits, violence and substance abuse prevention for high school and junior high school students, and more. He also has taught in the Social Justice Education program, Public Health, and Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies at UMass Amherst.

Oscar Collins

Oscar Collins is the Associate Director of Academic Support at the Center for Multicultural Advancement and Student Success, UMass. Oscar completed his Master’s Degree in Educational Psychology with a specialization in Student Affairs Administration in 1997 at the University of Nebraska Lincoln. Oscar’s student affairs career has spanned over 15 years where he has been at various institutions including the University of Massachusetts which is where he has spent most of his career. Oscar’s focus is working with underrepresented student populations such as: under-represented minorities, first generation and low-income students. In addition to his formal education, Oscar is trained in social justice theory with a focus on intergroup dialogue.

Kate Hudson

Kate Hudson is on the faculty of the Higher Education program in the College of Education at UMass Amherst. She has extensive experience in faculty development around teaching, having previously spent ten years in the Office of Academic Computing at UMass Amherst where she was responsible for developing programs and facilities aimed at providing instructors the tools needed in order to be creative in integrating new learning technologies into their teaching. She currently teaches an “Intro to College Teaching” course aimed at graduate students who are expecting to teach at the college level, and has worked on faculty development projects internationally, most recently in Gaza and the West Bank. She is passionate about working with instructors to become more student-centered in their teaching, with an emphasis on active learning approaches, including how technology can be used to more fully engage students in the classroom.

Drew Koch

Drew Koch has been with the Gardner Institute since 2010 and currently serves as the Institute’s executive vice president. From 1998-2010, Dr. Koch held a variety of student persistence and completion-related roles at Purdue University including serving as the founding director of the nationally acclaimed Department of Student Access, Transition, and Success Programs. Before working at Purdue, Dr. Koch served as the Director of Freshman Advancement and Associate Dean at Hofstra University, and he also served as Assistant to the Dean of Summer College at the University of Richmond. His research interests include student success, the role of colleges and universities in shaping democracy and culture in the United States, and the role of sport in U.S. culture and society.

Terence McNulty

Terence McNulty, associate professor of English at Middlesex Community College, is the recipient of the Board of Regents Teaching Award. This award recognizes research, creative, and scholarly work by full time faculty members in the Connecticut State Colleges and Universities system. Professor McNulty believes that through humor, collaboration, and good will, a classroom can summon revelation. He believes in the value of confusion and wonder, and he hopes his students leave his classroom conflicted with thought rather than settled by answer. He has been teaching at MxCC since 2008. He teaches a variety of English courses and coordinates the Transitional Year Program. His poems have won the Esprit Prize and the Steve Grady Award, and he has served as a Rose Writing Fellow at Brown University.



The conference takes place on the Concourse of the Campus Center at the University of Massachusetts Amherst.


For reservations at the UMass Amherst Campus Center Hotel, call: 1-877-822-2110 or go on-line:

Getting to Campus

Here is a map and directions to campus. When you arrive, look for signs directing you to the Campus Center Parking Garage, located at B3 on this more detailed campus map. For GPS, the address is 1 Campus Center Way. We suggest parking on the second level.


Upon arrival, park in the Campus Center Parking Garage on the second level, then exit the garage by walking through a short tunnel. After a set of glass doors, turn left and walk directly into the Campus Center. The registration table is located on the lower level. You may take the escalators down, which will be on your left, or the elevators, which will be on your right.


Here is the Conference Program.


Questions should be addressed to Susan McDonough in the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences: 413.577.1202.


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