One More Thing Before Summer


by Jerod Quinn, Instructional Developer, Reinert Center

I’m going to hold off declaring that summer is officially here for just one more moment. I know the residence halls are empty, the grades are all turned in, dissertations have been defended, and that course evaluations are arriving in our mailboxes. But before officially diving headfirst into summer I want to encourage you to do one more, very important thing before locking your office for the next couple months. Now is the perfect time to reflect on the just ended semester and think about next fall. I can audibly hear your collective groan of disapproval, but hear me out.

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From Cheating to Learning

Lang bookby Debie Lohe, Director, Reinert Center

It’s easy to assume that student cheating and violations of academic integrity norms are on the rise.  With students’ increasing use of technology and the increasingly blurry lines around re-use of existing creative works in our broader culture (just look at musical “sampling”), many worry that students’ understanding of “ownership” and “original” intellectual work is deteriorating.  Certainly, pass through any academic department on any college campus, and you’re apt to overhear someone say things like, Students today just have no regard for academic integrity! Or, We just live in a cheating culture now, and there’s nothing we can do about it.  But the good news is, there are things we can do about it.

In his new book, Cheating Lessons: Learning from Academic Dishonesty, James M. Lang (SLU alum, faculty member at Assumption College, and regular columnist for the Chronicle of Higher Education) provides a rationale and a roadmap for doing just that.

The book is driven by a powerful message: shift your focus from activities that prevent cheating to those that promote learning, and you create a learning environment that can reduce cheating.  Lang begins by exploring the recent literature on cheating (students are not, by the way, “cheating more” today than they did in the past) and placing that literature alongside research about how learning actually works (for one thing, learners have to be involved in their learning).  This leads him to four broad categories of practice that can result in what he calls “The (Nearly) Cheating-Free Classroom”:

1 Fostering Intrinsic Motivation

2 Learning for Mastery

3 Lowering Stakes

4 Instilling Self-Efficacy

The middle section of the book is devoted to these categories of practice.  For each, Lang offers concrete examples of strategies and activities used by actual faculty members to promote learning and reduce cheating.  Finally, at the end, he broadens his focus to include larger-scale initiatives and campus-wide approaches to creating a culture that privileges learning over preventing cheating.

If you’re interested in shifting your own focus from preventing cheating to promoting learning, come see us in the Reinert Center.  We’d be happy to help you explore small, concrete strategies that can have a large impact.

Book cover image courtesy of

Upcoming Initiatives related to the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL)

PrintThe Reinert Center is currently accepting proposals and nominations for two important SoTL initiatives.  Please see below for more information.


The Paul C. Reinert Center for Transformative Teaching and Learning
Scholarship of Teaching and Learning Symposium

Deadline: Friday, May 23, 2014

We invite faculty and graduate students to submit a 500-word proposal for a poster
presentation on a current (in-progress) or recently completed Scholarship (or research) of
Teaching and Learning project. New research as well as research already presented at
national or local conferences is welcome.

The Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL) involves researching questions about
teaching activities and student learning by formally studying the teaching and learning
activities of one’s course; answering those questions by assessing student learning and
effectiveness of teaching strategies; and publicly sharing results of this inquiry in a setting
that invites peer review, such as a publication or conference presentation.

The goal of the symposium is to showcase the SoTL work being conducted by Saint Louis
University faculty and graduate students, and to promote a community of SoTL

For more information on the symposium and participation guidelines, please visit our website.



James H. Korn Scholarship of Teaching and Learning Award
Deadline: Friday, May 23, 2014

The Reinert Center for Transformative Teaching and Learning is pleased to invite nominations for the 2014 James H. Korn Scholarship of Teaching and Learning Award.

One of the goals of the Reinert Center is to promote faculty inquiry and scholarly research on teaching and learning. In 2006, the Center established the James H. Korn Award for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning in recognition of Psychology Professor Emeritus Jim Korn’s many contributions to research on teaching and learning.

The Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL) involves researching questions about teaching activities and student learning by formally studying the teaching and learning activities of one’s course; answering those questions by assessing student learning and effectiveness of teaching strategies; and publicly sharing results of this inquiry in a setting that invites peer review, such as a publication or conference presentation.

For information on award criteria and nomination procedures, please visit our website.


End with the Beginning in Mind

CTTL_introbannerby Debra Lohe, Director, Reinert Center

It’s time.  You’re wrapping up another academic year.  Saying goodbye to graduating students.  Feeling relieved that the day-to-day demands of the spring term are winding down.  Looking ahead to the slower pace of summer, to the research you can finally get back to.  You aren’t really thinking about next year …. Yet.

After you get a bit of distance from final papers, exams, presentations, and projects, take a moment to reflect on what worked in your teaching this year, and what didn’t.  A few questions can guide your reflection:

What new discoveries did you make about teaching?

What do you wish you’d done differently?  Why?

How might you begin next year differently to accomplish more of what you hoped for?

Finally, how might you create even more engaging and inclusive learning environments for your students?

As you reflect, jot down any immediate insights, then tuck them away for later.  Capturing your immediate last impressions now will offer you a starting point when you begin thinking about next year.

From the Reinert Center, we wish you a productive, restful summer.  We’re here all summer long, so please come and see us if we can help you explore new ideas for teaching your course, engaging your students, or assessing their learning.

Congratulations Spring 2014 Certificate in University Teaching Skills Recipients!

DSC_0017The Reinert Center for Transformative Teaching and Learning honored 16 Certificate in University Teaching Skills recipients and 11 Foundations Certificate in University Teaching Skills recipients at our Spring Ceremony on Friday, May 2, 2014.  After warm welcomes from Dr. Debra Lohe, Director of the Reinert Center and Dr. Michael Lewis, Associate Vice-President for Faculty Development, keynote speaker, Dr. Shawn Nordell, professor in the Department of Biology, spoke about the rewards of risking failure in teaching and learning to the recipients, friends, and family in attendance.

During Nordell’s address, she reflected on the idea that faculty and students alike learn a great deal from failure.  Drawing from her experiences teaching in the Learning Studio as an Innovative Teaching Fellow this semester, Nordell discussed how the hypotheses students make about animal behavior often fail when the students witness that actual behavior out in the field. Because Nordell creates space for failure in her class, however, students are able to learn much more from their experiences and to see their knowledge grow through perseverance. That perseverance, she states, then also translates into recognizing the value of feedback on writing and patience in composing multiple drafts of papers as well.

As Lohe reminded the attendees in her closing remarks, the requirements for the Certificate in University Teaching Skills are themselves learning experiences that help participants to make deliberate and intentional choices about teaching, much like the ideas shared in Nordell’s address.  Friday’s ceremony acknowledged the time and commitment these participants gave to earning one of the Certificates. We also celebrated the dedication to teaching and learning, shown by those faculty members who served as teaching mentors.

For more information about our certificates visit

2014 Learning Studio Symposium

PrintOn Wednesday April 16, Innovative Teaching Fellows presented at the Paul C. Reinert, S.J. Center for Transformative Teaching & Learning’s 3rd annual Learning Studio Symposium.  Past and current Innovative Teaching Fellows shared their experiences with course redesign and with teaching in the the Learning Studio – Saint Louis University’s award-winning, state-of-the-art teaching space designed by a team of faculty and students as part of the Herman Miller Learning Spaces Research Program.

Faculty who presented at the Symposium included:

  • Robert Cole, Ph.D., Educational Studies, presented on how he incorporated Twitter and other technology in order to demonstrate how students in his course for preservice teachers will incorporate technology in their teaching.

  • Shawn Nordell, Ph.D., Biology, shared the ways the Learning Studio resources helped facilitate her students in conducting original animal behavior research with digital technology for the analysis, storage, and distribution of their research.

  • Ajlina Karamehic-Muratovic, Ph.D., Sociology, presented on a collaborative research project she ran through her entire course on The Sociology of Mental Health.

  • Bobbi Shatto, Ph.D., MSN, RN, CNL Nursing, showed how she incorporated a flipped classroom model in order to assist students in the Transition to Practice Program utilize technology to help bridge the gap between the classroom and the real world.

  • Palash Bera, Ph.D., Decision Sciences and Information Technology Management, discussed how the studio afforded an opportunity to work with large amounts of data in a collaborative working environment for a highly technical Business Intelligence course.

  • Daniel Bustillos, JD/Ph.D., Health Care Ethics, presented on the successes and challenges of incorporating film in an introductory honors course on medical ethics course.

  • Mary Gould, Ph.D., Communication, discussed how creating an immersive learning environment for students helped facilitate working with an outside non-for-profit company in her Digital Storytelling: Community Media Production course.

  • Alyssa Wilson,Ph.D., Social Work, reflected on her investigation of the effects of exposure-based learning in a Principles and Concepts of Behavior Analysis course.

After the symposium, attendees met to talk more about the Innovative Teaching Fellowship to as well as teaching in the Learning Studio.  Cookies were provided by the Sweet Potato Project, which was featured as part of a student project in Dr. Mary Gould’s communication course.

Upcoming videos from the symposium will be posted on the Reinert Center Vimeo page.

For more information about the Innovative Teaching Fellowship and the Learning Studio, visit the CTTL website.  The next call for applications will be announced in late August, 2014.


What’s On Our Minds Lately: The Instructional Design Team

Printby Chris Grabau, Instructional Designer, Reinert Center

As a part of the Instructional Design team at the Reinert Center, we encounter a lot of interesting artifacts related to teaching and learning.  From new and exciting commentary on pedagogy to the latest trend in educational psychology, the amount of information found by the ID team creates a lot of great water cooler conversations.  Here is just one of the topics we have been discussing lately:

Creativity and the Brain:  What We Can Learn from Jazz Musicians

Charles Limb, associate professor of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery at John’s Hopkins University, has been doing some interesting research investigating brain scans of jazz musicians.  Jazz music relies on the musicians’ ability to create sophisticated improvisations, which Limb suggests may provide a nice window into investigating creativity.  For his study, Limb created a plastic keyboard that can be brought into an MRI scanner and asked musicians to improvise while being scanned.  He found that when the musicians started improvising on the keyboard, their brain scans revealed that parts of the brain responsible for syntax are active while the limbic areas of the brain – the areas responsible for semantic cognition or meaning – were deactivated.

Limb’s scans show that when improvising, the brain shuts off “self-censoring” components in order to generate new ideas without restrictions.  The process suggests that improvisation creates an experience for the musician that is similar to what Hungarian psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi calls, Flow.  Flow is an event where a person is performing at her/his optimal level of experience.  Time slips away and a perfect balance is struck between the challenge of the task and the skill of the individual.  Athletes often describe this experiences as being “in the zone” (Csikszentmihalyi, 1990).

Limb’s discovery could suggest that creativity may be an essential feature of the human brain.  In fact, the creative function of the brain may have contributed to allowing the species to adapt repeatedly over the course of human history. “Very early on there’s this need for the brain to be able to come up with something that it didn’t know before, that’s not being taught to it, but to find a way to figure something out that’s creative,” Limb said. “That’s always been essential for human survival (Schwartz, 2014).”  Limb’s research may help describe the neurological process for “flow,” and it may also help further research to investigate how human brains can be developed.

If creativity is a hardwired component of cognition, how can Limb’s research help faculty with teaching?

Perhaps a greater understanding of how and when creativity occurs may inspire faculty to adopt teaching strategies that result in a little less directed and restrictive learning environment.  “It doesn’t have to be so directed all the time,” Limb said. “We’ve taken a lot of the joy out of things that used to be joyful.”  The results could be a learning experience where students are free from self-censoring and encouraged problem solve and to develop new ideas.   (Schwartz, 2014; López-González, 2012).

If you already use strategies to promote more self-directed learning, share them in the Comments section.



Csikszentmihalyi, M. (1990). Flow (1st ed.). New York: Harper & Row.

López-González, M., & Limb, C. (2012). Musical creativity and the brain. Cerebrum: The Dana Forum On Brain Science, 2012.

Schwartz, K. (2014). Creativity and the Brain: What We Can Learn From Jazz Musicians. Mindshift / Big Ideas. Retrieved from

What’s On Our Minds Lately: The Instructional Design Team

by Jerod Quinn, CTTL Instructional Designer.

In my line of work as an instructional designer, I get to be exposed to new ideas and tools all the time. Some of those ideas manage to grab my attention and take hold of it. Here are three that I have come across in the last few months that are inspiring me with their potential to influence teaching and learning here at SLU.

Students as Producers:

I stumbled onto the concept of “Students as Producers” through a blog post from Derek Bruff at Vanderbilt’s Center for Teaching. The idea is that “students should not be merely consumers of knowledge but producers, engaged in meaningful, generative work alongside the university’s faculty” (Center for Teaching, 2014). The important change is that the student becomes the producer and the faculty the collaborator, not the other way around. That’s no subtle difference. Students as Producers also demonstrates the power of undergraduate research, which is one of the AACU’s High-Impact Educational Practices (High-Impact Educational Practices, 2014).

If we go back to where the term Students as Producers originates we end up at the Centre for Educational Research and Development, the University of Lincoln, Galway, Ireland. Students as Producers came out of the “attempt to reconfigure the dysfunctional relationship between teaching and research in higher education and that this can be best achieved by rethinking the relationship between student and academic” (Winn, 2012). The University of Lincoln has created something that goes way beyond adding a research project to a course. They are changing the experience of undergraduate education at their university, along with demonstrating the value of open research, and it’s blowing my mind.


I have always drawn all over my notes. Sometimes my doodles illustrate points from the meeting or class, other times they are merely expressions of a wandering mind. Even with access to a laptop, I prefer to take handwritten notes. At a conference this past winter I was introduced to the concept of sketchnotes and pointed towards the Sketchnote Handbook, by Mike Rohde. Dual-coding theory, a theory of cognition, suggest that our brains process concepts in verbal and visual modes. Sketchnotes are a form of note taking that engages both the visual and verbal modes. Instead of drawing in the margins of your notes, the drawings become meaningful illustrations of the knowledge you are trying to retain. These visual notes act as a map of the ideas you hear. Rohde lays out a framework for creating sketchnotes by offering many practical tips, some design concepts, basic drawing tips, and many examples of how others practice sketchnoting. After several practice runs I tried live sketchnoting at a Missouri Department of Conservation gardening workshop a few weeks ago. As I was explaining my sketchnotes to my wife, I was absolutely shocked at how much I remembered and retained from the workshops. I also stumbled upon some recent research that indicates hand-written note taking influences deeper learning than typing lecture notes on a laptop (Herbert, W., 2014). My experience sketchnoting and the recent research on writing notes combined to make me wonder how many of our students could become better engaged with our courses if they learned about sketchnotes?


One of my first live sketchnotes from a workshop on starting plants from seeds.

One of my first live sketchnotes from a workshop on starting plants from seeds.


Google Apps for Collaboration:

A couple weeks ago I facilitated a workshop on using Google Apps for Collaboration. I was already using Google Apps in my everyday work, and also when I teach courses at SLU. In preparing for this workshop I learned a few new tricks that Apps can do. For example, Google Docs and Sheets now have the ability to add plugins (called “Add-ons”). I’m using one right now called EasyBib that creates and adds properly styled references to the bottom of my Google Doc. Google Sheets has an add-on called mapping that takes locations in a spreadsheet and automatically plots them on a Google Map. There are dozens of these potentially useful add-ons to help broaden the functionality of Google Apps. I was also reminded that not everyone really knows about Google Apps, even though we are a Google campus. Our workshop discussion demonstrated ideas about how Apps can assist with collaborative projects in and outside of the classroom. Several of the participants mentioned how a shared spreadsheet or a collaborative writing assignment came together relatively easily using Apps. I have provided links to my presentation and some resources if you would like to learn a little more about Google Apps for collaboration.

Google Apps Presentation:

Google Apps Resources:


Center for Teaching. (n.d.). Retrieved April 08, 2014, from

Herbert, W. (2014, January 28). Ink on Paper: Some Notes on Note-taking. Retrieved April 08, 2014, from

High-Impact Educational Practices. (n.d.). Retrieved April 08, 2014, from

Winn, Joss. (2012, March). Hacking the University – Lincoln’s Approach to Openness. Retrieved April 8, 2014, from

Preparing Our Students for the Future

by Kim Levenhagen PT, DPT, WCC, Assistant Professor in the Program in Physical Therapy

In 2013, Hart Research Associates conducted an online survey of employers’ priorities for hiring today’s graduates.  This detailed analysis provided recommendations on changes that need to occur in education and educational assessment practices.  A brief summary of It Takes More Than a Major:  Employer Priorities for College Learning and Student Success reported employers want graduates who are:

  • Innovative
  • Ethical
  • Critical thinkers
  • Complex problem solvers
  • Excellent communicators in the written and oral language
  • Lifelong learners

Additionally, the report suggested that in order for students to be successful in the workplace, educational institutions should incorporate a blended model of liberal and applied learning.  This model would include educational practices that require students to “1) conduct research and use evidence-based analysis; 2) gain in-depth knowledge in the major, and analytic, problem solving, and communication skills; and 3) apply their learning in real-world settings.”  It is interesting to note, that employers placed emphasis in a candidate’s ability to critically think, communicate, and solve complex problems over their major field of study when hiring.

So how do we measure up in preparing Saint Louis University students for the future?  When our students graduate this May can we say they can critically think, communicate and solve problems?  Have we provided them opportunities to fail and succeed in real life settings?  According to the 2014 Saint Louis University Student Profile, 95% of students from the Class of 2012 were satisfied with their post graduate activities including graduate school and careers.  If we agree that satisfied graduates are equal to satisfied employers, then we are living out the Mission of Saint Louis University and producing future employees who are men and women for others.  So what do we do to set our graduates apart?

One way in which faculty live out this Mission is by incorporating the Ignatian Pedagogy Paradigm into the curriculum.  It allows the students to develop a level of deeper critical thinking and solve complex problems.  This transformational learning process involves five elements which include: 1) Context (who); 2) Experience (what); 3) Reflection (why/how); 4) Action (what next); and 5) Evaluation (how well).  For this model to be successful, the faculty member must plan purposeful learning experiences in which the students can critically think, problem solve in real life experiences, reflect, and then serve as change agents.  This can be accomplished through addressing social justice issues in curricular topics, problem based learning, or participating in community service projects that address cura personalis (care of the whole person).

If you are new to the concept of Ignatian Pedagogy, the Reinert Center for Transformative Teaching and Learning provides excellent resources for faculty.  The site includes videos on the history and the five elements by the late Fr. Vincent Duminuco, S.J. as well as Saint Louis University faculty Darina Sargeant, Ph.D., Michael D Rozier S.J. In addition, there are links and tip sheets on how to incorporate service learning, Ignatian spirituality, and reflection into your curriculum.  Even if you are familiar with Ignatian Pedagogy these resources can assist you in sparking new ideas to enhance your teaching.


Levenhagen Pic 2

Dr. Levenhagen has a DPT in Physical Therapy from Saint Louis University. She teaches many courses, including: Survey of Disease, Communication Processes, Multi System Management, Skills Practicum, Interprofessional Educational courses. She also is part of the Clinical Education team for the SLU Program in Physical Therapy. Deeply committed to effective pedagogical practice, Dr. Levenhagen has participated in a number of programs hosted by the Center, and she now serves as one of the Center’s Faculty Fellows. 


Pedagogy and the Teaching of Law


Saint Louis University Law professor, Miriam Cherry, has recently conducted classroom research exploring new ways to teach about employment discrimination. The results of that research are published in the Fall 2013 issue of the Saint Louis University Law Journal.

Professor Cherry’s article “explores virtual worlds as a teaching technique in the Employment Discrimination class. In designing and creating an avatar, students may see how elements of their online identities and appearance are malleable. Because employers are increasingly using technology and virtual environments, virtual worlds may either promote meritocracy or replicate existing stereotyping and hierarchies. This article presents several strategies for using technology as a way to study employment discrimination and to use technology as a de-biasing agent” (abstract).

To read Professor Cherry’s article as well as other pedagogically focused research about “teaching employment and labor law” from the several SLU law professors featured in this issue, including Matthew Bodie, Susan FitzGibbon, Marcia McCormick, and Elizabeth Pendo, visit the journal website.