TIMELY ANNOUNCEMENT – The 2020 Spring Conference on Teaching and Learning has been postponed because of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

All 2020 Presenters will be contacted to reconfirm their participation in the program for 2021.

The *most* important thing we can do in the coming weeks as more and more courses shift to remote learning has nothing to do with content. Community, belonging, and your presence will matter as much, if not more, than the material you are teaching. Caring will be crucial.

Joshua Eyler, Ph.D.

The Joys of Teaching and Learning: Creating Transformational Experiences Banner

Professional Development Books


Recently published books by Keynote Joshua Eyler and Workshop Facilitator Cyndi Kernahan are available for purchase through of West Virginia University Press.


Education that works is transformative. Students leave our universities walking taller, minds expanded in ways they could not have imagined when they arrived. Their learning doesn’t disappear after a week or two, but is enduring in their relevancy and authenticity. Most importantly, what students learn is successfully integrated into what AAC&U’s LEAP Project calls “unscripted problems.”

Creating transformative experiences is central to our work as faculty, instructors, and lecturers, as university and college teachers. How do you create transformative experiences? How do you generate ideas to ignite your students’ learning? What experiences have you created that optimized your students’ thinking, transforming their views about the world and their place in it?

New ideas typically have rough edges. We’d like to hear about those experiences, too. How did these flawed attempts open up new ways to rethink your failures into more refined and nuanced experiences? What did you need to experience with your students before your ideas had the transformative powers you envisioned?

OPID’s Annual Spring Conference on Teaching & Learning is a common ground for UW System teachers to share and consider creative ideas of transformative experiences in the classroom, whether face-to-face, online, or hybrid in format.

Keynote speaker Joshua Eyler and his book How Humans Learn: The Science and Stories Behind Effective College Teaching inspires this year’s conference. Listed here are the five themes from Eyler’s book and questions we developed to provoke ideas for presentations. 

  • How have you created a classroom space (in-person, online, hybrid) that is accessible, equitable, and engaging for all students?
  • Why are high-impact practices (HIPs) – undergraduate research, internships, community-based and service-learning, first-year experiences, capstone courses, ePortfolios, collaborative projects, diversity, study abroad, shared learning experiences -- effective approaches for sparking curiosity in student learning? How might these practices be experienced differently by various groups of students?
  • How can instructors minimize anxiety among students?
  • What are some effective practices – course design, assignments, discussion – to hone students’ abilities to seek and ask powerful and meaningful questions?
  • How do instructors avoid stifling curiosity in students?
  • How can instructors help students recognize and connect their prior learning to emerging learning and to enhance students' curiosity in future life-long learning?

  • How do you create and maintain a learning environment (in-person, digital, or hybrid) that communicates a sense of belonging and community?
  • How important is face-to-face sociality and presence in student learning and success?
  • What are effective ways to organize group learning that results in deep learning for all students?
  • How do you ensure that meaningful relationships develop between instructor and students, and students with students?
  • What are examples of community building projects between academic affairs and student services?
  • What is the role of play in student learning?
  • How do you build learning activities to foster a sense that students and instructors, together, are co-creators of knowledge?

  • What are holistic approaches you use, combining the intellect (thinking) and emotions (feeling) as part of the learning process?
  • What is a pedagogy of caring? A pedagogy of empathy? A pedagogy of love?
  • How can we include the emotional joys of teaching and learning in our classroom spaces, whether in-person, digital, or hybrid?
  • What is the role of mindfulness in centering students’ emotions?
  • How do we prepare educators for the emotional labor our profession requires? How do we acknowledge it? How do we alleviate educator burn-out?

  • How do we engage students with culturally relevant, inclusive, and equity-minded pedagogy?
  • Why are high-impact practices -- such as undergraduate research, internships, and community-based learning – considered examples of authentic learning?
  • How do you invite students to demonstrate and apply their learning in authentic ways?
  • How do you engage students in reflecting on their learning (metacognition)?
  • How do students respond to inauthenticity?

  • How do you engage students to be creative and innovative in their learning without penalizing them for failure? What are some low-stakes assignments that require students to take risks, without compromising their grades?
  • How do you promote a growth mindset in students?
  • What changes need to be made in traditional teaching, such as assignments, grading, etc.
  • How can UW System institutions create a culture where taking risks and the possibility of failure are expected and accepted consequences of innovative teaching and learning?
  • Joshua Eyler writes: " A hungry brain cannot learn. A tired brain cannot think." How do you address multiple needs of students to ensure their success? To what extent should we address housing, food, water, and health needs, recognizing that they influence our students' capacity to learn?


Proposals have been anonymously peer-reviewed by members of OPID’s Advisory Council comprised of faculty and instructors from throughout the UW System. Accepted participants are expected to register for the conference as confirmation that they will present. Conference participation may be limited to one presentation per person, depending on the number of proposals received. The conference registration fee of $65 includes two lunches, morning and afternoon refreshments, and access to all sessions. Registration is non-refundable.


Proposal Criteria

Educators from all fields are encouraged to apply

We welcome faculty, instructors, and lecturers from all fields – arts, humanities, social sciences, STEM, business, teacher education, professional services, etc. We also welcome proposals from community members in collaboration with UW System faculty and instructional academic staff. Scholarship of teaching and learning (SoTL) projects with new research results are welcome.

Engage your audience

Conference sessions should be interactive and maximize face-to-face communication. Innovative modes of presentation are encouraged. Consider integrating digital media, dialogic, experiential, and performative moments into your presentation. Reading papers is not appropriate for this conference.

Ground your presentation

How are you analyzing, theorizing, making meaning of your teaching and learning? Connect your presentation to literature from the Scholarship of Teaching & Learning, critical theory, education studies, and other evidence-based research. Your teaching and learning experience is the point-of-departure for a public and generative presentation among colleagues.

Presentation Formats

Proposals are welcome in the following formats. We encourage you to include student co-presenters and voices.

  • Interactive Workshop (75 or 90 minutes) – Framed using one of Joshua Eyler’s five themes – curiosity, sociality, emotion, authenticity, failure – we invite you to design a workshop that optimizes sociality, interactive communication, and discussion. Create a transformative experience!
  • Presentation (20 minutes) – This is an appropriate format for one or two presenters to share experiences in the classroom, whether in-person, online, or hybrid, “lessons learned,” and results from the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning and other student-centered research. As always, we seek presentations that generate new questions and dialogue. Conference organizers will thematize individual proposals into a 75-minute concurrent session.
  • Panel Session (75 minutes) – A team of presenters may propose a full session. Presenters may be from one discipline or program, different departments from the same university or, ideally, from different universities.
  • Poster Session – Posters are welcome from all disciplines, including fields where posters are typically not the norm. We are especially curious to see posters that disrupt the traditional linearity of this research presentation platform. Wisconsin Teaching Fellows & Scholars alumni
    are welcome to produce new posters with updated SoTL research that extends or complicates their original WTFS work.


Contact us regarding your proposal or to brainstorm ideas:

Center for Teaching & Learning Directors

Fay Akindes, Director of Systemwide Professional and Instructional Development, UW System, fakindes@uwsa.edu, (608) 263-2684.

For technical support, contact:

Catherine King, Program Associate, Academic Programs and Faculty Advancement, UW System, cking@uwsa.edu, (608) 262-8522.