Session Abstracts

Moving Beyond the Anecdotal: Assessment in the Writing Classroom - Nancy Aulenbach, Sacha Pruitt, Josh Simpson, and Anna Stamp

English professors face a unique challenge when it comes to assessment. While we typically find no shortage of anecdotal evidence to illustrate student improvement, transforming said evidence into meaningful data for annual administrative review is difficult at best. Moreover, even when English faculty can measure student improvement, there’s still no guarantee we are necessarily preparing students for future success in other disciplines and/or the workplace. Such was the problem our English department faced until now. The purpose of this session is to share the results of the year-long study the Sullivan University English department has developed and recently completed to 1) survey faculty across the disciplines and local/regional/national business leaders on the types of writing skills students/employees most need, and 2) objectively assess student writing improvement across our English sequence. In particular, we will highlight areas of our survey results to reveal the kinds of writing tasks and skills employers in various business sectors value most. This session is designed for anyone interested in learning more about cross-disciplinary collaboration and assessment in the writing classroom.


  • Identify the writing deficiencies unique to their students
  • Apply current technological methodologies and pedagogical techniques to assess their current communications curriculum
  • Design internal and external surveys to measure colleague and employer need/satisfaction
  • Create classroom opportunities and experiences which blend traditional pedagogies with contemporary practices in the workforce
  • Close the assessment loop by reviewing and modifying the curriculum based on survey/assessment results
Educational Use of Games: Getting Students Inspired with Competition - George Bergstrom

Gamification is still hot and can produce very positive results. Most research has proven that competition can drive intrinsic student motivation. Countless surveys of HR professionals mention that students are not coming into the workforce with the right creative thinking, collaboration, and teamwork skills. All of these can be taught with board games both collaborative and competitive. Come work with examples and discuss the possibilities.


  • Identify how games can be used in classes
  • Summarize the state of gamification to a co-worker not in attendance.
  • Identify specific game strategies that can support different assignment and course outcomes
PTSD: The Insidious Illness of Psychic Pain - Anthony Santamassino

The session will address challenges faced by veterans and other victims of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Specifically, this session will be organized as follows:
1. What causes PTSD and how are brain and body affected?
2. The scope of the problem
3. What symptoms may alert faculty and staff of potential PTSD affected individuals among students, faculty, and staff?
4. What intervention techniques are helpful in a university context?
5. Progress in treatment and research
6. Q and A session
7. Case studies and reference reading materials will be available.


  • Clarify misunderstandings about PTSD as a “Military Problem”
  • Illustrate how to identify the PTSD affected individual
  • Showcase Emotional First Aid: Intervention methods / techniques and available resources
Office 365 Applications Used in the SUS Academic Environment - Amber Cann, Scott Cordle, Joan Combs Durso, Donna Larson, Sarah Patsfield, and Stephanie Weber

This fast-paced panel discussion led by faculty presenters will demonstrate and highlight some of the Office 365 applications that are being used in the academic domain. Presenters will demonstrate specific examples of Office 365 applications they currently use for enhancing and supplementing instructional content delivery. The topics that will be presented include Office 365 Groups, OneNote, Sway (and how it interfaces with Panopto), Yammer, and OneDrive.
How specific facets of these applications are used in course management to generate positive student experience will also be detailed. The faculty presenters represent all three SUS schools, and the applications being demonstrated are used in various programs that span multiple levels of academic offerings.
This presentation is geared toward information sharing and collaboration. It is not a training session, but participants are encouraged to use their personal devices to access the Office 365 applications as they are discussed. Time will be allocated for a brief Q & A session after each segment of the presentation.


  • Make SUS faculty aware of the Office 365 applications that are available to enhance their daily instructional activities
  • Demonstrate specific cases for increasing efficiency of student activity management through the use of Office 365 applications
  • Provide a collaborative platform for sharing and helping fellow faculty in using Office 365 applications
PECConomics: Enhancing Understanding of Sullivan University’s SACSCOC-aligned Assessment Processes - Charles Brown and Mark Wiljanen

Relative to Core Requirement 2.5 and the constellation of five 3.3.1 Comprehensive Standards, the 2005 SACSCOC onsite decennial review committee indicated that Sullivan University (SU) assessed virtually all aspects of its operations, but that overall institutional effectiveness efforts were backward-rather-that-forward-looking and lacked planning and coordination. Subsequently – in 2006, I helped the university established its Planning and Evaluation Coordinating Council (PECC) in order to better meet the aforementioned deficiencies and to ensure IE systemic quality assurance/control. I refer to the Planning and Evaluation Coordinating Council’s practices – in a Pickwickian sense – as PECConomics, under which obtain both microPECConomics (microassessment) and macroPECConomics (macroassessment) as part of the PECC’s systemic/integrative oversight processes. The university’s PECConomics serve as a comparative and practical multitiered architectural assessment model for all SU and SUS academic and nonacademic programs.


  • Learn how SU has inculcated a culture of assessment through use of PECC stepwise processes and protocols
  • Propitiate SACSCOC-predicated assessment standards utilizing the SU seven-step continuous improvement circle (CIC), viz: 1. Through an ongoing, integrated, and institution-wide research-based planning and evaluation process, identify outcomes and goals that coincide with the mission1. Through an ongoing, integrated, and institution-wide research based planning and evaluation process, identify outcomes and goals that coincide with the mission2. Identify appropriate measurement instrument(s)3. Through research-based evaluation processes, gather data4. Analyze, evaluate and interpret data5. Make plans for improvement based on analyses of data6. Implement plans for improvement7. Evaluate and measure implemented plans to “close the circle”
  • Cross-validate PECC’s algorithmic assessment processes and protocols through a library generated balanced assessment scorecard
Supporting Research in 11 Week Chunks: Using Design Thinking to Explore Researcher Experiences Across SUS - Joan Combs Durso

How can a career-oriented university support research at every level in ways that preserve our student-centered mission, inspire life-long learning, and establish long-term relationships with employers? How may we inspire students, faculty and staff to create, complete, and share new knowledge? How must we include hybrid and online students, remote faculty and staff into research projects? How do we infuse meaningful applied research into technical courses as new programs join the University? How will we encourage research across disciplines and organizational silos? Creating an environment that sustainably nurtures research requires deep understanding of our research experiences and needs. This session borrows design thinking techniques from Stanford University to perform the Empathize and Define Steps of the design thinking process. Together, we will gather stories, identify actionable points of view, and craft How Might We statements. With this understanding, we can integrate research across our system.


  • Apply design thinking techniques to walk in the shoes of a rich variety of Sullivan University System researchers
  • Segment those gathered stories to gain deeper understanding of the nature of research opportunities and needs of researchers across the SUS system
  • Compile a list of How Might We questions to share as inspiration for our own work, our classroom activities and future research design efforts
In the Eye of the Storm: Finding Tranquility Among Life Stressors - Emily Esposito, Jo Ann Klein, and Sarah Raake

Stress… it is unavoidable. How we deal with stress can positively impact others and ourselves around us like a ripple in a stream. There are four main sources of stress: 1) environment 2) social stressors 3) physiological and 4) your thoughts. This session will focus on recognizing how your body physiologically responds to stress, understanding how to pause and reflect on recent life changes, identifying triggers of stress, and demonstrating strategies to incorporate in the classroom or office to reduce the stress burden, allowing for more productivity. Audience participation required.


  • Recognize how your body responds to stress (Esposito)
  • Identify triggers of stress and classroom environment (Raake)
  • Demonstrate strategies to implement in your classroom/office to reduce effects of stress (Klein)
Empowering Faculty to Respond to At-Risk Students: Overview of Practical Trainings Offered for the SUS - Gabe Ghammachi and Renee Rust-Yarmuth

An informational, conversational panel explains new developments to assist faculty to respond to students in critical straits. Overview of “CPIC,” “Frontliners,” “QPR for Suicidality,” and “Active Minds” will be presented. Q & A for each of the four sections will be available. Participation in these trainings will qualify for HR wellness points and SUS Success requirements. Attendees will receive resources to go with an understanding of this new menu of free behavioral health trainings and how to access them.


  • Understand range of mental and behavioral health issues faced in our university setting and resources available for interventions on issues from suicidality to domestic violence
  • Know how to implement main protocol for referring an at-risk student via CPIC
  • Have working knowledge of wellness trainings available for faculty and staff, and by extension for possible classroom presentations.
“Who Enrolled This Student?” - Laura Jones

Student population is a critical concern for everyone in the Sullivan University System. Although the starting point is admissions, all faculty and staff have an impact. It’s often a monumental undertaking for prospective students to be interviewed, enrolled, and accepted into school before they even start their actual classes. This requires a perceptive, knowledgeable, and compliant admissions officer to navigate them through the process. In this session you will learn the behind-thescenes intricacies involved in filling the seats in your classroom.


  • Understand the prospective student life cycle prior to the start of school
  • Gain knowledge of compliance considerations impacting student recruitment
  • Become familiar with the Admissions and Financial Planning training process
Attitude Drives Effectiveness: Embracing Change Positively! - Tina Lewis

In the world of education, and particularly in the healthcare/healthcare education industry, change is inevitable. The mechanisms one chooses to deal with these changes will directly impact the effectiveness of that change in the organization and/or in the classroom. Dealing with change optimistically can have positive impacts in an organization, a classroom, and for all of the people involved in the process. Adaptation and a positive attitude can make these transitions and new developments easier to cope with and can improve the personal health of employees and students. Based on Kathy Dempsey’s book Shed or You’re Dead, this presentation will address how to face the challenges of change in a more positive manner. The session will provide the audience with useful tools for dealing with stress, change, and workplace negativity.


  • Rationally analyze proposed changes in the workplace and/or classroom
  • Assess a students personal ability to accept and handle change
  • Utilize the practical ideas and tools provided to embrace change, increase workplace/classroom effectiveness, and decrease workplace/classroom negativity
Strategies for Improving Online Discussions - Heather Merrifield and Anthony Piña

Although online discussion forums play a critical role in most online and blended/hybrid courses, research shows that they tend to be undervalued by students. Why is this so and what can we do about it? Come join us on a journey to spruce up and spice up online discussion forums, including how to avoid (very) common mistakes and strategies for using online discussion forums to support multiple learning outcomes.


  • Discuss why students often do not find value in online discussion forums
  • Identify common practices that impede their effectiveness of online discussion forums
  • Apply strategies for improving interaction, participation and quality of online discussions
Effects of Free/Open Education Resources on Faculty and Students - Ken Moran and Anthony Piña

According to a recent report from the U.S. Government Accountability Office, the cost of textbook in the decade 2002-2012 rose 82%, while general consumer prices rose 28% (GAO, 2013). The College Board estimates that students enrolled at semester-based institutions spend in excess of $1,200 annually on books and supplies. Come join us as we report the results of a Sullivan University research grant-funded initiative to replace expensive instructional materials with free/open educational resources (OER) and the positive effects of this initiative on student, faculty, instructional designers and the online course development process. You will leave with great ideas and a robust list of where to find OER resources.


  • State the rationale for adopting free/open educational resources
  • Discuss how an OER initiative can affect students, faculty, subject matter experts and instructional designer
  • Locate and implement free/open educational resources in their own courses
A Look at Our New LMS - Anthony Piña and Barry Sanford

In 2017, the Blackboard Learning Management System will replace our existing ANGEL LMS. Eventually, all courses—online, hybrid and oncampus will have access to this new system. What will this mean for you and for your students? Come and take a “sneak peek” at our new system as we discuss the future of e-learning at Sullivan.


  • Discuss how e-learning affects online, hybrid and on-campus courses, faculty and students
  • Identify desired features and best practices in the use of Learning Management Systems.
  • Discuss training and implementation issues when adopting a new LMS
Get IT Together! - Angela Riggs

This session will identify three ways to improve communication and engagement within online courses.
One way that will be demonstrated to improve engagement is with purposeful announcements that make connections to prior learning, show relevance in the industry, as well as inform and update students to help them be successful in online courses. Canva will be one tool that is introduced to create announcements using quality images and clean designs.
A second way for online instructors to improve engagement is by using an organizational system that is consistent with policies and best practices. Examples of quarterly course file folders will be shared that aim to organize graded rubrics, student work, and feedback in consistent ways.
Finally, participants will be challenged to create a schedule of engagement and communicate that schedule with students in a timely manner. The objective is to improve consistency, alleviate angst with students, and manage time more efficiently.


  • Explain how to use announcements in online courses
  • Demonstrate ways to organize rubrics and feedback to students
  • Offer specific tips to develop consistent ways to systematically prepare for classes on a quarterly basis
  • Identify opportunities for creating a schedule of engagement and communicating those plans to students
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