About CFI’s May Symposium. The JMU Center for Faculty Innovation offers May Symposium annually to support the ongoing development of faculty as teachers, scholars and leaders. May Symposium compiles a variety of roundtables, speakers and workshops on various topics such as course design, scholarship networks, inclusion, equity and mentoring.

This exciting collaborative effort provides full-time faculty, part-time faculty and academic unit leaders with opportunities to focus on teaching, scholarship, career planning, service and leadership.

Registration is closed

Wednesday, May 15 - Day One (Festival)
Opening Remarks/Breakfast: 8:15 - 8:45 AM
  • 8 AM: Doors open
    • Festival Conference & Student Center, outside of the Grand Ballroom (Upper Level)
  • 8:15 - 11 AM: Check-in
    • Registration desk, outside of the Grand Ballroom
    • Attendees and facilitators must check in
    • Provided at check-in:
      • Name tags
      • Agenda handout (digital copy available through a QR code)
        • Provides details on room locations of programs throughout the day
        • Zoom links will be provided the day of programming to registered attendees for any online sessions and the afternoon virtual plenary
    • Pre-registration is recommended by Monday, May 13 @ 12 PM
      • Walk-ins are welcome, as space allows for individual sessions


  • Signage will be placed throughout Festival in both the Upper and Lower Levels
  • Lactation rooms are available upon request (both the Upper and Lower Levels) and a family restroom is available (Upper Level). Please see the check-in staff for locations
  • Details on your selected registration is provided upon your registration submission by a confirmation email 
  • Reminder emails are sent the day prior; however, you must view your original registration confirmation to view the specific sessions you are attending
Keynote Speaker - Conference Lunch/Afternoon Plenary

Keynote Speaker, Sarah Rose Cavanagh

Sarah Rose Cavanagh is the Senior Associate Director for Teaching and Learning in the Center for Faculty Excellence at Simmons University, where she also teaches in the Psychology Department as an Associate Professor of Practice. Before joining Simmons, she was a tenured Associate Professor of psychology and neuroscience at Assumption University, where she also served in the D'Amour Center for Teaching Excellence as Associate Director for Grants and Research. Sarah's research considers the interplay of emotions, motivation, learning, and quality of life.

Her most recent research project, funded by the National Science Foundation, convenes a network of scholars to develop teaching practices aimed at greater effectiveness and equity in undergraduate biology education.

Sarah is author of four books, including The Spark of Learning: Energizing the College Classroom with the Science of Emotion (2016) and Mind Over Monsters: Supporting Youth Mental Health with Compassionate Challenge (2023). 

She gives keynote addresses and workshops at a variety of colleges and regional conferences, blogs for Psychology Today, and writes essays for venues like Literary Hub and The Chronicle of Higher Education. She’s also on BlueSky too much, at @SaRoseCav.


Keynote Speaker & Conference Lunch: 11:30 AM - 1:15 PM
Spark of Learning Book


During this virtual interactive session, we will explore how thinking strategically about emotion in the classroom can enliven the classroom experience for teachers and students alike.

The Spark of Learning: Energizing the College Classroom with the Science of Emotion

Written for educators, Spark of Learning argues that thinking strategically about emotion in the classroom can enliven the classroom experience for teachers and students alike.

In friendly, readable prose, Sarah Rose Cavanagh argues that if you as an educator want to capture your students’ attention, harness their working memory, bolster their long-term retention, and enhance their motivation, you should consider the emotional impact of your teaching style and course design.

As a follow-up to the keynote presentation, Sarah shares an investigation into the mental health crisis affecting young adults today. (Online via Zoom)

Mind Over Monsters: Supporting Youth Mental Health with Compassionate Challenge.

Alarming statistics in recent years indicate that mental health problems like depression and anxiety have been skyrocketing among young adults. Cavanagh brings the reader on an invigorating tour of pedagogical, neuroscientific, and psychological research on mental health—one that involves her own personal journey from panic to equilibrium.

Mind Over Monsters book.

Afternoon Plenary: 3 - 4:30 PM

Mind over Monsters



Breaking Through: Dispelling Outdated Student Research Notions

In a rapidly changing digital environment, how can we help guide students toward credible information? In this session, we'll explore outdated research tips from the stigma around online sources, like Wikipedia, to biases around web domains, like .orgs versus .coms.

Join us for a dynamic discussion to dispel these (and more!) student research pitfalls and collectively craft new approaches to empower our students in today's information landscape.

Facilitated by: Liana Bayne-Lin, Liz Chenevey, Valerie Linsinbigler, and Lara Sapp (Libraries)

Building an Inclusive Learning Environment - Starting with a Dynamic and Accessible Syllabus

With the evolving student population at JMU, inclusive access to the Canvas-based syllabus is becoming crucial for consistency of course appearance and more importantly for students’ access to course content in and outside of classrooms.

A group of collaborators from the College of Health and Behavioral Studies, College of Education, Center for Faculty Innovation, and Libraries started the exploration of presenting a course syllabus (with required components) in an inclusive and accessible format.

This roundtable discussion will invite JMU faculty input to co-build a JMU version of a dynamic and accessible syllabus.

Facilitated by: Daisy Breneman (CAL & CFI), Chelsey Bollinger (COE & Libraries), Dayna Henry (CFI & CHBS), Abiodun Stephen Ijeluola (Libraries), Jessica Lantz (Libraries), Juhong Christie Liu (Libraries), Zhenhuan Henry Yang (Libraries), Nathaniel Taeho Yu (Libraries), and Samantha Joy Whitaker (Libraries & CVPA)

Evaluating Cross-Cultural Experiences using the BEVI and other Methods

Have you used or thought about incorporating a cross-cultural experience in your courses? What would intercultural competence look like in your class or research? Join the roundtable to discuss various quantitative and qualitative assessment methods for cross-cultural experiences.

We will discuss the BEVI (Beliefs, Events, & Values Inventory) and other instruments that can be used to assess intercultural competence.

Facilitated by: Shin Ji Kang (COE & CFI)

External Funding Landscape: Find, Apply and Succeed

Office of Sponsored Programs Director and senior leaders share strategies for finding funding, creating successful funding proposals to augment scarce resources, and working with the OSP to steward funding.

This session will explore key support services provided by OSP throughout the life cycle of a grant or contract, examine typical budget categories for proposals, and discuss best practices to manage external funding.

Facilitated by: Tamara Hatch (REDI), Sally Dickenson (OSP), and Donna Crumpton (OSP)

Faculty Identity and Wellbeing: Do They Reinforce or Contradict Each Other?

Faculty wellbeing and faculty academic identity are good for faculty wellbeing, suggests Rebecca Ruark in a widely regarded book on faculty burnout. At the same time, overwork is part of academia for many faculty, undermining wellbeing for many.

  • How do we navigate this tension?
  • What possibilities do we see in academia for our wellbeing as well as our professional fullfilment?
  • What obstacles do we encounter, and what is needed to overcome them?
  • What can the institution do to support our wellbeing as well as our success?
  • What role does a change to R-university status play in this?

Join a conversation with a panel of faculty in a range of roles and disciplines at JMU.

Facilitated by: Andreas Broscheid (CFI & CAL)

Focusing Native American and Indigenous Efforts at JMU

Join the Native American and Indigenous Awareness, Relations, and Action Working Group members to learn about recent collaborative efforts to build programs and curricula that increase knowledge of and support for Indigenous communities. We are building a coalition of faculty who do this work and welcome your contributions.

Facilitated by: Carole Nash (CISE), Catherine Zeman (CHBS), Erin Phillippi (CAL & REDI), and Lindsey Harvell-Bowman (CAL)

Note: Register to attend the first session from 9 - 9:50 AM and/or the second session from 1:30 - 2:20 PM.

How does stereotypic thinking affect the choice of major for undergraduate business students?

This discussion would be based on a research paper that I am currently co-authoring with Dr. Gizem Atav (Marketing) and Caley Zack (graduate student in Accounting).

Using a large survey of undergraduate business students, we identify common stereotypes, analyze gender differences in stereotypic thinking, and then test how stereotypes impact a student’s choice of major. We document significant gender differences in stereotypic thinking, and find that stereotypes can introduce both positive and negative biases on students’ inclinations towards a certain major.

These results are important for understanding how students discern majors in business using limited information sets. We conclude by suggesting ideas to mitigate stereotypic thinking and help students to better discern majors based on their individual skills, interests, and a well-researched understanding of post-graduate career options.

Facilitated by: Carl Larsson (COB)

How to talk to your students about voting

Many faculty believe in the value of civic engagement and voting as a important part of civic life. Often faculty struggle with talking to their students about how to vote, what's on the ballot, and why voting is important.

This session will provide faculty some insights and resources from the Madison Center on how to talk about voting in the classroom in a non-partisan way.

Facilitated by: Kara Dillard (CAL)

Institutional Citizenry Roundtable

One characteristic of leadership is the capacity of authenticity where individuals imagine, inspire, and guide themselves and others through changes and transitions.

Join a collection of colleagues to share in a dialogue about ideas around academic career possibilities through exploring your institutional citizenry. The collection of colleagues that decide to gather will provide a range of perspectives, intellectual brainpower, and collegial compassion. A promise is to have a conversation that has not been done before.

The creation of this space is an opportunity to come together and share your stories around your capacity to bring something unique and needed into the world. We begin with the belief that the commitments and interests of everyone have to be honored and taken into account by all. We plan to provide space, questions, and prompts for individual reflection and to promote collective dialogue.

Debriefing of responses will be used to feed forward (approaches that provide commentary and information for improvement while the action, event, or behavior is ongoing) toward opportunities. What we need you to provide in return is an open mind, the willingness to reflect honestly about your work and what is important to you, and participation in conversations.

Facilitated by: Kyle Gipson (CISE & CFI)

JMU Community Online Experience

With funding provided by the Online Virginia Network, an interdisciplinary team of JMU researchers collected data during the 2023-2024 academic year on faculty and student perceptions of online learning.

In this session, the research team will share findings on best practices as identified by study respondents and supported by literature and educational developers. Session participants will be able to engage with the best practices and share their own experiences with online learning.

Facilitated by: Gilpatrick Hornsby (CFI), Juhong Christie Liu (Libraries), Andrea Adams (Libraries), Modjadji Choshi (CHBS), Samantha Joy Whitaker (Libraries & CVPA), Yu Wang (COB)

Join a (paid) collaborative research team to support student and faculty success

Interested in collaborating with JMU units on (paid) research projects to support student and faculty success? Join this networking event to be connected with JMU colleagues who have identified the need and would benefit from a team of researchers working collaboratively to tackle specific data-informed questions or problems.

The session will include information about this SSEA/CFI research fellows opportunity and participants will be matched based on their interests and skills. The potential for internal funding to support the project teams will also be discussed.

Facilitated by: Paul Mabrey (SSEA) and Dayna Henry (CFI & CHBS)

Open Educational Resources (OER): the benefits and challenges of adopting affordable course materials

Open educational resources can help improve the quality, accessibility, and affordability of educational materials. But what faculty support is in place for adopting openly licensed educational materials? In this session, we'll explore current supports and gaps and consider how to improve the institutional OER infrastructure.

Facilitated by: Liz Thompson (Libraries), Malika Carter-Hoyt (DEI)

Pathways for Providing Reasonable Accommodations in My Classroom

Have you ever wondered what the term “reasonable accommodation” actually means? Do you wish there was an advice hotline for tips on what to do and not do with a student who has approved accommodations?

This session will provide faculty with:(1) tips for sample syllabus statements (e.g., scheduling test accommodations), (2) best practices (do’s and don’ts) for faculty/student interactions, and (3) the multiple pathways for providing reasonable accommodations.

Join a faculty member and the ODS Director in a three-segment interactive presentation with brief input on each topic followed by audience dialogue about our challenges/successes. Audience: Faculty and AUHs.

Facilitated by: Lori Hostetler, Valerie Schoolcraft, and Brittany Dioszeghy (ODS)

Small Teaching Idea Exchange

As we reflect on the past academic year, and prepare for the next, let’s work together to build community, crowdsource ideas, and most of all, support and care for each other.

For this session, please bring an example of a “small teaching idea”: something that can be quickly shared (under 5 minutes) and has made your teaching easier, simpler, more enjoyable, or more effective. This might include simple-to-implement techniques; syllabus statements; quotes about teaching; effective questions, learning activities, assignments; or other ideas you’ve tried that have had a positive impact on you and your students—or even ones you want to try.

We want this to be a fun, and non-intimidating, opportunity to connect; so, no pressure—we’re not asking for “excellent,” “best,” or super broad or revolutionary teaching strategies, and no one’s going to offer critiques. The aim is that in offering up one small teaching idea, you’ll leave with plenty more from our shared community.

Facilitated by: Daisy Breneman (CAL & CFI) and Kayla Yurco (CISE & CFI)

The trick to the TEACH Act - using TV or film media in teaching at JMU, without copyright complications

The question of 'can I use this film/TV program/other recorded media?' in instruction (particularly online or hybrid instruction) comes up a great deal. JMU relies on the TEACH Act (a rather obscure piece of legislation from 2002) to enable faculty to do just that!

The roundtable seeks to explain how that occurs, and how faculty can be confident that they are in compliance.

Facilitated by: Howard Carrier (Libraries)

Thursday, May 16 - Day Two (Rose)

May Symposium Day 2, R-Day, is co-sponsored by REDI.

R-Day Sessions & Workshops

Flower Darby (via Zoom) - see prior registration

Equity-minded teaching can be defined as evidence-based course design and teaching strategies, which, when paired with critical self-reflection, help all students have an equal chance to succeed in any class, especially historically underserved students.

Join this virtual session with Flower Darby as she discusses the book, "The Norton Guide to Equity-Minded Teaching" (2022). A free copy of her e-book is available online here.

Presented by: Emily Gravett (CFI & CAL)

Mentoring Students through Undergraduate Research and Fellowships at JMU

From the First Year Research Experience Program (FYRE) through presenting and publishing researching, there is a life-cycle of research-based experiences available to undergraduate students at JMU. Similarly, there are fellowships and awards open to students from first year through graduate school (and beyond).

Student Awards, Initiatives, and Research (STAIR), an office within Research, Economic Development and Innovation at JMU, aims to support inclusive excellence for students seeking intellectual engagement at JMU. Faculty are uniquely positioned to support and encourage students in this journey, and this session offers an overview of STAIR, including ways to support, mentor, and encourage students on their intellectual journeys.

Presented by: Luke Wiley and Ashley May Maher (REDI)

Engaged Teacher-Scholar Program All-University Program

During this two-hour workshop, current leaders in the Engaged Teacher-Scholar Program will explain what the scholarship of teaching and learning (SoTL) is and how participants could design a project in their discipline. Participants will also learn about best practices, including how to collect and assess data.

In addition, a panel of experts will focus on SoTL research and the IRB process. At the end of the workshop, participants will have an opportunity to meet other participants through a “speed dating” process with an eye toward possible collaborations.

Presented by: Sombo Muzata (CAL), Ben Riden (COE), Eva Strawbridge (CSM), Bisi Velayudhan (CSM), and Hui Zhao (CHBS)

Introduction to R Programming Language

The Introduction to R workshop provides participants with a foundational understanding of the R programming language, a free, powerful tool widely used in data analysis and statistical computing. Through hands-on exercises, attendees learn essential concepts such as creating objects, using basic functions, data manipulation and descriptive analyses.

By the end of the workshop, participants will gain the skills necessary to effectively navigate the R environment, write basic scripts, and conduct simple data analyses. This workshop is suitable for beginners with little to no prior experience in R, or those with some R experience who are interested in a refresher course. Prior to the workshop, the facilitator will reach out to registered participants with instructions for R installation.

Presented by: Sarah Blackstone (PAIR & CFI)

Survey Instrument Development

The Survey Instrument Development workshop offers participants a comprehensive guide to crafting effective surveys for research and evaluation. Through practical exercises and discussions, participants delve into topics such as survey design principles, types of survey questions, item writing, reliability and validity of items, and pre-testing survey items. Examples will be given in both Qualtrics and QuestionPro, which can be access through JMU.

By the end of the workshop, attendees gain the skills and confidence to create well-designed surveys tailored to their specific objectives, ensuring reliable and meaningful data collection outcomes. This workshop is ideal for those seeking to enhance their survey design proficiency and improve the validity and reliability of their data collection instruments.

Presented by: Sarah Blackstone (PAIR & CFI)

Increasing the Impact of your Scholarship

Are you looking for ways to increase the impact of your scholarship, research, and creative activity? This session aims to have participants learn more about REDI’s support for economic development and innovation.

By the end of the session, participants will 1) have an overview of REDI with a focus on economic development and innovation, 2) create a personal journey map for how they might work with Innovation and Economic Development to advance and amplify your research and scholarship, 3) Identify one or two collaborative opportunities they might pursue in their area of scholarship.

A short presentation will provide the overview, a mini-workshop will help participants achieve the second outcome, and discussion will help achieve outcome three.

Presented by: Patrice Ludwig (CSM), Keith Holland (CISE)

Writing Studio and Scholarship Consultations

Want a quiet space to work on your scholarship, plan your summer teaching, complete your annual review documents, or other work? Have a scholarship question and want to consult with the CFI?

The third floor flex space of the Rose Library has been scheduled all day for you to quietly work among colleagues. A CFI consultant will be available to provide support for your scholarly questions and projects.

Join us all day!

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