ETE Conference

Teaching Reimagined: Lessons Learned, Lessons Kept, and Lessons Coming
Wednesday, August 17, 2022 | 8:00am - 4:30pm

The Empowering Teaching Excellence (ETE) Conference,  held in-person on the Logan campus, August 17th! 

Our faculty committee has selected the theme of “Teaching Reimagined: Lessons Learned, Lessons Kept, and Lessons Coming” as the focus of the conference. During the last several years, instruction in higher education has experienced complete upheaval and undergone wholesale change. The Conference theme addresses what we've learned during this time, what we plan to keep moving forward, and what changes we see making in the future. The keynote speaker session will be available via Aggiecast, and presenters may have the option to present asynchronously.

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Keynote - Dr. Jessamyn Neuhaus

Geeky Grading: Nerd Out about  Assessment Strategies to Reduce Stress and Increase Learning

The pandemic era is generating new conversations at the local and national level about traditional grading systems, particularly for equity-minded instructors alert to how systemic racism, exclusion, and minoritization in higher education impacts student success. But traditional grading practices are long overdue for widespread critical interrogation. In my book Geeky Pedagogy: A Guide for Intellectuals, Introverts, and Nerds Who Want to Be Effective Teachers (West Virginia University Press, 2019), I argue that grades are one of the biggest sources of potential misunderstanding, tension, and outright conflict between students and college instructors. This is in part because many of us scholarly geeks have personally thrived in school, including its traditional grading systems. What’s the whole culture of academia if not having our intellectual work examined and assessed by others or, in layman’s terms, being graded? In Professional Scholar World, critical feedback is how we advance. In Student World, grades are the source of a heavy emotional baggage, can cause crippling anxiety, and all too often create a sharply limited/limiting lens through which students view their academic progress. Additionally, grades can not only undermine students’ agency and interfere with authentic learning but also may severely sap instructors’ energy and enthusiasm for teaching and pedagogical learning.

In this interactive talk, I encourage and empower instructors at every stage of their teaching career to “nerd out” about assessment strategies by actively exploring with curiosity and scholarly rigor some of the many evidence-based alternatives to traditional grading that we can implement in our classrooms to encourage authentic student learning and reduce stress for us and for our students. I frame assessment strategies such as contract grading, specifications grading, and student self-assessment portfolios as practical, proven assessment practices that build students self-efficacy and increase inclusivity while reducing sources of conflict and anxiety for everyone in class. Importantly, I emphasize that instructors absolutely do not need to implement an “all or nothing” approach to nontraditional grading to begin these assessment practices! Small changes can make a big difference and can go a long way towards cutting down on grade-related hassles, headaches, and heartache.


Jessamyn Neuhaus is a professor of U.S. history and popular culture at SUNY Plattsburgh and Director of the Plattsburgh Center for Teaching Excellence. Recipient of the SUNY Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Teaching, she is the author of Geeky Pedagogy: A Guide for Intellectuals, Introverts, and Nerds Who Want to be Effective Teachers (West Virginia University Press) and editor of the forthcoming anthology Picture a Professor: Interrupting Biases about Faculty and Increasing Student Learning (WVUP). In addition to two historical monographs—Manly Meals and Mom’s Home Cooking: Cookbooks and Gender in Modern America (Johns Hopkins University Press) and Housework and Housewives in American Advertising: Married to the Mop (Palgrave Macmillan)—Jessamyn has published pedagogical, historical, and cultural studies research in numerous anthologies and journals. She regularly gives presentations and workshops on teaching, and is the editor of Teaching History: A Journal of Methods. As an advocate for scholarship on teaching and learning that celebrates infinite diversity in infinite combinations, Jessamyn’s mission as an educational developer is to help faculty nerd out about teaching and to use their big smart brains for increasing pedagogical self-efficacy. Visit her website geekypedagogy.com and find her on Twitter @GeekyPedagogy