Recently, the POD Network hosted its 47th Annual Conference in Seattle, Washington. Held from November 16 to 20, 2022, the conference invited the international POD Network to come together and celebrate this year’s theme of “Re:Imagine, Re:Connect, and Re:Start our teaching and learning efforts at our institutions.”
Several representatives from the UCI Division of Teaching Excellence and Innovation (DTEI), including Danny Mann (Director of Graduate Student and Postdoctoral Scholar Instructional Development) and Andrea Aebersold (Director of Faculty Instructional Development), attended this four-day event and shared their research and other work via presentations, roundtable discussions, and other informational sessions. DTEI projects were also recognized several times during the conference-wide Awards Session, receiving one honorable mention, one finalist award, and one grant.
About the POD Network and the 47th Annual Conference
The POD Network (also known as the Professional and Organizational Development Network in Higher Education) was established to promote the scholarship of teaching, learning, and organizational development in a manner that reflects a spirit of inclusion and collaboration across borders. Today, the POD Network boasts over 1,700 members working together to foster a community of practice and serve as a leading voice on matters related to teaching and learning in higher education.
In support of these goals, the POD Network hosts an annual conference to bring its members together to share recent scholarship, promote new evidence-based practices, and recognize outstanding research and initiatives in the field of instructional, faculty, and organizational development. This year’s conference adopted a hybrid format for maximum accessibility and featured a wide variety of talks, interactive sessions, research sessions, poster presentations, roundtable discussions, and workshops.
UCI DTEI Presentations and Awards
On Thursday, November 17, Danny Mann, Andrea Aebersold, and Ashley Hooper (former DTEI Postdoctoral Scholar) hosted a roundtable discussion titled “High Burnout, Low Turnout: Re-imagining Learning Communities for Inclusive Teaching.” The discussion centered on their diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) initiative to create learning communities composed of graduate students, postdoctoral scholars, and faculty. The group shared how these communities suffered from low participation and invited a discussion on the effects of burnout and strategies for re-energizing campus programming in the midst of collective exhaustion.
Then, Matthew Mahavongtrakul (DTEI STEM Specialist) gave a presentation titled “Redesigning BioCalculus using the Preparation, Engagement, and Application (PEA) Framework.” In this interactive session, Mahavongtrakul outlined a project, funded by the California Learning Lab, to develop a curricular framework to address opportunity gaps in BioCalculus. Mahavongtrakul highlighted the project’s progress and invited attendees to join a discussion around evidence-based approaches to reimagine interdisciplinary curricular redesign.
On Friday, November 18, Aebersold presented on research she conducted in collaboration with Brian Sato (DTEI Associate Dean) and Maryam Eslami (Research Assistant at the DTEI Postsecondary Education Research & Implementation Institute). Her research presentation, titled “Syllabus as a Tool to Dismantle Inequality: A Professional Development Workshop for Faculty,” focused on the team’s attempt to minimize racial grade gaps by modifying and repurposing a previously validated rubric that measures the degree of syllabi learner-centeredness. Their research found that courses with more learner-centered syllabi had smaller grade gaps. Aebersold then discussed how the team connected research to practice by offering an “Inclusive Syllabus Design” workshop series that trained instructors to use their rubric to make small changes with big classroom impacts. Notably, this presentation was recognized as a POD Innovation Award finalist at the conference Awards Ceremony.
Later that day, Aebersold also hosted a talk titled “How Gottman’s Marriage Research Made Me a Better Faculty Developer.” In this session, Aebersold shared how John Gottman’s book The Seven Principles of Making Marriage Work helped her re-imagine her approach to faculty development and offered her a new perspective on gaining trust, effective communication, and establishing relationships with faculty at UCI.
To round out the day of presentations, Mann and Hooper presented alongside Thomas Colclough (Senior DTEI Pedagogical Fellow and Educational Development Fellow) and Misbah Hyder (former DTEI Pedagogical Fellow and Educational Development Fellow). Their presentation, titled “Re-envisioning Trauma-Informed Teaching: Empowering Students’ Personal and Academic Growth,” focused on their research project where they incorporated trauma-informed principles into the design of a Religion and Politics course and evaluated impacts on student learning. Through this research, they found that students: (1) co-developed a sense of safety by engaging in respectful peer dialogue; (2) established trustworthiness through self-disclosure of personal beliefs; (3) collaborated with peers to develop a deeper understanding of course content; and (4) acquired transferable skills through choice in assessments. Their research received an honorable mention for the Robert J. Menges Award for Outstanding Research in Educational Development at the Awards Ceremony.
In addition to these recognitions, UCI DTEI was also awarded a POD Collaboration Grant in partnership with UC Santa Cruz. This grant will be used to fund a collaborative project to explore diversity, equity, and inclusion in the wellness space.
Reflecting on the Conference
Looking back over this year’s conference, the DTEI team expressed their gratitude for the opportunities to present, connect with other scholars, and receive recognition for their work. For instance, Mann, who also serves as a member of POD’s Core Committee, said:
“While the annual POD Network conference is always meaningful for my own career, I was particularly excited to welcome my current and recent graduate students to the broader landscape of educational development. I am so proud of their accomplishments as emerging scholars and leaders in the field. Additionally, UCI was recognized three times at the awards ceremony, and I feel honored for our team and institution to be recognized as national (and international) leaders in teaching and learning.”
Similarly, Aebersold emphasized her appreciation for the opportunities the conference offers:
“The POD Network conference is how I got my start in the field of faculty development. Every time I attend this conference, I learn more and more about this work and also get the chance to share the great work UCI is doing. POD has given us an opportunity to innovate and shape educational development, so it was an honor to be recognized through these grants and awards.”
Visit the POD Network website to learn more about the organization and the 47th Annual POD Network Conference. Check out the UCI DTEI website for more information on the team and the work they are doing on campus.