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UMCoE Hosts First Annual Teaching and Learning Innovation in STEAM (TALIS) Day

On January 18, the University of Miami College of Engineering (UMCoE), in collaboration with the College of Arts and Sciences (UMCAS), hosted the first annual Teaching and Learning Innovation in STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics) day – also known as TALIS.

TALIS Day was developed by an interdisciplinary committee consisted of Matthew Acevedo, director of UM Academic Technologies; Renee Evans, senior instructional designer with the College of Engineering; Jennifer Ferriss-Hill, senior associate dean with the College of Arts & Sciences; James Sobczak, UM STEM librarian; and Derin Ural, UMCoE associate dean for student affairs and professor in practice.

TALIS day featured an outstanding keynote address, a fireside chat between Jeffrey L. Duerk, executive vice president for academic affairs and provost of the University of Miami, and student leaders, as well as presentations by 18 faculty outlining innovation in the classroom that was well received by an enthusiastic audience of faculty, staff, alumni and teaching assistants.

Derek B. Lidow, a James Wei Professor in Entrepreneurship at Princeton University, travelled from Princeton, N.J., to present the keynote speech at TALIS. He inspired the audience by presenting his work in the Keller Center for Innovation in Engineering Education at Princeton University, a hub that connects students from all disciplines – engineering, the humanities, arts, social sciences and natural sciences – with each other, as well as connecting them with the broader campus community through innovation and leadership projects.

Lidow, a former CEO and author of the best-selling books “Building on Bedrock” and “Startup Leadership,” presented his work in innovating education to better prepare all students – both engineers and non-engineers – to be leaders in an increasingly complex, technology-driven society, and to solve current “wicked problems.” He has done this by creating new courses and strengthening existing ones that go beyond purely technical subjects to provide students a broader understanding of the global, economic, environmental and cultural forces that shape and are shaped by technology. He also explained the importance of teaching students abductive reasoning, which, he says, is more creative, intuitive, and revolutionary than deductive and inductive reasoning.

“Dr. Lidow’s keynote address was fully of energy and joy for teaching and learning, and a useful reminder to us all that education should be collaborative and creative” says Ferriss-Hill. “The College of Arts and Sciences is very grateful to the College of Engineering for inviting us to participate in the inaugural TALIS event, and we look forward to warm and productive relations going forward as we work together to serve our students.”

The fireside chat was between Duerk and the UMCoE student council president Divya Bhansali BSBME ’19, and Evan de Joya BSBIO ’19, UM student government president and the student trustee. De Joya and Bhansali reflected on their experiences in the classroom and asked the provost questions about innovation in education and how UM has and will continue to implement strategies and methods to improve the education of its students.

“The faculty, schools and colleges of the University of Miami are committed to researching and improving current teaching pedagogies to promote the creativity and ingenuity of our students,” says Duerk. “We are working to implement the best and most effective way for students to learn, not teachers to teach.”

TALIS also consisted of rapid presentations by UMCoE and UMCAS faculty and teaching assistants presenting about the implementation of innovative techniques, all higher order cognitive activities known in Bloom’s taxonomy used to classify educational learning objectives, in the classroom. They spoke about what methods were the most effective in helping students learn and how innovative classroom setups, such as the active classroom as well as new technologies, enhance the learning experience and allow students to take part in class in a more engaged manner.

“TALIS Day created a unique platform for faculty and teaching assistants to showcase the innovative approaches they have experimented with in the classroom.  Keynote speaker Dr. Lidow and Provost Duerk inspired a captivated and enthusiastic audience with their vision and insight, and also challenged all to be fearless in bringing positive change to their classrooms” says Ural.  “The partnership of two Colleges working together enhanced the success of TALIS Day.  Everyone that participated left inspired, and ready to try new innovative ideas in their classes”

The event concluded with an award ceremony, where prizes were awarded to the most innovative faculty and teaching assistants from UMCoE and UMCAS. Hammam Alsafrijalani, an assistant professor in practice in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, received the UMCoE Students Choice and the Most Innovative Faculty Member awards on his presentation highlighting his electrical circuit theory course. Karen Mathews, an assistant professor of art history, received the UMCAS Students Choice and Most Innovative Faculty Member awards based on her use of virtual reality in her art history class. Shameka Thomas, a PhD candidate in the Department of Sociology, received the Most Innovative Teaching Assistant award, based on her field-track discussion group activities in class.

Congratulations to everyone involved! A video of the event can be accessed here.

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