2015 Teaching and Learning Symposium

The Office of Faculty Development’s 2015 Teaching and Learning Symposium was held on Tuesday, April 14 at the McKimmon Conference and Training Center.

The 2015 Symposium featured:



To see a PDF of the program for the 2015 Symposium, including a full schedule of events, please click here.

Poster Session

Thirty teams of faculty, staff and students presented at the Teaching and Learning Symposium’s poster session. Many of the posters are available for viewing on our website.

Keynote Address: Specifications Grading: Restoring Rigor, Motivating Students, and Saving Faculty Time

Colleges and universities generally require that we submit letter grades to represent student performance, but how we determine those grades is up to us. Unfortunately, the way we have been grading student work for many decades earns low marks on a list of 14 criteria for assessing grading systems.

This presentation introduces an alternative system, specifications (“specs”) grading, that does better, especially in motivating students to achieve outcomes and produce high-quality work. Better yet, it saves faculty time. The system works effectively because it gives students more choices and control while holding their work to high academic standards.

The purest form of this new system offers a new gestalt on assessment, combining three elements:

  • satisfactory/unsatisfactory grading of all assignments and tests,
  • a token system that lets students “buy” flexibility,
  • and “bundles” of assessments associated with sets of learning outcomes and final letter grades.

Faculty will be able adapt one or more of their courses to a pure or synthetic version of specs grading, including turning directions for assignments into specs, bundling assessments, developing a token system, and revising their syllabus accordingly.
Linda Nilson

About Dr. Linda B. Nilson

Linda B. Nilson is founding director of the Office of Teaching Effectiveness and Innovation (OTEI) at Clemson University and author of Teaching at Its Best: A Research-Based Resource for College Instructors, now in its third edition. Dr. Nilson has also written The Graphic Syllabus and the Outcomes Map: Communicating Your Course, Creating Self-Regulated Learners: Strategies to Strengthen Students’ Self-Awareness and Learning Skills, and Specifications Grading: Restoring Rigor, Motivating Students, and Saving Faculty Time. Currently, she is working on the fourth edition of Teaching at Its Best. In addition, Dr. Nilson co-edited Enhancing Learning with Laptops in the Classroom (Jossey-Bass, 2005) and Volumes 25 through 28 of To Improve the Academy: Resources for Faculty, Instructional, and Organizational Development, which is the major publication of the Professional and Organizational Development (POD) Network in Higher Education. Dr. Nilson’s career as a full-time faculty development director spans twenty-five years. In this time, she has published many articles and book chapters and has given well over 500 keynotes, webinars, and live workshops at conferences, colleges, and universities both nationally and internationally on dozens of topics related to college teaching and scholarly productivity. Before coming to Clemson University, she directed teaching centers at Vanderbilt University and the University of California, Riverside and was a Sociology professor at UCLA.

2015 Teaching Awards Luncheon and Ceremony

NC State honored more than two dozen faculty members at the 2014-2015 University Teaching Awards Luncheon and Ceremony. For a recap of the ceremony, please visit: https://news.ncsu.edu/2015/04/teaching-awards-presented/