Plenary Sessions

Plenary 1 – Wednesday, July 8

SpeakerMary Pat Wenderoth, Ph.D. | University of Washington, Seattle​
Evidence-based teaching so that ALL STEM students may learn

There is extensive evidence that active learning or evidence-based teaching (EBT) is more effective at helping students learn than passive traditional lecture. However, there is little research on what intensity or duration of active learning is most effective at enhancing student learning, if there is a differential impact on different groups of students and how active learning impacts student learning at different cognitive levels. I will briefly present data on the effectiveness of EBT but will present data from our recent research on identifying the most impactful practices of EBT. We collected data from 33 faculty across multiple academic years including class videos, exam data and student demographic information.

Three to 4 videos were randomly selected from across the course term from each of 40 courses (some faculty taught multiple courses). Videos were coded using the Practical Observation Rubric to Assess Active Learning (PORTAAL). PORTAAL documents 15 best practices in EBT identified from the education research literature. A weighted Bloom score was determined to assess the academic challenge level of the exams. I will discuss which practices were most effective at improving student exam performance independent of cognitive challenge level of exam. Based on variation of implementations of the teaching practices, instructors were placed in 1 of 3 teaching profiles. I will report which practices in which profiles had a differential impact on student performance on exams at high and low Bloom levels.

Plenary 2 – Wednesday, July 8

Speaker: Kat Milligan-Myhre, Ph.D. | University of Alaska, Anchorage​
Diversifying STEM: An Inupiat journey through academia

Fewer than 1% of all faculty in the U.S. are American Indian/Alaska Native. Dr. Kat Milligan-Myhre describes her journey through academia, and her attempts to make the journey easier for those coming after her. She describes discovering science research, overcoming decades of assimilation to reembrace Inupiaq traditions while earning her education in the Lower ’48 and techniques for making STEM a more welcoming place for other underrepresented minorities and women. She will discuss her research path and how, after 20 years of studying microbiology, she is finally focusing on topics that are important for the people who matter most to her.

Plenary 2B – Wednesday, July 8

Speaker: Rashad C. Norris, M.P.A. | Relevant Engagement LLC
Title: WAIT! White Allies/Advocates in Training

In his talk, Rashad C. Norris will address personal introspection and provide strategies and resources around racial equity justice, anti-racist practices and bias. There are 4 objectives that he will address in hopes of building a framework helping individuals become culturally competent and responsive in our unjust times.

Awareness: “A culturally competent professional is one who is actively in the process of becoming aware of his or her own assumptions about human behavior, values, biases, preconceived notions, personal limitations and so forth.

Knowledge: a culturally competent professional is one who actively attempts to understand the worldview of culturally diverse populations. In other words, what are the values, assumptions, practices, communication styles, group norms, biases, experiences, perspectives and so on, of culturally diverse communities you interact with?

Skills: a culturally competent professional is one who is in the process of actively developing and practicing appropriate, relevant and sensitive strategies and skills in working with culturally diverse communities.

Action/Advocacy: a culturally competent professional is one who advocates on behalf of the needs of clients, families, community, colleagues, etc. They take action in their workplace, community and society to create a culture of respect and equity. Thus, cultural competence is active, developmental, an ongoing process and is aspirational rather than achieved.”
Adapted from Sue, D.W., & Sue, D (2003). Counseling the culturally diverse: Theory and practice, 4th Ed. New York: John Wiley. (Cultures Connecting)

Plenary 3 – Thursday, July 9 

Speaker: Sharon Milgram, Ph.D. | National Institutes of Health (NIH)
Talk: Addressing the Mental Health, Wellness and Resilence of STEM Students

In this talk, we will explore principles of resilience and holistic wellness with the goal of helping program directors and faculty develop wellness programs and support students through difficult times. The speaker will describe elements of the successful wellness and resilience program she established at the National institutes of Health for trainees in the Intramural Research Program. 


Plenary 4 – Thursday, July 9 

Speaker: Loretta Brancaccio-Taras, Ph.D. | Kingsborough Community College, New York​
Title: Where are My Students? Where is My Instructor? Creating a Successful Online Learning Environment 

Many online students feel they do not have access to their instructor and are alone in an unfamiliar learning environment.  In turn, faculty often voice their online students don’t appear to be engaging in course work.  For these reasons, the choices made in designing our courses and our selection of technology choices impact students’ perceptions of and success in the online learning environment. This session will focus on strategies to improve engagement based on traditional course design principles. 


Plenary 5 – Thursday, July 9 

Speaker: Dave Westenberg, Ph.D. | Missouri University of Science and Technology​
Title: Good Evening Ladies and Germs: Using Humor, Story Telling, and Games To Discover Connections to Our Microbial World.

Communicating science works best when the audience is engaged in the process to draw their own connection with the science. Whether we are communicating with students, family, friends, the public or our colleagues, strategies that open dialogue and inspire questions will be most effective. This interactive presentation draws on examples at all of these levels and how they have impacted science communication. The presentation will highlight how ASM helps support these strategies and seeks new ways to inspire the next generation of scientists. Attendees will come away with new ideas that they can use in their own science communication activities.