Below are sample descriptions of workshops from Dr. Todd Zakrajsek.
Workshops can be customized to fit your needs. Contact Todd directly for more information if there is a specific topic or area you would like covered for your event.
Teaching for Deep Learning
I have completed various workshops and keynotes on the general topic of learning theories and applications of those theories to enhance learning for our students. I strive to facilitate these sessions in a way that is fun and engaging for faculty. Yes, it is possible to talk about theory and have fun in the process, as long as one includes solid applications. Talks and facilitated workshops in this area help faculty to know how to help students become better learners. Much of the content for these sessions is drawn from my upcoming books: Understanding How We Learn: Applying Key Educational Concepts in the Classroom (Stylus Publishing) and Teaching at Its Best, 4th Ed. (Zakrajsek & Nilson, Jossey-Bass Publishing).
Study Less Learn More: Applying Principles of the New Science of Learning
Of course, we don't want students to study less, but that title has been very popular among students at several universities, also including professions programs such as pharmacy, nursing, veterinary medicine, and medical schools. I am happy to discuss with you the possibility of creating a presentation for your students on evidence-based strategies to increase learning and retention of academic material. I provide a workshop for faculty on effective teaching strategies for many campuses and a separate session for students on effective learning strategies. When both faculty members and students understand WHY active learning works, it has better outcomes for everyone (e.g., faculty receive higher teaching evaluations and students engage more in active learning classrooms). Often, I base the material in sessions like this on a book I co-authored with my friend Terry Doyle: The New Science of Learning: How to Learn in Harmony With your Brain (2nd ed).
Science of Teaching and Learning
Evidence-Based Teaching Strategies
Active and Engaged Teaching That Helps Everyone to Learn
Student learning depends to a large extent on the strategies faculty use when teaching course content, and there is a wide range of students in every course. I have done many keynote addresses, pre-conference workshops, and campus workshops on various active/engaged teaching strategies. These sessions are structured to engage faculty members in activities that illustrate different teaching strategies, even in large conference sessions with over a thousand participants. Material for these presentations and facilitated workshops is heavily drawn from my co-authored book: Teaching for Learning: 101 Intentionally Designed Educational Activities to Put Students on the Path to Success (Routledge Publishing).
Dynamic Lecturing: Research-Based Strategies to Enhance Lecture Effectiveness
A relatively large number of faculty members still rely heavily on lectures as their foundational approach to teaching. Telling faculty who lecture that lecturing is bad for student learning does not typically result in fundamental changes in their approach to teaching. The interesting thing is that research does not indicate that lecturing is bad. The research shows that lecturing should not be done all the time and should be done well. Lecture paired with engaged learning strategies is highly effective. I have done many keynote addresses and workshops on this combined topic of lecturing and engaged learning. Faculty, particularly those who lecture extensively, have been extremely receptive to this message. Much of the material for sessions on this topic comes from a book I wrote with Christine Harrington: Dynamic Lecturing: Research-Based Strategies to Enhance Lecture Effectiveness (Stylus Publishing).
Motivating and Engaging Students
Overall, learning is a pretty amazing process, and most students greatly enjoy that process. Unfortunately, classroom learning, some of the most artificial learning environments ever created, stifle the fun part of learning: discovery. In workshops and keynote addresses across the United States and several countries abroad, I have created situations whereby faculty experience the joy of learning themselves. These sessions include strategies faculty can use in nearly any course using almost any content. These have been some of the highest-rated sessions I have ever given, with faculty frequently commenting about how much fun they had in the session. That is what learning should look like. Much of the content for these sessions are drawn from my experience teaching undergraduate students while a tenured associate professor of psychology at Southern Oregon University and as a faculty development director at Central Michigan University.
Theories of Motivation Uncovered: Understanding What Drives Student's Interest in (or Lack Thereof) Learning
Several very well-accepted theories of human motivation lay out a playbook on motivating students in our courses. It has been exciting in workshops and keynotes to watch faculty come to understand that motivating humans is not a mystery but rather a very well-developed area of scientific investigation. What's more, it can be both exciting and fun to learn motivational theory if presented well. Much of the material for these sessions draw from my upcoming book, Understanding How We Learn: Applying Key Educational Concepts in the Classroom (Stylus Publishing), and from my graduate training and experience teaching Industrial/Organizational Psychology. It turns out the same principles developed to understand better worker motivation also apply to student motivation.
Motivating and Engaging Students
Inspiring and Sustaining Educators
On Being an Educator: Joys and Challenges of the Greatest Profession
Teaching in higher education is a gift. Yes, it is unquestionably arduous work, but having the opportunity to mold future generations is a fantastic opportunity….and serious responsibility. I have given many keynotes, conference workshops, and campus workshops regarding the amazement of teaching in higher education and the sheer joy it can bring to see a student's eyes light up with understanding. Everyone in every profession has had a teacher of some form, making teaching the undisputed top of all professions. Sessions in this area encourage faculty and administrators to think about education, assessment, the teacher's role, and the student's role in new and fundamentally different ways. Time and again, faculty and administrators leave sessions such as these with a newfound pool of enthusiasm and a better understanding of the valuable work they do daily. Content for sessions in this area is drawn from my work as a faculty development director over the past 30 years, and seeing the incredible impact faculty have on students every day.
Work-Life Harmony: Finding Your Place in the Academy and In the World
Faculty burnout occurs much too often. In many respects, it is not unexpected. Faculty members who teach in higher education find themselves at a challenging crossroads. As educators, we are also very well educated, which means we know a lot of things. Most faculty positions in higher education do NOT have detailed work expectations, meaning we can do many things based on our interests and obligations. Yes, some of us have heavy teaching loads, but what are we told explicitly to do? Many generalities (e.g., publish, advise students, participate in meetings), but few specifics as to precisely what we are to do. Speaking of obligations, faculty are also typically very committed to colleagues and students by the very nature of the job. So, we find ourselves in jobs as well-educated individuals (meaning we CAN do many things), with low task structure (meaning we have no idea as to how much we SHOULD do), and working with others who typically need help (meaning we feel OBLIGATED to agree to many tasks). No wonder faculty members find themselves overworked. In workshops and keynotes, I have worked with many faculty members to help them to understand this situation better and ways to use appreciative inquiry to take control of their lives. Many senior faculty members who have been near burnout have told me this helped give them a structure to move forward. Many junior faculty members have told me such sessions help them define their teaching jobs in a meaningful, realistic way. Much of the content for this session is drawn from my training as an Industrial/Organizational Psychologist and from an upcoming book co-authored with Marina Smitherman: Off to a Great Start: Proven Strategies for Faculty Members New to Higher Education (Stylus Publishing)