November 2-4, 2021

Strengthening our Foundations:
Learning Theory Online and Across Disciplines
UAGC TLC Logo.png

Call for Proposals

As competency-based, prior-learning, and experiential learning program offerings in online higher education continue to grow, institutions hire faculty who maintain industry expertise over and above holding advanced degrees. Faculty maintaining full-time roles as practitioners offer industry-specific insights for adult students who indicate a desire for career and job-focused educational outcomes. While this focus on industry practice can connect the learning experience to current career and job functions, it may negatively impact faculty members’ sense of connection to their institutions, to each other, and to the diverse needs of their adult students. Surveys of adjunct faculty continue to show that combining full-time industry practice with teaching responsibilities leaves scant time for institutional engagement, faculty-to-faculty engagement, and—most important—development of teaching practices. Additionally, a decline in faculty institutional knowledge and engagement may negatively impact meaningful collaboration with both academic and student support staff or departments.

In our evolving directive to connect the student learning experience to industry practice, we may inadvertently fracture our connections to each other, to our bodies of institutional knowledge, and—most notably—to the students we serve.

The University of Arizona Global Campus 2021 Teaching and Learning Conference investigates how learning theory might bridge this institutional gap. Learning theory offers a foundation for understanding how people consume, process, and apply new information and skills, regardless of field or role. We seek to understand the impact of employing learning theory to drive development, engagement, and strategic planning opportunities across academic programs and university departments. Can institutions who employ learning theory in these ways generate:

  1. Strong institutional community with increased focus on shared bodies of knowledge and practice?

  2. Positive student outcomes by way of a faculty body who know both how to practice in their fields how to help students learn?

  3. A diverse array of departmental collaborations with student achievement at their center?

Call for Proposals Open

Please use this link to submit your proposal. The deadline for TLC 2021 proposals is July 2, 2021.

   Important Dates

  • Call for Proposals Opens – May 10

  • Call for Proposals Closes – July 2

  • Presenter Acceptance of Invitations Due – August 16, 2021

  • TLC 2021 Agenda Posted – September 1, 2021

  • Pre-Recorded Presentations and Speaker Profiles Due – October 4, 2021

Presenter Resources

Stay tuned for information on how to prepare and submit your pre-recorded presentation and on presenting best practices.

Delivery Options


Panel track chairs and volunteer reviewers will review all proposals, and TLC will offer invitations to those whose content and engagement strategies are most applicable to the conference's aims.

Panel Track (two presentations)

Panel track participants will share their own work pertaining to their panel topics in an up-to-20-minute individual presentation, which they can opt to pre-record or do live. Then, they will return to contribute to a 30-minute live chair-moderated discussion with their fellow panelists. Panels allow participants to engage with other thought leaders in interdisciplinary dialogues toward actionable ideas.

Individual Presentation (up to 20 minutes)

Individual presentations are opportunities to share topics of interest, lessons learned, foresight, or evidence of impact related to the conference theme. Individual presenters will choose either to present live or to complete a pre-recorded presentation and engage with conference attendees via asynchronous TLC discussion forums. Pre-recorded individual presentations will be due on October 4, 2021.

ePoster (up to 10 minutes)

The ePoster format provides presenters the option to examine an issue through informal, brief presentations of effective practices, research findings, or technical solutions. Presenters will prepare a pre-recorded presentation on their topics not to exceed 10 minutes in length. The pre-recorded ePoster will be due on October 4, 2020.

Chair Resources

TLC Engagement Resources

Stay tuned for information on how to leverage tools in our conference app to make the most of your TLC experience

Contact Us

Do you have questions about the theme, tracks, or delivery options for this year's TLC? Send us an email!.


Panel Tracks

Creating Co-Curricular Pathways for Student Success 

On one level, student success can be tied to grade achievement in courses. And, on an institutional level, student success might be measured by retention and graduation metrics. But that thinking relies too heavily on primarily academic data points and doesn’t consider the social or behavioral aspects of student engagement or lifelong learning. Along with a robust curricular framework, students can benefit from meaningful co-curricular learning experiences that support learning and growth. We’ll use Vaughn’s definition of co-curricular pathways as those that “intentionally align [with curricular] programs and services toward specific goals and learning outcomes. Co-curricular pathways consist of: (1) high-impact experiences, (2) scaffolded learning and (3) ideals of student success that help students to shape and reach their academic and professional goals.” This panel will examine the different ways co-curricular strategies can be leveraged for student success. Sessions may focus on use cases for co-curricular interventions, university-wide or program-specific strategies, the theory or the application, the nuts and bolts of development or a roadmap for future implementations.

Rutter, M. P., & Mintz, S. (2016, October 20). The Curricular and the Co-Curricular. Inside Higher Ed. 

Vaughn, T. (2020, October 14). Co-Curricular Pathways Can Improve Retention. Inside Higher Ed. 

A Matter of Speaking: Strategies to Enhance Student Public Speaking Skills in Higher Education 

Students often cite fear of public speaking as one of their weaknesses yet little is done in higher education to address this important skill. This panel seeks presentations that discuss ways in which the institution can promote and facilitate opportunities for students to enhance their public speaking skills in preparation for their careers. 

Applying “social presence” in an online space: How “social” do our students want to be?

The concept of “social presence,” is commonly thought to be central to learning (Crim, 2006; Garrison, 2007; Garrison et al., 2009; Borup et al, 2014). Thus “sociality” is deemed central to meaningful and fruitful educational experiences.  Previous research has been focused on live or blended classes, with traditional students (18-21-year-olds).  What do adult, online learners want in terms of social interaction though?  In this project, we survey University of Arizona Global Campus students to learn about their social presence expectations and desires.  We will encourage discussion of people’s experiences and thoughts across multiple disciplines.

Borup, J., West, R. E., Thomas, R.A, & Graham, C.R. (2014). Examining the impact of video feedback on instructor 
social presence in blended courses. International Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning, 15(3), 
Crim, S. J. (2006). An examination of social presence in an online learning environment. Electronic Theses and 
Dissertations, Paper 291. A dissertation presented to the University of Kentucky. 
Garrison, D. R. (2007, April).  Online community of inquiry review: social, cognitive, and teaching presence issues.  
Journal of Synchronous Learning Networks, 11(1), 61-72. 
Garrison, D. R. Anderson, T., & Archer, W. (2009). Critical inquiry in a text-based environment: computer 
conferencing in higher education. The Internet and Higher Education, 2(2-3), 87-105. 


Cultural Competence – The Elephant in the Room: Addressing Differing Beliefs at the Micro Level 

Learning is the foundation for our beliefs and behaviors, which can be implicitly and explicitly shared in the classroom and in professional contexts (e.g. meetings, training, and events). However, as educators, we must be mindful that diversity is so much more than race, religion, and sexual preference which seem to be the most notable boundaries people acknowledge in shared communication contexts. This panel session will identify areas of diversity that are often not explicitly addressed, but can have negative effects on a team or classroom, and offer strategies to becoming more respectful of others’ identities and beliefs improving institutional cohesion.


Supporting Higher Education English Language Learners

English language learners (ELLs) at the university level still may face challenges with reading, writing, listening, and speaking. Being able to provide just-in-time interventions can support persistence and achievement rates in both courses and throughout the university. Acquiring and using higher level academic English is challenging (Biancarosa, 2003; Oropeza, Varghese, & Kanno, 2010), and adult ELLs require explicit interventions and instruction to support their higher education goals (DeKeyser, 2017). University faculty will learn innovative ways to support ELLs through involvement with this panel series.


Emerging Technologies for Online Teaching and Learning: Scanning the Horizon

In this panel, we will take a longer view of instructional technology, looking ahead to the technologies we may be integrating in online and hybrid learning in five to ten years.  From AI to XR, the panel will present a selection of technologies and invite attendees to add their own technologies to the list, as well as respond to questions about the ones we share.  Join us on the cutting edge for a forward-looking discussion!


Teaching controversial content in a volatile political environment

Diversity pedagogy theory asserts that culture is central to learning and that we must acknowledge the role culture plays in instruction and learning (Hernandez-Sheets, 2009).  It invites instructors to observe the cultural practices of students and use this knowledge to shape instruction.  The liberal arts program is unique in in that its curriculum covers controversial topics, including historical racial and ethnic atrocities, love, hate, revenge, religion, politics, family, and other Shakespearean/Enlightenment plot variables.  With the rise of “cancel culture” and scrutiny of controversial topics, how can we have scholarly conversations around these topics?  This panel track will address the unique experience of teaching controversial content in a politically volatile environment.

Synthesis and experience - Liberal arts and the study of collective memory

Two long-standing learning theories are from Bloom and Dewey (Derreth, 2017). Bloom was interested in the ability to “synthesize” in higher-level learning and Dewey focused on the importance of experiential learning. Following this advice, liberal arts encourages critical thinking and developing analytical skill and asks questions about how one should live their lives (or our “experiences”). We invite presentations on the importance of collective memory specifically, as a form of experiential learning, and how we can understand it best through synthesizing scholarship from a variety of academic perspectives. Confederate Statues, banned books, and the Black Lives Matters movement are a few ways we can explore the importance of collective memory and how it shapes our values and identity. We invite presentations from a variety of disciplines and institutions to address these and other themes and share experiences of how they apply these learning theories.


Derreth, R. T. (2017). A bright future: Liberal arts for the 21st century. Higher Education in Review, Special Issue 
2017, 13-21.


Power Skills: What Employers Want and How to Deliver Them

Research is communicating to higher education that certain skills (often called Soft Skills) are essential for career success. The challenges for higher education are how do we identify these transferrable skills and how can we integrate the skill development into our courses. These soft skills are so vital that they are now called Power Skills. Regardless of the academic discipline, the Power Skills must be key ingredients in any degree program with the purpose of enhancing the student’s career achievement. 


Keeping it Real and Relevant: Perspectives on Cultural Awareness and Competence in Online Course Instruction    

According to the U.S. Department of Education (2017), Globally and Culturally Competent Individuals demonstrate various skills, including the application of cultural-specific knowledge to work effectively in intercultural settings. They also have the ability to operate at professional levels in intercultural and international contexts. In the online classroom, our learners represent many types of diversity and will interact with individuals representing varies types of diversity in their careers. The presentations in this panel will integrate learning theories with practical strategies to demonstrate cultural awareness and competency as online instructors while preparing students to develop and enhance their own global and cultural competencies.  


U.S. Department of Education. (2017, January). Global and Cultural Competency: Why Global and Cultural Competency?. 


Perspectives on the Value of Learning How to Learn    

In IT careers, market pressures to keep one's skills sharp in an effort to become or remain employable create complexities for learners, faculty, and institutions, as each wrestles with the pace of change and the richness of subject matter.

Dreyfus and Dreyfus (1980) make note of the increasing value of direct experience in a learner's mental processes as she develops skills by directed means, through instruction and experience. However, Chris Argyris, in his work on double-loop learning systems in organizations, (see, for example, Argyris 1991) points to the value of challenging the way one looks at a problem (or make decisions) to avoid being trapped by one's own assumptions or point of view.

This panel will explore the idea that a faculty member, through the acts of reflecting on, organizing and conveying the expertise that she or he has gained from a professional and/or scholarly career, is in the unique position to inform learners on the process of learning itself. In this way, the faculty experience can not only directly convey valuable single-loop, problem-solving skills, but also double-loop, learning-development skills to their students. Sessions may focus on the value of directed experience in the skill acquisition process, on methods for increasing resilience through the development of critical thinking and assumption-challenging skills, and / or on the ways in which the faculty experience itself can expand and bring to life a curriculum.


Argyris, Chris (1991). "Teaching smart people how to learn." Harvard Business Review. 69 (3) 99 - 109.

Dreyfus, Stuart E.; Dreyfus, Hubert L. (1980). "A Five-Stage Model of the Mental Activities Involved in Directed Skill Acquisition." Washington, DC: Storming Media.

How Quality Management (QM) Principles and Systems Further Organizational Success and Create a Competitive Advantage   

W. Edward's Deming's philosophy of quality management (QM) suggests that quality is central to the effective operation of production and service systems. Meanwhile, Bonwell and Eison’s (1991) Active Learning Theory suggests that quality learning occurs when learners work collaboratively to discuss materials, tools, methodologies, technologies, and systems. All organizations – including institutions of higher education – are dynamic environments, and active learning must happen within QM systems to ensure effective operations, production, and service. This panel will explore the connections between the principles of QM and Active Learning Theory toward achieving high-quality educational input from institutions and high-quality learning output from students.


Successful Learning Opportunities through Student Engagement: The Benefits of Student Employment

Student employees provide services to all departments and staff at a university, but what benefits do they receive? This panel aims to look through the lens of student employees in day-to-day operations to better understand how to support the technological, interpersonal, and leadership learning opportunities they have through their work. 


Student Conduct or Student Development?: An Interdisciplinary Approach

This panel seeks participants to address scholarly and/or practical approaches to interdepartmental collaboration toward turning student conduct scenarios into student development opportunities. Students come to higher education with the common goal of graduation; however each of them show up with unique experiences and differing backgrounds. This diversity in experience and background is matched among faculty and student-support staff, and with it comes the potential for escalated student-conduct situations both inside and outside the classroom. It is important to help set behavioral standards to allow spaces where diverse opinions and experiences may be shared and learned. In order to create those academic spaces, a balance of challenge and support may help. Sanford's Challenge and Support Theory focuses on ways in which faculty and staff can have an impact on student development when they both challenge a student by holding them to a consistent set of standards and leading by example as well as finding ways to provide support through attempting to understand and acknowledge students' unique experiences. This can encourage a level of civil discourse and respectful communication when dealing with difficult situations, and can help foster learning environment that focuses on student development.

Holistic Co-Curricular Support

In a nontraditional environment with nontraditional learners, co-curricular support may seem like an afterthought. However, holistically supporting students remains as critical as ever, and co-curricular support tends to fulfill that need.   Keeping in mind Chickering’s Seven Vectors of Student Development Model, let us explore ways the cocurricular side supports student success and retention.  From mentoring to conduct, from access to student engagement, from academic resolution to career advising; student engagement outside of the classroom can have tremendous impact on student success, persistence and retention. This panel will outline various co-curricular opportunities for students in an effort to holistically support students and increase student success. 

Inclusive Course Design: How Can We Infuse Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) into Online Courses?

Awareness within the higher education community about specifically incorporating Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) representation within courses has grown exponentially within recent years. Increasingly, faculty are challenged to proactively integrate DEI representation within their courses. This panel seeks to offer guidance, and to foster an exchange of ideas, on ways to ensure courses mindfully represent DEI. Based on theories relevant to student learning, a variety of instructional methods and subject matter examples will be demonstrated. In addition, presenters and participants will share ways to encourage critical thinking when addressing potentially controversial topics.

A Constructivist Query: Ethical Considerations (and Innovations) for the Career Conversation

Acknowledging constructivism as a guiding educational principle, this panel invites participants to explore whether online instructors across the disciplines have a moral or ethical obligation to engage in career conversations with students. If one’s practice of liberty is connected explicitly to one’s construction of reality (Friere 124), we must grapple with how students are constructing a career identity both prior to and during their educational journey. Given that career knowledge—like other forms of ‘knowing’ and ‘learning’—is socially constructed, are there risks associated with facilitating career conversations between students in online learning spaces? Can (or should) online instructors be comfortable with seizing authority from students to redirect career conversations? Are there ways (or tools) for online instructors to teach into the void (Haake 99) concerning professions outside their professed and/or proven expertise? If career identity “Provides both a frame through which students can interpret their capabilities and previous experiences, and a meaningful way to focus future activity,” (Bridgstock 57) are we not obligated to effectively evaluate the construction of career knowledge in the online learning environment? Share your own experiences and innovative practices as we examine the ethics of career conversations and seek to construct a new paradigm for career development learning.​

Using Communication Theory to Build Community and Promote a Collaborative Culture

Description: Building a collaborative academic community is encouraged across the University. The culture of an academic community guided by the theories of behaviorism and constructivism as supported by connectivism seeks to promote learning through networking. To successfully build and sustain this community, we employ Behaviorism and Connectivism learning theory to create new behaviors aimed at collaboration which in turn support learners in constructing knowledge through their own experiences rather than passively consuming information.

Berge, Z. (2013). Barriers To Communication In Distance Education. The Turkish Online Journal of Distance Education, 14, 374-388.

Cobley, P., & Schulz, P. J. (Eds.). (2013). Theories and models of communication (Vol. 1). Walter de Gruyter.

Servaes, J., & Malikhao, P. (2020). Communication for Development and Social Change: Three Development Paradigms, Two Communication Models, and Many Applications and Approaches. Handbook of Communication for Development and Social Change, 63-92.

Stollfuß, S. (2020). Communitainment on Instagram: Fitness Content and Community-Driven Communication as Social Media Entertainment. SAGE Open, 10(2), 215824402091953

Treem, J. W., Leonardi, P. M., & van den Hooff, B. (2020). Computer-me
ated communication in the age of communication visibility. Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication, 25(1), 44-59.

Living Our Values: Using Empathy as a Force for Student and Institutional Success

In Stephen Covey’s classic book, The 7 habits of Highly Effective People, he explains that seeking first to understand is shown by a person’s ability to listen, understand, and communicate with others empathetically (1989). It is by leading with empathy, that faculty show care and concern for their students, colleague's relationships across departments flourish, and leaders of institutions create and maintain a culture of generosity and compassion. Research also shows that stress can lead to a reduction in empathy (Martin, L.J. et al, 2015). In the time of COVID-19, and with additional work, family, social, and financial stress, we must examine strategies to recognize and overcome empathy fatigue. Using the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning's (CASEL) core competencies of self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, relationship skills, and responsible decision-making, we can apply social and emotional learning theory to explore the use of empathy as a strategy for student success, a component of the student-faculty relationship, success for faculty in the classroom, inter-departmental growth, developing an institutional culture, and career success (n.d.). Sessions can focus on research in theory or application, a tool or measurement, or a strategy for classroom, departmental, or institutional growth.


Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning. (n.d.). What is SEL? Retrieved from

Covey, S. R. (1989). The seven habits of highly effective people: Restoring the character ethic. New York: Simon and Schuster.

Martin, L. J., Hathaway, G., Isbester, K., Mirali, S., Acland, E. L., Niederstrasser, N., Slepian, P. M., Trost, Z., Bartz, J. A., Sapolsky, R. M., Sternberg, W. F., Levitin, D. J., & Mogil, J. S. (2015). Reducing social stress elicits emotional contagion of pain in mouse and human strangers. Current Biology: CB, 25(3), 326–332.


No Data Left Behind: Supporting Our Students to Be the Best 

Every time an assignment is graded, faculty are providing assessment data points that allow the institution to see how well it’s students are achieving course, program, general education, specialized accreditation, and institutional learning outcomes. This data is influential in driving curricular, programmatic, and institutional changes and initiatives throughout the university. Assessment data is collected through multiple measures and methods that contribute to the collection and analysis of rich data; results of these analyses are used to propose and test interventions, which in turn provide new data for analysis and action. This panel will discuss how assessment anchored in the curriculum and focused on student work is most effective.


CETLs Unite!: Teaching Excellence Initiatives Across Departments and Institutions

In his 1991 essay, “What Theories Underlie the Practice of Faculty Development,” Wilbert J. McKeachie suggests that faculty development will follow the trajectory of theories on student success, including interpersonal and social-related learning theories. Accordingly, the entities that support faculty development must consist not just of faculty- or instructional-focused expertise but of a wide array of interdepartmental, administrative, and student-facing professionals. Indeed, many universities have Centers for Excellence in Teaching and Learning (or similarly named departments) whose structure, personnel, and duties vary greatly while ultimately keeping both faculty and student success at the center of their missions. This panel aims to uncover this variety in faculty support center structures and how they execute their work and to put them in conversation with each other toward the positive evolution of faculty development programs. Reference: McKeachie, Wilbert J., "What Theories Underlie the Practice of Faculty Development?" (1991). To Improve
the Academy. 219.