Keynote Speakers

Dan W. Butin

Danger! Teaching Ahead: A Vision for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning

Dan W. Butin, Associate Professor, Merrimack College

There is a fundamental tension at the heart of the college classroom experience today: while we yearn for the authentic and transformational moment, higher education is ever more becoming an instrumental process of job readiness and credentialism. This presentation explores and unpacks the difficulties of creating truly engaging classroom experiences through the prism of contemporary learning theory and the current moment of higher education. It offers a vision for reflecting on and rethinking how to create truly powerful pedagogical experiences that make the college classroom a truly relevant space for impactful teaching and learning.

Dan W. Butin is an associate professor and founding dean of the school of education at Merrimack College. He is the author and editor of more than seventy academic publications, including the books Service-Learning in Theory and Practice: The Future of Community Engagement in Higher Education (2010), which won the 2010 Critics Choice Book Award of the American Educational Studies Association, The Education Dissertation: A Guide for Practitioner-Scholars (2010), Service-Learning and Social Justice Education (2008), Teaching Social Foundations of Education (2005), as well as the forthcoming book The Engaged Campus. He is also the editor of the Palgrave series Community Engagement in Higher Education. Dr. Butin's research focuses on issues of educator preparation and policy, and community engagement. Prior to working in higher education, Dr. Butin was a middle school math and science teacher and the chief financial officer of Teach For America. More of Dr. Butin’s work can be found at

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James Zimmerman

Constructive Alignment: Developing Valuable Student Learning Assessments

James Zimmerman, Ph.D., Director, Christian A. Johnson Institute of Effective Teaching, Rollins College

Scores of colleges and universities have spent precious resources on materials and technologies that promise solutions to the challenge of assessing student learning. Frequently, faculty and administrators are disappointed to find that these tools fail to provide useful data on the academic progress of their students. In the current climate of shrinking budgets, inefficient uses of university resources are unacceptable. How can we choose more wisely? Models that serve the purpose of linking theory, research, and practice can be useful in shaping and developing a more profound understanding of the student learning experience. Constructive Alignment is one of the most influential ideas in higher education outside of the US. Constructive alignment encourages clarity in the design of a curriculum, and transparency in the links between learning and assessment. A truly constructively aligned curriculum facilitates deep learning approaches as the activities are specifically designed for that purpose.

This session will articulate how one might utilize the idea of Constructive Alignment to develop assessments of student learning that provide beneficial feedback to several academic constituencies students, faculty, administrators, and accreditors.

James Zimmerman (Ph.D., University of Michigan, 2000) directs the Christian A. Johnson Institute for Effective Teaching at Rollins College in Winter Park, Florida. A nuclear chemist with a deep passion for learning and teaching, James has participated in faculty professional development activities at the local, national, and international level. These activities have included developing a theory-based integrative model for learning and motivation in higher education, developing a teaching fellowship program that supports faculty interested in the scholarship of teaching and learning, and designing assessment protocols for multi-campus initiatives. Dr. Zimmerman has mentored faculty team projects designed to address issues that often discourage women and minorities from pursuing study in the STEM fields, and has presented the NSF-sponsored Multi-Initiative Dissemination (MID) project curriculum to multiple cohorts of science faculty from a wide-range of academic institutions. Dr. Zimmerman has taught undergraduate and graduate courses in general, nuclear, and physical chemistry and has won several university awards for his teaching. His scholarly agenda currently includes program, project, and classroom assessment, integrative learning theory, and traditional faculty development.

Download the Powerpoint presentation of this keynote in PDF format.