Liberate Your Love of Teaching for Learning


Mecaila Smith is a PhD student in the Education Department and a 2015-2016 Chancellor’s Graduate Intern. This year, she is working with the Committee on Teaching to develop the recently funded Center for Innovations in Teaching and Learning.

I recently attended the Lilly Conference on College and University Teaching and Learning held in Newport Beach, California. The original Lilly Conference was held 34 years ago, and has since grown into a network of conferences that take place across the country and throughout the year, providing professors with the opportunity to share ideas—in a highly supportive community atmosphere—about the scholarship and craft of teaching and learning.

While there, I met with professors from a wide range of disciplines, including theology, economics, nutrition, accounting, literature, and biology. And together, we talked about topics such as diversity and inclusion, metacognition, technology in the classroom, motivation, empathy, and student writing. For example, Marilla Scinicki of the University of Texas Austin gave a plenary presentation on, “Evidence-Based Foundations for Motivating Students to Learn”; Terry Doyle of Ferris State University gave a plenary presentation on “Understanding How Students Learn: The First Step to Improving College Teaching Practices”; and Jaimie Hoffman of USC’s Rossier School of Education led an interactive session called, “’HIP’ with Teaching? Using Technology to Facilitate High Impact Practices.” As someone who is new to the teaching profession, I found these conversations inspiring; for other first-time conference participants who were more experienced teachers, the Lilly Conference seemed to provide a liberating sanctuary (really!), where they were free and emboldened to talk about what they valued: teaching and learning, and more importantly, teaching for learning. As the COT continues to develop its website, I look forward to sharing resources from these dialogs.

Over the next twelve months, five more Lilly Conferences will take place across the United States, so there is plenty of opportunity for you to take part in this teaching and learning community as a participant or as a presenter of evidence-based teaching and learning practices. A quick peek at upcoming conference dates and locations is below, but for more information, visit the Lilly Conference homepage.

Upcoming Lilly Conferences

June 2 – 5, 2016       Lilly International Conference – Bethesda, MD

Aug 1 – 3, 2016         Lilly National Conference – Asheville, NC

Oct 20 – 22, 2016     Lilly National Conference – Traverse City, MI

Nov 17 – 20, 2016    Lilly Original – Oxford, OH

Jan 9 – 11, 2017       Lilly National Conference – Austin, TX

While you have your planner out, here’s another date to add to your calendar: the IDEA Grant Deadline is March 31, 2016!

IDEA, “a nonprofit organization dedicated to improving learning in higher education,” is currently accepting proposals for two grants:

The IDEA Impact Teaching/Learning Grant is designed to promote effective student learning by carefully exploring and systematically documenting the efficacy of various teaching practices, learning environments, and institutional policies.

The IDEA Impact Campus Climate Grant is intended to support increased knowledge and understanding of campus climate issues that impact student learning and the ability of institutions to successfully carry out their mission. (

Visit the IDEA Grant homepage for more information.

I hope you’ll take a look at both the upcoming Lilly Conferences and at the IDEA Grants. These are forums for you to get inspired and share your inspiration, as well as for you to find a space to liberate your love of teaching for learning.

Mecaila Smith

PhD Student, Education Department, UCSC
Cota-Robles Fellow
Chancellor’s Graduate Intern

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