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Spring 2017 Teaching Effectiveness Institute

The Spark of Learning: Energizing the College Classroom with the Science of Emotions

Thursday, January 12, 2017
8:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
Capitol Room, Holmes Student Center

by Sarah Rose Cavanagh, Assumption College


Links to download session resources and handouts are available below


Sarah Rose Cavanagh

Traditional views of education assume that reason should reign over emotion, and that the classroom should be a quiet, dispassionate space where students and instructors impartially engage with facts, figures, and theories. However, the field of education is beginning to awaken to the power of emotions to capture attention, mobilize efforts, and enhance memory.

In this interactive workshop, Cavanagh will bring to bear a wide range of evidence from the study of education, psychology, and neuroscience to suggest that targeting emotions in your presentation style, course design, and assignments is a highly potent teaching strategy.

Sarah Rose Cavanagh is currently on the faculty at Assumption College, where she directs the Laboratory for Cognitive and Affective Science and serves as Associate Director for Grants and Research in the Center for Teaching Excellence. Her teaching focuses on emotion, motivation, and neuroscience. Sarah’s research considers whether the strategies people choose to regulate their emotions and the degree to which they successfully accomplish this regulation can predict trajectories of psychological functioning over time. Sarah’s book, The Spark of Learning: Energizing the College Classroom with the Science of Emotion, is part of James Lang’s series on teaching and learning in higher education.

Tentative Agenda

8:30 a.m.
Check-in, Refreshments, and Networking
8:55 a.m.
Welcome and Introductions
9:00 a.m.
THE WELL-SPRING: Emotions Enhance Learning
10:30 a.m.
Morning Break
10:45 a.m.
BE THE SPARK: Create Your First (and Lasting) Impression
12:00 p.m.
Lunch in Neptune Dining
1:00 p.m.
BURNING TO MASTER: Mobilizing Student Efforts
2:15 p.m.
Afternoon Break
2:30 p.m.
FUELING THE FIRE: Prolonging Student Persistence
4:00 p.m.
Conclusion and Institute Evaluation


The following resources were shared by the presenter during the institute and are available for download:

Faculty Development and Instructional Design Center

Registration Information

This institute is open to NIU faculty, instructors, and SPS and Civil Service staff. Participants will receive institute materials, lunch, and a certificate of participation. Due to the expensive nature of the institute and the advance notice needed for arranging food and materials, please register by the deadline and plan to attend the entire day. Advance registration is required.

Registration Deadline: Friday, December 16, 2016. Online registration is closed. If you wish to register, please call 815-753-0595.

After you register, if you are unable to attend, please cancel your registration by Monday, January 9, 2017 at so that those on the waiting list may be given the opportunity to attend the workshop or program costs can be reduced.

Frequently Asked Questions

Questions? View answers to commonly asked questions below.

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The Teaching Effectiveness Institute is open to all faculty and SPS/ Civil Service teaching staff at NIU.

The spring Teaching Effectiveness Institute is typically offered as a full-day workshop, centering on a teaching-related topic. We invite presenters who are well-known for their expertise and experiences in higher education teaching. The institute will engage faculty and provide material that will be immediately applicable in their teaching. The institute is geared toward those who are new to teaching as well as experienced faculty wanting to learn about new and exciting teaching topics.

Yes, if the presenter makes their handouts and presentation materials available electronically, we will make them available after the event. Contact the center at for further information on receiving institute handouts.

It would be helpful to bring a pen and some paper or a small notebook to take notes. We want you to be relaxed and comfortable, so please dress casually. Bring a sweater or jacket in case of room temperature changes. Feel free to also bring any snacks or lunch if you have special dietary needs as the refreshments and lunch we provide may not meet your dietary needs.

There is no fee for attending the Teaching Effectiveness Institute; the Faculty Development and Instructional Design Center offers the institute free of charge. However, it is expensive to provide the food, materials, AV, and presenter needs, not to mention the time our staff devotes to planning and executing the program. The center does not receive student fees or grants to fund the Teaching Effectiveness Institute and other programs. Therefore, we would appreciate that you attend the entire institute. If, after you register, you know that you will be unable to attend, please cancel by the deadline so that those on the waiting list can be given the opportunity to register and/or program expenses can be reduced.

If you have purchased a blue or red parking permit, the parking deck on Normal Road is the most convenient parking location since the Teaching Effectiveness Institute is held in the Holmes Student Center. If you do not have a parking permit, you can park in the visitor pay lot located on Carroll Avenue for a daily fee. Click here to view a map of all parking lots at NIU's DeKalb campus. For more information, visit the Campus Parking Services website.

The institute includes morning and afternoon refreshment breaks and lunch. Refreshments and lunch at our programs are provided as a courtesy and as our budget allows. Therefore, food choices may or may not meet your particular dietary needs -- you are welcome to bring any special snacks or lunch. If you plan to have lunch with us at the institute, we will provide you with a ticket for lunch in Neptune Cafeteria which will have a limited variety of salads and hot foods. The Neptune Cafeteria menu for that day will be available at their website.

We understand that the week before classes is busy for many faculty. We encourage you to attend as much of the Teaching Effectiveness Institute as possible, but you may leave if you have other commitments.

Last Updated: 1/26/2017