Panel Discussion - Beyond the Discussion Forum: Giving Modern Students Timeless Communication Skills
Wednesday, November 4 at 10:00 am PST
Impact of Optional Synchronous Discussions on Learning and Engagement in Asynchronous Courses
Speakers: Jennifer Zaur, Assistant Professor in the Department of Education and Liberal Arts at Ashford University, Dr. Amy Johnson, Assistant Professor, Department of Education and Liberal Arts at Ashford University, Dr. Allison Rief, Assistant Professor/Lead Facutly, Department of Education and Liberal Arts at Ashford University, and Dr. Alan Belcher, Professor at Ashford University.
In this session, the authors will discuss the implementation of a research study regarding optional synchronous discussions. At the University, all courses are delivered in an asynchronous method regardless of discipline; only minor, previous attempts at implementing real-time, synchronous class meetings have occurred in the past. In this study, students had the option to participate in real-time conversations about class topics using video conferencing software. A total of approximately 180 students were invited to participate with nearly 50% accepting the invitation. During this session, we will examine the research associated with why the study was conducted, the analysis of the data, and implications for the future. Ideas for engaging and connecting with students during synchronous sessions will be explored. Examples of how the NACE Competencies, such as critical thinking, oral communication, collaboration, and digital technology were utilized during the synchronous sessions will be included as well.
Data-based Alternative Discussion Strategies and the Impact on Retention and Engagement
Speakers: Michael Schulz, Instructional Designer at Zovio and Yvonne Donald Instructional Designer at Zovio.
Discussion forums are where students engage the most with their peers, while engaging in course content at the same time. However, that engagement may not be meaningful if the discussion forum doesn’t support collaboration and expansion of knowledge. How do we approach discussion forums in a manner that increases meaningful engagement, collaboration, and expansion of knowledge between students and instructors? Are there any discussion forum approaches that expand engagement and increase retention? If so, which ones? Can the strategies behind discussion forums that increase retention and engagement be backed-up with data from tools such as Power BI and the LMS data collection tools?
This presentation will explore alternative discussion forum strategies and provide data from Power BI and the LMS on how the different uses of the discussion forum contributed to student retention and engagement. Examples of student interaction will be provided.
Analyzing Social Movements Through Critical Thinking and Shareable Media
Speaker: Jorge Cardena, Department Chair, Lead Faculty for the Forbes School of Business at Ashford University, Murad Abel, Lead Faculty, Forbes School of Business at Ashford University, and Avisha Sadeghinejad, Lead Faculty, Forbes School of Business at Ashford University.
Social movements spread quickly via social media and play a crucial role in society that pushes democratic institutions to change and adjust through the influential mediums of online free speech. The boundaries of a social movement can be elusive as they become amebic, changing, adjusting, and incorporating new ideologies through the sharing and adjusting of information. Social media has made promoting ideas and concepts easier, and at lightning speed as ideas, images, videos, and other forms of emotionally laden content explode over the Internet!
Higher education teaches us about higher-order critical thinking to move beyond passively accepting ideas and into operating agreement and engagement. We are not passive participants in national consciousness but are becoming increasingly important actors that influence others through new world perceptions.
Leveraging Artificial Intelligence to Drive Authentic Discussion
Speaker: Debby Hailwood, Core Faculty at Ashford University, Amy Johnson, Core faculty at Ashford University, and Devyn Maguire, Packback Academic Innovation Consultant
Online learning can be an isolating experience. Discussion has historically been a mode to engage students, drive deeper understanding and allow a level of engagement between instructors and students. Yet, the typical approach to discussion leaves a lot to be desired - endless grading with low impact on student development, inauthentic posts riddled with plagiarism and inequitable feedback.
Virtually Meeting Students Where They are: UMA Student Study Groups via Facebook
Speaker: Melanie Hovland, Director of Student Affairs at Ultimate Medical Academy
In an effort to promote academic success in peer-based settings and to reach students who may not feel comfortable reaching out to their instructors for help, UMA launched several Study Groups on Facebook in 2020. This presentation will share the experience of launching this brand-new approach for our institution.
Panel Discussion - Fostering Professional Self-Advocacy: How to Help Students Communicate Soft and Hard Skills to Employers
Wednesday, November 4 at 10:00 am PST
Making the Online Resume Assignment 'Worth It' for Students
Speakers: Matt Phillips, Career Services Resource Designer at Ashford University
It's not uncommon for students to encounter resume writing learning activities, but are these activities useful for students? Or do these activities reinforce incorrect assumptions? This presentation will cover current resume best-practices including applicant tracking systems and resume optimization. More than that, you'll discover ways to introduce these concepts in the online classroom. See multiple ways Ashford University Career Services has collaborated with faculty to create meaningful resume writing learning activities. Come away with ideas for integrating resume writing as a critical thinking and career development activity in the online learning environment.
CHAMPS Distinguished Mentor Council: Opting In to Avenues of Long-term Success
Speakers: Kiri Storlie, Student Success Program Coordinator at Ashford University Doreen McKnight, CHAMPS Mentor Council President and Mentor at Ashford University, and Geryna Sandy-Cochrane, CHAMPS Alumni Mentor at Ashford University
The CHAMPS Peer Mentoring program developed the Distinguished Mentor Council as the highest level of mentor achievement in the program. Members admitted are considered the best of the best based on their own success mentoring other Ashford students and passing the baton of academic success to their peers. This presentation will demonstrate some of the avenues our council mentors have taken to prepare themselves to be the best seat at the table for any opportunities in their respective fields. Additionally, council mentors are proficient in diverse communication and active listening applicable to any real world conversations. In combination, students who have been engaged in the CHAMPS Distinguished Mentor Council enhance critical career readiness and experience that propel their resume and showcase exceptional leadership.
Developing Career Readiness Through CHAMPS Peer Mentoring
Speaker: Jamie Lynn King, Student Success Assistant at Ashford University, and Evan Gray, Student Success Program Manager, Student Affairs at Ashford University
CHAMPS facilitates experiential learning outside of the classroom that fosters career readiness. This presentation will demonstrate how student participants in CHAMPS are provided an opportunity to develop their knowledge, skills, and ability to meet the Career Readiness Competencies as defined by NACE.
Military Spouse Communication Skills and Self-Advocacy
Speakers: Laurissa Armstead, Student Program Coordinator, Student Mentor, Advisor and Founder of the Military Spouse Support and Leadership Club at Ashford University, Tiana Sims, Student Success Assistant, Vice President of the Military Spouse Support and Leadership Club at Ashford University, Margie Salinas, Student Mentor, President of the Military Spouse Support and Leadership Club at Ashford University, and Machele Ruiz, Student Program Coordinator, Advisor and Founder of the Military Spouse Support and Leadership Club at Ashford university
Military spouses are unique in many ways, from frequent moves and transitions they acquire a great deal of skills. These skills are priceless and can benefit them throughout their academic and professional careers. Learning how to utilize these skills and articulate their unique abilities to future employers is important to their career success. Four military spouses and cabinet members from the Military Spouse Support and Leadership Club, will discuss their experiences, best practices and challenges faced in and out of the classroom in regards to self-advocacy, professional growth and communication. This presentation will highlight the importance of self-advocacy, how to effectively communicate skills and cover why support and connection is vital to success.
Center for Women’s Leadership at the Forbes School of Business and Technology
Wednesday, November 4 at 9:00 am PST
Speakers: Center for Women’s Leadership Board Members
This spotlight presentation shares how the Center for Women’s Leadership (CWL) at the Forbes School of Business and Technology is responding to the needs of our diverse community of learners and teachers, formal, and informal leaders.
Why Faculty Connecting Outcomes to Skills is Vital to Student Satisfaction and Success
Wednesday, November 4 at 10:00 am PST
Speaker: Manon Chadwick, Vice President of Sales at APL nextED, and Kathleen Gibson,
Founder and CEO of APL nextED
Faculty have the greatest impact on student success and satisfaction. Schools that will not just survive but thrive know they must support faculty through:
A. Transparent and accessible information
B. Easy and efficient processes for staffing, contracting, credentialing, evaluations and assessment
C. Engaging in professional development
We intend to go over these facts in detail but also show mapping connections between coursework and learning. Skills and workforce data integrations are something newly comping to the APL platform and we will discuss the impact of this integration on student learning.
Faculty as Coach: Faculty who are informed about the professional applications of their discipline receive more positive student feedback in evaluations.
Speaker: Eliza Lafferty, Honors Thesis Student at Georgetown University
Aesthetic spaces—notably public museums, archives, media outlets, etc.—historically act as gatekeepers for elements in history deemed “worthy” of remembrance. However, the digital realm provides newfound spaces for aesthetic celebration and public memory. As Black, Indigenous, and other People of Color have especially been on the outskirts of white-dominant aesthetic spaces, how does the digital realm become a reclaimed space for memory? What mechanisms allow shared history, culture, and images to elevate forgotten narratives? How does the public engage with digital, public spaces?
Instructional Priorities: How a pandemic showed us what’s really important.
Wednesday, November 4 at 10:30 am PST
Speakers: Morgan Johnson, Associate Vice President, Center for Excellence in Teaching & Learning at Ashford University and Dr. Teresa Kuruc, Director, Faculty Support & Development at Ashford University
Outside of the classroom, COVID-19 quickly challenged us to stop and reflect on what is essential for our personal health, safety, and wellbeing. Within the classroom, faculty continuing with online courses or moving to remote instruction during the pandemic were asking very similar questions, what is essential for my students’ health, safety, well-being…and learning?
Faculty are central to student success, a fact that is pronounced amid a pandemic. Considering the role of faculty and preparedness to effectively support students during a crisis, we know faculty play a critical role in student retention (Betts, 2009), students may not persist in their program[s] without effective faculty support (Morrow & Ackerman, 2012), and faculty must possess the competencies to meet learners’ needs in an online environment (Franklin, 2015).
This session will provide an overview of how Ashford partnered their faculty, Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning, and student-facing teams to implement University-wide programming of instructional strategies during COVID-19. Attendees will learn about technology support solutions, program details, and student outcomes. Reflection and Q&A will focus on a cross-institutional discussion on how best practices can inform evolving instructional models.
Betts, K. (2009). Online human touch (OHT) training & support: A conceptual framework to increase faculty and adjunct faculty engagement, connectivity, and retention in online education, Part 2. Journal of Online Learning and Teaching, 5(1), 29-48. Retrieved from
Franklin, M. (2015). Keys to success in the online accounting classroom to maximize student retention. Journal of Higher Education Theory and Practice, 15(5), 36-44. Available from
Morrow, J. A., & Ackermann, M. E. (2012). Intention to persist and retention of first-year students: The importance of motivation and sense of belonging. College Student Journal, 46(3), 483-491. Available from
Speaker: Dr. Michael Burns, Director of Career Readiness, Department of Communication Studies at Texas State San Marcos
Dr. Burns will share how the Career Readiness Program helped Communication Studies students experiment with different jobs, connect that experience to their curriculum, and engage in career planning from an early stage in their academic program.
Stepping On Toes: Developing a Strong and Enjoyable Chair-Committee Relationship
Wednesday, November 4 at 11:30 am PST
Speakers: Todd D. Fiore, PhD, Adjunct Faculty at Ashford University, and Heather Frederick, PhD, Adjunct Faculty/Methodological Reader at Ashford University
Faculty advisors exert enormous influence upon graduate students, especially at the doctoral level. In addition to serving as gatekeepers, faculty mentors are expected to model scholarly practices while helping students become more self-directed, build confidence, and transition from student to scholar. A dissertation committee is designed to guide doctoral students towards successful completion of their independent research project. However, most committees do not know how to work well together to accomplish this due to misunderstanding of roles, ego, competing perspectives, and a lack of training for how to effectively collaborate. This not only hampers student progression and completion, but it also can lead to breakdowns in relationships between faculty. This presentation identifies common roadblocks that prevent dissertation committees from working well together. It introduces the fundamental requirements needed for a successful Chair-Committee relationship: humility, service mentality, and understanding what is at stake. Faculty serving on dissertation committees should never feel like they are stepping on each other’s toes – in fact, they should feel comfortable stepping on toes and having their toes stepped on in the service of the student. This presentation explains how to create an environment where this is possible.
Introduction to an Applied Doctoral Project (ADP): A Final Project for Practitioners
Wednesday, November 4 at 12:00 pm PST
Speakers: Irene Stein, Lead Faculty, Doctoral Research at Ashford University and Dr. Tim Rice, Lead Faculty for PsyD at Ashford University
An Applied Doctoral Project (ADP) is similar, but different than a dissertation. An ADP is intended to allow scholar-practitioners to apply their scholarship in some form of evidence-based practice. Doctoral students in practitioner programs have the option to produce an Applied Doctoral Project that may be useful for their current or future work. This session, useful for staff, faculty, and students, will present the differences between an ADP and a dissertation, along with choices for ADP projects. Though ADPs may be qualitative or quantitative research studies, just like dissertations, projects can also be a systematic literature review, creations of a handbook, development and/or evaluation of a program, and much more. The key aspects of each type of project will be presented as well as what to look for when evaluating the scholarship of an ADP.
Groups, Teams, Positive Interdependence and Effective Business Communication
Wednesday, November 4 at 12:30 pm PST
Speakers: Bill Davis, MA, CM, CDM, CCTS, Lead Faculty / Assistant Professor at Ashford University, Charlie Minnick, PhD, Lead Faculty, MBA Forbes School of Business & Technology at Ashford University, and Marty McAuliffe. J.D. Associate Professor College of Arts and Sciences, Department of Behavioral Sciences at Ashford University
To manage successful projects and change, we need to select the right people for work groups and then work to make use of the synergy the employees can deliver. Employees in a group produce more or better outputs than employees working separately. Managers should build autonomous groups composed of complementary skills and knowledge. For example, when groups and teams are utilized to complete special projects and implement needed change, employees get to improve on their skill sets; they can foster their creativity and improve on their communication, problem solving, leadership and influencing skills. Plus, trust is built, and the team becomes even more cohesive. According to Davis and Sadeghinejad, (2015), “Team Oriented Leadership raises trust and involvement, and helps all team members participate to achieve more” (para. 2). A team is when group members work intensely with each other to achieve a specific, common goal or objective (ICPM CM Training). For more about the benefits of teamwork, read the article, “Together Everyone Achieves More.”
This presentation examines workgroups, teams, positive interdependence, and effective business communication principles that create efficiency and effectiveness within teams and organizations. How work groups become teams will be discussed and real-world examples and principles will be presented. These principles can be applied across teams, departments, and organizations today and can help further student’s further their real-world application.
The "I's" Have It - A 3-Stage Process to Fostering Classroom Collaboration
Wednesday, November 4 at 1:00 pm PST
Speaker: Deborah Carpenter, Assistant Professor, DEL Faculty Lead, Faculty Support and Development at Ashford University
The challenge of engaging all students effectively in an online setting has always been present, particularly so when faculty were no longer required to respond to every student in every thread in the online classroom (DS excluded). The I's Have It is a 3-Stage Process that creates real-world connections, decreases silo or "tea-party" exchanges between instructor and one student, and creates opportunities to engage more students with fewer questions. This process is explained in three distinct stages: 1) Instill and Initiate 2) Instruct and Invite 3) Interject and Inspire. The process empowers students with choice and simulates the way an instructor might circulate among small table groups in a traditional classroom. For each stage, the facilitator explains and models steps using exemplars from the online classroom. Additional tips and tricks for engagement will be shared!
Helping students achieve school-work-family life balance
Wednesday, November 4 at 1:00 pm PST
Speaker: Oscar Lewis, Associate Faculty at Ashford University
In this session, we will cover work, life, school balance, and is it even possible, or is it a myth. Practical, proven ways to help students achieve this while avoiding burn out and discouragement will be provided. Also, the topic of dealing with the new social construct of distancing and working from home will be addressed. Topics will include setting priorities and boundaries, developing habits and lifestyle choices that promote balance, and how assessment factors in to our perceptions of ourselves. The final topic will be how we can present this in a classroom setting that will be beneficial to our students. Plus this topic is applicable to everyone in the educational setting, not just students.
Life after Liftoff: Research and Writing Beyond the Classroom
Wednesday, November 4 at 1:30 pm PST
Speakers: Karin Mente, MLIS, Distance Education Librarian / FSBT Library Liaison at Zovio / Ashford University Library and Jennifer Dunn, Online Writing Consultant at Zovio/Ashford Writing Center
Students learn research and writing skills in academia, yet they will continue to apply these skills within their professional careers after graduation. Learn how the Library and Writing Center can support the research and writing our students will do as practitioners in their field. This presentation will discuss the benefits and strategies of embedding information literacy and writing skills into coursework. Faculty and the curriculum team will learn about the current professional and discipline-specific resources available in the Ashford Library and Writing Center as well as strategies and best practices of how to incorporate these resources into course curriculum.
Engaging & Developing College Students in Years 1-4 and Beyond
Wednesday, November 4 at 1:30 pm PST
Speakers: Jennie Walker, Lead Faculty for Leadership Degrees in FSBT at Ashford University
Research on college student transitions provides useful information about how to tailor student engagement strategies to meet their needs in each year of study. However, in practice 'engagement' tends to be discussed in general terms, which could limit the effectiveness of the approach. This session will review these research findings for years 1-4 at the undergraduate level and for graduate students. The session begins with an overview of key theories of college student development and learning. Then the specific needs of students in each year of study will be reviewed, and practical suggestions for engagement will be provided. These will include both the more commonly understood needs of freshmen and senior students, as well as the less known unique needs of sophomore and junior students. Special attention will be given to discussing how to modify these strategies for the online environment and for non-traditional students.
The Value of Mentoring, Networking and Being an Assertive Self-Starter
Wednesday, November 4 at 1:30 pm PST
Speakers: Bill Davis, MA, CM, CDM, CCTS, Assistant Professor and Lead Faculty at Ashford University and Kate Johnson Manager, Faculty Support and Development at Ashford University
Mentoring helps professionals make meaningful connections and mentees gain valuable insights and knowledge about the mentor’s career and learning. The mentee in turn can gain valuable guidance, confidence, increase motivations and now has a role model and support system to learn and grow from. Understanding the dynamics involved in mentoring and having a mentor is a key component for success. Networking is another key to success. For example, in business, the ultimate outcome of relationship marketing is to build a unique company asset called a marketing network. The operating principle is simple: Build a good network of relationships with key stakeholders, and profits will follow. To network properly, we need to understand and practice the right human relations principles and apply practical and useful approaches in networking situations. This all helps us create the right conversations, make good positive first impressions, and further build networks and contacts for us and for our organization’s success. Ten principles for successful networking will be presented to help attendees fine-tune their networking skills and have further success in conversations and networking events.