Mini Seminars Presenters

William J Howitz

Organic Chemistry Laboratory Coordinator, Georgia Institute of Technology

Dr. Will Howitz graduated from the University of California, Irvine (UCI) with his Ph.D. in chemistry in 2020. While at UCI he helped to convert the organic chemistry laboratory course series from a points-based grading system to a specifications grading system and assisted with the conversion of organic chemistry lecture and general and organic chemistry laboratory courses to online formats in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. As an instructor-of-record, he taught six courses including both lecture and laboratory courses. After graduating he was hired as the Organic Chemistry Laboratory Coordinator at the Georgia Institute of Technology where he is continuing his research on specifications grading and laboratory development.

Incorporating Elements of Mastery: Building toward Specifications Grading: April  14, 2021

Scaling up a Specifications Grading System in a Laboratory Course with Over 1,000 Students: May 12, 2021

Stephen Mang

Assistant Professor of Teaching in Chemistry, UC Irvine

Steve Mang is an Assistant Professor of Teaching in the Chemistry department at the University of California, Irvine. He primarily teaches upper-division laboratory and upper-division writing courses. Over the last three years he has transitioned all of the classes for which he is responsible to specifications grading, and has learned a lot about what to do (and what not to do) in the process.

Using Specifications Grading to enhance student learning in writing-focused STEM courses: April 21, 2021

Kate McKnelly

Lecturer in Chemistry, Emory University

Kate McKnelly is a Lecturer Professor in the Department of Chemistry at Emory University. She earned her B.S. degree in Chemical Biology from UC Berkeley and her M.S. degree in Chemical Biology and Drug Design from the University of Leeds. Her interest in and dedication to teaching chemistry culminated in earning her Ph.D. in Chemistry at University of California, Irvine (UCI) in June 2020. While a graduate student at UCI, she fueled her passion for teaching by becoming a Pedagogical Fellow, teaching four courses as instructor of record, and collaborating on the design and implementation of specifications grading systems in the lower division organic chemistry laboratory series and an upper division “Writing for Chemists” course.

Kate has incorporated a specifications grading system as part of her redesigned lower division Macromolecules Laboratory course at Emory. Macromolecules Lab is the fourth semester course in the new Chemistry Unbound chemistry core curriculum in the Department of Chemistry. At Emory, she continues to build and refine specifications grading and to incorporate flipped classroom and active learning strategies into her courses.

Using Specifications Grading to enhance student learning in writing-focused STEM courses: April 21, 2021

Scaling up a Specifications Grading System in a Laboratory Course with Over 1K Students:
May 12, 2021

Robert Talbert

Professor of Mathematics, Grand Valley State University

Robert Talbert is a Professor of Mathematics at Grand Valley State University. He holds a B.S. degree in Mathematics from Tennessee Technological University and M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in Mathematics from Vanderbilt University. In addition to teaching courses ranging from precalculus to abstract algebra, Robert is a writer and  researcher on teaching and learning issues including flipped learning and mastery grading. He is the author of Flipped Learning: A Guide for Higher Education Faculty and ten research articles on teaching and learning questions. During the 2017-2018 academic year, Robert was Scholar-in-Residence at Steelcase, where he worked with the Steelcase Workspace Futures group on projects related to active learning classrooms. He is a frequent keynote speaker and workshop facilitator, working with faculty throughout the US and abroad. Robert lives with his wife, three teenage children, and four cats near the Lake Michigan shoreline in Allendale, Michigan.

Implementing Specifications Grading and Mastery Learning in STEM Teaching: April 28, 2021

Julie Mendez

Clinical Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering, Indiana University-Purdue University Columbus

Dr. Julie Mendez is a Clinical Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering at Indiana University-Purdue University Columbus (IUPUC), where she teaches a variety of undergraduate courses, primarily in the areas of thermal-fluid science and design. She is a Senior Faculty Fellow of the Indiana University Mosaic Active Learning Initiative and a recipient of an Indiana University Trustees Teaching Award. Julie earned a Ph.D. in chemical engineering from Case Western Reserve University and a Bachelor of Science in chemical engineering from Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology. Her scholarly interests include active learning strategies, online course development, alternative grading practices, and Universal Design for Learning.

Implementing Specifications Grading for In-Person, Blended, and Online Teaching: May 5, 2021

Clarissa (Rissa) Sorensen-Unruh

Chemistry and Statistics Instructor, Central New Mexico Community College

Since 2002, Clarissa (Rissa) Sorensen-Unruh has been a full-time Chemistry Instructor at Central New Mexico Community College (CNM) in Albuquerque, NM. After earning her M.S. in Statistics from the University of New Mexico (UNM) in May 2020, she is now focused on earning her Ph.D. In Learning Sciences from UNM, where she is also listed as adjunct faculty for the Chemistry and Chemical Biology Department. Her first book, Communicating Chemistry through Social Media, in which she’s both the main editor and a chapter writer, was published by ACS Books in 2018, and she contributed a chapter on her experiences with ungrading in the classroom to Susan Blum’s upcoming Ungrading: Why Rating Students Undermines Learning (and What to Do Instead) by West Virginia University Press. She regularly serves as faculty for the Digital Pedagogy Lab and in several roles in the American Chemical Society’s Division of Chemical Education. Her Twitter handle is @RissaChem and her web page is:

Ungrading: Expanding the Grading Discussion: May 19, 2021