Innovations in Teaching & Learning Conference


8th Annual Theme: “Cultivating Creative and Reflective Learners”

Join us for a day of 30+ inspiring conference sessions (led by Mason instructors and our keynote) that showcase strategies and tips to support student learning in/out of the classroom. The day also includes continental breakfast, lunch, and concludes with a happy hour at our poster session. Faculty from all ranks/disciplines, graduate students, and members of support offices are invited!

Friday, September 16, 2016
Johnson Center, Fairfax Campus

ajames-sm-web KEYNOTE SPEAKER
Dr. Alison James
Associate Dean of Teaching and Learning at University of the Arts London
Co-Author, Engaging Imagination: helping students become creative and reflective thinkers (2014)

–>CTFE is delighted to host a special PRE-CONFERENCE WORKSHOP on Thursday, September 15 (2-4pm) with this year’s keynote speaker. Please see the “Pre-Conference Workshop” section below for more details.<--

Sponsors and Supporters will be announced soon.

Social Media

Join the conversation! The @MasonCTFE Twitter hashtag for our conference is #MasonITL.

Conference Schedule and Proceedings

CTFE is partnering with Mason Publishing Group to publish the conference proceedings as an ELECTRONIC JOURNAL. You can find abstracts of presentations and poster sessions, and after the conference, additional supplementary materials.

–>Conference attendees can use the journal as an interactive, mobile device-friendly, digital conference schedule. Click HERE<--.

Want to see abstracts from previous ITL conference? Archived abstracts and materials can be found HERE.

Keynote Speaker (click to expand)
Alison James
Engaging Imagination: How (and Why) Creativity and Play are Essential to University Learning

Friday, September 16
Johnson Center Cinema
With Post-Keynote Discussion from 10:30am-11:10am in Johnson Center Room F

In the higher education sector, the word “creativity” has become increasingly popular in terms of defining how we want people to think, perform their roles, approach challenges, and explore ideas. How we investigate and expand our creativity may be using methods and approaches that originate with the arts or by importing others from various domains: business, sociology, psychology, and many more. There is therefore a multidirectional flow of traffic around and between the disciplines in terms of where pedagogic practices have come from.

While creativity and innovation may be terms that we aspire to and are comfortable with in our different subject areas, a closely-allied notion—that of play—appears to be more problematic. Some of us are persuaded that play is vital to human learning and discovery at any age; others believe it to be too trivial or childish for tertiary level-study.

In this talk, I will focus on my use of creative, playful, and three-dimensional approaches to wrestle with complex topics presented by learning, teaching, and research issues and professional relationships/structures. Examples will include critical reflection, threshold concepts in the discipline, student exchanges, doctoral research, corporate strategy, team identity, functioning, and many others. I will argue that our conceptions of play within a tertiary setting must be broadened and deepened, while the contribution of creative, imaginative, and playful pedagogies across the disciplines needs to be better understood. This dual goal is essential not only to motivate and engage our students but to re-invigorate our practice as teachers.

Dr. Alison James is Associate Dean, Learning and Teaching, at the London College of Fashion. She is also a National Teaching Fellow (2014) and Principal Fellow of the Higher Education Academy. Her academic interests span teaching and research, with forays into other domains, including the topic of her PhD thesis (University of Southampton, 2007). This was a biographical analysis of the life and art of the Royal Academician Dod Procter: part of her research was published a monograph on the artist entitled A Singular Vision: Dod Procter 1890-1972.

Her pedagogic research interests encompass creative and multisensory approaches to learning, personal and professional development (PPD) and alternatives to writing which embody critical reflection. She has undertaken research inquiries into a range of topics, including communities of practice theory, a UAL venture with Etienne Wenger High Fliers, Deep Swimmers explored the perceptions of high achieving students as to their learning experiences in three UK arts universities. With the Centre of Personal Construct Pyschology at the University of Hertfordshire she explored employability attributes in fashion.

She is co-author, with Professor Stephen Brookfield, of Engaging Imagination: helping students become creative and reflective thinkers (Jossey-Bass, April 2014). She is an accredited Lego Serious Play (LSP) facilitator, working in Europe as well as the UK. She works extensively with Lego, including in her internal network Legolab and in external collaborations. She has won a UAL Excellent Teaching Award for using LSP to enhance student learning and staff and educational development.

Pre-Conference Workshop (click to expand)

Please note: Space is limited for this workshop. This workshop is currently only open to members of the Mason community. If space is still available closer to the date of the event, we will open registration to non-Mason registrants. Thank you for your understanding.

Topic: Thinking in 3D: Teaching with LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® to explore complex concepts
Cost: Included in standard registration – attendee must purchase combo ticket

Thursday, September 15
Research Hall 163

Lego Serious Play originated approximately 15 years ago as a more productive, inclusive means of exploring complex organisational issues and an alternative to brainstorming sessions involving flipcharts and pens. Its creators Johan Roos and Bart Victor found that by building three dimensional expressions of problems and thoughts through specific techniques and visualizing metaphorically, deeper insights were engendered and thinking/problem solving became richer and more creative. The process is also highly democratic – everyone builds, everyone shares, everyone speaks – thereby avoiding what became known as The Problem Of The Lonely Guy – or the team member (in our terms student, teacher, colleague) who tended to sit quietly and not contribute.

Since its inception, LEGO SERIOUS PLAY has been used globally by a variety of big corporations (NASA, Sony, eBay, Google) but increasingly, too, in many more varied contexts and on a much smaller scale (right down to the one-to-one context of PhD supervision). In the UK, Dr. James has been using LEGO SERIOUS PLAY as a means of exploring, planning and reflecting on provision, as a teaching and learning tool, for personal and professional development with students and for staff/educational development, to examine team working, as a trigger for conceptualizing research questions and to understand what motivating learning and teaching looks like. She even used it when writing her book on creative reflection with Professor Stephen Brookfield (2014, Jossey-Bass) – using LEGO SERIOUS PLAY as a means of communicating with Stephen across continents.

Participants in this workshop will have the chance to learn about the underpinning principles of LEGO SERIOUS PLAY, the pedagogic and theoretical basis that informs it, try out a few techniques, and think about to relate its use to their own academic, research, and professional interests.

Registration (click to expand)

Registration is $20 for members of the Mason community. There is a $40 registration fee for non-Mason guests. Registration fees are payable through Eventbrite and are non-refundable. Registration includes continental breakfast, lunch, refreshments throughout the day, and one beverage ticket for the poster session reception.

REDUCED RATES are available for adjunct faculty, graduate students, and volunteers (please contact for discount code).

Pre-registration is now open and will close on Monday, 9/12. Once pre-registration closes, attendees will still be able to register on the day of the conference at the door. Day-of registration fees can be paid via personal checks or credit cards ONLY; please present an identification card at the registration desk. We are unable to accept cash payments – we apologize for the inconvenience.

The registration desk will open at 8:00am in the Johnson Center Cinema on the day of the conference. Registration will move to the West Lounge of the Johnson Center on the 3rd floor after 10:00am.

For Mason employees who wish to pay via org code, please select “Pay by invoice” as your payment method when registering through Eventbrite, then complete the payment form. Tickets will be canceled for all attendees who choose this method of payment and forego this step.

If you are a Mason graduate student, we have a limited number of free admission scholarships. To apply, send a statement explaining how attending this conference will support your career goals to no later than Thursday, 9/8. Approved applicants will be given a one-time-use discount code.

If you are a Mason adjunct faculty member, we offer a 50% discount on registration. Please email for a one-time-use discount code.

If you are a volunteer, we offer a 50% discount on registration. Please complete the Volunteer Information form and email for a one-time use discount code.

To expedite registration, please bring a printed copy of your registration confirmation. An electronic version on your smart device is also acceptable.

Eventbrite - 2016 Innovations in Teaching & Learning Conference

Directions & Parking (click to expand)


From I-495: Capital Beltway
Take exit 54A, Braddock Road West (Route 620). Follow Braddock Road West for approximately six miles. Take a right onto Nottoway River Lane/Sideburn Road.

From I-66E: Front Royal & Fairfax County Pkwy
From the interstate, take exit 55 for Fairfax County Parkway South (Route 286). Then exit the Parkway at Braddock Road, and turn left onto Braddock Road. Take a left onto Nottoway River Lane/Sideburn Road.

From I-66W: Washington DC & Arlington
Take exit 60 at Route 123 South, Chain Bridge Road. Follow Route 123 through the City of Fairfax, and turn left at University Drive.

Please note that all eastbound lanes of I-66 inside the Beltway are restricted to HOV-2 from 6:30am to 9:00am and all westbound lanes of I-66 inside the Beltway are restricted to HOV-2 from 4:00pm to 6:30pm.

From I-95: North & South
From points north on I-95, take exit 27 (I-495 West), then follow the directions “From I-495: Capital Beltway.” From points south on I-95, take exit 160B (Route 123 North) at Lake Ridge/Occoquan. Follow Route 123 north for approximately 15 miles to Braddock Road. Cross over Braddock Road and make a right at the first light (University Drive).

From Vienna Metro Station
Take the Orange Line all the way to the end, Vienna station. Exit out the north side of the station. Bear to the left; the Mason to Metro shuttle stop is the last shelter. Take the Mason to Metro shuttle to campus and exit at the Shenandoah Shuttle Stop.


For those who do not hold a Mason parking pass, parking is available for a fee at campus parking decks. The Johnson Center is equally accessible from both the Mason Pond and Shenandoah parking decks. Rates start at $3.00 and increase by $3.00 every hour thereafter (4-hour max). The all-day/over 4-hour parking fee is $14.00. Parking fees are collected by ticket collectors – please keep your parking stub.

Getting to and from the Mason Pond parking deck
From Nottoway River Lane, turn left onto Patriot Circle. Before you pass the pond, make a right onto Mason Pond Drive – you will pass by the Center for the Arts on the right. Turn right into the bottom floor of the parking deck. Exit out the 3rd Floor and head towards the Mason statue. The Johnson Center is directly ahead.

Getting to and from the Shenandoah parking deck
From Nottoway River Lane, bear right to enter Patriot Circle. Pass by the Aquatic Center on the right. Turn left onto Sandy Creek Way. Enter the first parking deck entrance on the left. Exit out the 3rd Floor and proceed across the traffic circle and up the hill. Bear right – the Johnson Center is the large building on the left.