Faculty Development

 Southwest Seminar

25th Southwest Seminar for Great Teaching

October 31 - November 2, 2013

Hilton Santa Fe Historic Plaza

Santa Fe, NM


"Promoting Student Centered Learning"


Register for the Southwest Seminar on or before October 11th (MS Word).


Email your registration form to AnaR@epcc.edu or mail to:


El Paso Community College

ATTN: Faculty Development Office

P.O. Box 20500

El Paso, Texas 79998-0500

Office: (915) 831-2201

Fax: (915) 831-2738


DATES: October 31 - November 2, 2013


The seminar will open with an orientation session and dinner on the evening of the 31st and end at 1 p.m. on November 2nd.


In order to make the seminar accessible to all college teachers, we have endeavored to keep costs low. The total registration fee for the seminar is $400. This amount covers all registration fees, plus six delicious meals and two nights lodging at double occupancy. Private rooms are available for those who desire single occupancy and/or wish to bring a guest. A private room for the entire Seminar (two nights) is available for an additional $99. Requests for disabled access rooms should be noted on the registration form. Participants who wish to arrive early, or extend their stay should make a note on the registration form. Rates for each additional night will be $99 per night (tax included). Please do not contact the hotel regarding lodging. We will add your name to the room block we have reserved for this Seminar.

Due to the unique nature of this Seminar, the total number of participants will be limited. Thus, colleges/individuals are encouraged to apply early, if at all possible. Individuals/colleges can reserve a place by including a $50 deposit with their registration form. To guarantee a place, we should receive your registration plus a $50 deposit or full payment by October 11, 2013. Unless prior arrangements have been made, all fees should be paid prior to the start of the Seminar. Refunds may be subject to a $10 handling fee. No refunds after October 15th. However, with prior notice, we can transfer your registration to another participant. Space permitting, registration applications will be accepted until seven days prior to the start of the Seminar.


This seminar is based on the premise that college faculty are a rich resource that needs to be tapped via a format which encourages learning from each other. The Southwest Seminar for Great Teaching takes a participant-centered focus that allows those in attendance to determine much of the content.


This year’s theme session will begin with “home” groups, wherein participants will get acquainted, review their "expert" topics, and discuss the most important "thing" that they do on the first day of class. Next, participants will join with other seminar participants in the formation of expert groups. In these expert groups, participants will tap their own experiences/knowledge. Trained facilitators will guide the expert groups in the development of teaching tips, practical suggestions, and examples that address each group’s topic. Afterward, the participants will return to their original/home groups and report back on how their expert group addressed the topic at hand. Thus, all participants will eventually share in the knowledge generated by each expert group. Below are some of the topics under consideration for the “expert groups:"

  • Student Projects
  • Unique Assessment Techniques
  • Meeting Challenges in my Face-to-Face Classroom
  • Strategies for Creating and Maintaining an Interest in the Course
  • Slam Dunk: Activities Guaranteed to Capture the Attention of Learners
  • Three Attitudes that Promote Effective Teaching/Instruction
  • Preparing Students for Success: Teaching Simple but Important Tasks


In addition to the theme sessions, participants can choose from one of the following breakout sessions. These breakout groups are based on topics that have generated interest at previous seminars. 

  1. Hybrid Courses – An exploration of techniques for integrating online and in-class activities; deciding what should be done online and what should be done in-class; examples of syllabi and projects, etc.

  2. Small Teaching Treasures participants share one of their best handouts, teaching tips, or other useful advice for surviving the unexpected challenges of teaching.

  3. Encouraging Classroom Participation -   What are your tips/techniques for getting students to participate in class discussions? What has been successful? What are your “don’ts “for classroom participation?

  4. Using Controversial Topics in the Classroom- A focus on controversial issues in the class; including how to organize the debate/discussion (ground rules); assessing effectiveness of the discussion, etc.

  5. Critical Thinking - applying critical thinking to one or more of the following: problem solving, case studies, analysis, situational examples, controversial issues, analogies, metaphors, or synthesis.

  6. Reducing Stress in the Classroom – What are the situations that most often seem to heighten the anxiety levels in your classes? How do you reduce stress levels in your class?

  7. Teaching the Whole Student - What is meant by “teaching the whole student”? How does one do so? Why is it important to teach the whole student? Plus, a sharing of examples of how one teaches the whole student.

  8. Adjusting to Today’s Students –What adjustments have you made to your teaching to accommodate today’s students? What are those adjustments which you feel instructors should/should not make and why?   


A second set of breakout sessions will be based on issues that arose during the opening theme session. Seminar facilitators will be listening for recurring themes/issues that arose during the theme session. These issues, plus any others suggested by the participants, will form the basis for the closing set of workshops. These workshops are often on topics that are overlooked by traditional conferences.


We believe that a seminar should provide an environment that encourages collegiality and relaxation.  Thus, we have arranged for the following informal/optional activities:


Ted Talks - On Thursday evening, seminar facilitators will lead an informal discussion on the highly successful "Ted Talks," series with special emphasis on its implications for educators.


Global Expo: How Do You Incorporate Globalization into your Course? – Participants are encouraged to bring materials, handouts, etc., to share. This will be an open discussion of the importance of incorporating globalization into our courses.


Knowledge for Knowledge Sake - How do you glorify knowledge? How do you get students to realize the importance of being more knowledgeable about the world around them and/or your particular subject matter (examples of exercises, assignments, class discussion topics, etc.)?  What is an example of “a bit of knowledge or a concept” that you feel is essential for students to learn in your class? How do you get your students to realize the importance of this particular/knowledge/concept”? 


Free Time – Participants will have ample time on Friday afternoon to explore the Santa Fe area.




The seminar is sponsored by El Paso Community College (EPCC) and Central New Mexico Community College (CNM). EPCC has received several national awards for its work in the area of faculty development.  CNM is recognized as a leader in promoting faculty development activities among colleges in New Mexico. Trained facilitators will be present at all workshops/small group discussions. Facilitators for the seminar are drawn from El Paso Community College, Central New Mexico Community College, and San Jacinto College in Houston.


During the twenty-four year history of the seminar over 2600 faculty from 100 colleges in 25 states have attended. Representation has come from both the academic and vocational/technical areas. This broad range of faculty participation serves to enhance the possibilities for learning from the experiences of others.




Feedback from previous participants indicates that the Seminar produces results on several levels. On a practical level, much information concerning teaching techniques, programs, etc. is shared among participants. As this is a regional seminar that often involves many colleges, networking is a major result. The professional “esprit de corps” which commonly emerges causes participants to leave with a sense of renewed enthusiasm for their profession and the people who are part of it. The following comments from previous seminar participants provide an insight into the results one can expect:

Loved soaking up the passion of all for teaching."


"I have attended on numerous occasions and have always been pleased with what I garnered from the involvement."


"I have a wealth of material to bring back to my colleagues.”

I loved it – I’ll give up my other favorite conference to come back.”

I am walking away with a lot of inspiration for my classes and school.”

I am so excited about all of the new ideas. Also, I was surprised to see that many teachers have the same problems we have.”

I have learned a lot – I want to be back in 2012.”

The best (seminar) yet.”

It was the best seminar/conference I’ve ever attended because of the mutual sharing of ideas and the loosely structured, non-threatening approach.”

This is the only meeting of this kind where I go home so enthusiastic and refreshed.”

A thought provoking experience!

I will do a better job in the classroom due to my participation in this seminar.”

I feel excited and renewed, this seminar made me realize how much I love this profession.”

I’m glad I came…excited over the new techniques I have learned and am anxious to tell my colleagues.”

The collegial sharing was terrific…I feel that I’ve gained a great deal from meeting people from all over the Southwest…The seminar gets an ‘A’, thanks for a great experience.”

Excellent forum for interfacing with colleagues.”

It was succinct—it was seminal—it was problem-oriented—it was useful—it was fun—it was awesome.”

The concept of experts, creates a focus on teaching/learning not always experienced elsewhere.”

It was an invaluable experience that I wouldn’t have missed for anything.”

A refreshing change from the typical presentation based conference.”

Excellent experience, everyone talked about specific issues and solutions (not theory), which was great.”