• My Background

  • Hello!  I am curretly the Director of University Teaching in the Office of Teaching and Learning here at the University of Denver.

    My background is eclectic, but the common thread is learning, motivation, engagement, and design. My undergrad degree was in Industrial Engineering. I then did an 11-year stint with Accenture (a large, multinational business consulting firm); I spent the second half of my Accenture career in Change Management, where I focused on “the people side” of change. During that time, I became so intrigued by questions related to learning, motivation and engagement that I decided to go back to school to pursue my PhD at Northwestern University in Learning Sciences, which focused on learning and motivation in social contexts and the design of innovative, research-based learning environments.  

    After recieving my PhD, I did a two-year post-doctoral fellowship studying instructional leadership in schools across the greater Chicago area (focusing on the ways in which leadership is shared among members of a school community). I then spent four years working with National Geographic Education Programs as a professional development consultant, and teaching courses at Regis University and CU-Denver for educators pursuing their masters degrees.  I came to DU in February 2013.  

  • My Work Here at DU

  • In my role as Director of University Teaching, I support faculty, students and other DU community members in learning and working together to create more engaging, inclusive, learning-rich environments for every student.  As part of that work, I facilitate DU's student-faculty partnership program, in which students and faculty members work together as co-learners and co-inquirers to explore student learning and engagment in the classroom.  I am also am the lead designer and facilitator for DU's week-long Course Design Institute, which brings faculty members together to engage in meaningful guided discussions, hands-on workshops and working sessions to design or redesign a course that results in significant learning for students.  In addition, I consult with individual faculty members and groups around topics such as designing for significant learning, student motivation and engagement, project-based learning, and design thinking. 

  • My Curriculum Vitae

  • My Contact Information

  • Email: Virginia.Pitts@du.edu

    Office Number: 303-871-3291

    Office Location: Anderson Academic Commons, Ste 350D

  • My Professional Interests

  • My interests are broad, and I describe a few of those here. If you share any of these interests, please don’t hesitate to contact me, as I am always am looking for kindred spirits and collaborators who get as excited about these things as I do!

    Motivation and Engagement. Student motivation and engagement were the focus of my dissertation research, and are still serious interests of mine (as I believe that, if we can get the motivation piece right, learning often falls into place). I am continuing to do research on student motivation and engagement here at DU, and am always looking for ways to engage faculty and students in conversations around how we can create learning environments in which all members of a learning community are fully engaged and motivated to learn.

    Design Thinking. For quite some time, I’ve been intrigued by IDEO’s Design Thinking process and its potential for addressing educational challenges at the classroom, program, university, or community level. Design Thinking is a collaborative, human-centered, optimistic approach for bringing together a range of diverse perspectives in developing really innovative solutions to design problems/challenges. I'm still very much a design thinking "novice", but I've used it enough to know it's fun, it's creative, its collaborative, and has the potential to lead to some really great solutions to really tricky challenges. I'm always looking for others who would be interested in applying Design Thinking in addressing our educational challenges here at DU!

    Student-Faculty Partnerships. I've long been interested in how we can empower students to play a more significant role in shaping their educational experience, but I didn't know faculty-student partnerships were a “thing” until I read a report in 2014 published by the UK's Higher Education Academy titled "Engagement Through Partnership: Students as Partners in Learning and Teaching in Higher Education" that describes ways in which faculty and students can truly partner in everything from curriculum and course design to research on teaching and learning.  After that, I was absolutley hooked.  I piloted a version of the student-facuty partnerships in Spring 2017 and again in Winter 2018; in this program, which pairs students and faculty members for the term, students visit and observe their faculty partner’s class each week, and then they and their faculty partners meet to discuss their respective observations, insights, and wonderings.  I plan to offer it again in 2019 (as it was a great success with both students and faculty members!).  I am continuing to delve into this topic, and hope to find additional ways to support students and faculty members in working together as co-learners and co-inquirers. If you're as captivated by the idea of faculty-student partnerships as I am, please let me know!

    Learning in Community. To me, communities of learners have the power to transform individuals, groups, and organizations as participants learn from and with each other, whether the focus is on teaching and learning (in in the case of our faculty learning communities), or on the emotional and relational challenges of our work as teachers and students (as in the teacher support groups I began running during my time at Regis University), or on the relationship between "soul and role" (as in the case of the Courage to Lead and Courage to Teach programs, based on the work of Parker Palmer, that I have participated in).  I continue to be interested in forming and facilitating groups around these different aspects of teaching and learning.

This portfolio last updated: 10-Jul-2018 11:13 AM