Virginia Pitts

Virginia Pitts

  • My Background

    • Hello!  I am the Associate Director 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

    • Currently, as Associate Director of the Office of Teaching and Leanring, my main focus here at DU is supporting faculty in designing and delivering hybrid courses (that is, courses with both an online and face-to-face component). I really enjoy working with instructors and students to figure out how we can best-harness the potential of hybrid courses to improve student learning, motivation, and engagement! As part of that work, I am co-leading the Renew DU project, an initiative to pilot the hybrid approach in large introductory classes, and facilitating a 5-week, mostly-online workshop on the design and delivery of hybrid courses.  I also facilitate the DU Hybrid Faculty Learning Community.

      In addition, I provide professional development and support for faculty members and graduate students, and conduct student feedback sessions, surveys, and focus groups to learn more about the student experience of courses at DU. 

  • My Curriculum Vitae

  • My Contact Information

    • Email:

      Office Number: 303-871-3291

      Office Location: Anderson Academic Commons, Ste 350D

  • My Professional Interests

    • Currently I mainly support faculty in designing and teaching hybrid courses, but my interests of course are even broader than that, 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!

      Faculty-Student Partnerships. This more recent interest of mine has me absolutely hooked. 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 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.  I’m continuing to delve into this topic, and hope to soon find ways to collaborate with others in putting some of these ideas into practice. 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: Sep 5, 2014 3:42:29 PM