1. Getting Started with Active Learning
  2. Tools for Active Learning
  3. National Resources

Teaching Resources

Here are teaching tools developed by the University of Washington BERG group, as well as suggested readings for more information into evidence-based practices.

Getting Started with Active Learning

A step by step protocol for implementing Evidence-based practice in your classroom

1. Identify the conceptual framework for deep understanding in your discipline.
2. Identify the content the students need to master.
3. Determine the type of practice that will help students build an understanding of the content and concepts.
4. Structure your class to provide this type of practice.
—- “Ask, Don’t Tell”—–
5. Ask questions to guide student’s construction of understanding.
6. Give frequent feedback
7. Post-class: Reflect on what you learned and how you can alter future classes.

Tools for Active Learning


Dr. Freeman giving a seminar on use of high structure in the classroom.


Explanation and Demonstration

1.High Structure format- This provides a detailed description (with citations) of how Dr. Scott Freeman implements High Structure in an introductory biology classroom. In addition to the description, there is a high quality recording of a full 50 minute class taken during Autumn 2013 quarter.


Teaching modules

1. In-class paper and pencil activities for Ecology and Evolution
*Experimental Design Module (KEY)
*Natural selection thinking modules (KEY)
*Tree thinking module (KEY)
*Climate change module (KEY)
*Hardy Weinberg module (KEY)
2. In-class paper and pencil activities for Cell and Molecular Biology
*Transcription and Translation




In Search of Understanding: The Case for Constructivist Classrooms
by J Grennon Brooks and M.G. Brooks

How People Learn
This book is free on-line from the National Academies. Chapters 2 and 3 are most relevant

A comparison between traditional and constructivist teaching in environmental science.

By Thomas Lord (1999)

Backward Design of Your Classroom
Understanding by Design
By Wiggins and McTighe

Cognitive Science of Learning
Successful lecturing: Presenting. information in ways that engage effective processing.
By deWinstanley, P. A., & Bjork, R. A. (2002). S In D. F. Halpern & M. D. Hakel (Eds.), Applying the Science of Learning to University Teaching and Beyond(pp. 19-31). San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Implementation of active learning techniques

Improved learning in a large-enrollment physics class

By Louis Deslauriers, Ellen Schelew, and Carl Wieman. (2011)

Why peer discussion improves student performance on in-class concept questions

By M.K. Smith, W.B. Wood, W.K. Adams, C. Wieman, J.K. Knight, N. Guild, and T.T. Su. (2009)

Combining peer discussion with instructor explanation increases student learning from in-class concept questions

By M.K Smith, W.B. Wood, K. Krauter, and J.K. Knight. (2010)

Understanding clicker discussions: student reasoning and the impact of instructional cues.

By Jennifer Knight, Sarah Wise, and Katelyn Southard. (2013)

Evaluating a web lecture intervention in a human-computer interaction course

By Jason Day and James Foley




National Resources

This is not intended to be an exhaustive list of National Resources, just some directions for learning more.


Faculty Development Programs

National Academies of Scientific Teaching Alliance (NASTA) Summer Institute programs. This institute has been in existence since 2004 and promotes and teaches Scientific Teaching, which means that we approach our classroom the same way we approach our science: we have an objective, assess the outcome, and make changes to the process based on the assessment results.

Lilly Conferences on College and University teaching and learning are a great way to meet like-minded practitioners and learn new techniques.



    Concept Inventories
            Q4B group at UBC
   Diagnostic Questions Clusters (DQC)
Active learning techniques
Peer Instruction
                Eric Mazur group – Dr. Mazur is a Physicist at Harvard.
There are many YouTube videos of Dr. Mazur talking about how he changed from traditional lecture to active learning. Dr. Mazur is a very engaging seminar speaker.
POGIL– Process Oriented Guided Inquiry Learning
PLTL– Peer Lead Team Learning
National Center for Case Studies
Collaborative learning
JITT- Just in Time Teaching
more on JITT

Classroom Observation Tools

Determinants of Practice (DoP)- C. Turpen and N. Finkelstein, “Not all Interactive Engagement is the same: Variation in physics  professors’ implementation of Peer Instruction.” Physical Review Special Topics, Physics Education Research. 2014

COPUS (Classroom Observation Protocol for Undergraduate STEM)
Michelle K. Smith, Francis H.M. Jones, Sarah L. Gilbert, and Carl Wieman (2013)
The Classroom Observation Protocol for Undergraduate STEM (COPUS): A New Instrument to Characterize University STEM Classroom Practices CBE Life Sci Educ. December 2, 2013 12:618627doi:10.1187/cbe.13-08-0154

        more info on RTOP
        actual article 

Teaching specific topics

Natural Selection

Steven Kalinowski, Mary Leonard, Tessa Andrews and Andrea Litt.  2013 Six Classroom Exercises to Teach Natural Selection to Undergraduate Biology Students CBE- LSE  12(3): 483-493  doi: 10.1187/cbe-12-06-0070
Journals that publish evidence-based teaching practicesCBE- Life Science Education