Active learning

Active learning is commonly defined as various activities that students do to construct knowledge and understanding, typically requiring students to do higher order thinking. Metacognition—students’ thinking about their own learning—is an important element, providing the link between activity and learning. 

Questions answered

What is it?
What’s the theoretical basis?
Is there evidence that it works?
Why is it important?
What are techniques to use?
How should you get started?
What are useful references? 

Questions answered

What are different ways to implement research experiences in courses?
What are existing tools for assessment?
What are additional resources?

Test-enhanced learning

Most of us think of testing as something that we incorporate at the end of a teaching unit--something to tell us and our students how well they met the learning objectives. Used in the right way, however, it can also be a powerful tool to help students learn. This guide identifies six research-based observations about "retrieval practice" and offers suggestions for how to use this powerful tool to help your students learn. 

Questions answered

How do you construct an effective stem and effective alternatives?
How do you write multiple choice questions that test higher-order thinking? 

What are useful references? 

writing good multiple choice test questions

As much as we may wish it weren't true, many of us write multiple choice test questions for our larger courses. This guide summarizes recommendations from the literature that help us focus our multiple choice items on the desired learning objectives--and help us avoid writing items that are confusing or susceptible to the "test-wise."

Questions answered

What can it look like?
What’s the theoretical underpinning?
Is there evidence that it works?
What are approaches that can help make it effective?
What are useful references?

Questions answered

What does the research say about blended and online learning?
What are elements that can make blended and online learning successful?
What are good practices to use?
What are useful references?

Science teaching, science learning

sharing evidence-based practices for undergraduate science faculty 

Blended and online learning

Increasing numbers of students are taking blended and online courses--and increasing numbers of faculty are teaching them. Incorporating opportunities for student-student social interaction and collaboration, student personalization of course content, and elements that promote student-instructor interactions can optimize the teaching and learning experience for faculty and students. 


Guides are summaries of the literature on a given topic, written with an eye to provide readers with an understanding of what a particular teaching approach entails, how it fits into theories of learning and is supported by research, and how they can begin to incorporate it into their classes. 

Group work: using cooperative learning groups effectively

Group work is that most tantalizing of teaching approaches, having so much promise for promoting student learning and so much potential to go off the tracks. This guide defines various levels of group work, from transient uses of informal groups to longer term incorporation of formal group projects, offers suggestions for how to organize them, and provides guidance for preventing problems. 

Incorporating research into classes

One of the best ways to help our students learning to think like scientists is to engage them in research--but resources can limit the number of slots we have for semester- or summer-long research projects. To allow all our students to do research, we can incorporate opportunities into credit-bearing classes. This guide provides summaries of various approaches to course-based undergraduate research experiences (CUREs) as well as their common elements. 

Questions answered

What recommendations arise from consideration of 

  • cognitive load
  • student engagement
  • active learning?

What are good practices to use?
What are useful resources?

Effective educational videos

Educational videos can contribute to a rich learning experience for students--but they can also be ineffective tools that don't help students engage with information in a way that builds knowledge. This guide makes recommendations for creating and using educational videos based on three lenses for examining their design: cognitive load, student engagement, and active learning. 

Questions answered

What is “test-enhanced learning”?
What are six things research tells us about the effects?
How can instructors implement it in their classes?
What are important caveats?
What are useful references?