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  8.  » Evidence-Based Teaching in Science and Engineering Seminar

Evidence-Based Teaching in Science and Engineering Seminar

In the Evidence-based Teaching in Science and Engineering (ETSE) seminar, you will apply the principles of backward design to develop student learning objectives, aligned assessments, and active learning activities to better facilitate student learning, culminating in a syllabus for a introductory class in your discipline. As part of this seminar, you will take part and contribute to a learning community of teaching practitioners in which you give and receive feedback on assignments by your peers. This seminar is targeted toward graduate students and postdocs in sciences (natural, biomedical, health) and engineering who are teaching for the first time or looking to advance their teaching by engaging with the research on teaching and learning. Activities and session details are described below.

For graduate students enrolled in the Teaching Development Program (TDP), this seminar satisfies the Advanced Track seminar requirement.

How to join this seminar

ETSE ran online in Spring 2021. To be alerted when we are next running this seminar, please join CTL’s mail list. For other inquiries about ETSE, contact CTLgrads@columbia.edu.

Seminar objectives and activities

By participating in this seminar series, participants will:

  • Describe and recognize the value, and practice the development of well-defined, student-centered learning goals.
  • Explain and select assessment techniques based on their alignment with learning goals.
  • Connect effective, evidence-based teaching practices and materials to learning goals, and describe the importance in driving instructional practice with specific learning goals.
  • Design a syllabus for an introductory class in their discipline.
  • Participate in a local professionally-focused learning community associated with teaching and learning at Columbia in order to realize the value of learning communities.
  • Explain how an instructor’s beliefs and biases can influence student learning.
  • Discuss and describe several learning-through-diversity (LtD) techniques and strategies.

Session descriptions

Week 1: Learning Objectives: Designing Effective Student Learning Experiences with the End in Mind

In week 1, learn how to use learning objectives to create more effective student learning experiences. What do you want your students to take away from your class and remember five years from now? In this workshop, you will learn the importance of evidence-based practices in STEM teaching and apply the framework of backwards design. You will identify strategies to craft meaningful student learning objectives and discuss how to incorporate these into your teaching. Engage with STEM-specific resources to address commonly held misconceptions and help students develop a more complete mental model of complex topics. Altogether, these tools will help you design your own student-centered learning objectives to focus your students on learning that they will still be able to use five years from now.

Week 2: Aligning Assessments with Student Learning

In week 2, learn how to design assessments to help the instructor and the students monitor and make progress toward their learning objectives. Are your quizzes or assignments really measuring what you want your students to learn? After providing and receiving feedback on the student learning objectives you developed in week 1, you will consider how to align assessments with these learning objectives. You will also discuss how student mindset can influence their performance in a course. Importantly, you will learn about a range opportunities for assessment beyond exams and papers that enable students to practice and receive feedback on their learning and how you, as the instructor, can use this feedback to improve your teaching.

Week 3: Active Learning in the STEM Classroom: Evidence and Practice

In week 3, learn how to align your class time with your learning objectives using active learning. What do you do in your class (or office hours) to really engage students in their own learning? In this session, you will be introduced to active learning strategies – both the evidence of their efficacy along with practical considerations for implementing such activities in STEM courses. After receiving feedback on your assessments from week 2, you see examples of studied active learning strategies and consider how to apply similar activities to your own teaching context. Finally, we will discuss how active and inclusive teaching strategies complement each other, as well as how to address some of the perceived drawbacks to active learning among STEM instructors.

Week 4: Applying Evidence-Based Practices to Your Teaching Context: Feedback and Reflection

In week 4, reflect on your work through the seminar, and apply these ideas to building a syllabus for an introductory class in your discipline. In this session, you will have an opportunity to discuss and reflect on the work you have produced this month and receive feedback from your peers. We will consider how our individual perspectives on teaching, learning communities, and inclusion in STEM classrooms have changed or expanded. You will reflect on your individual core beliefs about teaching and learning and how you plan to improve our teaching practice; these core beliefs can help create teaching and diversity statements. We will then discuss how the resources produced throughout this series can be collected as a foundation for the design of a course, by starting to build a syllabus.