Publications of Interest

Featured Publication

WisCEL features an article concerning the use of technology within the classroom. Author James M. Lang, professor at Assumption College in Worcester, Mass., claims that using technology in the classroom is not inherently detrimental to proper learning. Instead, he suggests that instructors may use technology as a way for students to be taught the proper way to take notes, both on a laptop and with pen and paper. Further, he points out that if a large portion of students uses a laptop, it may be time to update teaching techniques. He offers a laptop policy which allows for greater transparency within the classroom.

No, Banning Laptops Is Not the Answer by James M. Lang.

(Posted May, 2017)

Publications of Interest

How Do Students Learn from Participation in Class Discussion?

WisCEL features another article from Faculty Focus this month, which summarizes a study on how students perceive the effectiveness of in-class participation. The collaboration between Elise J. Dallimore, PhD, Julie H. Hertenstein, DBA, and Marjorie B. Platt, PhD, explains that students associate required participation with an increase in before-class preparation.

How Do Students Learn from Participation in Class Discussion? by Elise J. Dallimore, PhD, Julie H. Hertenstein, DBA, and Marjorie B. Platt, PhD.

(Posted April, 2017)

An Activity That Promotes Engagement with Required Readings, Even in Large Classes

This month, WisCEL features an article which appeared in the February 20, 2017 Faculty Focus, a free e-newsletter that covers topics regarding higher education teaching strategies. One issue many instructors face is how to create meaningful discussion about assigned readings in larger classes. Author Ashley Harvey, Colorado State University, describes one approach she takes to engage a large class of students.

An Activity That Promotes Engagement with Required Readings, Even in Large Classes by Ashley Harvey, PhD, LMFT.

(Posted March, 2017)

Bridging the Gap between Pre-Work and In-Class Sessions in the Flipped Classroom
The featured publication of the month addresses a common challenge instructor’s often face in linking pre-class work to in-class active learning in flipped classes. Sarah McLean, Western University, London, Ontario, Canada, offers several techniques for instructors to utilize in flipped classroom settings to create more effective active learning opportunities for students. The four techniques offered each connect active learning in-class with pre-class learning and require few technologies to implement.The article appeared in the January 23, 2017 Faculty Focus, a free e-newsletter that covers topics regarding higher education teaching strategies. Find more information about Faculty Focus on their website.

Bridging the Gap between Pre-Work and In-Class Sessions in the Flipped Classroom by Sarah McLean, PhD.

(Posted February, 2017)

Stemming STEM Dropouts

This month, WisCEL features a blog post by a Smita Bakshi, who argues that, in some fields, the traditional way of teaching is not as effective as it should be.

Stemming STEM Dropouts by Smita Bakshi.

(Posted December, 2016)

Strategies for Feedback in WisCEL

On October 21, WisCEL held a New WisCEL Instructor Learning Community Session. The next session will be held on November 18 from 1:30-2:30 in Wendt 410B. The featured publication for November is the Strategies for Feedback in WisCEL handout that was available at the first session.

(Posted November, 2016)

WisCEL Course Review Summary

Each semester WisCEL conducts a Course Review survey that asks WisCEL instructors to respond to questions in eleven areas relevant to teaching and learning in WisCEL. The 2015 and 2016 surveys asked instructors to provide feedback on such categories as course design, collaboration strategies, feedback strategies, class culture, instructional technology and tools, testing, learning management systems, and suggestions for improving WisCEL support and resources. In the fall and spring semesters of 2015-2016, a total of 39 courses were held in Wendt Commons and College Library WisCEL Centers. A total of 3,823 students were enrolled in WisCEL courses in 2015-2016. The WisCEL Course Review Summary: 2015-2016 Academic Year summaries responses from 39 WisCEL instructors over the two semesters.

View the WisCEL Course Review Summary here.

(Posted October, 2016)

A Nobel Laureate’s Education Plea: Revolutionize Teaching

This month, WisCEL features an interview segment from National Public Radio.

This interview features Carl Wieman, a Stanford professor who was awarded the Nobel Prize for physics in 2001, and an early pioneer of active learning in higher education. Weiman laments that higher education is typically more interested in research and publishing than in the quality of teaching. Weiman is passionate about overhauling undergraduate education, advocating that colleges and universities encourage evidence-based teaching methods (such as active learning) that foster better learning, routinely measure and evaluate teaching and learning outcomes, and reward faculty for effective teaching. Wieman’s own research on teaching shows that students learn most not from the actual lecturing, but from the homework and assignments that they complete out of class. Further, he concludes that active learning (based on group work and problem solving rather than lecturing), promotes deeper understanding and knowledge retention, prepares students for careers, and is better suited to teaching higher education.

A Nobel Laureate’s Education Plea: Revolutionize Teaching.

(Posted May, 2016)

Teaching Undergraduate Science

This month, WisCEL features the book Teaching Undergraduate Science, written by Linda C. Hodges and Jeanne L. Narum. This book is written for science or engineering faculty looking to address their undergraduate students’ lack of engagement and learning. However, the book is not only for science instructors, it is an applicable “Guide to Overcoming Obstacles to Student Learning,” for teaching all undergraduate courses. The book is praised for offering a different point of view to problems that often occur in teaching college-level courses and also for providing explanations and action plans to address these problems.

Some topics in the book include: helping students learn during class and from text, helping students learn from problem solving, motivating students to learn on their own, and helping students learn from tests and assignments.

This publication is also the focus of an on-campus book group held through ComETS. This group is offered as a discussion with colleagues on overcoming barriers to student learning, ways to engage students and to address the common teaching challenges (and strategies) seen in the book. This group meets in two sections:

Hodges, L. C., & Narum, J. L. (2015). Teaching Undergraduate Science: A guide to overcoming obstacles to student learning. Sterling, VA: Stylus Publishing.

(Posted April, 2016)

WisCEL Course Review Summary

This month’s publication of interest is the WisCEL Course Review Summary, from the 2014-2015 academic year. The summary highlights instructor responses to questions about their WisCEL teaching and learning experience in five main areas: course design, collaboration and feedback strategies, class culture, and instructional technology. We collected the data after both the Fall 2014 and Spring 2015 semesters and shared the summary at the January WisCEL Instructor Workshop.

Find the WisCEL Course Review here: 2014-2015 Course Review Report.

(Posted March, 2016)

WisCEL Student Experience

To kick off the spring semester, we bring you a video featuring WisCEL students sharing their experiences in WisCEL. Students explain what it’s like to take a course in WisCEL, collaborate with their instructor and peers, use computers during class, and learn and study in the WisCEL environment.

More videos like this can be found on WisCEL’s YouTube page.

(Posted Feb, 2016)

Lecture Me. Really. (2015)

In October, Molly Worthen wrote an editorial for The New York Times, in support of the traditional lecture format. Her provocative article sparked a series of rebuttals and a national debate on the relative merits of the new active learning versus traditional lecture in higher education. This month’s featured articles include the original Worthen editorial and a few of the rebuttal articles – from both sides of the debate.

The original editorial:
Lecture Me. Really.
Worthen, Molly. Lecture Me. Really. New York Times (2015). Retrieved from:

Related articles:
In Defense of Continuous Exposition by the Teacher
Bruff, Derek. In Defense of Continuous Exposition by the Teacher. Agile Learning (2015). Retrieved from

Active Learning Is Not Our Enemy: A Response to Molly Worthen
Eyler, Josh. Active Learning Is Not Our Enemy: A Response to Molly Worthen. A Lifetime’s Training (2015) Retrieved from:

Lecture Me? Really?
Goudzwaard, Elli. Lecture Me? Really? (2015). Retrieved from:

In Search of Pedagogical Neutrality
Hofer, Mark. In Search of Pedagogical Neutrality. Luminaris (2015). Retrieved from:

(Posted Jan, 2016)

Active Learning in Mathematics, Parts I – V: Active Learning Series (2015)

Active Learning in Mathematics, Parts I – V: Active Learning Series.

This series from the American Mathematical Society features six parts related to active learning in mathematics. The series begins by highlighting active learning in general and goes on to analyze active learning’s impact on things such as the level of cognitive demand. It provides models of teaching techniques and environments, for example inquiry-based learning and inverted classrooms, and it gives various personal reflections on active learning. It also outlines different ends that can be achieved by how instructors choose to tell information.

In Part I, The Challenge of Defining Active Learning, the authors provide different descriptions of active learning and highlight three important considerations related to active learning (classroom environment, teaching environment and course/student goals).

Part II, Levels of Cognitive Demand, looks at an observation that active learning provides better results with students’ concept comprehension. It also analyzes the impact that active learning has on a student’s cognitive demand of the tasks they are given.

Teaching Techniques and Environments, part III in the series, outlines different techniques and examples of active learning classrooms. It describes different types of environments and approaches that fit within the active learning definition from Part I of the series.

Part IV gives the personal reflections of the four contributing editors’ experiences with active learning.

In Part V, The Role of “Telling” in Active Learning, the authors show the benefits of telling students about mathematics in addition to promoting students’ engagement with mathematic concepts. It shows how telling, along with hands-on work, can create a successful outcome in active learning.

Benjamin Braun (2015). Active Learning in Mathematics, Parts I – V: Active Learning Series [Web Log]. Retrieved from:

(Posted Nov 4, 2015)

To ‘Flip’ or not to ‘Flip’? Reflections on the redesign of an Undergraduate Operations Management course (2015)

This article from the Warwick Business School in the United Kingdom, relates the author’s experience and research on redesigning an Operations Management course form a traditional course to a flipped instruction model. The authors draw on experiences of ‘flipping the classroom’ for first year undergraduate students to explain how online videos, guest speakers, in-class tests, and group assessments can be used in a complementary manner. Resonating with the literature perspectives, they observe that combining these teaching methods contributes to pedagogical excellence by addressing various learning styles. Nevertheless, the experience shows some of the challenge in achieving the shift towards flipped classroom. Based on the experience, they provide ten design principles for the flipped classroom.

Note: The authors visited UW-Madison in September, 2015 and collaborated with WisCEL and Wisconsin Business School staff and faculty in sharing active learning and flipped instruction approaches, research, and results. The international collaboration is ongoing.

Chakkol, M., Finne, M., & Johnson, M. (2015). To ‘Flip’ or not to ‘Flip’? Reflections on the redesign of an Undergraduate Operations Management course. Unpublished manuscript, Warwick Business School, University of Warwick, United Kingdom.

(This unpublished article is being shared on WisCEL’s website with permission from the authors. Please do not cite or redistribute).

(Posted Oct. 8, 2015)

University learning: Improve undergraduate science education (July 15, 2015)

It is time to use evidence-based teaching practices at all levels by providing incentives and effective evaluations, urge Stephen E. Bradforth, Emily R. Miller and colleagues.

Bradforth, Stephen E., et al. “University learning: Improve undergraduate science education” Nature 523 (2015): 282-284.

(Posted Sept 1, 2015)

Active Role in Class Helps Black and First-Generation College Students (September 2, 2014)

This article is related to the benefits of active learning on closing the achievement gap.

Pérez Peña, Richard. “Active Role in Class Helps Black and First-Generation College Students, Study Says” New York Times (2014).

(Posted Sept 1, 2015)

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