Instructor Guidance

» More on learning goals on the Learning Goals page

» More clicker resources on the Clickers page

NEW! Making the most of demonstrations, videos, animations, or simulations in lectures and laboratories
Based on a workshop offered at the UBC Annual Science Education Open House on April 13, 2015. This short document discusses why students often don't learn from demos, videos, animations, and simulations, and gives strategies to improve student learning. (2 pages)

NEW! Improving Learning by Reducing Unnecessary Mental Load
Strategies for reducing unnecessary cognitive load to enhance learning during class. This document is the compiled and edited product of the students in Carl Wieman’s 2014 Stanford course in Science Teaching and Learning, with special thanks to Jennifer Crosby. (2 pages)

Evidence-based science education in action (6-8 minute videos)
Wondering how to manage small group activities in a large lecture hall? Heard about 2-stage exams, but want to see the logistics? This video collection shows clips from university science and math classrooms, along with commentary pointing out key aspects and strategies.

iBiology Scientific Teaching Video Series - active learning module (produced by
A collection of videos that provides current and future undergraduate biology instructors with the rationale and tools to design and implement active learning in their classrooms. The videos range from about 3 min to 16 min long and feature biology faculty at a variety of colleges and universities. Don't miss the 3 videos under the Tools section.

Course Transformation Guide
A guide for instructors interested in transforming a course, and transforming their instruction, to use research-based principles and improve student learning. Included are reviews of key principles in teaching and learning, and research-based recommendations on instructional techniques. (40 pages)

  • Contents:
  • Course Transformation Framework (Overview, Applying new research to improve science education, What all instructors should know)
  • Specific strategies for instructional activities (Motivation, Developing mastery, Practice & feedback, Creating self-directed learners, Creating productive views of intelligence and learning, Memory & retention)
  • Recommendations for implementing specific instructional practices - includes many resources that are on this page (Creating and using effective learning goals, First day of class, Better ways to review material in class, Instructor habits to keep students engaged, Preclass-reading assignments, Tips for successful “clicker” use, Student group work, Creating and implementing in-class activities, What not to do, Assessments that support student learning, Promoting course alignment)

Two-Stage Exams
In a two-stage exam, students first complete and turn in the exam individually and then, working in small groups, answer the exam questions again. Students receive immediate, targeted feedback on their solutions from their peers and see alternative approaches to the problems. This document discusses the benefits of two-stage exams and gives practical implementation tips. (2 pages)

URI Teach Sheet
Create an Environment Where You MOTIVATE, ENGAGE, and RESPOND. Former CWSEI STLF Josh Caulkins took page 9 ("What All Instructors Should Know") from the SEI Course Transformation Guide (below), cooked it down and prettied it up to produce this "Teach Sheet" for faculty he works with at the University of Rhode Island. (1 page)

First Day of Class
Recommendations for Instructors on establishing the course environment early in the Term. (2 pages; updated January 2014)

Framing the Interactive Engagement Classroom
A set of instructor-written materials from a variety of disciplines for generating student buy-in to innovative classroom techniques. Compiled by Stephanie Chasteen of the University of Colorado Boulder in collaboration with Andrew Boudreaux of Western Washington University and Jon Gaffney of Eastern Kentucky University.

Motivating Learning
Student motivation is probably the single most important element of learning. Learning is inherently hard work; it is pushing the brain to its limits, and thus can only happen with motivation. Fortunately, research shows that there is a lot an instructor can do to motivate their students to learn. (2 pages)

Creating and implementing in-class activities; principles and practical tips
Things to think about while designing in-class group activities and practical tips on their design, implementation, and follow-up. (2 pages)

What Not To Do; Practices that should be avoided when implementing active learning
We and others have written about how to implement active learning in the university classroom, but we have noticed some practices by well-meaning instructors that we feel should be avoided. (2 pages)

Preclass-Reading Assignments; Why they may be the most important homework for your students
We usually think of homework as a task, such as a problem set, in which students apply what they have learned in class. But homework can prepare students to learn in future classes. Here we discuss the benefits of pre-reading assignments, report on what students think about pre-reading, and give tips on how best to implement pre-reading assignments to make them effective. (2 pages)

Assessments That Support Student Learning
2-page summary of key points and factors from the review paper “Conditions Under Which Assessment Supports Student Learning,” including CWSEI suggestions on implementing good assessment and feedback without spending excessive time marking.

Basic instructor habits to keep students engaged
A 2-pager by Carl Wieman with tips on keeping students engaged in the classroom, particularly in large lecture theatres.

Clicker Resource Guide
An instructor's guide to the effective use of personal response systems ("clickers") in teaching, prepared by CU-SEI and UBC-CWSEI staff & associates. (updated June 2009)

Classroom Response System ("Clickers") Bibliography (Vanderbilt Center for Teaching)
A very extensive bibliography on clicker use and research (with links to digitally available papers).

Course Alignment
A 2-pager on promoting course alignment by developing a suite of questions targeting a learning goal that can be used in different settings to measure student learning. Prepared by Françoise Bentley and Teresa Foley, Integrative Physiology Dept., University of Colorado-Boulder.

Considering the Student Perspective: Factors that Undergraduates Perceive as Influential to their Academic Performance in Science
A 2-page summary based on research conducted by Ashely Welsh for her Master's Thesis (includes recommendations for faculty)

Group Work in Educational Settings
A short description of different approaches to student group work and their benefits, requirements, and implementation logistics, prepared by CU-SEI and UBC-CWSEI staff & associates.

How to Prepare Better Multiple-Choice Test Items: Guidelines for University Faculty
An excellent guide for the creation of good multiple choice test questions, including discussion about when and how multiple choice tests are best used and avoiding common flaws. (Brigham Young University Testing Center)

Invention Activities - Materials on Invention Activities can be found HERE.

Learning Goals/Objectives Examples
Good examples of learning goals: developed by departments involved in the Science Education Initiatives at UBC and the University of Colorado.

Learning Goals - Computer Science
Learning goals developed for 5 UBC Computer Science courses.

More on learning goals on the Learning Goals page

Rubric for evaluating student presentations
Rubric for peer evaluation of students' "News Reports" presentations in EOSC 310, prepared by Sara Harris in Earth and Ocean Sciences with input from many others.

Study skills development: How to Get the Most Out of Studying - Video series
by Professor Stephen L. Chew, a cognitive psychologist at Samford University
This is a very good resource for undergraduate students and instructors that discusses common misconceptions about learning and how to study effectively. This is a series of 5 videos, each about 7 minutes.

Study skills development: Improving Classroom Performance by Challenging Student Misconceptions About Learning
by Professor Stephen L. Chew, a cognitive psychologist at Samford University, Association for Psychological Science April 2010 (V. 23, No. 4, item 14)
A nice short article that discusses many of the points made in his video series How to Get the Most Out of Studying (above).

Teaching Expert Thinking
A guide for using invention activities to develop expert thinking (prepared by Wendy Adams and Carl Wieman, CU-SEI and UBC-CWSEI, and Dan Schwartz, Stanford School of Education).

Thought Questions: A New Approach to Using Clickers
A 2-pager on a different way to use clickers: the question is open-ended and the voting is on whether the students agree or disagree with other students’ answer and rationale. Prepared by Teresa Foley and Pei-San Tsai, Integrative Physiology Dept., University of Colorado-Boulder.

What All Instructors Should Know About Learning [PowerPoint version ] [Audio] [Video]
Carl Wieman's UBC talk on March 19th, 2008.

What all instructors should know
prepared by UBC CWSEI.

WSU Critical and Integrative Thinking Rubric
An excellent guide developed at Washington State University for rating critical and integrative thinking.