Evidence-Based Teaching and Learning

Literature about the benefits of evidence-based teaching and learning as well as opportunities to gain knowledge about effective strategies are abundant. UA faculty members are encouraged to review the literature and participate in professional development opportunities to develop a fundamental understanding of the key concepts. 

The Office of Instruction and Assessment (OIA) offers a series of self-enrolled and self-paced online Tutorials. They have been designed for any UA instructor, including graduate teaching assistants, and are offered through D2L. 

The Tutorials present theory and evidence for various teaching practices, along with practical examples and prompts for enrollees to apply these practices to their teaching. For those who are new to active learning, the following Tutorial is recommended:

  • Active Student Learning - This tutorial is designed for student and faculty instructors hoping to explore ideas about active learning and teaching strategies, and to find guidance for preparing materials for a learner-centered lesson. Participants will learn about the characteristics of active learning, evaluate active and collaborative learning strategies in the context of their own disciplines, and design a lesson for their own teaching practice.

OIA also offers a three-week, hybrid mini-course on Collaborative Learning:

  • Collaborative Learning - Participants learn about, plan, and practice using evidence-based, active and collaborative learning strategies for teaching both undergraduate and graduate courses. The course includes online activities and three, two-hour in-person meetings, one meeting scheduled during each of the three weeks of the course.

OIA Mini-Primers are short introductions to a variety of teaching topics. They have been designed for any instructor, including graduate teaching assistants.

The University of Minnesota has been developing their Active Learning Classrooms Program for many years. The U of MN Center for Educational Innovations has some very practical information about teaching in spaces similar to the UA Collaborative Learning Spaces. 

The information contained in these tutorials is generally consistent with the recommended best practices for the Collaborative Learning Spaces at the University of Arizona with one exception. The tutorials recommend, "Use active learning frequently – at least once a class period initially". Instructors in the UA Collaborative Learning Spaces are urged to incorporate active learning strategies throughout the class from the very first day. A typical 50-minute class should include a minimum of 3-4 activities, or more, interspersed with short lectures or explanations. 

As you will note, these strategies can be used in many different types of learning environments, not just Collaborative Learning Spaces.

The following page from the Vanderbilt University Center for Teaching also contains fundamental information about active learning and active learning strategies:

The Science Education Initiative Videos are quite good and are applicable to other disciplines not solely science education. The following video is particularly helpful:

The Cornell Center for Teaching Excellence website also contains useful information, referred to as Teaching Ideas, for designing active learning courses. The following links contain information not covered in previously referenced materials: