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UW, Community College Educators Train at Active-Learning Summer Institute

June 17, 2019
group of people sitting and working together
Participants in the UW Learning Actively Mentoring Program Summer Institute in Sheridan included, from left: Debashis Dutta, Tim Glatzer, Ellen Aikens, McKensie Harris, Rachel Hanan and Harrison Leiendecker. (UW Photo)

Twenty-three educators from the University of Wyoming and three Wyoming community colleges completed intensive active-learning training last week at Sheridan College.

This summer institute was the kickoff event for a yearlong, immersive program facilitated by the Learning Actively Mentoring Program (LAMP), one of the UW Science Initiative’s signature programs.

The theme for the institute was “Transformative Learning,” and educators engaged in mock active-learning sessions so they could experience team-based learning and other forms of active learning in an authentic way.

On the final evaluation, one educator commented, “Everything that was talked about also was demonstrated. It would have been one thing to tell us about team-based learning, but you showed us how by getting us involved in an actual team-based learning activity.”

Among the group of 23 educators were 17 instructors from four UW academic colleges: Arts and Sciences, Health Sciences, Agriculture and Natural Resources, and Engineering and Applied Science. These participants were joined by six community college colleagues from Laramie County Community College, Northwest College and Sheridan College.

In addition to learning effective ways to implement active learning in their classes, summer institute participants also learned about the scholarship of teaching and learning, which is the practice of systematically studying the effectiveness of active-learning strategies implemented in classrooms.

On the final anonymous survey, one participant commented, “I have to say that I feel really energized and ready to rock teaching next semester. My engagement with and sense that I’ve benefited from this seminar is several times higher than the best seminar I’ve attended in the past … I cannot thank you enough. You all created a space that made it safe and possible for me to go through this big personal transition.”

LAMP Director Rachel Watson says transformative learning is defined as “changing the very essence of what we know.

“It is important that we facilitate transformative learning for our statewide educators, because changing from traditional passive (lecture) methods to evidence-based, active-learning practices requires a fundamental change in how we teach,” she says. “In order to facilitate transformative learning for educators and encourage them to seek this for their students as well, we engaged them in reflective dialogue every day. This is an essential element of deeply internalizing the learning that we have done.”

External and internal mentors facilitated the reflective dialogue and offered subject-matter expertise. External mentors were Ferlin McGaskey, assistant director of the University of Tennessee Teaching and Learning Center; Lisa Murray, assistant marketing department head at the University of Tennessee Haslam College of Business; and Ed Nuhfer, retired geologist, educational developer and expert in metacognition. Internal mentors included Christi Boggs, Janel Seeley and Thomas Stoudt, of UW’s Ellbogen Center for Teaching and Learning; Michele Larson, UW Life Science Program faculty member; Monia Haselhorst, Northwest College biology program faculty member; Sridhar Budhi, Eastern Wyoming College chemistry program faculty member; and Jessica Sutter, UW physics and astronomy graduate student mentor.

“Sheridan College was an excellent venue to host our annual summer institute. The facilities are cutting edge, and our collaborator, Debi Isakson, is a consummate organizer,” Watson says. “We are grateful to have had the opportunity to spend time in Sheridan.”

Here are the educators who participated, listed by home institution and department:

Laramie County Community College Chemistry Program -- Qing Du.

Northwest College First-Year Experience -- Lorilyn Beck.

Northwest College Math Program -- Tim Glatzer.

Northwest College Physics Program -- Deepthi Amarasuriya.

Northwest College Science Literature -- Rachel Hanan.

Sheridan College Chemistry Program -- Rob Milne.

UW Department of Animal Science -- McKensie Harris.

UW Department of Botany/Program in Hydrology -- Will Bowers.

UW Department of Chemistry -- Debashis Dutta and Ginka Kubelka.

UW Department of Ecosystem Science and Management -- Linda van Diepen and Anna Schwyter.

UW Department of Molecular Biology -- Pam Langer.

UW Department of Petroleum Engineering -- Tawfik Elshehabi.

UW Department of Physics and Astronomy -- Cristilyn Gardner, Harrison Leiendecker, Ashley Piccone and Jason Rothenberg.

UW Department of Zoology and Physiology -- Ellen Aikens and Jerod Merkle.

UW Department of Zoology and Physiology, and Program in Ecology -- Becky Wilcox.

UW School of Pharmacy/Pharmaceutical Sciences -- Reshmi Singh.

UW’s Wyoming Geographic Information Science Center -- Ramesh Sivanpillai.

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