Workshop 1: Teaching Outside the Box: Implementing active learning strategies to increase student learning, retention, and success in STEM

Workshop Description:

Many studies have shown active learning methods to improve student learning and success in courses. But how do we put this research into practice? In this workshop, participants will explore active learning methods, metacognition, and science identity formation. We will discuss what we already do well, and what active learning techniques are appropriate for our goals. At the end, participants will share how they plan to implement an active learning technique during the Winter term, and how they will measure the success of their implementation. Participants may optionally take part in an asynchronous virtual book club aligned with the workshop sessions.

This is a funded faculty inquiry group limited to faculty within Lane Community College. To learn more, and sign up for this FIG, email the workshop convener.

Where: Lane Community College (remotely via Zoom)

When: October 1 - December 3 2020, 10 week series of 1 hour virtual workshops

Who: STEM Faculty at LCC. Register for this workshop


  • Support academic success of all students (especially for underrepresented students) through expanding the use of methods to foster active learning, metacognition, and science identity formation
  • Foster a community of practice in LCC STEM who share their experiences and offer one another continuing feedback
  • Develop a routine for reflective teaching
  • Develop an active learning implementation plan (fall term), carry it out (winter term), and share your results (spring term)

Workshop Program:

The schedule below outlines the topics and time estimates. All workshops will entail some pre-workshop preparation and be run using a "hy-flex" model (synchronous with equivalent asynchronous option). This page will be updated with more detail and links to resources as we go along.

Participants may optionally choose to read along in the book Small Teaching Online by Flower Darby. The workshop schedule is aligned with the chapters of this resource. Discussion questions for a virtual book club will be hosted on Moodle.

Week 1: What is Active Learning? What is Reflective Teaching?

Settling In (30-40 min)

Reading (20 min)

Introductions and Goal-setting (15 min)

Introduce yourself and respond to the following questions on the Week 1 Forum. You are invited to post via text, audio, or video.

  1. What is your name, pronouns, and discipline?
  2. How do you define active learning? What methods are you most familiar with?
  3. What does reflective teaching mean to you? How do you reflect and iterate on your teaching now? What do you think would improve your reflective practice?
  4. What do you hope to learn in this FIG and be able to do as a result of participating?
  5. Please post a picture of yourself doing something you love.

Week 2: Meaningful & Engaging Assessments / Assignments

Participants will:

  • Before the workshop, view resources about Bloom's Taxonomy and cooperative exams (15 min)
  • Learn how to apply Backward Design to design meaningful assessments and supportive learning experiences (30 min)
    • Introduction to Backward Design (5 min)
    • Articulate one Learning Goal, Assessment, and Experience example (5 min)
    • Peer review of assessment and learning experiences (15 min)
    • Report back (5 min)
  • Think-Pair-Share on supportive and meaningful learning experiences / assignments in your own course (30 min)
    • Reflect on one example on where you see good engagement, and one not-so-engaging example you can improve on (10 min)
    • Pair up with a partner to share your examples and swap feedback (15 min)
    • Share back on what you had in common, and something that surprised you (5 min)
  • Complete a post-workshop Roadcheck Evaluation (5 min)

Optional reading: Chapter 1 of Small Teaching Online (Surfacing Backward Design)

Week 3: Exploring Active Learning Strategies

Optional reading: Chapter 2 of Small Teaching Online (Guided Learning Through Engagement)

Week 4: Interactive Lecture & Classroom Assessments

  • Before the workshop:
    • Explore resources (20 min)
    • Create a mini-tutorial (10 min)
  • During the workshop:
    • Participate in a Jigsaw experience via Zoom (25 min)
    • Debrief with an open-ended discussion (20 min)
    • Complete a post-workshop Roadcheck Evaluation (5 min)

Optional reading: Chapter 3 of Small Teaching Online (Using Media and Technology Tools)

Week 5: Break

This week we take a break to let it all sink in!

Optional: Share your initial ideas for your active learning implementation plan and respond to others on the Week 5 Forum (15 min)

Optional reading: Chapter 4 of Small Teaching Online (Building Community)

Week 6: Metacognition & Feedback 

  • Before the workshop, explore resources pertaining to metacognition (10 min)
  • During the workshop:
    • Think-Pair-Share on metacognitive activities you already do in the classroom (10 min)
    • Gallery tour on meaningful and Sustainable Feedback (15 min)
    • 3-2-1 activity on Metacognition and Feedback (35 min)
      • 3-2-1 individual reflection (5 min)
      • Analyze responses in groups (15 min)
      • Share back (15 min)
    • Complete a post-workshop Roadcheck Evaluation (5 min)

Optional reading: Chapter 5 of Small Teaching Online (Giving Feedback)

Week 7: Science Identity & Belonging 

  • Before the workshop: Explore resources on science identity, sense of belonging, and motivation (20 min)
  • During the workshop:
    • Reflect on one strength, one challenge, and one opportunity that you face (at any level - classroom, discipline, division, or institution) when it comes to helping students feel a sense of belonging and building their science identity (10 min)
    • Round robin with validations: share any one of these aloud with the whole group. One person will practice validating and responding to your concern (20 min)
    • Open-ended discussion opportunity (10 min)

Optional reading: Chapter 6 of Small Teaching Online (Fostering Student Persistence and Success)

Week 8: Challenges in the Active Classroom 

This week's workshop will be synchronous. Participants will:

  • Before the workshop:
    • Explore resources on flipped classrooms, student resistance to active learning, workload considerations, and motivation (20 min)
    • Submit a pre-workshop reflection (10 min)
  • During the workshop:
    • Review our biggest concerns and problems in implementing active learning (10 min)
    • Introduction to "Six Thinking Hats" (5 min)
    • Work in groups to reframe two problems using the Six Thinking Hats approach (20 min, 10 min each)
    • Report back to the group (10 min)
    • Open-ended discussion opportunity (15 min)

Optional reading: Chapter 7 of Small Teaching Online (Creating Autonomy)

Week 9: Implementation Plan

This week's workshop will be asynchronous. Participants will:

  • Draft your active learning implementation plan (30 min)

Optional reading: Chapter 8 of Small Teaching Online (Making Connections)

Week 10: Reflective Teaching and Observation

  • Before the workshop:
    • Read a peer's active learning implementation plan (10 min)
    • Explore resources on reflective teaching and teaching observation protocols (30 min)
  • During the workshop:
    • Peer review of active learning implementation plan (30 min)
    • Open-ended discussion opportunity (30 min)
  • Post a final reflection to the Week 10 Forum (15 min)
  • Complete a post-workshop Roadcheck Evaluation (5 min)

Optional reading: Chapter 9 of Small Teaching Online (Developing as an Online Instructor)

Post-Workshop Activities

  • Winter Term:
  • Spring Term:
    • Share your results in an "Active Learning Share Fair" (1-3 hours total work)

Workshop Conveners

  • Andrea Goering

If you would like further information about this workshop, please contact (

This workshop is part of the Supporting and Advancing Geoscience in Two-Year Colleges: Faculty as Change Agents project and is supported by the National Science Foundation Division of Undergraduate Education through grants DUE 1525593, 1524605, 1524623, and 1524800.

Disclaimer: Any opinions, findings, conclusions or recommendations expressed in this website are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.