Part 9: Spring 2019 Labs

152 Evidence-Supported Learning – 01.24.2019

In the January 24, 2019 Active Teaching Lab, participants discussed how to make assignments both interesting and effective learning opportunities for students. Attendees examined current research and what it says about strategies that work and don’t work. The session concluded with a conversation about ways to align activities and assignments with research-supported practices.


  • Effective learning is inclusive. To foster inclusivity in the classroom, 1) get students to find the value of the content themselves (self-generated utility value), 2) emphasize that intelligence is not fixed (malleability of intelligence), and 3) allow students to express their personal values (self-affirmation). See research presented by Markus Brauer, Dept. of Psychology, for more on these inclusive teaching practices.
  • Effective learning is distributed over time; revisit exposure to, and application of, content. Every time and different way that students use what they learn, they deepen their understanding of it. Massed learning (one-and-done exposure) doesn’t work as well.
  • Effective learning is interactive (with others); the more senses used in learning the content the better, but solving authentic problems with a peer or two provides a depth of challenge, perspective, and feedback that is hard for a single instructor to match.
  • Effective learning empowers learners to explore good problems that reveal systems (Gee 2013). Give students agency in designing learning environments and activities that work for them (and their peers!) so they can explore problem spaces in personally relevant ways to understand the underlying systems. Let them share what they learned in ways the honor their unique paths in life.

For more information on effective learning activities, visit the session’s activity sheet.


The Active Teaching Lab is a Faculty Engagement program with sessions held on Thursdays from 1:00-2:00pm and Fridays from 8:30-9:45am in the Middleton Building (1305 Linden Dr.), room 120. Check out upcoming Labs or read the recaps from past Labs. We build interdisciplinary conversations that are more emergent than a presenter and more dynamic than a panel — a conversation with colleagues sharing challenges, solutions, and experiments on topics selected by a variety of stakeholders.

Sign up for regular Lab announcements by sending an email to


Active Teaching Lab eJournal Copyright © 2016 by DoIT Academic Technology and the UW-Madison Teaching Academy; Jennifer Hornbaker; John Martin; Julie Johnson; Karin Spader; Margaret Merrill; Margaret Murphy; and Jeffrey Thomas. All Rights Reserved.

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