Part 7: Spring 2018 Labs

104 with Ahna Skop – 02.23.2018

In the February 23, 2018 Active Teaching Lab, Ahna Skop shared how she uses for authentic active learning in her bioinformatics/genomics course. Her students build their own websites to publish their work from their capstone project. Check out her Genetics 564 Weebly site and examples of student projects. See the session’s activity sheet to get started on your own Weebly site. 


  • Diversity and creativity in learners can get shut down in a culture of conformity.
  • Students need a multitude of experiences (vs. bubble sheet assessments).
  • Students are learning content, but not organizational skills, communication skills, or writing skills enough.
  • The web-production project lets students choose their own interest (disease and associated gene). This allows them to learn about issues that may be directly affecting their own family/friends — and the web site project lets them share it with family and friends (and future employers)!
  • Students see the work others do, so they can learn from their peers and teach each other both the course content and how to create their websites.
  • “Backwards grading” — starting every student with full credit for the semester and taking points away as the semester proceeds — is based on Growth Mindset research and especially helps under-represented minorities.
  • The TeacherKit app allows instructors to track student responses (and thus prompt students to participate in class if they don’t offer up their insight readily). 
  • Peer review and self-assessment help to lessen the burden of grading.
  • Students do research with real data and unknown outcomes (not recipe lab assignments); many struggle to come to terms with the idea that there is no one right answer in real-world science.
  • Students can view their web hit map, which shows how many and where in the world people have viewed their site. The quality of their work increases when they see they are producing an authentic resource. 

Active Teaching Labs are held Fridays from 8:30-9:45am in room 120, Middleton Building (1305 Linden Dr.) as well as some Wednesdays from 12:30-1:30pm in room 302 Middleton Building. Check out upcoming Labs or read the recaps from past Labs.

Similar to the Active Teaching Labs, Active Teaching Exchanges feature instructors sharing their teaching experiences with tools and techniques, but provide more time for discussion without the hands-on investigation time. Exchanges are are held Thursdays from 1-2pm in room 120, Middleton Building. See the full calendar of both events. Stay informed about upcoming Labs and Exchanges by signing up for regular 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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