November 2020 Newsletter

Teaching Academy: Promoting, Recognizing and Supporting Excellence in Teaching & Learning

The End is Nigh!  As we draw closer to the end of this uniquely challenging semester, we hope you find time to read and enjoy this month’s newsletter, which includes updates, and multiple ways of staying connected with the Teaching Academy.

This month: This month we feature some lessons learned about hosting large events from the team who hosted the Fall Retreat. Prof. Morton Gernbacher shares approaches to making group work successful by increasing student interaction without forcing dependency.

Questions or comments about the newsletter? Contact Dan Pell, Editor

Trouble viewing this email? Open in Google Docs: Teaching Academy November Newsletter


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Active Teaching Labs (upcoming):

  • Nov 18: Direct Evidence of Student Learning (DESL): Learn how Direct Evidence of Student Learning (DESL), Lumen, Course Learning Outcomes (CLOs), and Canvas can work together to provide better learning and more efficient teaching. See examples and get tips on identifying key assignments, linking key assignments and activities to learning outcomes from Lumen, and using reports to evaluate and observe student learning through assessments. | Register
  • Dec 02: Plain Language Syllabi​: The “Do” and “Don’t” of syllabus writing | Register
  • Members Only Roundtable (virtual event) Wednesday, Dec. 2nd, from 5–6:30 pm. Registration limited to Teaching Academy members; fellows, FFPs and affiliates. Register HERE.
    • “Constructive Criticism of Teaching: How to give it, how to take it”, Prof. Beth Martin (Assistant Dean in the School of Pharmacy) & Prof. Peter Wardrip  (Assistant Professor, Curriculum & Instruction)
    • For many of us, our personal narrative includes the idea that we are good teachers, which can make it hard to seek and then accept honest feedback from peers (or, even more so, from students). How can we cultivate an attitude of constant self-improvement so as to be able to grow as a teacher through feedback? How can individuals giving feedback do so in such a way as to support improved educational outcomes for students without undermining the confidence of instructors? And how can the institution as a whole set up systems for frequent, constructive feedback so as to encourage and reward teaching quality and improvements in teaching quality without feeling punitive?
  • 2021 Winter LEaP: Virtual Synchronous sessions January 11-12 (Monday-Tuesday), 2021, 9-11:30am. Supplemental asynchronous materials available Jan. 11-15. Registration limited, register HERE.
  • 2021 Winter Retreat: Save the date!  The retreat will be held virtually on Friday, February 5, 2021 (8:45 – 11AM). Register HERE. More details to come.

Share events, workshops, news, or other notices for Teaching Academy members at 


TeachOnline@UW is a comprehensive faculty learning community intended for new and experienced online instructors who want to explore and apply in-depth best practices – designing (or re-designing) and teaching fully online, credit courses. The program offers two free courses: Plan & Design: and Facilitation & Management. Applications are now being accepted for the spring and summer 2021 Plan & Design and Facilitation & Management courses.  Details and registration at


Morton Ann Gernsbacher, PhD, Vilas Research Professor & Sir Frederic Bartlett Professor, University of Wisconsin-Madison  (excerpted from a peer-reviewed open-access chapter by Gernsbacher available at and supported by open-access materials available at

For as long as instructors have embraced small-group learning, students have rebuffed it. Many of students’ negative sentiments, which have been informally distributed through cartoons, Internet memes, and op-eds, have also been formally documented through decades of empirical research, including large-scale studies with sample sizes over 100 students. For example, students who otherwise would earn higher grades, earn significantly lower grades during small-group learning; therefore, it is unsurprising that the more high-achieving the student, the less they enjoy small-group learning. The guiding principle for small-group learning is to foster students’ interaction without forcing students’ dependence on other students’ skills, availability, contributions, and punctuality. Course practices that embody this guiding principle include the jigsaw, snowball, and round-robin techniques, as described in this infographic handout and Gernsbacher’s (2020) chapter (


The Fall Retreat was the Academy’s first large virtual event, and while there is always space to do better, we were pretty happy about how it went!  We have distilled many of the lessons learned from hosting that event into a single document (Planning, organizing and managing large online events) which we are sharing in hope that it will be useful to others who find themselves hosting virtual events now or in the future.

Thank you to Tim Dalby and these members of the Retreat Planning Committee who contributed their time and effort to provide feedback:  Angela Kita, John Parrish, Patrick Hills-Meyer, Dan Pell. Questions or comments? Contact

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The Academy Forum is a space waiting for YOU to fill it! This is a chance to share ideas and inspiration with Fellows, FFPs, Affiliates & partners across campus! Why not take 5 minutes to share a few thoughts right now?

Contribute to the NEXT Academy Forum:

  • Zoom, Teams, Blackboard, Webex, Hangouts … What do you like about them? What do you not like?  And how do you choose between them for different purposes?
  • Have you been teaching face-to-face in a classroom with physical distancing?  What have you and your students done to make it work?
  • How can we care for international students in our campus community in times of social and political strife?

Submission Deadline: Please submit your answers by December 14, 2020

View a printer friendly version and read the full text of the October 2020 responses.

Responses included in the newsletter will typically be less than one paragraph, but in some cases we may include a longer response. Responses may be edited for brevity and to fit the format of the newsletter. 


Clinical Teacher Learning Community: Network, Explore, Build. "Furthering Clinical Education"

November Feature: Virtual Clinical Education Hot off the press! Read about how our colleagues in the School of Pharmacy have navigated planning for virtual/socially distanced rotations. Just published last Friday, this article provides unique insights on preparing to teach during the COVID era: Navigating a Virtual Rotation.

Moving Education Online: Check out these resources: Equity & Justice Resources for EducatorsCOVID-19 Resources

Collaborate! Developing curricula doesn’t have to be scary! If you have an interest in developing new or existing areas of curriculum complete this survey and get connected to our team. All types of curricula are welcome, UME, GME, CME etc.!

Read more about clinical teacher experiences with virtual teaching in this exposé featured in The Journal of the Pharmacy Society of Wisconsin.

Questions? Announcements for the next issue? Email Sara Scott: ( )


The mission of the UW-Madison Teaching Academy is to promote, recognize and support excellence in teaching and learning among faculty, staff and students across campus and beyond. There are three types of membership: Future Faculty Partner (FFP), Fellow, and Affiliate.  We welcome nominees who work in traditional classrooms, clinical practice, field instruction, or instructional support with learners at any level.

Read about how to Become a Member. Nominate yourself or a colleague!

Are you an FFP who has moved on to another position in the University?  Contact Sarah Hagedon to discuss changing your status from FFP to Fellow.


  • Active Teaching Labs Improve campus teaching by helping to plan, organize, and facilitate instructor-to-instructor sharing of experiences using technology to teach better. Contact
  • Newsletter & Academy Forum Join the planning committee, contribute to the forum, act as guest editor for the Academy newsletter. Contact
  • Fall Retrea​t | Winter Retreat Join the committee to plan, organize & facilitate campus-wide teaching development events. Contact
  • U-CLaSS Explore teaching and learning from the student perspective by attending our U-CLaSS sessions. Contact
  • Analytics Committee Help ensure that we are capturing the right information to determine who our programs are reaching, whether participants find them valuable and, most importantly, if there was something they learned through participation. Contact
  • Affiliate/Clinical Affiliate Teaching experiential courses, from clinic to fieldwork? Become involved in growing the clinical affiliate or affiliate program.
  • Nomination Committee We are seeking Fellows (Faculty & Academic Staff) and FFPs to help review nominations.  Honor great campus educators & promote excellence by helping to review nominations to the Teaching Academy. Contact
  • Feedback on Teaching (FOT) Committee This joint effort between the Teaching Academy and the Collaborative for Advancing Learning & Teaching offers an opportunity for a graduate student to participate in scaling up and implementing a new peer observation program across campus. Email for more information. Contact