December 2020 Newsletter

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

That’s a wrap!  As we cross the finish line of the Fall 2020 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 new research from Profs. Adrian Treves and Nick Balster about extended office hours, based on views that emerged during an Academy uClass event. We recognize all the new members who joined the Academy in 2020 and our Distinguished Fellow Awardee, John Zumbrunnen. Also read responses in the Academy Forum to questions posed in the October issue.

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

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


2021 Teaching Academy Winter LEaP: Virtual Synchronous sessions January 11-12 (Monday-Tuesday), 2021, 9-11:30am. Supplemental asynchronous materials available Jan. 11-15. Registration has reached capacity. Join the waitlist HERE. Learn more:

2021 Teaching Academy Winter RetreatSave the date: Friday, February 5, 2021 (8:45 – 11AM).  The retreat will be held virtually, and will focus on Supporting Student Mental Health. Join us for undergraduate student perspectives and a panel discussion with expert practitioners, followed by breakout discussions. Register HERE. 

Delta Spring 2021 Courses – Now Registering
The Delta Program provides professional development in teaching, mentoring and outreach. Please share our upcoming Spring 2021 course opportunities with postdocs and graduate students who are eager to add evidence-based teaching strategies to their instructor toolkits. All courses will be held remotely.

Banner header for Active Teaching Lab

We’re expanding online offerings in Spring by following Wednesday Labs with Thursday Lab Chats, where we revisit and dig into the weekly theme. Email to get involved.

LabsActive Teaching Labs are participant-driven explorations in using technology to enhance teaching efficiency and effectiveness. In this way, they differ from many workshops, webinars, presentations, and other professional development sessions. Focused on a different theme each week, we curate an Activity Sheet of resources that we anticipate will meet the needs of a variety of instructors and learning environments, but every session is structured to be emergent and responsive to the needs of its participants. We cover a lot of ground in a short amount of time, but there’s something useful for everyone.

Chats: Held virtually in Microsoft Teams on Thursdays from 1-2pm during the semester, Active Teaching Lab Chats are personalized deeper dives into the week’s themes. Chats aim to contextualize Lab themes to participants’ particular teaching environments and to showcase local instructor examples. They’re also great for people who can’t attend Wednesday Labs to catch up!

Schedule: Held virtually in Microsoft Teams on Wednesdays (Labs) and Thursdays (Chats) from 1-2pm during the semester. Registration (coming soon) at the Active Teaching Labs DoIT-AT site.

  1. Jan 13, 14 — 10 ways to avoid “Course-and-a-half” Syndrome”: Even if you haven’t added more to your remote course, the format might make it feel like more. We can help.
  2. Jan 20, 21 — 10 ways to develop independent learners: Create a culture of self-motivated students who don’t need to depend on you to direct their learning.
  3. Jan 27, 28 — 10 ways to make remote group projects easier: Small-group learning that fosters students’ interaction without forcing students’ dependence on other students’ skills, availability, contributions, and punctuality.
  4. Feb 3, 4 — 10 ways to teach better with media: Present content in ways that are more effective, digestible, and easier for learners (and you) to assess.
  5. Feb 10-11 — 10 ways to teach more inclusively: Research-supported practices to promote the success of more students.
  6. Feb 17, 18 — 10 ways to improve your assessments: Improve assessments to let students better express what they know (and are still easy to grade).
  7. Feb 24, 25 — 10 ways to get student feedback in your course: Instead of guessing or trying to interpret assessments, hear directly from students what’s working and what’s not. (Bonus: it increases their learning too!)

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


Consider joining a free faculty learning community to explore and implement research-based online course design and teaching best practices. And check out the series of online faculty development webinars and workshops to kick off 2021. See: TeachOnline@UW Courses, Workshops, and Faculty Development Webinars 


Inspired by two UCLASS events, I implemented a change to my lecture course and I’m thrilled to report that the lessons I learned in UCLASS have borne fruit and will go into the permanent public record.

The Teaching Academy’s UCLASS program which stands for undergraduate chat learn and share space ( informed me that students were often intimidated by office hours and that students felt more comfortable face to face with their instructor when they met in small groups. I combined this with my dissatisfaction with exam review in a big lecture hall, to create a new method (for me) of extended student hours for exams. The method involves reserving time for 6-7 students to sit down with me in my office and have more of a discussion about course content that is giving them problems. It allows formative assessment so I can tailor my exam review to the specific needs and areas of confusion. I practiced it for a few semesters then subjected it to a scientific evaluation, which showed up to 14% improvement in exam performance for students scoring B or lower in my classes.

Read the full article (links to PDF).

Treves, A., Balster, N.J., 2021. The effect of extended student hours on performance of students in an interdisciplinary, introductory undergraduate ecology course. North American Colleges and Teachers of Agriculture Journal. in press


Member Responses

The answers were selected from contributions by Academy members to questions posed in the October newsletter. Click here to view a printer friendly version and read the full text of the December 2020 responsesThank you to all our readers and contributors!


International students deeply appreciate the “small talk” parts of any Zoom meeting. I like to ask them about how they balance their studies with their free time and find out about their interests so that I can reassure them that when they arrive on campus there are plenty of student organizations and clubs for them to get involved in. — Heidi Evans, Fellow, Program in ESL

Focus on what stigma is doing to students and ways to mitigate it. — Stephanie Campbell, Future Faculty Partner, Educational Psychology  

It is so important to track continued bureaucratic obstacles facing international students, both on campus and at the national level, and check in with our students and ask how we can help. For example, UW–Madison decided over the summer not to pay undergraduate international student workers telecommuting from outside the US but didn’t tell anyone about it. Moreover, it’s told those students they are free to keep working without pay, which is appalling. We can educate ourselves about these issues (read the student papers; follow student activist organizations on Twitter), raise these issues in our classes, reach out to our international students to check in, and lobby for protections for international students on university committees. We have more power than we think we do. — Anna Meier, Future Faculty Partner, Political Science

I think the big thing is to acknowledge that the US political system is capricious and unique. What we accept as a normal “part of the process” is not universal, nor universally recognized as a “good”.  (And was anything normal this year?). So acknowledging that public protest and public debate can make people afraid, especially the people “back home” who see it on TV. And also recognizing that even engaging in deep political discussions at all can make some students uncomfortable or anxious. So don’t push — be reassuring, be willing to answer questions, and don’t ignore that there can be tension. — Dan Pell, Fellow, Academic Technology


Students easily navigate the screen share option in Zoom, to review their assignments and ask questions during meetings with their instructor. As an instructor, I use Zoom for “quick and dirty” announcement videos that I do not expect to re-use (since the Zoom recoding feature is so easy). I can then quickly plunk them in Kaltura to add captions. — Heidi Evans, Fellow, Program in ESL

For teaching, I’ve primarily been using Blackboard, though have also been using Webex and Zoom for meetings. I like Blackboard’s integration with Canvas, but find it limiting to only be able to view 4 participants on-screen at one time, and will welcome a switch to Zoom once that’s integrated in Canvas and deemed HIPAA-compliant… you can do what you need for teaching on any of these. I consider myself pretty tech-savvy and have been able to switch between platforms easily despite their minor differences and idiosyncrasies (I’m looking at you, Blackboard!)  For me, the most important factor in choosing has been about the student experience. If SMPH can use one platform consistently that is well integrated with the student’s other course materials (Canvas), that’ll help reduce extraneous cognitive load and optimize the learners’ abilities to focus on the content we’re trying to teach. — Kirstin Nackers, Affiliate, School of Medicine and Public Health

Zoom is the best by far. Tech is better, quality is better, functionality is better—it’s all better. Blackboard doesn’t allow you to see everyone, WebEx is glitchy, and Hangouts is lower quality than Zoom. — Stephanie Campbell, Future Faculty Partner, Educational Psychology  

I’ve used them all, and don’t have a strong attachment. None of them is perfect. I’ve heard a lot of people saying they like being able to see all the faces in Zoom, but I personally find it a little distracting. I can’t say I’ve noticed any difference in the quality of interaction that happens when people are showing video vs. just showing a picture. It’s not like people every look very relaxed or natural during their 4th hour of video calls in a day. — Dan Pell, Fellow, Academic Technology

Thank you to our Academy Forum December guest editor: Stephanie Campbell.

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:

  • Student-to-Student and Student-to-Instructor interaction have emerged as significant concerns during remote instruction. What have you or your colleagues done to make either of these aspects of teaching more successful?
  • What’s baby, what’s bathwater?  Tell us about something you’ve started doing in remote instruction that you think you’d like to keep whenever the crisis has passed and we move into the new “normal”.
  • What is the most interesting virtual backdrop you have seen somebody use?

Submission Deadline: Please submit your answers by March 8, 2021

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"

December Feature: Feedback & Evaluation. Explore differences between evaluating and providing feedback and learn more about ways faculty have adapted their method in the virtual learning environment. Feedback & Evaluation Resources.

Clinical Teacher Learning Community SMPH Faculty Central. Check out this article on Virtual Clinical Education.

Moving Education Online. Online Learning Best Practices Online Learning Tools: Equity & Justice Resources for EducatorsCOVID-19 Resources

Questions? Topics you would like to see? Announcements for the next issue? Email Sara Scott: ( )


These individuals have been recognized by the Academy in 2020 for their outstanding commitment to excellence in teaching and learning. Read more about them on the Teaching Academy website.

Fellows:   Jill Casid, Gender and Women’s Studies, Leonelo Bautista, Population Health Sciences, Michael Childers, School for Workers, Keisha Lindsay, Gender and Women’s Studies, Yoshiko Herrera, Political Science, Benjamin Schnapp, Emergency Medicine, Kathleen Walsh, Medicine, Grace Lee, Kinesiology, Tonya Roberts, Nursing, Kate Corby, Dance, Andrea Hicks, Civil and Environmental Engineering, Paul Block, Civil & Environmental Engineering, Adam Pergament, English/ESL, Christian Castro, Madison Teaching and Learning Excellence, Sissel Schroeder, Anthropology, Saswati Bhattacharya, Hematology-Oncology, Jerome Camal, Anthropology, Maria Widmer, MERIT, Shobhina Chheda, SMPH, Katherine Rotzenberg, Pharmacy, Colleen Cobey, Physical Therapy, Jeanne Duncan, Physical Therapy, Mike Shapiro, Engineering Professional Development, Julie H Johnson, Collaborative for Advancing Learning and Teaching, Mo Bischof, Office of the Provost

Future Faculty Partners:   Kelly Jensen, Communication Arts, Katherine Bakhuizen, Wisconsin Center for Education Research, Andrew McWard, Political Science, Angeline Peterson, African Cultural Studies, Bri Meyer, Anthropology, Marshall Padilla, Chemical Biology, Eric Luckey, Education Policy Studies, Franklin Hobbs, Material Science & Engineering,  Maura Snyder, Communication Arts,

Affiliates and Clinical Affiliates:   Tiffany Lee, Gender & Sexuality Campus Center, Warren Scherer, Gender & Sexuality Campus Center, Caitlyn LoMonte, Office of Inclusion Education, Natalia Aguirre Villalobos, DoIT Academic Technology, Emily Binversie, Veterinary Medicine, Sherrelle Jackson, Nursing, Andrew Stevens, Agricultural and Applied Economics, Starr Cameron, Veterinary Medicine,  Molly Willging, Primate Research Center,  Karin Spader, Continuing Studies

Join us! Honor a colleague! The Teaching Academy is seeking new applications and nominations

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.


The UW-Madison Teaching Academy is delighted to honor John Zumbrunnen for his continued excellence in teaching and service to the Teaching Academy.

Dr. Zumbrunnen, professor and chair of the Department of Political Science in the College of Letters & Science, was named Vice Provost for Teaching and Learning in the summer of 2020. Previously, he served as faculty director of the Chadbourne Residential College, co-chaired the UW Teaching Academy, chaired the Teaching and Learning with Technology Advisory Group, and served as a representative on the Collaborative Council. He also serves as Senior Fellow for the Educational Innovation initiative.

The Teaching Academy has selected Dr. Zumbrunnen as this year’s recipient of the Distinguished Fellow Award. His excellence in teaching is well-recognized and service to the Teaching Academy is applauded and greatly appreciated.

On behalf of the Teaching Academy Executive Committee, we congratulate you!

A reflection on John Zumbrunnen’s contributions to teaching and learning (from Sue Wenker, Co-Chair of the Executive Committee).

To paraphrase Aristotle, we learn best from those who are our friends. Put another way: We learn best from those who teach in the classroom the same way they live their lives. John

Zumbrunnen is a natural teacher. He is always teaching in any setting, and he has been involved in many teaching settings here at UW-Madison. He has shared his teaching expertise across campus in numerous roles, as noted above. When John served as co-chair of the Teaching Academy, he contributed deeply to LEaP (Learning Environment and Pedagogics) workshops and the U-CLaSS (Undergraduate Chat, Learn, and Share Space) program, which his co-chair, Jamie Henke founded. John’s campus-wide expertise was instrumental in moving the LEaP program forward, and his position as head of the Chadbourne Residential College, along with his extensive expertise with undergraduate students, were a natural springboard for U-CLaSS, which John and Jamie built together. John’s online course serves as a model for every instructor that participates in the Teach Online program. When John isn’t inspiring and teaching by example to all of us, he is teaching students in wonderful study abroad experiences, as well as, of course, teaching political science. John is a professor who not only exemplifies, but lives, great teaching. And now that natural talent will benefit all of us in his new position as Vice-Provost for Teaching and Learning.


  • 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