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Professional Development Support for Your Teaching

It has been an unprecedented year of transition, where so many educators had to adopt new online teaching methods. Although we are moving into a new year, we know instructors have had to expand their teaching styles to create effective, inclusive learning environments for students whether in person, online or hybrid. Macmillan Learning and The National Institute on Scientific Teaching have partnered to create a modular teacher training program for educators that provides training and support for virtual environments.

Scientific Teaching Short Course

The Scientific Teaching Short Course is a 6-course workshop led by educators and expert facilitators who will provide comprehensive training in the fundamentals of designing student-centered, remote courses that address human needs in our current teaching and learning environment.

Offered throughout the year, this 6-course series will provide participants in the learning community with instructional strategies, networking opportunities, and peer group support.

In each session, educators will participate in a two-hour workshop on key teaching topics, including:

  • Building Community in Online and Remote Courses
  • Fostering Student Engagement and Interaction in the Remote Environment
  • Beyond Techniques: A Phenomenological Approach to Inclusive Teaching
  • Choosing and Using Effective Online Formative Assessments
  • Learning Theories: Applications in Remote Classrooms
  • Constructing Lab and Fieldwork Lessons for Remote Classes

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Our schedule

The course will run over a span of two weeks. Participants who complete at least 5 of 6 courses will receive completion certification. The courses will ​take place synchronously on January 4, 6, 8, 11, 13 and 15.

See our schedule below and sign up to hold your seat now!

  • Fullerton College Course: Jan 4 - 15, 2021

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Our Courses

I. Community Building for Remote Classes led by Elly Vandegrift

Course Description: In this session, participants will explore literature on building community and connection in online and remote learning environments. They will experience community building strategies that are key to developing an atmosphere of inclusion, engagement, and belonging that will contribute greatly to fostering student motivation in an age where social isolation presents obstacles to well-being. Ways to build meaningful online and remote interactions that can support community formation and that connect with pillars of Scientific Teaching will be shared. Finally participants will have ample time to share their ideas and resources with a network of other educators across the world.


  1. Explore literature on building community and connection in online and remote learning environments.
  2. Experience community building strategies, starting with the first class.
  3. Consider ways to build meaningful online and remote interactions that can support community formation and that connect with pillars of Scientific Teaching.
  4. Share ideas and resources with other educators.

Learning Objectives

  1. Create a plan to build a community of learners in online and remote learning environments.
  2. Implement strategies starting on the first day to build community, trust, and the importance of student learners in online and remote learning environments that are directly related to course goals and learning objectives.
  3. Communicate to students the rationale for developing a shared learning community.

II. Learning Theories: Applications in Remote Classrooms led by Stanley Lo

Course Description: Learning is a complex phenomenon, whether remotely or in person. Through interactive discussions, we will examine research literature on how people learn, including student cognition, intersection of sociocultural identities and learning, and power and privilege in the classroom. Together, we will begin to explore and design concrete, evidence-informed approaches to: (1) align course design with learning cycles to improve student outcomes and equity and (2) attend to diverse student identities in the classroom.

Learning Objectives:

  1. Examine different perspectives in learning theories
  2. Align course design with learning cycles to improve student outcomes and equity
  3. Attend to sociocultural identities, power, and privilege in the classroom

III. Choosing and Using Effective Formative Assessments in Remote Environments led by Jenny Knight

Course Description: Formative assessments are intended to inform both students and instructors about the progress of learning. This workshop will focus on becoming familiar with different types of formative assessments and when they are best used, and then on developing (or revising) formative assessments that you can use in a class of your choosing. We will focus on the components of formative assessments that make them successful, including identifying common inaccurate conceptions, and on stimulating awareness and self-reflection in students.

Learning Objectives:

  1. Identify formative assessments you are already familiar with or already engage in
  2. Explore and use evidence regarding online practices that promote student engagement in formative assessment
  3. Determine components of formative assessment that will work well or not work well in online environments.
  4. Develop questions that can be used in your own courses.

IV. Fostering Student Engagement and Interaction in the Remote Environment led by Deb Pires

Course Description: This course will interactively explore ideas and strategies to foster student engagement. While the remote setting presents some unique challenges for student engagement, there are many opportunities to involve students in their own learning. Different modes of active engagement will be modeled throughout the two-hour session. In the second half of the workshop, participants will begin transforming one portion of their own course into a more active format that is relevant to any learning environment.

Learning Objectives:

  1. Explore ideas of student engagement that contribute to student learning
  2. Identify active learning strategies that are appropriate for your course
  3. Create one activity to increase student engagement for your course

V. Beyond Techniques: A Phenomenological Approach to Inclusive Teaching led by Mays Imad

Course Description: Inclusive teaching means teaching in ways that do not exclude students, accidentally or intentionally, implicitly or explicitly, from opportunities to learn and thrive. For inclusive teaching to be authentic, effective, and transformative, it is necessary for educators to ensure that their perception of students’ experience and expectations aligns with students’ phenomenological reality.

This interactive course will examine faculty perception of the purpose of STEM according to their students. Participants will explore concrete, evidence-informed strategies to (1) align what students expect from their education with what faculty think; (2) transform the classroom, virtual or in-person into an inclusive sanctuary that is grounded in meaning, purpose, and connection.

Learning Objectives:

  1. Examine faculty perception of the purpose of STEM according to their students.
  2. Align what students expect from their education with what faculty think.
  3. Examine evidence-based, student-driven strategies that can transform the classroom, virtual or in-person into a sanctuary where students can explore life, the inner and the outer.
  4. Create a meaning-centered education which is grounded in love of knowledge and humanity.

VI. Teaching Virtual Lab and Fieldwork Online led by Daniel Barton

Course Description: Engaging students in remote learning environments in field- and lab-based teaching poses a specific set of challenges that participants will work to identify and overcome. Exploration of evidence-based approaches to effective remote teaching of topics traditionally taught in organismal biology, data analysis, and field-based labs will be the focus of this session, and participants will model several simple approaches to engaging students in such exercises.

Learning Objectives:

  1. Recognize impacts of modality shift to field & lab teaching and potential shortcomings of substitutes
  2. Identify remote teaching substitutes for traditional field & lab experiences that may be more effective than others
  3. Describe several possible types of substitutions and recognize equity barriers

Our Leaders

About Jenny Knight

Jenny Knight is an Associate Professor in the Molecular Cellular and Developmental Biology at the University of Colorado, Boulder. She has a Ph.D. in Neuroscience from the University of Michigan and postdoctoral training in developmental genetics. She transitioned to education research in 2004. She has been teaching undergraduates at all levels for twenty years, along with graduate courses in pedagogy. She coordinated the MCDB Science Education Initiative at CU for 7 years (2007-2014), ran the Mountain West Regional National Academies Summer Institute on Undergraduate Education in Biology for 5 years (2010-2015), and is now the president of the Society for the Advancement of Biology Education Research (SABER)

About Stanley Lo

Stanley Lo holds a Ph.D. in Biochemistry from Harvard University and is currently an Associate Teaching Professor in the Section of Cell and Developmental Biology and Program in Mathematics and Science Education at the University of California San Diego. His research aims to understand how faculty conceptions of teaching, learning, and diversity change over time and how these conceptions inform their instructional practices in the classroom.

About Mays Imad

Mays Imad is a neuroscientist and professor of Pathophysiology and Biomedical Ethics at Pima Community College, the founding coordinator of the Teaching and Learning Center, and a Gardner Institute Fellow. Mays’s current research focuses on stress, self-awareness, advocacy, and classroom community, and how these relate to cognition, metacognition, and, ultimately, student learning and success. Through her teaching and research, she seeks to provide her students with transformative opportunities that are grounded in the aesthetics of learning, truth-seeking, and self-realization.

About Elly Vandegrift

Eleanor Vandegrift is Program Director for Global Science Education Initiatives in the Division of Global Engagement at the University of Oregon (UO) where she leads faculty professional development and curricular reform with global partners. Previously, Elly taught biology, anatomy and physiology at UO, Lane Community College, and Earlham College, directed the UO’s Alda Center for Communicating Science Affiliate program, and led the UO Science Literacy Program supporting STEM curricular and pedagogical reform, for which she has been recognized with multiple teaching awards. She has been part of the Summer Institute Leadership since 2015 with the Northwest Region, Pillars of Scientific Teaching, Mobile Summer Institutes, and co-chair of the Summer Institutes Steering Committee.


About Deb Pires

Debra Pires holds a Ph.D. in Biology from UCLA and is currently an Academic Administrator and Vice Chair with the Department of Life Sciences Core Education at UCLA. She has been teaching the introductory Biology courses for the past 15 years, and is a specialist in large classroom instruction. She began her journey with the Summer Institutes in 2005 as a participant. Since 2015 she has been a facilitator with the Mobile Summer Institutes. Her research focuses on the effects of different pedagogical strategies and their relationship to student retention for STEM majors.

About Daniel Barton

Daniel Barton is Associate Professor and Chair of the Wildlife Department at Humboldt State University, where he has taught wildlife techniques and wildlife population ecology since 2012. He is an alum of The Evergreen State College (BS, 2001) and the University of Montana (PhD, Organismal Biology and Ecology, 2012). He has been involved in facilitating the Northwest Summer Institutes since 2016, and is specifically interested in applying evidence-based approaches to developing more effective field-based and lab pedagogy.

About Us

About Macmillan Learning

Macmillan Learning is a privately-held, family-owned company that improves lives through learning. By linking research to learning practice, we develop pioneering products and learning materials for students that are highly effective and drive improved outcomes. To learn more, please visit macmillanlearning.com or join our Macmillan Community.

About National Institute on Scientific Teaching

The National Institute on Scientific Teaching hopes to empower and inspire college and university instructors to transform STEM education through evidence-based teaching practices. The National Institute is dedicated to STEM education reform by improving science literacy and increasing diversity in academia in universities across the United States. ​The National Institute draws scientific teaching principles from models supported by peer-reviewed research. We support participants to directly apply these principles in their classroom and their development of their teaching materials. The curriculum of the National Institute includes core elements of active learning strategies, effective assessment development, and inclusive teaching practices. National Institute alumni are actively transforming STEM education on their home campuses, contributing to national STEM education initiatives, and disseminating their evidence-based teaching efforts and research through peer reviewed publications.To learn more about our background, philosophy, and program, please visit our site here.

National Institute on Scientific Learning

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