Spring 2020 Teaching Effectiveness Institute


The Power of Active Learning: Engaging Students Through Intentional Use of Technology

Wednesday, January 8, 2020
8:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. 
Capitol Room, Holmes Student Center

by Derek Bruff, Vanderbilt University

Online registration is closed

If you still wish to register, please call 815-753-0595


How can we make the most of the relatively limited time we have with our students during class? Educational research is clear: engaging students in active learning in the classroom leads to improved learning outcomes over “continuous exposition by the teacher.” But what is active learning? Why does it work? How can we engage all students in active learning during class? And how can we structure out-of-class assignments and activities to complement and support in-class learning?

As faculty interested in supporting active student learning survey the changing landscape of technology, determining what’s possible and what’s useful can be challenging. Chalkboards and projectors are familiar tools for most college faculty, but when new technologies become available, faculty aren’t always sure how to integrate them into their teaching in meaningful ways to engage students. In this institute, we’ll explore teaching strategies, learning principles, and digital technologies for creating active learning environments in our classrooms—and inviting all our students into deeper learning.

Derek Bruff is director of the Vanderbilt University Center for Teaching and a principal senior lecturer in the Vanderbilt Department of Mathematics. As director, he oversees the Center’s programming and offerings for faculty and graduate students, helping them develop foundational teaching skills and explore new ideas in teaching and learning. Bruff is the author of Intentional Tech: Principles to Guide the Use of Educational Technology in College Teaching (West Virginia University Press, 2019) and Teaching with Classroom Response Systems: Creating Active Learning Environments (Jossey-Bass, 2009). His scholarly interests include educational technology and faculty development, and he writes about these and other topics on his blog, Agile Learning.

Derek Bruff
Derek Bruff

Tentative Agenda

Time Topic
8:30 a.m. Check-in, Refreshments, and Networking
8:55 a.m. Welcome and Introduction
9:00 a.m. Implementing Active Learning - Times for Telling: Practice with Feedback
10:15 a.m. Refreshment Break
10:30 a.m. Supporting Active Learning - Thin Slices of Learning: Multimodal Assignments
12:00 p.m. Lunch (provided)
1:00 p.m. Extending Active Learning - Learning Communities: Authentic Audiences
2:30 p.m. Afternoon Break
2:45 p.m. Planning Active Learning - From Principles to Practice
3:45 p.m. Q&A, Wrap-up and Evaluation


Faculty Development and Instructional Design Center

Registration Information

This institute is open to NIU faculty, instructors, and SPS and Civil Service staff. Participants will receive institute materials, light refreshments, lunch, and a certificate of participation. Due to the expensive nature of the institute and the advance notice needed for arranging food and materials, please register by the deadline and plan to attend the entire day. Advance registration is required.

Registration Deadline: Friday, December 20, 2019. Online registration is closed. If you wish to register, please call 815-753-0595.

After you register, if you are unable to attend, please cancel your registration by Monday, January 6, 2020 at go.niu.edu/facdev-programs so that those on the waiting list can be given the opportunity to attend the institute and/or institute costs can be reduced.

Frequently Asked Questions

Questions? View answers to commonly asked questions below.

open all close all

The Teaching Effectiveness Institute is open to all faculty and SPS/ Civil Service staff at NIU.

The Teaching Effectiveness Institute is typically offered as either a full-day workshop or two half-day workshops, centering on a teaching-related topic. We invite presenters who are well-known for their expertise and experiences in higher education teaching. The institute will engage faculty and provide material that will be immediately applicable in their teaching. The institute is geared toward those who are new to teaching as well as experienced faculty wanting to learn about new and exciting teaching topics.

Yes, if any of the presenters make their handouts and presentation materials available electronically, we will make them available just prior to and after the event. Contact the center at facdev@niu.edu for further information on receiving institute handouts.

It would be helpful to bring a pen, paper, laptop or mobile device to take notes. We want you to be relaxed and comfortable, so please dress casually. Bring a sweater or jacket in case of room temperature changes. Feel free to also bring any snacks or lunch if you have special dietary needs as the refreshments and lunch we provide may not meet your dietary needs.

There is no fee for attending the Teaching Effectiveness Institute; the Faculty Development and Instructional Design Center offers the institute free of charge. However, it is expensive to provide the food, materials, AV, and presenter needs, not to mention the time our staff devotes to planning and executing the program. The center does not receive student fees or grants to fund the Teaching Effectiveness Institute and other programs. Therefore, we would appreciate that you attend the entire institute. If, after you register, you know that you will be unable to attend, please cancel by the deadline so that those on the waiting list can be given the opportunity to register and/or program expenses can be reduced.

If you have purchased a blue or red parking permit, the parking deck on Normal Road is the most convenient parking location since the Teaching Effectiveness Institute is held in the Holmes Student Center. If you do not have a parking permit, you can park in the visitor pay lot located on Carroll Avenue for a daily fee. For more information, visit the Campus Parking Services website for more information, or review the map of all parking lots at NIU's DeKalb campus.

The institute includes morning refreshments and lunch. Refreshments at our programs are provided as a courtesy and as our budget allows. Therefore, food choices may or may not meet your particular dietary needs -- you are welcome to bring any special snacks.

We understand that the week before classes is busy for many faculty. We encourage you to attend as much of the Teaching Effectiveness Institute as possible, but you may leave if you have other commitments.