What we Learned at the Lilly Evidence Based Teaching and Learning Conference

Lilly Conferences focus on effective teaching and learning in higher education. A variety of sessions including workshops, small round-table discussions, oral and poster presentations are offered.

Knowledgeable speakers share perspectives on implementing active learning methods and engaging teaching strategies in classrooms. Sessions not only discuss tips and techniques but explore education literature and the rationale behind their use. Participants share practical ideas and get the opportunity to assess and reflect on their own teaching methods used. Some topics include flipping the classroom, team-based learning, peer review and evaluation, and instructional technologies.

California Lilly Conference 2018

Upon conclusion of the California Lilly conference, we have a renewed sense of enthusiasm about teaching and gained new insights for enhancing effective classroom teaching practices. Some of the active learning techniques presented have been successfully implemented in our Bachelor of Medical Laboratory Sciences (BMLSc) undergraduate courses and the Medical Laboratory Science Vancouver Summer Program to engage students, motivating them to learn. We use the flipped classroom strategy during select lecture sessions where instructional material is provided to our students before class. Our students prepare for class by completing assigned readings, listening to audio content and/or watching videos. To make students accountable for completing pre-class work, quizzes or homework assignments are administered. During class time, we facilitate teaching and learning in the classroom by student- or instructor-led in-depth discussions, presentations and critical thinking activities. Students actively engage in collaborative learning and apply advanced concepts through interactions with their peers and instructors. We also use Poll Everywhere, an online interactive audience participation tool, to collect live responses and display instant results in charts to encourage classroom engagement.

Team-based activities and assignments allow students to support one another, cooperatively share workload, and build lasting friendships especially in our tight-knit BMLSc Program. To get students to come to class prepared, we use the “accountability” strategy from Team-Based Learning in which our students complete individual and team multiple choice quizzes based on assigned homework. The individual quiz is followed by a team quiz using the Immediate Feedback Assessment Technique testing system (Epstein Educational Enterprises). These forms, somewhat like scratch and win lottery cards, provide immediate feedback on whether answers are correct or incorrect. This process ensures our students understand the concepts from the homework and are prepared for further learning. Our sessions continue with application-based team exercises that promote knowledge retention, learning and team development. Students use course concepts to solve complex problems or case studies which generate good conversations and ultimately lead to deeper learning. To motivate all teams to take in-class activities seriously and learn, groups are randomly selected (drawing numbers from a hat, using an app or website etc.) to contribute to whole class discussions. We have also created experimental design modules to help students transfer their knowledge to design logical experiments testing given hypotheses. Game-based learning through interactive team “Jeopardy” is a fun and engaging activity we also use to review course material. Not only do these teaching methods foster critical thinking, collaborative and social skills, but they allow instructors to assess knowledge transfer immediately, helping them identify student needs and learning gaps.

Targeted, specific, frequent and immediate feedback is most useful. Peer evaluation and review is a learner-centered teaching strategy that we have implemented in several courses to give effective feedback for deeper learning. Our students are given clear guidance and a scoring rubric on how to provide constructive feedback and grade the work of their peers. This exercise allows our students to gain the ability to critically assess work and provides them with a greater variety and quantity of timely feedback. We use peerScholar and the Canvas platform’s built-in peer review tools to automate and systematically guide the student through create, peer review, receive peer feedback, reflect and/or revise phases of the peer review process. Student peer review of written work is done timely and effectively which drastically strengthened our students’ technical writing and presentation skills.

Ideas and evidence-based teaching strategies presented at this conference have had profound and immediate influence on our teaching practices. Methodologies implemented in our courses have had a positive impact on student learning. Networking with faculty passionate about education has also broadened our own teaching perspectives. Science, technology and teaching strategies and methods are continually evolving. As educators, we are dedicated to lifelong learning and look forward to professional development opportunities that support teaching and learning to shape future generations of our society.

If you are interested in learning more about the teaching and learning strategies discussed above, please contact us.