Mary Pat Wenderoth – Hugo Rossi Lecture

<<Hugo Rossi Lecture Series

End of Lecture: The Future of Evidence-based Teaching

Mary Pat Wenderoth – University of Washington
Friday, April 8, 2016


Teaching Resources from the Biology Education Research Group

Presentation slides


We recently published a meta-analysis of 225 papers that compared student performance under active learning versus lecturing in undergraduate courses across the STEM disciplines. The results indicate that on average, students are 1.5 times more likely to fail when being lectured to as compared to taking the same course with an active learning component, and that active learning increases exam scores by almost half a standard deviation.  I will summarize the research results that provide robust data on teaching methods that increase student achievement. I will engage participants in discussion of the way even small changes can close the gap between our teaching and student learning because shrinking that gap has tremendous implications for all students, but especially those from under served groups. Says Toby Bradshaw, Chair of Biology at UW: “‘By reducing the failure rates, capable students are able to go on, rather than being washed out of the system because they came in a bit underprepared and no one was willing to change the way they did things to help them out….The impact down the road is that we will have a larger, more diverse, more capable work force.’”  The teaching methods found to be most effective in helping students are based on results from cognitive and learning sciences and rely heavily on the “Testing Effect” and “Desirable Difficulties”.


mwenderothMary Pat Wenderoth is a Principal Lecturer in the Biology Department at the University of Washington (UW) where she teaches animal physiology courses and conducts biology education research on how students learn biology. Her main research interests focus on assessing implementation of cognitive science principles in the classroom, particularly those associated with conceptual change, use of first principles in constructing conceptual frameworks and student metacognition. She received the UW Distinguished Teaching Award in 2001 and has served as the co-director of the UW Teaching Academy. She is a co-founder of the UW Biology Education Research Group (UW BERG) and the national Society for the Advancement of Biology Education Research (SABER). She served as a facilitator at the HHMI Summer Institute for Undergraduate Biology Education from 2007 -2011. Dr. Wenderoth earned her B.S. in Biology from the Catholic University of America in Washington D.C., a M.S. in Women’s Studies from George Washington University, a M.S. in Exercise Physiology from Purdue University and her Ph.D. in Physiology from Rush University in Chicago.