Elly Vandegrift

Elly Vandergrift


ellyvan@uoregon.edu | 541-346-8982

Courses: BI 140 Science, Policy, and Biology, BI/CH/GEOL/PHYS 407/507 Seminar: Teaching Science, CAS 409 Practicum: Science Literacy Program Scholar, HC 441H Bread 101

In my classes you will:

  • Make connections to our lived experiences and real-world challenges.
  • Learn with and from peers.

I was invited into the Teaching Academy because:

  • I am a Herman Award Recipient.
  • I am a Williams Fellow.
  • I was a member of the Working Group on Inclusive and Intercultural Teaching.
  • I participated in a Summer Institute on Scientific Teaching.
  • I was a Fellow in the Teaching High-Challenge Gateway Courses CAIT Group.

In what ways are you working to make your teaching inclusive?

I focus on making classroom opportunities that are interesting, engaging, and relevant using teaching practices, including active learning (Freeman, et al., 2014), which have been shown to support learning for all students.  In science courses, especially those for non-science majors, I want students to explore the relevance of science in their daily lives to build a classroom environment where students are the key part of the learning community.  In my BI 140 course, students complete Scientist Spotlight (Schinske, et al., 2016) assessments where students read and write about scientists, from groups typically underserved populations, who conduct research directed related to course content. Inclusion of Scientist Spotlight activities has been shown to improve students’ sense of belonging in science courses. In several courses I have included a Reacting to the Past game (Carnes, 2014) where students take on roles of people engaged in a conversation about a scientific controversy related to our course; through these classroom activities and writing assignments, students have the opportunity to experience different perspectives related to scientific topics and reflect on their own experience of stepping into someone else’s lived experience.

What do you do in terms of professional engagement with the teaching and learning culture on campus or nationally?

I support the Science Literacy Program to improve science education experiences for undergraduate student through providing opportunities for faculty, graduate students and undergraduate students to explore educational theories of pedagogical innovation and practice applying the pedagogies in their classroom. Since 2012, I have mentored 50 faculty and over 200 undergraduate and graduate student co-teacher who collectively have taught 20,000 undergraduate students.  I co-led a Science Education Journal Club to explore the current science education research and literature applicable to our classrooms.

I am a member of the national leadership council for the Summer Institutes on Scientific Teaching and have organized five Summer Institutes on Scientific Teaching at the UO; co-PI on a NSF RCN-UBE grant: Networking STEM Initiatives to Enhance (NSITE) Adoption of Evidence-Based Practices to build a coalition of organizations who are supporting implementation of activities to support student success in the sciences; and coordinate the UO partnership with the Alan Alda Center for Communicating Science to support improved science communication in and outside of the classroom.

In what ways was your teaching in this course research-led—informed by research on how students learn and inflected by UO's research mission?

My courses are designed using the principles of Scientific Teaching (Handelsman, et al., 2007) where all elements of the course are designed to be inclusive, include assessments and activities that are aligned through backward design to course goals and student learning objectives, and harnesses cognitive science literature to support how people learn (National Academies, 2018).