Abstracts & Bios



Fiona Rawle


Building Academic Resilience: Evidence-based practices for teaching students to embrace and learn from failure

Failure is a critical component of learning, however students often view failure in a negative light.  How can we encourage our students to see the value of failure, learn how to fail well, and become resilient learners? This session will start with an exploration of the literature on productive failure and resiliency-building approaches in academia. We will then dive into a recent novel course reframing called FLIP (Failure: Learning in Progress). The purpose of this FLIP course reframing project was to (1) establish instructional tools and approaches for teaching students to embrace and learn from failure; (2) develop both formative and summative assessment methods for failure bounceback; and (3) create a resource of failure narratives that can be used in courses across disciplines. In addition, we will explore how online instruction may offer additional opportunities for the teaching of failure and resiliency.


Fiona Rawle has a Ph.D in Pathology and Molecular Medicine and is the Associate Dean, Undergraduate, at the University of Toronto Mississauga, and an Associate Professor, Teaching Stream, in the Dept. of Biology. Her research focuses on failure-driven learning, the science of learning, and public communication of science. She has received numerous awards focused on teaching, including the University of Toronto’s President’s Teaching Award. Dr. Rawle is also a member of the University of Toronto’s TIDE group (Toronto Initiative for Diversity & Excellence), through which she gives lectures and workshops on unconscious bias, equity, and diversity.




Jeff Wammes SQ

Jeff Wammes


Documenting the wandering mind during university lectures

Students often have a difficult time maintaining attention throughout lectures, which in turn has a detrimental impact on what they are able to learn. Distractions come from all angles – either from within, due to mind wandering about current stressors or unrelated thoughts, or from the environment, due to the actions of their peers or their ever-present cell phones and laptops. In this talk I will discuss markers of mind wandering and inattention, outline the costs of these lapses in attention, and present the results from several field studies, conducted over entire semesters in real university lectures, which monitor trends in disengagement over time. I will present our newest means of monitoring student engagement, a trio of laptop apps intended to seamlessly merge student reports of engagement with instructor-presented content. Findings from these projects move beyond the traditional laboratory setting, highlighting real-world trends in attention, while pointing toward future interventions designed to redirect student focus. More recently, the shift to exclusively online teaching presents several new opportunities for distraction which are not yet well understood. To finish the talk, I discuss how we can better document the consequences of this shift for learning and attention.


Jeff Wammes is an Assistant Professor of Psychology at Queen's University, and the director of the lamp (learning, attention, memory and perception) lab. Wammes earned his PhD from University of Waterloo and completed a postdoctoral fellowship at Yale University. His work uses behavioural, computational and neuroimaging methods to understand how we reorganize, strengthen and retrieve information in memory. He also studies how mind wandering and other forms of inattention influence learning. Wherever possible, his research extends findings and theory from the lab into relevant real-world settings, including entire semesters of lecture-based undergraduate courses.




Ji Son SQ

Ji Y. Son


Practicing Connections, A Practical Theory for Teaching Hard Things to All Students

Despite the valuable research into the cognitive, affective, and neurological effects of learning experiences, there is still a research-to-practice gap: many educational materials are designed independently of what we know from research to produce deep understanding, and such learning is still viewed as an elusive outcome of our educational system (Biesta, 2007; Canole, Dyke, Oliver, & Seale, 2004; Levin, 2004; Smeyers & Depaepe, 2013; Vanderlinde & van Braak, 2010). Especially as instructors hurriedly moved over to remote teaching in the beginning of the 2020 pandemic, there was neither the time, resources, nor mental space to consider the research on teaching and learning. Since instruction is an undoubtedly multivariate system that is constantly subject to resource constraints, we need a different way to do research, disseminate research, and conceptualize educational findings. This talk will focus on a practical theory of how deep understanding occurs in an authentic discipline (e.g., statistics and data science) over time, called “practicing connections,” that is currently being tested in a new model of research and development where researchers and instructors continuously develop, implement, and revise a free online interactive textbook for introductory statistics based on student learning data. Live experiments with students are conducted in the textbook and any innovations that arise from the research are then directly implemented in the freely available learning materials so that data-based innovations can be easily accessed. Ultimately, we hope to build a better way for instructors and students to benefit from research.


Ji Y. Son is Professor of Psychology at California State University at Los Angeles and director of the Learning Lab at Cal State LA. She is a co-author of the interactive textbook "Introduction to Statistics: A Modeling Approach" published using CourseKata.org. Her PhD in Cognitive Science and Psychology is from Indiana University, Bloomington. She is interested in how basic cognitive and perceptual processes foster rich and transferable learning. Her work examines methods of applying these psychological insights at scale to issues like mathematics remediation and student success. The central idea behind Ji’s work is that learning changes the way we see the world.




tullis jonathan SQ

Jonathan Tullis


Learning with others: The mechanisms and learning benefits of peer instruction

Working with classmates to solve problems and answer questions is a fixture of pedagogy from kindergarten to graduate school. Peer instruction is one paradigm for working with classmates which is widely used – especially throughout physics instruction. In peer instruction, instructors pose a challenging question to students, students answer the question individually, students work with a partner in the class to discuss their answers, and finally students answer the question again. Student answers are consistently more accurate following discussion than before discussion. Across several undergraduate and graduate courses, I examine the mechanism underlying the benefits of peer instruction. Results indicate that peer discussions prompt learners to deeply process concepts and verbally explain their answers, which tests their coherence and identifies gaps in their knowledge. Further, I compare the short-term and long-term learning benefits of peer instruction to class discussion, small group discussion, and working alone. The data show that class and group discussions yield greater short-term gains than peer instruction, but also show significantly greater rates of forgetting. In contrast, preliminary data suggest that working alone may prevent forgetting even better than peer instruction. I will discuss the implications of peer instruction for classroom pedagogy, with a particular emphasis on implementation in e-learning settings.


Jonathan Tullis is the principal investigator of the Cognition And Memory in Education and Learning (CAMEL) Lab in the Department of Educational Psychology at the University of Arizona. Jonathan earned his PhD in cognitive psychology at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign and completed a post-doc at Indiana University. He investigates how to structure and adapt learning environments to match the characteristics and quirks of memory and cognition. To that end, he examines how ideas and examples should be designed and organized to support memory and appropriate transfer of concepts. He also examines how students monitor and control their own learning. His work has been funded by the National Science Foundation.



Michelle Cadieux SQ

Michelle Cadieux


Lessons learned from teaching a large introductory psychology course: What works and what doesn’t

After 7 years of helping to teach and coordinate a large introductory psychology class, I have learned that some things work well with big classes and some things can be a total disaster. In this talk, I will discuss the projects, assignments, and technologies that we have implemented successfully and unsuccessfully throughout the years. This will include writing projects, practice tests, iclickers, gamification, learning portfolios, peer-created practice questions, and student presentations. We will examine student feedback to see what students enjoyed and what they found frustrating. We will also look at the effects these practices had on final grades. The goal of the presentation will be to explore what worked, what didn’t, and what simply wasn’t worth the effort.


Michelle Cadieux is the course coordinator for Introductory Psychology at McMaster University. She helps to teach over 4,500 students every year. Her primary research involves investigating the best methods and practices for instructing the largest class at McMaster. Dr. Cadieux’s position puts her on the front lines of exploring what can be done to help students transition to university life and achieve their academic goals. She examines how different course structures can promote or hinder learning, while paying particular interest to the role that online learning now plays in many large classrooms. She is most interested in how to improve overall student engagement to prevent students from being lost in a sea of first year undergraduates.