Supporting Active Learning and Technological Innovation in Science Education


Dear Member

Happy Holidays and thank you for your support over the last year! We are pleased to announce the launch of our monthly SALTISE newsletter, starting January 2013. Before that, however, we’ve prepared an inaugural issue that recaps our events of 2012, updates you on SALTISE supported projects and gives you a glimpse of the exciting year we are planning. Read on below.

Wishing you an enjoyable holiday season, and a restful & rejuvenating school break. We look forward to further collaborations with you in 2013.

The SALTISE team

photo obtained from

SALTISE events for 2013

  • January 16 – Dawson Active Learning Classroom (ALC) Teachers, invited talk at John Abbot College.
  • January 17 – Chris Whittaker & Liz Charles presentation, “Understanding Active Learning Basics & Practice,” at Vanier College’s Pedagogical Day
  • January 18 – 1st SALTISE monthly webinar: READ MORE
  • April 4 & 5 – Richard Moog, Franklin & Marshall College, Lancaster, PA. Will present the Process Oriented Guided Inquiry Learning POGIL) project. Presentations will take place at Dawson, John Abbott College & McGill’s Macdonald campus READ MORE
  • May 30 – SALTISE Day at the CAP-DPE Conference, Montreal. Professor Joe Redish, and other notable Physics Education Researchers will be presenting.
  • June 10 – Pre-conference workshop in preparation for the SALTISE Annual Conference
  • June 11 – SALTISE Annual Conference, with keynote speaker Manu Kapur [read more below]. Also featuring presentations from SALTISE projects, and mini-grants winners.

Keynote Speaker – June 2013

  Manu Kapur

SALTISE is honored to welcome Professor Manu Kapur as the keynote speaker for our SALTISE Annual Conference (June 11, 2013).
Professor Kapur is Head of Learning Sciences Lab (LSL) at the National Institute of Education (NIE) of Singapore and an Associate Professor in the Curriculum, Teaching and Learning (CTL) Academic Group.

Professor Kapur will talk about his research, which focuses on three critical areas of pedagogical change: (1) working to understand student understanding, (2) developing representational practice for making knowledge and processes visible for reflection, and (3) engaging in pedagogical moves that support students’ inquiry. His research methodology involves creating teacher-researchers collaborative sessions that afford Spaces for Teachers’ Explorations into Pedagogy (STEP).

Opportunities in 2013

Looking for a way to get involved…

  • What to be a “blogger”? The SALTISE website development team < > is looking for individuals who are interested in sharing their experiences and best practices on the SALTISE community blog. Contact to let us know.
  • What to be a Peer-Mentor? SALTISE is looking for instructors who are interested in sharing their expertise as an active learning instructors and taking part in the Peer-Mentoring Program. Contact to join the growing list of Active Learning Teachers.
  • What to present your best practices or share the results of your educational innovations? The Association québécoise de pédagogie collégiale (AQPC) conference will be held in Montreal this June. It’s a great opportunity to share with colleagues from across the province. Conference sessions are in both English & French. Proposals for the conference are due January 18th.



The SALTISE team is pleased to welcome, Dr. Diana Tabatabai, as the new Project Manager. For further information on SALTISE opportunities, please contact: <> 514-398-5781

Recommended Books & Tools

Readings for a good winter’s night…

Nathaniel & Liz recommend : Here are our picks for “a classic read” and something from the STLHE’s book list…

How people learn: Brain, mind, experience, and school. By John Bransford (2000). Washington, D.C: National Academy Press.

Motivating and rewarding university teachers to improve student learning: A guide for faculty and administrators. By D.R. Woods, 2011.Hong Kong: City University of Hong Kong Press.

The Society for Teaching and Learning in Higher Education (STLHE) regularly reviews books. One book that particularly jumped out as a good read in Spring 2012’s issue was Wood’s (2011) Motivating and rewarding university teachers to improve student learning: A guide for faculty and administrators. By exploring the question of what is research-in-teaching and presenting ideas on how we can build a university culture which nurtures student learning, the author offers sound ways to change both the teaching practice and the culture of a university, including eight inventories for monitoring and improving students’ learning.

Tools to support active learning in Chemistry …

Jailson Lima recommends ….. Peter Mahaffy of King’s University College in Edmonton, Alberta has been developing the King’s Center for Visualization in Science (, which has superb simulations in Chemistry.  Their simulations are more appropriate for use at the college level and are somewhat different from those available from the PhET website.

Members’ News

Peer Learning Facilitators Project:

Gale Seiler

SALTISE is supporting active learning through the use of Peer Learning Facilitators (PLFs) in two introductory courses at McGill’s Macdonald campus. The PLFs work in Physics labs and Pre-calculus tutorials where they assist first year students in their problem solving. This year the PLFs and TAs received training and mentorship from Dr. Seiler through a series of workshops. Engaged in research on the effectiveness of PLFs in promoting student learning and of this professional development model for changing instructional practices, the researchers’ preliminary findings indicate that there were several promising changes in both students’ and PLFs’ perceptions of learning. 

Immunology  Lab Re-design Project:

 Claire Trottier

SALTISE is supporting active learning through the re-design of the immunology section of an undergraduate lab course in McGill University’s Department of Microbiology and Immunology. The goals of the project are to modernize the scientific component of the course and to utilize novel pedagogical approaches, including active learning strategies and problem-based learning.

Currently, the project is in its initial period of research and consultation. Dr. Claire Trottier, the Research Associate for the project, is working closely with members of the Department, including Dr. Sylvie Fournier and Dr. James Coulton, as well as Dr. Joaquin Madrenas, the Chair of the Department.


Active Learning Classroom Teachers Community of Practice @ Dawson College:
The active learning classroom at Dawson College has a vibrant ALC Community of Practice which is supported by SALTISE. Co-coordinators of this project are Chris Whittaker and Liz Charles. For further information check out the Active Learning Classroom project on the website.

Looking back at 2012…

Conference presentations

Gale Seiler @ NARST (Indianapolis, IN)

  • Seiler, G. (March, 2012). Urban Children and Science: Identity, Representation, and Implications for Science Education. Paper presented at National Association for Research in Science Teaching (NARST), Indianapolis, IN.

Bob Bracewell @ AERA (Vancouver, BC)

  • Gebre, E., Saroyan, A., & Bracewell, R. J. (April, 2012). Students’ engagement in technology rich classrooms and professors’ views of effective teaching. Paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Educational Research Association (AERA) meeting, Vancouver.

Group presentations @ AQPC (Gatineau, QC.)

  • Charles, E., Lasry, N., & Whittaker, C. (2012). Active Learning Pedagogy and Active Learning Classrooms: What’s important? Paper presented at Le colloque de l’Association québécoise de pédagogie collégiale (AQPC), June: Gatineau, QC.

Group presentations @ CAP (Calgary, AB)

  • Charles, E., & Whittaker, C. (2012). Change Pedagogy or Change Learning Spaces, What’s Most Important?. Papers presented at Canadian Association of Physics (CAP).
  • Lasry, N. & Dugdale, M. (2012). Oops we just flipped the classroom.
  • Whittaker, C. & Ragan, K. (2012). Using and designing the next generation classroom.

Group presentations @ STLHE2012 (Montreal, QC)

  • Seiler, G., Charles, E., Whittaker, C., & Kunicki, S., (2012). : Using Technology and Innovation to Improve Science Education. Paper presented at the Scholarship in Teaching & Learning in Higher Education (STLHE) annual conference, June: Montreal, QC.

Elizabeth (Liz) Charles @ ICLS (Sydney, Australia)

  • Charles, E., Lasry, N., & Whittaker, C. (2012). Redesigning Classroom Learning Spaces: When technology meets pedagogy and when they clash. Proceedings of the 10th International Conference of the Learning Sciences (ICLS 2012) – Volume 2. pp. 207-211.

Nathaniel Lasry @ AAPT & PERC (Philadelphia, PA)

  • Lasry, N., Charles, E., Whittaker, C., Dedic, H. & Rosenfield. S. (2012). Changing Classroom Designs: Easy; Changing Instructors’ Pedagogies: Not So Easy. Paper presented at the annual Physics Education Research Conference (PERC), August, Philadelphia, PA.

Jailson Lima @ CCE (Rome, Italy)

  • Lima, J. (July, 2012). Fostering Imagination to Enhance Learning: Art and Chemistry. Paper presented at the Conference on Chemical Education, Rome, Italy.



Chris Whittaker – 2012 Association québécoise de pédagogie collégiale (AQPC) teaching award winner. This award is given to one teacher from each of Quebec’s colleges and recognizes their excellence in teaching, support of peers, and contribution to their colleges.

Elizabeth (Liz) Charles – 2012 College Sector Educator Award winner. This year was the inauguration of the award given by the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education (STLHE) to Canadian college educators. This was the inauguration of the award that recognizes faculty who have made quality efforts to promote and support the development of their peers with regard to teaching excellence. The five winners were nominated as educational leaders by their peers as have provided exceptional leadership regionally, provincially, nationally and internationally in the field of teaching and learning.

Jailson Lima – 2012 Arcade Award winner. This award is given to Vanier Science teachers in recognition of innovative work in teaching. Jailson’s award was for his work in the Art & Science Project.

Gatherings & Workshops:


  • Julie Schell (Harvard) Taking Active Learning to the Next Level
  • Mike Dubson (University of Colorado, Boulder) Making simulations work in your classroom.

    Videos of their talks available @



  • SALTISE members presented @ STLHE Conference in Montreal. Videos available at

Murray Bronet and Greg Mulcair (from John Abbott College) talking to a group of SALTISE members at STLHE.

Michael Dugdale (John Abbott College) presents at STLHE.


  • SALTISE Movers and Shakers meeting.