Teaching Commons > Events > Teaching & Learning Conference > How Students Learn (2015)

How Students Learn: Evidence-Based Strategies for Teaching (2015)

Faculty at the 2015 DePaul Teaching and Learning Conference
Faculty and staff participating in the 2015 DePaul Teaching and Learning Conference on Fri., May 1, 2015.Over 200 people participated in the 20th Annual DePaul Teaching and Learning Conference on Friday, May 1, 2015. The theme this year's conference invited participants to consider what really works in the classroom.

Teaching students how to learn has become just as important as teaching the content itself. As the emphasis shifts from the “what” to the “how” of learning, educators are challenged to take on an additional role: that of a learning guide, coach, or facilitator. Yet instructors regularly encounter conflicting information about how students learn and how to teach. For example, recent research has called into question the utility of popular learning-style inventories and the assumption that teaching always leads to learning. 

In their search for evidence-based strategies for teaching, conference presenters drew from multiple sources: published research, theory, and their own experiences in the classroom.

Keynote Presentation

The New Science of Learning: How Research is Revolutionizing the Way we Teach

Many educators continue to struggle with how best to proceed from delivering lectures to creating truly effective learning environments. In addition, students struggle to understand the best way to learn in our classrooms. The result can be class sessions that are difficult and frustrating to teach with students who appear apathetic and indifferent toward learning. In this session, we looked at how effective evidence-based teaching practices can be aligned with effective evidence-based learning strategies. 

Keynote slides (1 MB)

Afternoon Workshop

How Students Learn: Strategies for Teaching from the Psychology of Learning

What can instructors do to facilitate learning when they encounter students who seem uninterested and even apathetic toward course content and assignments? Part of the responsibility for learning belongs to students, but as faculty, we can find new ways to motivate, inspire, and maybe even cajole students to learn. In this workshop, we explored how instructors can make classroom learning, perhaps one of the most artificial learning settings, a more meaningful experience for students. The workshop facilitator used theories of learning and motivation as a basis for creating strategies to increase student engagement in course content and class sessions.

Workshop slides (327 KB)

About the Keynote Speaker

Todd Zakrajsek is the Executive Director of the Academy of Educators in the School of Medicine and an Associate Professor in the Department of Family Medicine at UNC-Chapel Hill. Todd is the immediate past Executive Director of the Center for Faculty Excellence at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Prior to his work at UNC, he was the Inaugural Director of the Faculty Center for Innovative Teaching at Central Michigan University and the founding Director of the Center for Teaching and Learning at Southern Oregon University, where he also taught in the psychology department as a tenured associate professor. Todd currently directs four National Lilly Conferences on College and University Teaching and Learning. He received his Ph.D. in Industrial/Organizational Psychology from Ohio University and has published and presented widely on the topic of student learning.


  • Conference Program (529 KB)
  • Morning Sessions
    • "A Report and Reflection on an Ongoing Laptop-Required Initiative" [website]. Michael Moore, Peter Vandenberg, Nathan Fink, Alan Ackmann - Writing, Rhetoric & Discourse.
    • "Reflecting on Learning Support Roles to Enhance Instructional Effectiveness" [slides (6.1 MB)]. Denise Nacu and Nichole Pinkard (School of Design) and Caitlin K. Martin (Digital Youth Network).
    • "Challenging Our Assumptions: First-Year Students' Understanding about Diversity and Social Justice" [slides (1 MB)]. D. Scott Tharp, Toni Fitzpatrick, Rebecca Pinchuck - Student Affairs.
    • "Critiques of Student-Led Activities in the Classroom" [slides (189 KB)]. Craig Miller, School of Computing.
  • Afternoon Sessions
    • "The Benefits of Self-Explanation" [slides (656 KB)]. Amber Settle, School of Computing.
    • "Wherever You Go, There You Are: Mindfulness for Lifelong Learning" [slides (85 KB)]. Helen Damon-Moore, Steans Center.
    • "Secrets of a Writing Center Tutor "[slides (608 KB)]. Lauri Dietz, Theresa Bailey - University Center for Writing-Based Learning
    • "How to Create a Global Experiential Learning Course" [slides (7.6 MB)]. Daniel Clark and Lynne Coppe (University Internship Program) and Gena Lenti (UIP 367 student)
    • "Guiding Students in Metacognition" (slides [2.1 MB]). Caryn Chaden (Academic Affairs), Julie Bokser (Writing, Rhetoric and Discourse), Sarah Brown (Faculty Instructional Technology Services), Michelle Navarre Cleary (School of Continuing and Professional Studies), Michael Moore (Writing, Rhetoric & Discourse), Eileen Seifert (Writing, Rhetoric & Discourse), Kathryn Wozniak (School of Continuing and Professional Studies), and Liliana Zecker (College of Education)
    • "Student Decision Making in Large Group Discussion" (slides [703 KB]). Mary Bridget Kustusch, Physics.