Excel – Extending Teaching Professional Development to the Classroom

Excel is a course design initiative that helps faculty and instructors apply evidence-based and learner-centered teaching practices to their courses. The initiative supports the development of deep learning and inclusive classroom environments by providing individualized support, instructional and financial resources, and evidence-based approaches to course design and implementation.

Instructors engaged in Excel have previously participated in in-depth and comprehensive teaching professional development through the university (e.g., Madison Teaching and Learning Excellence, Blend@UW, TeachOnline@UW). The initiative primarily engages medium-sized undergraduate courses. Excel instructional consultants facilitate and guide  the (re)design process, while faculty and instructors are responsible for the decision-making process.

Goals for Excel Courses

  1. Courses will be well-aligned – assessments and learning activities will align with strong course learning outcomes.
  2.  Students will have ample opportunities to engage in deep learning in an inclusive classroom environment.
  3. Instructors will use data on student achievement of course learning outcomes during the iterative course design process.

Grounded in Research on Teaching, Learning and Faculty Development

Teaching and learning research highlights the need for faculty to receive support as they implement new teaching practices or revise existing classroom activities (Blumburg, 2015; Connolly & Millar, 2006; Paulsen & Feldman, 1995; Schein, 1992). Faculty development continues throughout instructors’ professional lives (Kugel, 1993; Robertson, 1999). Teaching is an iterative process, and it takes time to design strong course learning outcomes and authentic, well-aligned assessments and learning activities. Some of the most common barriers to pedagogical change include a lack of time, lack of support, and student ambivalence about active learning, but these are addressable obstacles (Brownell & Tanner, 2012; Chism, 2004).

Excel Staff


For more information about the initiative, please contact Megan Schmid, director of Excel, at megan.schmid@wisc.edu.

The initiative is led by The Collaborative for Advancing Learning and Teaching, and sponsored by the Educational Innovation (EI) Initiative.