Category Archives: events

Improving student learning with individual feedback

Date and time: December 5th, 12:15 – 13:15

Location: ETH Zentrum, HG D18.1

Improving student learning with individual feedback. Providing formative assessment at scale

Providing students with feedback has been shown to be one of the most effective ways teaching staff can support learning (Hattie, 2008). Ideally feedback is provided at a time when students can most make use of it. This necessitates that feedback is provided multiple times and early enough, so that students still have sufficient time to react to the feedback in a meaningful way. When student groups are small this task is very manageable, however as student numbers climb, additional challenges present themselves. This Refresh Teaching event will provide different examples of practical ways to organize and conduct activities that result in useful feedback to large groups of students.

Dr. Lukas Fässler will present how his group organises individual feedback in a first-year course unit at the Department of Computer Science using face-to-face appointments, assessment of the student’s learning and online tasks. Prof. Dr. Carlo Thilgen will share his experience with using feedback in large first-year chemistry classes resulting in improved student performance. Dr. Urs Brändle will use examples from the D-USYS to illustrate aspects of constructive feedback which can be covered well in peer feedback scenarios.

Presentations, Documents and Links:

Presentation: Hosts_Presentation_Feedback_Dec05

Article: Nicol & Macfarlane-Dick (2006)



Learning in teams

Date and time: June 28th, 12:15 – 13:15

Location: ETH Zentrum, HG E 41

Learning in teams. Students work and learn together in new ways

Functioning project work and teamwork are significant success factors in the professional and business world. Social forms of learning such as group work and team projects are therefore a good preparation for the transition from university studies to professional life. When students work in teams they acquire and develop skills which will benefit them throughout their careers.  These skills include reflection, communication, leadership and collaboration. require empathy and curiosity.

Social interaction also forces students to deal with people who have other points of view and exposes them to other ways of approaching the same topics. Reflecting on and justifying their own perspectives and thought processes helps them to consolidate new knowledge, skills and attitudes (such as curiosity and empathy) in an improved and more sustainable manner.

While in some disciplines working in teams has become a normal part of teaching and learning, for others this remains a new and untried option. At this Refresh Teaching event, teaching staff have the opportunity to hear from presenters with significant experience in this didactic method and can discuss their own questions and successes with one another.

Read full article





Student Innovedum

Date and time: May 9th, 12:15 – 13:15

Location: ETH Hönggerberg, HPT C 103

Student Innovedum. Student perspectives on teaching and learning

In 2016 12 students participated in the first Student Innovedum project. This was a 9-week process that enabled students to develop their own innovative ideas for teaching and learning at ETH. Using the Design Thinking process, they engaged with stakeholders, identified problems and developed concrete suggestions. At this event, we catch up with two of the students who participated and hear about their projects, ideas and any progress that has been made since then. They will share the ideas they developed and answer questions you may have.

In addition, the Design Thinking method that was used to generate the ideas will be briefly explained. As usual, we make time for interactive discussion and opportunity to exchange ideas and experiences.

If you would like to find out more prior to the Refresh Teaching event we recommend you visit the Student Innovedum website. There you can read more about Student Innovedum as well as Design Thinking.


Presentations, Documents and Links:

Towards interactive lecture material

Date and time: October 17th, 12:15 – 13:15

Location: ETH Zentrum. HG E41

Towards interactive lecture material. Increasing student engagement and comprehension

At ETH a number of lecturers have begun to leave the traditional PDF behind and are making their lecture material more interactive. Our presenters will show a colourful palette of tried-and-tested activities that students can complete while reading, studying or preparing for class. Examples include exploring visual timelines, checking personal progress with self-assessments, navigating interactive videos, voting on important content, completing simulations and more. All activities are fully integrated in the online lecture material.

At this Refresh Teaching event we will hear teaching staff describe a palette of scenarios that employ Interactive Lecture Material.


  • Silvio Lorenzetti: Endeavours with eSkript – D-HEST
  • Alexander Caspar: A Voting Star – D-MATH
  • Manfred Einsiedler / Menny Akka / Anh Huy Truong: Interactive Simulations – D-MATH
  • Norman Sieroka: Annotations on the Web – D-GESS/D-PHYS
  • Christina Spengler: Progress and badges – D-HEST

Presentations, Documents and Links:

Read full article

Developing character while learning

Date and time: February 6th, 12:15 – 13:15

Location: ETH Zentrum, HG, D 18.1

Developing character while learning. Global citizenship in the classroom

The further we push the frontiers of research, the more urgent it becomes to answer questions concerning the impact of our progress on humankind and our environment. This is why it is increasingly necessary to ensure that students are able to grapple with the ethical questions which will undoubtedly arise in their working life. These questions will require them to work with others and to examine their own assumptions as well as the role they play in answering these questions. In this Refresh Teaching event, we aim to provide examples of how the subject of ethics and personal values can be explicitly addressed in ETH courses.

Our speakers on the day are Prof. Dr. Thomas Bernauer, Dr. Claude Garcia and Dr. Sybille Zürcher. They will discuss their perspectives on the importance of student character development and share insights from their own experience.

Read the full article


Presentations, Documents and Links:




Motivation through games


Date and time: September 27th, 12:15 – 13:15

Location: ETH Hönggerberg, HIL H40.4 (Plaza)

Motivation through games. Designing learning experiences with game elements

The use of games in teaching and learning is a developing field with huge potential. Games offer a range of interesting structures and methods that complement traditional teaching strategies. Games can infuse teaching with energy, spark innovative thinking and create an atmosphere of fun. At this Refresh Teaching event we will take a look at how teachers can increase student motivation with the use of gaming elements.

Read full article


  • Prof. Dr. Bob Sumner, Associate Director & Principal Research Scientist, Disney Research Zurich (due to personal reasons Prof. Bob Sumner won’t be able to join us for the event. Therefore Dr. Fabio Zünd Managing Director of the Game Technology Center will be presenting this part of the event).
  • Prof. Dr. Torbjörn Netland, Department of Management, Technology and Economics.

Presentations, Documents and Links:

Flipping large classes

Date and time: April 6th, 12:15 – 13:15

Location: ETH Zentrum, HG F33.1

Flipping large classes. Facilitating active learning in the classroom

Flipped classes reposition learning materials into digital media in order to create time and space for active learning in the classroom. A traditional lecture is organized so that groups of students receive information in the classroom but engage actively with the content later, usually on their own.  A flipped classroom, on the other hand, focuses on student engagement with content, with the instructor and with peers, to enhance student learning in the classroom.  There are a growing number of lecturers at ETH, who have successfully implemented the flipped approach in large classes. John Lygeros, professor at D-ITET and Credit Suisse award winner for Best Teaching, and Jeff Miller, senior associate director from the Centre for Teaching, Learning and Technology, and lecturer in the Masters of Educational Technology at the University of British Columbia, will share their experiences facilitating flipped learning in large classes.


Recommended resources regarding flipped and active learning at ETH


  • Flipped Classroom Teaching Lab
  • didactica courses:
    • „Wirkungsvolle Nutzung von Videos für den Unterricht“
    • „Videos ohne grossen Aufwand selber erstellen und gezielt in der Lehre anwenden“
    • „Using Classroom Assessment Techniques (CATs) to gain insights into student learning”
    • „Flipped Classroom”, 15th and 22nd December, half a day each
      1. und 22. Dez. 2017 (je ein Halbtag)

Learning Technology support


Support and guidance

Community & Projects

Funding for your teaching project

What can I learn from feedback data

Date and time: March 9th, 12:15 – 13:15

Location: ETH Hönggerberg, HPT C 103

What can I learn from feedback data? Enhancing teaching through evaluations

Teaching evaluations are a much-debated aspect of teaching and learning. This is exactly why this Refresh Teaching event pulls them into the limelight.

Reflection of personal teaching experience provides important insights for teachers (Kreber, 2002). Teaching evaluations are a source of quantitative and qualitative data about teaching and learning in our classrooms and represent an opportunity for teachers to resolve questions and hypotheses about their practice. Our speakers share their approaches to analyzing feedback data and the insights they gained from exploring open comments and closed ended questions. In particular, they address the following questions:

  • How can teaching evaluation data inspire reflective teaching practice?
  • How can open comments be analysed and interpreted?

List of references:
Bertiaume, D., Lanarès, J., Jacqmot, C., Winer, L., & Rochat, J.-M. (2011). L’évaluation des enseignements par les étudiants (EEE) Une stratégie de soutien au développement pédagogique des enseignants? Recherche et Formation, 67.
Kreber, C. (2002). Teaching Excellence, Teaching Expertise, and the Scholarship of Teaching. Innovative Higher Education, 27(1), 5–23.


Presentations, Documents and Links:


Promoting critical thinking – full article

Promoting critical thinking – Interdisciplinary approaches: a matrix for critical thinking

Critical Thinking has a long tradition in Anglo-Saxon academia (see e.g. Claser, 1941; Moore & Stanley, 2010; Paul, Elder & Bartell,1997; Wisdom & Leavitt, 2015). At ETH Zurich it has assumed great significance since former Rector Lino Guzzella launched the Critical Thinking Initiative in 2013. This initiative addresses not only the further theoretical development of the concept in the Anglo-Saxon tradition, but primarily the shaping of an education which facilitates student acquisition of practice-related skills relevant to authentic scenarios.

ETH has also identified key critical thinking skills which should be fostered in students:

  • Analysis and reflection
  • Opinion-building and development of courses of action
  • Communication, argument and responsible behaviour

The goal of the Critical Thinking Initiative is to train students during their ETH studies to become critical and independent thinkers. During their time here they should not only acquire knowledge and methodological skills but also learn to address their own disciplines and scientific methods critically. Here the ability to think critically is not only desirable in the academic context, but is also increasingly important within society. The primary reasons for this are global developments such as digitisation and automation which shift human input to the value chain. The assumption is that persons with repetitive tasks will become increasingly replaceable (Deloitte, 2016). Abilities such as creativity, interdisciplinarity and critical thinking, however, are becoming more and more important because they cannot be replaced by automation.

The annual programme of the Critical Thinking Initiative lists events which deepen and practice the skills described above. These events and the associated methods are meant to inspire and assist faculty in their ETH teaching efforts.

Two Refresh Teaching events present two different approaches in more detail:

Prof. Anthony Patt (D-USYS) will report on how he helps students to reduce complex systems to their most significant elements. This simplification always means critical reflection on what has been left out, and the associated implications.

Dr Erik Jentges (D-MTEC) will report on Prof. Volker Hoffmann’s “Corporate Sustainability” course, where students use argumentation methods and peer review the arguments of their fellows according to a list of criteria.



Claser, E. M. (1941). Experiment in the Development of Critical Thinking. Columbia University Teachers College Contributions to Education No 843: AMS Press, NY.

Deloitte (2016). Mensch und Maschine: Roboter auf dem Vormarsch? Folgen der Automatisierung für den Schweizer Arbeitsmarkt. Online verfügbar:

Moore, B & Stanley, T. (2010). Critical Thinking and Formative Assessments: Increasing the Rigor in Your Classroom. Abingdon, UK: Taylor & Francis.

Paul, R.; Elder, L. & Bartell, T. (1997). A Brief History of the Idea of Critical Thinking. Online verfügbar:

Wisdom, S. & Leavitt, L. (2015). Handbook of Research on Advancing Critical Thinking in Higher Education. Hershey, PA: IGI Global.

2016 – Events

Programme 2016

 February 23 Implementing flipped classroom  past
 March 8  Lecturing more effectively  past
 April 12
 Increasing interactivity  past
 May 12  Promoting critical thinking  past
 June 13  Fostering student motivation  past
 September 29  Rethinking spaces  past
 October 3  Cooperative learning  past
 November 10  Increasing student-direct learning  past
 December 6  Competence-based examinations  past

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