workshop on
Learner-Centered Approaches in
College STEM Education

Sep 13-15, 2022

Sabancı University, Tuzla Campus

Are you looking for a way to improve your students'
engagement in your class?

Join us!

Application Deadline: Monday, September 5, 2022

Note: For SU members, the application is accepted until Sep 12



Workshop Information & Materials for Participants available!

In 2013, Sabancı University adopted the global effort to rethink the role of the faculty and the students in undergraduate education and prioritize “Scholarship of Teaching and Learning” (SoTL) that values evidence-based student learning. The Science of Nature (NS 101/102) Courses have been the flagship of this effort; the NS courses are offered in a theme-based modular format, emphasizing an interdisciplinary and student-centered course structure based on active learning. As a part of the first-year core curriculum at Sabancı University, the NS courses are compulsory for all incoming freshman students regardless of their prospective majors. To date, we have worked with more than 7000 students in this student-centered version of the NS courses.

Such a learner-centered approach is unique especially for large freshman STEM courses in Turkish universities, and over the last 8 years we have accumulated a variety of experiences and data with our freshman students, which we believe are worth sharing. We have also developed and established professional development programs for instructors and assistants of the NS courses to inform them of the pedagogy behind the course and to help them gain the necessary skills to become effective facilitators in the student-centered learning environment.

The Workshop on Learner-Centered Approaches in College STEM Education is aimed at sharing this professional development opportunity for college-level-STEM educators, who are interested in SoTL and in applying innovative approaches to their courses. The workshop consists of two phases: First, the 3-day workshop provides background pedagogical information through activities on student-centered strategies. It is then followed by an application phase, during which participants are expected to apply some of the learned approach with their own students. We will have an online feedback meeting in January-February 2023 to conclude the program. We plan to compile and anonymously share the participants’ experiences and resources they find in the process on this website, which we hope will benefit the larger educator community within Turkey and beyond.


About the Workshop

The Goals:

  • To share our experiences with the student-centered pedagogy used in the NS courses
  • To discuss the current advances in SoTL
  • To provide the participants an opportunity to develop skills to become effective facilitators in active-learning classrooms
  • To actively engage the participants in the refinement and assessment of their own courses

The Two Phases:

  1. 3-Day Workshop (September 13-15, 2022): Composed of a series of 1-1.5 hour group sessions and some individual work. Constant guidance and feedback will be provided. The topics includes:
    • Student-centered course design
    • Active learning
    • Collaborative learning
    • Formative/summative assessment
    • Classroom assessment techniques
    • Collaborative learning techniques
    • Flipped classroom
    • Planning for possible application in your course

    See the Workshop Program section for more details.

  2. Application & Feedback (Fall semester 2022 & Early 2023):
  3. Trial implementation (at any scale possible) of the plan that each participant prepare at the workshop. The participants are encouraged to share a summary of the experiences of their implementations. An online feedback meeting will be organized for each (group of) participants in January - February 2023 to discuss how they implemented the innovative approaches in their classroom and the strengths and weaknesses of their implementation.

Venue and More:

  • Workshop venue: Sabancı University, Tuzla Campus (Orta Mahalle, 34956 Tuzla, İstanbul). Click here to see the map.
  • Capacity: about 25 participants
  • No participation fee is required
  • The workshop will be conducted in English

Previous Workshops

Previous Workshop Websites:
September 4-7, 2018
January 14-16, 2020
February 16-17, 2021 (Special virtual version for online education)

Previous Participants Affiliations:
Abdullah Gül University, Bahçeşehir University, Bilkent University, Boğaziçi University,
Gazi University, Istanbul Technical University, Koç University, MEF University,
Sabancı University, Süleyman Demirel University, TED University, TÜBİTAK


Workshop Moderators

Yuki Kaneko

Research Interests: High-energy astrophysics, Science education.


Ph.D in Physics, University of Alabama in Huntsville
M.S in Physics, University of Alabama in Huntsville
B.S in Physics and Astronomy, Youngstown State University

Teaching Experience

1995-2006 Volunteer teachers/tutors at various K-12/college programs in the US
2000-2001 Teaching Assistant, University of Alabama in Huntsville
2006-2009 IB Physics Instructor, TEV İnanç Türkeş Özel Lisesi
2009-current Instructor/Coordinator, NS101/102, Sabancı University

Teaching Philosophy

I believe that knowledge is something that is built within each learner in a way that is unique and specific to each learner. Learners must integrate new pieces of information into their own context in order to build the knowledge. A teacher’s time is best spent coaching that learning process with the students, rather than just providing information.

Aslıhan Muazzez Ünsal

Research Interests: Spectral analysis of Gamma ray bursts (GRBs) prompt emission, Science education in college.


Ph.D in Physics, Sabanci University
M.A in Astronomy, Boston University
B.S in Physics, Bilkent University

Teaching Experience

Lead Discussion and Laboratory sessions of Freshman Astronomy courses in Boston University
Work as a Teaching Assistant and Master Teaching Assistant in Science of Nature courses (NS101/NS102) in Sabanci University

Teaching Philosophy

Being a good teacher is not all about knowing and explaining everything, rather it is to make your students be aware of their own learning. This requires being able to see students’ needs individually and provide appropriate learning environment, resources, and activities to them.

Süphan Bakkal

Research Interests:  Natural antimicrobials, antimicrobial resistance, and Science Education.


Ph.D in Molecular and Biology Graduate Program, University of Massachusetts Amherst
M.S in Molecular Biology, Genetics, and Bioengineering
B.S in Molecular Biology and Genetics, Boğaziçi University

Teaching Experience

2009-2010 Instructor: BIO H100-Life Sciences and Global Issues at UMass
2010-2011 Instructor: BIO 105H-Biology of Social Issues at UMass
2017-2018 Instructor: Proj 201- Undergraduate Project Course
2011-Present Instructor/Coordinator of NS Courses, Sabancı University

Teaching Philosophy

My experience in research and science education taught me that learning is a unique experience for everyone and learners may have different challenges according to their skills and learning styles. Learners’ active participation is the key component in the learning process. My role as a teacher is to create a learning environment that encourages learners’ motivation and participation as well as to provide guidance to the learners to strengthen their learning skills for becoming independent learners.

David Sacks

(Guest Moderator)

University of Kentucky, College of Dentistry
Office of Academic and Student Affairs


Dr. Sacks earned a PhD in Educational Psychology from the University of Cincinnati in 2008. His dissertation looked at the impact of teaching students how to learn. Based on his graduate program he was afforded the opportunity to develop a career as either a tenure track faculty member or educational development. He selected educational development and has been very happy ever since. Shortly after he started at the University of Kentucky in the Teaching and Academic Support Center (TASC) he got involved with the POD Network. Dr. Sack has an extended volunteer career with the POD Network, the national organization for educational developers. In the past 14 years with the organization he has chaired two committees, organized the national conference, served on both the board of directors and the Executive Committee in his role as chair of the Finance Committee. Most importantly he started a division within the organization for Healthcare Educational Developers and he spent a great deal of time considering how to create interprofessional educational opportunities. Dr. Sacks teach “College Teaching” each semester for the University of Kentucky Preparing Future Faculty Program.


Workshop Program


Answers to Frequently Asked Questions

  • Daily lunch
  • Coffee, tea, and light snacks
  • Travel and accommodation support for limited number of participants

Someone who is:

  • Teaching or providing support for a college-level STEM course or designing a STEM course or curriculum
  • Interested in learning about what current research tells us about students’ learning
  • Motivated to learn through hands-on experience how to effectively impact the academic growth of students
  • Looking for an opportunity to initiate long-term collaborations with other STEM educators
  • Highly valuing teamwork
  • With good communication skills in English

Please fill out and submit the online application form from this application link.

Since the space is limited, all applications will be reviewed and the participants will be selected based on the application materials. The application must be submitted by Monday, September 5, 2022 (the deadline extended!). Early submission is strongly encouraged as the selection process will start immediately to allow for sufficient planning time for the selected participants.

We have a limited amount of funding available to support out-of-city participants, for travel and/or for accommodation. If you need financial support, please indicate that in the application form; we will try our best to provide you partial (or full) support, depending on the situation.

No. Each session of the workshop is related and all sessions build on earlier sessions. If you miss one day or some sessions of the workshop, you will not be able to benefit from later sessions as much. Because of this, we ask all the participants to attend all sessions, and we plan everything assuming that you attend all sessions.

We can issue a certificate of completion upon successful participation in both phases: the 3-day workshop and the application of your plan. At the time of the feedback meeting (early 2023), please let us know if you would like to receive a certificate. It will be issued by the Foundations Development Directorate of Sabancı University.

There are several shuttles and IETT buses available daily. For transportation options, directions and schedules, please see the University's transportation page.

Workshop Poster

Click to download the workshop poster


Please contact Yuki Kaneko ( if you have any questions about the workshop.

class in action

Science of Nature Class
in Action