Academic Affairs

Innovative Teaching and Learning

UW Bothell is committed to providing students with the best possible university education through challenging programs and innovative learning experiences. This approach is grounded in the campus mission, which calls for “excellence in higher education through use of innovative and creative curricula, interdisciplinary teaching and research, and a dynamic community of multicultural learning.”

UW Bothell students engage in a wide variety of innovative, high-impact educational experiences, from designing educational games to research with real-world impacts. Below is a sampling of innovative teaching and learning, in areas including course design and delivery, student/faculty research, community engagement, and collaborative spaces.

Students Working with Researchers

Kinect Math Project - Undergraduate students Jack Chang Keng-Wei and Jebediah Pavela developed software utilizing the Microsoft Kinect system to teach students an abstract and visual method for learning mathematics. The software, developed under the supervision of Professors Kelvin Sung, Computing and Software Systems, and Robin Angotti, Education, incorporates movement into math lessons through use of infrared laser tracking, voice recognition, and face recognition.

Kinect Math was awarded 4th place for software design in the US Imagine Cup Finals, held April 23, 2012, out of 117,000 participants, including many teams of graduate students from the best universities. The US Imagine Cup was created by Microsoft to challenge students to create unique technological solutions that address real-world challenges through software and game design.

Impacts of Wind Farms on Communities - IAS Professor Gwen Ottinger's undergraduate students engage in research related to the environmental consequences of new energy technologies by examining ethical and social justice questions. Students Shawn Friang and Eric Hopson presented their research results at the 2014 UW Bothell Undergraduate Research Symposium.

Friang conducted a case study into unequal siting of large-scale wind farms and industrial plants, while Hopson used resident interviews and public comments to examine the local citizens' ability to participate in siting decisions for utility-scale wind farms.

Innovations in Math Education – Education Professor Robin Angotti's research places leading-edge game technology inside the classroom. Angotti is currently using video games and off-the-shelf motion-sensing game consoles, including Microsoft’s Kinect, to achieve better results in teaching math to K-12 students in rural areas of Washington State. With funding from an Educators for the 21st Century grant, Angotti has spent the past three summers teaching rural educators to use new technology in a high-poverty, high-needs, linguistically diverse district in Eastern Washington.

New Approaches to Course Delivery

Hybrid Electrical Engineering program (B.S.) — The BSEE program is pioneering the use of a hybrid learning model for an engineering degree program. The program combines on-site and remote learning classes, using the media-rich WebEx video conferencing software for online classes and for capstone project meetings with student teams and their industry mentors.

A new laboratory has been equipped with instruments that can be remotely controlled over the Internet, which will allow students to complete lab experiments from home. Dr. Arnie Berger’s BSEE 425 capstone team is also working on projects to design a scalable platform exclusively for the remote labs.

Hybrid Course Development Institute (HCDI) - The HCDI is a 10-week faculty-development institute in which a cohort of faculty learns the pedagogy and methods for teaching hybrid courses at UW Bothell. First offered in Autumn 2010, the HCDI is designed in the hybrid format to give participants a "student's experience" of a hybrid course; that is, the cohort meets three to four times during the 10 weeks and the rest of the activities are done online through the HCDI Blackboard course site. Twenty faculty from all programs/schools have participated in the first two cohorts, resulting in about 20 hybrid courses taught by HCDI faculty. Assessment is ongoing. The HCDI is a joint effort with Learning Technologies, the Teaching and Learning Center, and the Library

"Flipped" Physics 121 Course (Fall 2012) - Dr. Erin Hill practiced "flipping the classroom" in an introductory physics course offered Autumn 2012. Students read textbook assignments, viewed assigned videos (such as those offered by Kahn Academy or other online sites), and/or played with interactive online simulations before class. Class time involved small and large group discussions about concepts and problems potentially integrated with clickers. Students had opportunities to teach each other, with the instructor facilitating the learning process. Hill partnered with researchers to conduct assessments of student learning in this model.

Hybrid Biology Course with Peer Facilitators – Professor Bryan White redesigned a large introductory Biology course, supplementing face-to-face lectures, labs and online learning tools (tutorials, videos and blog) with small group sessions led by peer facilitators (PFs). Goals for the new design included enhancing learning, while making a large class experience more intimate. PFs also collaborated on an initial assessment project, which showed learning gains when the peer facilitator model was utilized.

Partnerships for Online Courses – Several faculty are exploring utilizing on-line classes developed by other universities in the UW Bothell curriculum. The EE faculty, for example, are exploring a partnership with NYU in which UW Bothell students could take NYU’s on-line courses for credit toward their UW Bothell degree.

Innovative Classes

Discovery Core - This is the required First Year curriculum, which focuses on a team-taught interdisciplinary course in the fall (that also introduces students to university life); an undergraduate research oriented course in the winter; and an E-Portfolio course in the spring that summarizes the first year and projects toward the second. The Discovery Core curriculum integrates learning across academic disciplines and engages students in making connections between the classroom and the wider world.

Game Design Course (CSS 385) - culminates with student teams designing and implementing their own computer video games.


"Immune,” an educational game designed by students Evan Harris, Craig Nishina and Peter Thongprada Luangrath as a project for Professor Kelvin Sung’s Gaimmune-Design course, recently placed 4th in the game design category of Microsoft’s US Imagine Cup. The students, who competed as “Team Credit/No Credit,” developed a game that is intended to fight the global spread of infectious diseases, by teaching young players that people are vulnerable and capable of contracting transferable diseases such as malaria and HIV/Aids.

IAS E-Portfolios - All students in Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences build electronic learning and professional portfolios as part of the core curriculum. The portfolio process helps students to become self-directed and self-motivated learners during their time at UW Bothell. IAS portfolios are built though UW Google Sites.

Wikipedia as a tool to enhance learning - In 2006, IAS Professor Martha Groom was one of the first in the nation to use Wikipedia in course assignments to enhance the educational value of a term-paper assignment. Professor Groom's pilot project demonstrated several benefits: Wikipedia users provided authentic feedback and connected students with a vibrant community, the assignment challenged students to learn about technological advances and web editing, and writing for a large audience encouraged students to do their best work.

Community Engagement - enriching student learning and making a positive impact


UWB Wetlands game - Responding to concerns for the ecosystem located mere steps from the classroom, in 2010 students created a Facebook game - UWB Wetlands Restoration – to raise funds and awareness. Users play a 25-day cycle which mimics 50 years of restoration work.

Supported by a partnership between the Center for Serious Play and faculty, proceeds from the game support the Wetlands Restoration project. The game teaches users the importance of maintaining biological diversity in supporting a vibrant ecosystem through the ecological concept of "succession," natural changes that occur over time.

Building a Supportive Learning Community for Veterans – IAS student and Mary Gates Research Scholar Christopher McRae’s research seeks to understand how veterans adjust to academic culture. McCrae project examines how combat trauma disorders, military culture, academic culture, and university policy all interact to affect veterans, with a goal of identifying best practices for veterans in higher education. He sees his public scholarship as a way to “help veterans in the short and long term as they face the blessings and challenges of coming home.”

Investigating Economic zambia1-(4).jpgDevelopment through Study Abroad – IAS Lecturer Leslie Ashbaugh leads an interdisciplinary Exploration Seminar to Zambia that is designed to introduce students to the  socio-economic political challenges faced by Zambians who work hard to make a living in a contemporary developing nation. 

The four-week long program includes living and working in urban, semi-rural and rural field sites, with a focus on assessing the success of development priorities, including promoting transparency in democratic elections, investments in quality education, disease prevention and maternal and child health, the promotion of economic diversification, and environmental sustainability. 

Prior to leaving Seattle, the class surveys the concepts for understanding poverty, economic development and social change, as well as the ways in which the local donor community and the Zambia government are working to address the crosscutting nature of Zambia's challenges.

Innovative Learning Spaces

Collaboratory - A large, open learning space, the Collaboratory pairs flexible architecture with an array of embedded technologies to enhance student collaboration and innovation.


Global Classroom - The UW Bothell School of Business offers a “Global Classroom” in the summer that brings together students from universities across the world for a two-week experience learning about leading businesses in the region. This year, students will be attending from India, Italy, and China.