Examples of Workshops

Currently Under Development

  • Improvisation for Teaching Undergraduate Courses

​Join us in this highly interactive workshop grounded in exploring new methods to increase engagement and participation in the classroom.  In a positive, supportive environment, participate in tailored exercises adapted from improvisational theater.  Experience how applying improvisational approaches in teaching can enhance classroom experiences for both you and your students.  Walk away with specific exercises and actions to implement immediately.  As a bonus, laughter and some fun are guaranteed. 

  • Engaging Broader Audiences in Your Work

Experience how exercises adapted from improvisational theater can improve your communication with people outside your field.  Topics such as distilling your message, tailoring content on the spot, responding in the moment, connecting with your audience, and removing jargon will be covered.  Current scientific research, examples, and case studies will be cited. Participants will also leave with a toolkit of resources to use for further development.  

  • Explain your very-very-hard-to-understand research to anyone.

Do some research topics feel too hard or dry or otherwise unsuitable to share with an audience in an engaging way?  Learn to connect with your audience without resorting to gimmicks or cheap tricks and without losing your audience's interest.  This workshop, which includes exercises adapted from improvisational theater, will help participants build a bridge between their main points and the audiences they hope to reach.  Bring an open mind and an abstract you want to improve for an upcoming talk or paper.  

Heather Barnes is the founder and CEO of Improv@Work.  She teaches presentation skills at Northwestern University's Kellogg School of Management, and she previously was an instructor at Chicago's Second City, Director of the Center for Advancement of Science Education at Chicago's Museum of Science and Industry, and Director at the Shedd Aquarium.

Our work has been partly supported by Eischen's NSF CAREER grant DMS-1751281, her NSF research grant DMS-2302011, and the Williams Fund.

Ellen Eischen is a professor of mathematics at the University of Oregon.  In addition to her mathematical training, she has substantial training as an improvisor, which turned out to have a significant impact on her professional development.  She is the PI on two National Science Foundation grants that have enabled us to collaborate on projects to adapt principles of improv to enhance teaching and learning.

Who We Are

Building on our experiences applying principles adapted from improvisational theater, we are developing a new series of workshops that give people tools for teaching and communicating effectively about math and science.  Our prior projects include workshops for instructors like Yes And! Improvisation as a Tool for Enhancing Teaching and Learning and Whose Math is it Anyway?  Interactive Engagement in Remote Classes, as well as integration of improv exercises into an undergraduate math class.    For more information, email Ellen Eischen at eeischen@uoregon.edu.  

Improv for Math and Science