"I learned so much this semester!" This is the kind of student comment teachers love to read on course evaluations. But such statements can also leave many questions unanswered: What exactly did the students learn? How well did it match up with my goals for the course? And which teaching strategies were most effective in facilitating that learning? CRLT provides resources and assistance for faculty who are interested in pursuing such questions. The Investigating Student Learning (ISL) grant is one program designed to support instructors as they develop projects to assess what students are learning in their courses and how.
On Monday, the U-M community will have an opportunity to learn in detail about eight projects recently funded by the ISL Grant. The 2012 ISL winners will present their findings at a breakfast poster fair in the Michigan League, part of the plenary event for the Enriching Scholarship conference. Faculty in LSA, the College of Engineering, the School of Nursing, the School of Social Work, and the Medical School will present posters about their findings on a range of questions about student learning. These include:
Do student teams work more equitably when they collaborate online? Robin Fowler of the College of Engineering's Program in Technical Communication used her ISL grant to implement and evaluate a teaching innovation designed to disrupt patterns of participation in which underrepresented students (in this case, women and non-native English speakers) contributed less. She shifted some team meetings from face-to-face environments to online platforms using the Google Apps suite. The online interactions resulted in more balanced participation, compared to the traditional in-person format.
What factors help students develop leadership skills in service learning courses? Leseliey Welch of Women's Studies pursued this question in a practicum course for WS concentrators. Along with CRLT postdoc Kris Gorman, Welch studied the ways student learning outcomes were affected by the structure of their semester-long service placements. The study revealed the importance of mentorship by organizational leaders as well as opportunities for independent projects for the development of students' leadership skills.
Other 2012 grant-winning projects focus on evaluation in flipped classrooms, simulations in the health sciences, and teaching ethics and information literacy. To learn more about all of these projects, register here for Enriching Scholarship and attend the poster session 9am-10am Monday, May 6. The poster session will also feature winners of the Provost's Teaching Innovation Prize (more information about this year's awardees at this link), and a continental breakfast will be provided. The plenary panel following the poster fair from 10am-12pm will feature Michigan faculty involved with Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) discussing another big question, "What Have We Learned from MOOCs?