CRLT Blog

Students gathered for a chemistry study groupWith the construction of dedicated active learning spaces across U-M’s campus, widespread professional development focused on active learning, and many instructors looking to increase student engagement, students are experiencing active learning more and more in their time at the University of Michigan. But how do students perceive this kind of instructional approach? Studies have indicated that the majority of students respond positively to active learning, and although resistance occurs, it occurs at relatively low levels (Finelli et al, 2018). However, a new study points to a potential aspect of students' experiences of learning in such classrooms that instructors may want to address (Deslauriers et al, 2019). In short, while students in active learning classrooms learn more, they may feel that they have learned less.

Students solving problems on a whiteboard As we approach the middle of the term, instructors are already asked to think about the student evaluations of teaching that happen at the end of the term. In late October, U-M instructors will be invited to preview evaluation questions and create a few of their own questions if they wish.  What principles or goals might guide you in that process?

In this blog post, we review the questions that are used University-wide on end-of-semester evaluations, and we provide guidance on how to make the most of the instructor-created questions. These question-writing principles can also be used to create questions for feedback that you collect at other times of the semester.

The current student evaluation of teaching has 10 required items (rated on a scale of “Strongly Agree” to “Strongly Disagree” for all but one, as noted below). Two of these will no longer be included as standard questions after 2020. These questions are:

Screen capture image of Wolverine Access interface for designating pronouns University of Michigan students identify across a full spectrum of gender identities and gender expressions.  As instructors, how can we cultivate gender-inclusive teaching and learning environments -- that is, environments that invite the full participation of students of all genders and respond to the harmful impact of gender stereotyping and misgendering on student learning?  

Instructors in any discipline can promote gender inclusivity in their courses by trying out some or all of the strategies below. This list is not exhaustive and represents just some of the many intentional practices you might incorporate into your curriculum, policies, classroom facilitation, and interactions with students. 

Students walking in the DiagWhether you're starting a course from scratch or revamping something you've taught many times before, careful planning is key to successful teaching. CRLT offers many resources to support U-M instructors in their course planning as the beginning of the semester draws near.

  • The resources on this Course Design and Planning page focus on course design. Do you tend to begin your course planning by asking, "What material do I want to cover?" or "What do I want my students to learn?" Research shows that instructors best promote student learning when they start with the second question, organizing course content, class activities, and assignments around a clear set of learning objectives. The Course Design and Planning resources explain this research and walk you through the process of applying it to your courses.

  • This page on Strategies for Effective Lesson Planning focuses on preparing individual class meetings. It outlines steps for developing daily learning objectives, structuring relevant learning activities, and checking student understanding along the way.