On Wednesday, August 27, CRLT will join President Schlissel and Provost Pollak in welcoming hundreds of new faculty members to the University of Michigan. Every year, we run a program that orients new faculty to U-M, helping them prepare for their many and varied roles--as teachers, researchers, mentors and colleagues, and even community members. 

The day's events include:

  • Welcoming addresses from the President and Provost
  • A performance by the CRLT Players sparking conversation about Michigan's diverse students and the faculty's many roles and responsibilities 
  • Faculty panelists sharing insights from their experiences about "What It's Like to Work at Michigan"
  • Workshops and presentations on teaching strategies across a broad range of disciplines and settings
  • An information fair where new faculty can learn about offices and organizations around U-M and beyond.

The program takes place at the Michigan League, and new faculty from all U-M campuses are invited. Find more information, including a full agenda, here.

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CRLT staff are busy preparing orientation programs for new Graduate Student Instructors across campus. Our fall GSI Teaching Orientation is coming up on August 25-26 in the Michigan League, followed by an orientation for Engineering GSIs on August 28. Every fall, hundreds of graduate students who are teaching for the first time at U-M attend our orientations. 

These programs provide opportunities for new GSIs across campus to think deliberately about how to engage and support the learning of every student in their classes. They feature a range of activities and sessions that highlight resources and strategies to help participants succeed as teachers at U-M. These include: Read more »

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Commencement may be over, but CRLT is still here to support U-M teachers throughout the spring and summer. If you're teaching a course in one of these terms, you can request a Midterm Student Feedback session led by one of our consultants. CRLT staff are also available to discuss the student ratings from past courses or to consult on course design and planning as you look ahead to the fall. We're happy to hear from you at any time of year!

For our full range of consultation services, see this page. Read more »

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How do undergraduates experience the learning environment and broader campus climate at U-M? Of course, teachers regularly gather information about such questions from their direct interactions with students. The campus-wide UMAY survey offers a broader, systematic way of collecting and tracking student perceptions about their learning and their more general experience of U-M. In this post, guest blogger Karen Zaruba of the Office of Budget & Planning describes some of the rich findings generated by the survey and highlights reasons you might encourage your students to complete it.   

Have you heard about the University of Michigan Asks You (UMAY) survey? Just as important:  Have your students heard about it?

Sponsored by the Office of the Provost, the UMAY survey is the university’s annual effort to learn more about the undergraduate experience on our campus. Each spring, we invite all undergrads (regardless of class year) to respond.  We want to know how they are doing as students, and how we are doing as an institution. 

The survey questions cover a lot of ground: self-assessment of skills and growth since enrolling, perceptions of climate, use of time, academic engagement, and goals. Students report on their satisfaction with their experience in the classroom, academic department, and on campus overall, including their participation in research, study abroad, internships, service learning, and other high-impact learning activities. There are over 600 items in all (though no student has to answer all of them: some questions are randomly assigned). This broad range of items enables us to assess program effectiveness, benchmark with other universities, and gather unique insights about students' experiences.

To get a flavor of the kinds of things we can learn, here are some findings from the 2013 UMAY survey:

  • 86% of students report that faculty provide prompt and useful feedback on student work.
  • The majority of U-M students complete at least half of their assigned reading. However, there are differences by gender: 79% of female students do, while just 68% of male students report the same.
  • 43% of students said they chose their major in part because it provides international opportunities.
  • 65% of students agree that they have trouble remaining focused on academic work due to personal use of technology. However, those students who never bring a laptop or tablet to class do better: just 53% agree.
  • First-generation college students are more than twice as likely as others to report that family responsibilities are a frequent obstacle to their academic success.
  • By senior year, LSA student report their greatest gains in understanding a particular field of study, understanding international perspectives, and research skills. They report the lowest gains in quantitative skills, speaking skills, and fine arts appreciation.
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The final days of the semester can be a great time to engage students in reflective thinking about their own learning. End-of-term reviews often focus solely on course content, but you can also use this time to prompt student "metacognition," or thinking about their own learning, asking students to notice how they learn best, assess their strengths and weaknesses, and plan future approaches to learning. Such reflective thinking is an important component of learning that can easily be overlooked in the rush to cover content. But by helping students develop metacognitive habits, you can help solidify their learning in your course, increase their ability to make use of it in future courses, and enhance their capacities as self-directed learners.

What are some effective ways to prompt metacognition in the final days of the term? Good ideas we've heard at CRLT include:

  • Review your syllabus, reminding students of your learning objectives for each unit or assignment. Have them write a 'minute paper' assessing their mastery of each goal.
  • Invite students to analyze one of their first assessments of the term, considering how they would approach the assignment or test differently now. What knowledge, skills, or habits of mind they have developed that were not evident in the early part of the semester? 
  • Collect advice from current students for future students who take the course. What were their most and least effective study strategies or writing practices? What were the most challenging concepts to learn and how did they (or could they have) overcome those challenges? 

Of course, these activities not only help students assess and plan their learning--they can also help you understand in greater detail what students have gained from your course. For additional ideas about teaching metacognition (including bibliographies of the research into how it improves learning), check out these resources:

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