What concepts are students still struggling with after lecture?  How can I most effectively supplement lectures to enhance student learning?  Will my efforts to provide additional resources actually pay off in terms of student success?

Dr. MillunchickThese key questions -- familiar to many instructors in large lecture courses -- structured Joanna Mirecki Millunchick’s teaching innovation in MSE (Materials and Science Engineering) 220.  Because the course draws engineering majors with widely varying degrees of experience with course concepts, Professor Millunchick was especially interested in offering diverse students opportunities to review lecture topics and learn at a pace appropriate to their needs. 

Her central innovation? Screencasts.  Millunchick developed a range of screencasts (i.e., online videos of her computer screen, accompanied by audio) on topics students were struggling with.  The screencasts included lecture recordings, explanations of homework, and exam solutions.  In just one example of her creative use of technology, Millunchick used a tablet PC and stylus to record her process of drawing diagrams, producing videos that students could watch and review on their own schedule.  CTools allowed her to keep track of which students used the screencasts and how often.  And then she assessed the relation of these data to student success in the course.  

She found, quite simply, that students who used her screencasts earned higher grades in the course, but the greatest gains were for those students who started with less familiarity with the topic.  

How can a lecturer engage an auditorium full of undergraduates in analyzing the subtleties of a poem written more than 400 years ago?  That was one of the questions motivating Theresa Tinkle's teaching innovations in English 350, a course surveying literature written before 1660.  

Dr. TinkleAlong with her team of GSIs, the Arthur F. Thurnau Professor of English Language and Literature set the goal of improving students' skills at literary analysis, and then they focused their teaching efforts on replicating the advantages of a small course in a large lecture setting.  The group creatively deployed technologies like iClickers and CTools online quizzes to ensure students completed readings and engaged actively with lectures.  And they created assignment sequences that allowed students intensive writing practice and provided individualized feedback (without significantly increasing anyone's grading load).  This combination of strategies resulted in significantly improved student skill with the complex task of close reading. 

YouTube icon

You can find CRLT on YouTube at  Because YouTube is one of the many Google Apps now in use on campus, all members of the U-M community can easily share videos with the public or with select users at U-M.  CRLT's channel is dedicated to using YouTube to support teaching excellence and innovation.  The videos currently featured include several Arthur F. Thurnau professors discussing their successful teaching strategies.  For example:

The channel also features teaching resources such as ... 

"You are asked to design an original experiment that would be suitable for a high school teacher to use in demonstrating any mass or heat transfer principle or concept to his/her class. The goal is to use your experiments to attract high school students to chemical engineering."  

Dr. Eniola-Adefeso

So begins the group project assignment for Chemical Engineering 342 designed by Assistant Professor Omolola Eniola-Adefeso, winner of the 2012 Provost's Teaching Innovation Prize (TIP). Motivated to improve retention rates of diverse students in STEM fields and inspired by her own experiences with hands-on learning early in her undergraduate engineering career, Dr. Eniola-Adefeso developed an assignment that combined self-directed learning, collaboration, and outreach.