How can we help students be better participants in Forums and other online discussions?  How can learning analytics assist instructors in designing better questions, managing time, and optimizing in-class interactions? What do we know about student learning outside of the classroom at U-M, and how can we use that knowledge to create better bridges with in-class practices? 

These are some of the questions explored by the February Student Learning and Analytics at Michigan (SLAM) presentations. Open to U-M faculty, staff and students in any field, these lunchtime talks focus on ways to improve teaching and learning through innovative use of data about students, courses, and academic programs.

Featuring both Michigan faculty and visiting experts who have devised or utilized learning analytics tools to foster student learning, past presentations have featured topics ranging from student study practices to digital badging to MOOCsThe talks are sponsored by the Provost's Task Force on Learning Analytics, which was founded in 2012 to investigate the relationships between student preparation, teaching approaches, and student success in the classroom.  

This month, CRLT is hosting three SLAM events: Read more »

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Earlier this month, CRLT bid an official farewell to our long-time Executive Director Connie Cook, who has led the Center for over 20 years. On January 9, hundreds of U-M teachers and administrators gathered in the Michigan League to honor Connie and celebrate her array of impressive accomplishments at the head of CRLT.

Among the achievements highlighted in remarks by Mary Sue Coleman, Martha Pollack, and Lester Monts were Connie's contributions to developing a culture of teaching at U-M, through CRLT's focus on diversity and inclusion in teaching, organization of Provost's Seminars on Teaching, and support of pedagogical innovation across campus. Speakers also noted Connie's key role in connecting U-M with higher education in China, where she has supported the development of dozens of teaching centers, as well as her national leadership in faculty development here in the U.S. Connie will begin the new adventure of retirement on February 1.

Upon Connie's departure, CRLT will be led by Matthew Kaplan, in the position of Interim Director. Currently CRLT's Managing Director, Matt has been with the Center since 1994. A PhD in Comparative Literature, Matt is also nationally recognized as a scholar on teaching, learning, and faculty development, having published on topics including evaluation of teaching, technology and teaching, and the use of interactive theatre in faculty development. He, too, has been a leader of the national professional organizations for teaching center professionals. Here at CRLT, we're all excited to work with Matt in his new role!

 

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Recent student activism and statements on diversity from academic leaders have led many U-M instructors to focus new attention on inclusive teaching, seeking ways to ensure all students feel welcome and able to succeed in their classes, regardless of race, ethnicity, or socioeconomic status. CRLT provides many resources to help you develop inclusive teaching strategies for your particular teaching context. To browse those, click on the 'inclusive teaching' tag below, or the 'Diversity and Inclusion' link at the bottom of any one of our web pages. 

In this blog, we focus on one strategy for creating an inclusive learning environment: encouraging productive student interactions in your classrooms, particularly when using small groups.

Some of the best in-class learning takes place in small group activities, which can be very effective for prompting all students to engage actively with the course material. Some instructors nonetheless have found that efforts to encourage active learning through peer interaction can sometimes exacerbate students' experiences of identity-based exclusion. This can be a real danger where groupwork is used spontaneously with little guidance or follow-through. If, for instance, an instructor casually instructs students to 'get into groups' and then turns her or his own attention elsewhere, many students who already feel marginalized in the class may find it easier to sit alone than to seek out peers to share with.

It's therefore important to deliberately form and carefully guide student groups, even when you're just using a brief informal peer conversation to get students engaged in thinking about a topic. What are some specific strategies for doing so? The following practices can help ensure that student groups are primed to include all students: Read more »

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Registration is now open for CRLT's winter seminar series on teaching and learning. The programs offer U-M instructors opportunities to gain new perspectives on teaching at Michigan, share ideas across disciplines, and improve teaching skills. 

This semester, we are pleased to welcome peer instruction guru and Harvard Physics Professor Eric Mazur to campus, presenting both a talk and a follow-up workshop about facilitating student-to-student learning in your classes. Our other offerings include workshops for both faculty and graduate students on key skills like leading discussions and leveraging student diversity in the classroom. The series also features sessions on making good pedagogical use of U-M's wealth of resources: these include a panel on "Teaching In, With, and About Museums," with presentations from several U-M faculty members who regularly use museum collections in their courses, and a workshop on using the library's many digital collections in humanities teaching. Full details about these programs and more can be found on our Upcoming Events list.

Many of these seminars help fulfill a requirement for the U-M Graduate Teacher Certificate, a program developed by CRLT and Rackham to help U-M graduate students and postdocs document their professional development as college-level instructors. Almost 300 Rackham students have completed the Graduate Teacher Certificate program to date. They report that the program has helped them become more confident teachers and prepared them well for a competitive academic job search. You can find full details about requirements here.

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As winter term gets underway, many U-M instructors are teaching in new GSI-faculty teams. How can you build productive collaborations from the start? 

The CRLT Occasional Paper on "Teaching Effectively with GSI-Faculty Teams" highlights many benefits--for professor, GSIs, and students--of effective relationships among professors and grad students who teach together. As the literature on GSI-faculty relationships makes clear, though, such teamwork can sometimes pose significant challenges. U-M faculty have reported, among other issues, grappling with how to coordinate the work of all members of a teaching team, handle student complaints, and respond to various challenges to instructor authority.

It's probably obvious but bears repeating: Establishing clear team guidelines and routine communication patterns early in the term can help prevent such problems--as well as provide structures for addressing them productively if they do arise later in the semester. Read more »

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