4 people in a group talkingFaculty frequently name critical thinking as one of the most important goals for student learning. However, a key challenge to cultivating critical thinking can be the development of complex assessments. This can be especially difficult in large classes, when many tests and quizzes are in a multiple-choice format.

In a recent study published in the Journal of Dental Education, a team of U-M faculty from the School of Dentistry (Carlos Gonzalez-Cabezas and Margherita Fontana), School of Public Health (Olivia Anderson) and the Center for Research on Learning and Teaching (Mary Wright) investigated a new approach to mitigate these challenges. This student-centered approach to testing asks students to work in teams to design their own multiple-choice questions. Read more »


US flag in the DiagDuring U-M's Veterans Week, it's a good time to reflect on the needs of our students who have served in the military. Did you know that record numbers of veterans are enrolling in U.S. colleges and universities--and many of them are here on U-M's campuses? As a result of the university's new tuition policy which took effect in January 2014, allowing students who have served in the military to qualify for in-state tuition, our number of student veterans is expected to rise. If you teach at U-M, odds are good you've had or will have student veterans in your classroom.

How might your awareness of veterans in the classroom make a difference in your teaching? The research on student veterans suggests several strategies and cautions for teaching inclusively with veterans in mind. Here are a few: Read more »

Brief Description: 

Online writing includes any form of writing where the process of writing occurs online or the writing is shared online. Online compositions may be short or long, and they may be written individually or collaboratively. They may be published on the web for anyone to see, shared with the class, or shared only between one student and the instructor. Online writing often leverages the linking power of the web to include images and other media, but this is not always the case. Online writing tools may also offer a glimpse into the writing process by making it possible to see the history of changes to a document, and they often include commenting features to facilitate discussion of the writing and the writing process. Your goals for the type and length of writing, the level of formality, the content and the audience will inform your choice of online writing tools.

Tips for Using Online Writing Tools

  • If students will be writing in a public forum, allow students who do not feel comfortable using their real name to adopt a pseudonym known only to you.
  • Set clear expectations for tone, style, length, and content in your chosen online format. For example, if students will be writing for a class blog, you might consider posting a model blog post. If they will be commenting, consider sharing a few model comments to help students clearly understand your expectations. 
  • Sweetland Center for Writing has helpful guidelines for Using Blogs in the Classroom.



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Follow this link to a short video describing this teaching strategy.

Photo of professor Melanie YergeauMelanie Yergeau, English, teaches in computer labs to help integrate technology into her teaching. The twenty-five students in her disability studies course participate in blogging and commenting activities, both in and out of class, supporting student dialogue and critical engagement with course content. Blog posts contain reading responses composed across a variety of media.

For example, during one class, groups of students use digital cameras to create short, impromptu YouTube videos about disability, normalcy, and the built environment on campus and then integrate them into blog posts that are compliant with web accessibility requirements. In another assignment, students synthesize their learning through “carnival” blogging: blog posts that synthesize and link to other blog posts on controversial course topics.

Using students’ carnival blog entries as a starting point, Yergeau invites authors of external blogs to interact with her students on the class blog, creating a dialogue not possible in the context of the traditional classroom.