Thomas L. Schwenk

Thomas L. Schwenk, M.D., is Associate Professor in the Department of Family Practice at the University of Michigan Medical School. A more extensive presentation of his thoughts on clinical teaching can be found in the publication Schwenk, T.L. & Whitman, N. The Physician As Teacher. 1987. Williams & Wilkins.

Clinical teaching is a form of interpersonal communication between two people - a teacher and a learner. "The teaching-learning process is a human transaction involving the teacher, learner and learning group in a set of dynamic interrelationships. Teaching is a human relational problem" (Bradford 1958, p. 135). As a "relational problem," successful teaching and learning requires that the teacher understand and make constructive use of four factors:

1. The role of the teacher and the knowledge, attitudes and skills that the teacher brings to the relationship,
2. The role of the learners and the experiences and knowledge that the learners bring to the relationship,
3. The conditions or external influences which enhance the teaching-learning process, and,
4. The types of interactions which occur between teacher and learner.

This paper will describe some features of each of these factors, and then offer an example of the specific application of these factors to a common format of medical teaching: bedside teaching.

The Role of the Teacher Read more »


To welcome new instructors to the University and help prepare them for their first teaching assignments at U-M, CRLT will be offering orientations for new faculty and new GSIs in the last week of August. These programs are all designed to help new instructors meet  colleagues from across the campus, learn about the resources available for teaching, and hit the ground running when the teaching term begins. Our work with U-M instructors has convinced us that when teaching is going well, other aspects of faculty or GSI work life are more likely to fall into place. Therefore, we take great care in designing orientations that will make the best possible use of time and cover the topics most salient to getting a good start in the classroom, lab, or studio.

All of us at CRLT are excited to welcome new instructors to campus and to help you get the tools you need to succeed. We look forward to meeting you!

Event Date Highlights
GSI Teaching Orientation August 27-28
  • Practice Teaching
  • CRLT Players Performance
  • Sessions on the First Days of Teaching 
  • Workshops on Teaching
New Faculty Orientation August 29
  • Welcoming Remarks from the Provost
  • CRLT Players Performance
  • Workshops on Teaching
  • Information Fair with 50 U-M Offices
Engineering GSI Teaching Orientation August 30
  • Engineering-Specific Teaching Workshops
  • Practice Teaching
  • CRLT Players Performance on Climate in the STEM Classroom

Read more »


CRLT offers a variety of services and programs for faculty who are interested in pursuing new and innovative approaches to teaching, want to learn more about teaching methods relevant to their courses, or want to consult about ways to improve their teaching and their students' learning.


CRLT offers a variety of services for instructors new to the University of Michigan. These programs are designed to help new faculty and GSIs learn about U-M students, find the resources they need to be successful, and begin to develop a community of colleagues. Click on the title below for more information. 

Campus-Wide GSI Teaching Orientation 

The Center for Research on Learning and Teaching (CRLT) Fall 2018 GSI Teaching Orientation (GSITO) will take place on Monday, August 27 and Tuesday, August 28, 2018 on central campus. This orientation is intended for GSIs teaching on the Ann Arbor campus.


Campus-Wide New Faculty Orientation

The Office of the Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs and the Center for Research on Learning and Teaching (CRLT) will once again conduct a New Faculty Orientation to introduce all new faculty to the University of Michigan. The Campus-Wide New Faculty Orientation will be held on Wednesday, August 29, 2018 from 8:30 a.m. until 1:30 p.m., in the Michigan League.  Read more »