Instructional Technology

Assessing students’ prior knowledge and identifying misconceptions before introducing a new subject

Prior knowledge is necessary for learning but can be problematic if it is not accurate or sufficient.   It is a good practice for faculty to assess students’ prior knowledge of a subject and identify common misconceptions in order to find an appropriate entry point for introducing a new topic.   By using clicker multiple- choice questions, faculty can quickly gauge students’ knowledge level.   For instance, in a Fall 2006 Chemistry class at U-M, the professor started each lecture with clicker questions asking students to identify new concepts or distinguish between various new concepts discussed in the assigned readings.

Checking students’ understanding of new material

Clicker technology makes it easy for faculty to check students’mastery of lecture content. The immediate display of student responses enables faculty and students to see how well students understand the lecture.   As a result, faculty can decide whether there is a need for further instruction or supplementary materials.   By seeing peers’ responses, students can gauge how well they are doing in relation to others in the class and determine which topics they need to review or bring to office hours. Read more »


Link to CRLT TTI Grant Projects 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010

  • Mining Corpora: Students as Academic Language Investigators

    Pamela S. H. Bogart, Lecturer IV, English Language Institute/LSA

    ELI students face a particularly difficult challenge in their academic writing when it comes to selecting appropriate “collocations,” or words that pattern together in high frequency and thus “sound right" to fluent English speakers. This project facilitates student use of online “corpora” databases of real language use that are designed for language researchers and that can thus be unwieldy for language learners. The project team therefore created an online video tutorial showing students how to conduct collocation investigations based on word choices in their own writing. Students log their process and findings in a Sitemaker database, where they can also view the findings of their peers. Students reported being pleased and surprised to find a resource for discovering how words pattern in real language use. Since some student conclusions about collocations have been inaccurate, future work will focus on developing additional online tutorials to support more sophisticated searches.


Link to CRLT TTI Grant Projects 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2011

Online Video Pedagogy

John Ellis, Associate Professor, School of Music, Theatre and Dance (

The mini video cameras that have come on the market have the potential to revolutionize piano pedagogy. Their ease of use, portability, and web interface attributes open up enormous possibilities. For this project, student teachers made video clips both during and in between lessons with their students in both PPLP (the pre-college piano program) and college Class Piano. The clips served as a study guide for individual students and could be shared, in the case of PPLP, with each student's parents. This kind of rich media artifact also allows me to better guide and supervise my GSIs.

Histology -- A Second Look:  A PowerPoint-Based Self-Evaluation Tool for Students’ Learning Success

Michael Hortsch, Associate Professor, Cell and Developmental Biology, Medical School (


Link to CRLT TTI Grant Projects 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2010, 2011

Applied Ethics in the Ancient World

Sara Ahbel-Rappe, Associate Professor, Classical Studies, LS&A, (

Professor Ahbel-Rappe’s project prepares and facilitates the creation of websites that connect students’ own identities and aspirations to social issues in the ancient world. Through multi-media explorations (video, interview, performance, conferencing, etc.) students’ websites address the ancient Greek and Roman intellectual record with special focus on possibilities for social, intellectual, and scientific protest and debate. Read more »