Campus Climate

We wish we did not have so many occasions to provide guidance to instructors on teaching in the wake of hate-based violence. As our campus processes the news coming out of New Zealand today, we offer this slight update of a blog from October.

In the wake of the massacre of worshippers at New Zealand mosques, many people in our communityPeople hold candles as they gather for a vigil in the aftermath of a deadly shooting at the Tree of Life Congregation, in the Squirrel Hill neighborhood of Pittsburgh, Saturday, Oct. 27, 2018. are feeling threatened and terrorized, grieving deeply, experiencing intense anger, or fighting a sense of despair at a swelling of hatred and violence in our world. These emotions enter our classrooms, studios, and labs, and they can understandably and significantly affect students’ ability to focus on their learning and work with peers in intellectual community.

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We are teaching in tumultuous times. In the wake of a week that saw a massacre of Jewish worshipers at a synagogue, a grocery-store shooting of African-American shoppers after an intended attack upon a church congregation, and a series of pipe bombs aimed at the media and political figures, many people in our communityPeople hold candles as they gather for a vigil in the aftermath of a deadly shooting at the Tree of Life Congregation, in the Squirrel Hill neighborhood of Pittsburgh, Saturday, Oct. 27, 2018. are feeling threatened and terrorized, grieving deeply, experiencing intense anger, or fighting a sense of despair at a swelling of hatred and violence in our nation and neighborhoods. These emotions enter our classrooms, studios, and labs, and they can understandably and significantly affect students’ ability to focus on their learning and work with peers in intellectual community.

Read more »

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After many months of preparation, U-M Student Life and the Educational Theater Program launched a major new initiative this fall to promote a welcoming campus climate for diverse students. If you’re teaching first-year undergraduates, your students will very likely attend a "Change It Up!" training this month, where they will learn about bystander intervention strategies to promote safe and respectful communities on campus. 

Based on a nationally recognized bystander intervention model, the Change It Up! program is organized around several key goals, including:

  • encouraging students to recognize themselves as members of a campus community where individual behaviors can collectively have a powerful effect upon broader campus climate 
  • increasing students' awareness of language and behavior that disrespects or excludes some campus community members based on their social identities 
  • building students' skills and confidence at intervening effectively in potentially harmful situations. 

Change It Up! informational flyer with contact information

The program highlights strategies a bystander can use to intervene in discrimination, disrespect, and even interpersonal violence. As highlighted in the image, these are represented by the “4 Ds” of Direct, Delay, Delegate, and Distract.

U-M teachers might be especially interested in the "Delegate" strategy. In this bystander intervention option, students are encouraged to turn to other people who can be resources or allies when they witness or feel targeted by language or behavior that insults or excludes members of the campus community. The workshop identifies instructors as one group of people to whom students might delegate and with whom they might strategize an effective intervention.

As a teacher, how might you prepare yourself to respond should such a request come your way? Read more »

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How do undergraduates experience the learning environment and broader campus climate at U-M? Of course, teachers regularly gather information about such questions from their direct interactions with students. The campus-wide UMAY survey offers a broader, systematic way of collecting and tracking student perceptions about their learning and their more general experience of U-M. In this post, guest blogger Karen Zaruba of the Office of Budget & Planning describes some of the rich findings generated by the survey and highlights reasons you might encourage your students to complete it.   

Have you heard about the University of Michigan Asks You (UMAY) survey? Just as important:  Have your students heard about it?

UMAY survey flierSponsored by the Office of the Provost, the UMAY survey is the university’s annual effort to learn more about the undergraduate experience on our campus. Each spring, we invite all undergrads (regardless of class year) to respond.  We want to know how they are doing as students, and how we are doing as an institution. 

The survey questions cover a lot of ground: self-assessment of skills and growth since enrolling, perceptions of climate, use of time, academic engagement, and goals. Students report on their satisfaction with their experience in the classroom, academic department, and on campus overall, including their participation in research, study abroad, internships, service learning, and other high-impact learning activities. There are over 600 items in all (though no student has to answer all of them: some questions are randomly assigned). This broad range of items enables us to assess program effectiveness, benchmark with other universities, and gather unique insights about students' experiences.

To get a flavor of the kinds of things we can learn, here are some findings from the 2013 UMAY survey:

  • 86% of students report that faculty provide prompt and useful feedback on student work.
  • The majority of U-M students complete at least half of their assigned reading. However, there are differences by gender: 79% of female students do, while just 68% of male students report the same.
  • 43% of students said they chose their major in part because it provides international opportunities.
  • 65% of students agree that they have trouble remaining focused on academic work due to personal use of technology. However, those students who never bring a laptop or tablet to class do better: just 53% agree.
  • First-generation college students are more than twice as likely as others to report that family responsibilities are a frequent obstacle to their academic success.
  • By senior year, LSA student report their greatest gains in understanding a particular field of study, understanding international perspectives, and research skills. They report the lowest gains in quantitative skills, speaking skills, and fine arts appreciation.
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