Teamwork

How and why might you work with community partners to enhance student learning in your courses and build valuable connections beyond the university -- whatever your discipline? In this guest post, CRLT campus partners Denise Galarza Sepúlveda of LSA’s Office of Community-Engaged Academic Learning (CEAL) and Neeraja Aravamudan of the Ginsberg Center offer key insights for planning courses that build productive, equitable relationships with community partners.

Community-engaged learning, also referred to as community-based learning or service-learning, has been recognized as a high impact educational practice that promotes deeper understanding of course concepts while advancing connections between the university and communities. Community partners bring valuable knowledge and expertise to contribute to students’ learning, and those students in turn--and the broader partnership with the university--can expand community partners’ capacity to address their priorities. Read more »

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Have you been approached about team teaching, but are nervous about the process of sharing a classroom with other instructors? Have you participated in a team-taught course, and want to learn new strategies to make it even more successful in its next iteration? Are you looking to learn more about the benefits of team teaching for both students and instructors? Are you curious about team teaching, but unsure of how to plan for, structure, or evaluate such a class?

Faculty team teaching a GSI colloquium in English

We welcome faculty and GSIs across campus to explore our newest Occasional Paper, Teaching in Teams: A Planning Guide for Successful Collaborations. Many team-taught courses seek to promote students’ development of higher-order thinking skills by enabling them to interact with instructors who have different sets of expertise and perspectives (Bacharach, Heck, & Dahlberg, 2008; Bierwert, 2011; Helms, Alvis, & Willis, 2005). And for instructors, team teaching enables instructors to encounter new content knowledge, as well as new perspectives on their own expertise (Bacharach et al., 2008; Plank, 2011; Shibley, 2006). As Dr. Laura Olsen (MCDB) shares: Read more »

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Molecule structureAs 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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This Occasional Paper summarizes the literature on GSI-faculty relationships in order to offer strategies for both GSIs and faculty to construct effective working partnerships. The nature of GSI-faculty teams varies widely across the University of Michigan, by factors such as size (some faculty supervise many GSIs, while others work with only one GSI), GSI responsibilities (such as grading, holding office hours, leading discussion sections, and studio or clinical work), discipline, and instructor identity.  As a result, this research is contextualized by recommendations drawn from the 2003 Provost’s Seminar on Graduate Students as Teachers, at which over 162 faculty and GSI attendees from fourteen UM schools and colleges strategized about ways to proactively cultivate effective GSI-faculty relationships and address problems when they occur.

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In this CRLT Occasional Paper, we describe specific classroom strategies and teaching behaviors that have been demonstrated to improve the success of a diverse body of students in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) courses. We also provide practical advice to individual faculty members who are seeking to implement these teaching strategies. Extensive research on why students leave STEM fields suggests that individual faculty can play a key role in supporting and retaining a diverse student body in STEM. Although underrepresented groups may have the most to gain, retention-conscious teaching practices are likely to have a positive impact on the persistence of all students in STEM.

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