TIP winner

August EvrardDavid Gerdes
Tim McKay
E²Coach takes the form of a highly personalized website that delivers complex feedback and encouragement. Advice is tailored to the student’s background, current standing, and progress over the course of the semester, and is also sensitive to the student’s ambitions and identity (elicited by survey at the course’s outset). 
 
Final grades can be predicted quite well for students embarking upon introductory physics courses due to a 2008 learning analytics project with data on nearly 50,000 U-M students. Of course, some students do better than expected, others worse. Knowing what leads to better- and worse-than-expected outcomes makes it possible, in principle, to individually coach every student toward better-than-expected performance.
 
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Lola Eniola-Adefeso
Inviting Ypsilanti 10th graders to serve as an audience for “science fair-style” presentations by undergraduate engineering teams is a multi-faceted innovation. Beyond motivating individual undergraduates to learn concepts more thoroughly as they figure out how to teach them, the format supports STEM retention in several ways. 
 
First, putting the onus on undergraduates to creatively link real-world applications to chemical engineering principles increases interest and excitement. This matters because STEM attrition increases when students feel bored or don’t see the relevance of abstract theory. Second, encouraging collaboration and teamwork over individual competition improves the climate of the learning environment, particularly for women and members of historically underrepresented groups. Third, when undergraduates design high quality, inexpensive demonstrations that can be used by high school teachers, science learning is improved and students are better prepared for college. Finally, getting kids excited about what chemical engineers are able to achieve, from manufacturing candy to purifying water, helps attract diverse students to the STEM pipeline.
 
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Brad Orr
Introductory physics courses often obscure the elegance and simplicity of the topic by reducing it to unrealistic situations described by a forest of mathematical formulae. ESCAPE’s innovation lies in giving Physics 160 students access to software and numerical techniques used by practicing physicists. With laptop computers handling the number crunching, students can focus on analyzing conditions and building realistic simulations, starting with the trajectory of an inelastic, bouncing racquetball and culminating with a capstone project in which they thoroughly examine a physical situation of their choice.
 
As they write computer programs to model and solve problems, students make plenty of mistakes, and much of the learning comes from the debugging process as they track down errors in logic by returning to a well understood behavior from which they can move forward slowly, systematically checking each step as they go. This is a challenging mental workout, yet students are highly motivated to tackle realistic and interesting problems that were previously the exclusive domain of physics majors and graduate students. Exercising higher order thinking skills earlier in their academic careers can only help students attain future success, no matter what career path they follow.
 
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Karen Markey
Developed under a National Leadership Grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services, this open-source game teaches students research and information literacy skills. The game takes place online, so faculty do not have to set aside precious, in-class time for students to practice and develop these skills.
 
BiblioBouts is the second library skills game created under Markey’s leadership. The first game showed the design team that game play cannot appear unrelated to students’ coursework, lest it be seen as a waste of time. Instead, it must be integrated into and enhance workflow early in the semester. Students value the way that BiblioBouts helps them complete assigned coursework and, ideally, earns them course credit.
 
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Barry Fishman
Large classes feel more like a small community of learners when students possess multiple avenues for active participation. Each of the four following technologies can stand alone, allowing faculty to experiment with discrete components as time and interest permit. Deployed in combination, these tools support a powerful set of pedagogical practices that leverage the devices students already have with them -- cell phones and laptop computers.
 
Types of tools and specific examples:
 
POLLING: Poll Everywhere is a web-based tool that replicates “clicker” functionality via cell phone text messages or laptop browsers. Faculty can try new pedagogies without increasing costs to students. 
 
BACK CHANNELING: Live Question Tool provides a web-based “back channel” that invites, ranks, and refines questions from students.
 
VIDEOCONFERENCING: Elluminate, DimDim, and Timbuktu make videoconferences more interactive by allowing students to annotate speakers’ slides.
 
WIKIS: The Wikispaces wiki has graphical editing capabilities and flexible discussion tools for collaborative knowledge building and sharing. 
 

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