TIP winner

Mika LaVaque-Manty (Political Science and Philosophy)
“Gamification” is the application of structures, rules, and logics encountered in games to non-game contexts. Gamifying a course doesn’t consist of just converting conventional grades to points. Rather, the logic of rewards must be pervasively changed. Conventional reward systems “mark students down,” discouraging them from a crucial part of learning: failing and trying again. However, when students focus on “leveling up” and earning points, they are motivated to do more work and to take on new challenges. When students aren’t penalized for unsuccessful efforts, the only cost is their time.
Brent Gillespie (Mechanical Engineering)
Students may be capable of manipulating mathematical models of physical systems in the abstract, yet lack intuitive understanding of how changes in system variables will manifest physically. The Cigar Box is a tool that makes the same behavior that is being described mathematically accessible to students’ haptic senses of touch and motion. It turns code into virtual environments that can be touched and manipulated, much like the real world objects to which they refer. Best of all, model parameters can be changed on the fly as students interactively explore dynamic systems.
Pedagogically speaking, this teaching innovation addresses challenges that may be found in any discipline. The instructor identified a gap in the experiences of current student cohorts, who tend to be far more familiar with clicking a computer mouse than tinkering directly with mechanical objects. The Cigar Box provides an alternative (and far more flexible) means of acquiring mechanical experience and intuition.

Theresa Tinkle

Three innovations stand out in this re-invention of  English 350, a survey of literature before 1660. First, instead of prioritizing highly specialized knowledge of cultural contexts, the instructional team prioritized undergraduates’ development of close reading skills. Second, the usual order of things in a large lecture course was reversed in that students spent more time performing close readings themselves, and less time merely observing instructors’ demonstrations of the skills. Third, the introduction of technologies less commonly used in the humanities made it possible for students to receive meaningful feedback on varied forms of practice without increasing grading time.
In the 2010 course, multiple-choice quizzes in CTools spurred engagement with the material and mastery of the shared language needed for literary analysis. Professor and GSIs alike wrote economical comments in response to essays, targeting just one or two areas for each student’s future attention.
Kathleen Sienko
Challenging undergraduates to design medical equipment for use in limited-resource settings requires long-range vision and significant scaffolding. The innovativeness of this initiative is not tied to a specific class but rather lies in a sequence of experiences that has yielded a remarkable payoff. High quality design projects have led to conference presentations, an article in the Journal of Medical Devices, patent applications, and a spin-off social venture.
Initially, U-M’s Global Intercultural Experience for Undergraduates (GIEU) program provided a framework for developing community partnerships in Ghana, where undergraduates spent four summer weeks in 2008 and 2009 observing obstetric and gynecological practices in multiple settings. These teams “proved the concept” by generating design topics deemed important by the Ghanaian Health System and suitable for U-M senior design coursework.
Joanna Mirecki Millunchick
Screencasting has previously been featured in projects receiving the Provost’s Teaching Innovation Prize. The innovativeness of this particular project lies in its integration of sound research on learning outcomes from the very outset.
Students from different engineering majors have comparable academic indicators upon entering MSE 220, a large introductory materials science and engineering course. However, their prior exposure to the course material varies widely. Whereas the core curricula for aerospace and chemical engineering majors include MSE-related topics, there is little such overlap in the industrial and operations engineering (IOE) curriculum.
Careful statistical analysis reveals that students perceive screencasts to be helpful and tend to use them as a study supplement. Overall, usage of screencasting in its various forms is positively and significantly correlated with course performance as indicated by the final grade. The most substantial gains were made by students with the least familiarity with course material. Specifically, IOE students enter with the least preparation in materials science, but they do not receive the lowest grades in the course, due to their comparatively heavy use of the screencasts.