The University Record, October 31, 1994

CRLT launches two new programs

By Jane R. Elgass

The Center for Research on Learning and Teaching (CRLT) is launching two new programs designed to provide additional teaching-related services for faculty and teaching assistant (TAs).

Support for the two programs is coming from the Office of the Vice Provost for Academic and Multicultural Initiatives, headed by Lester P. Monts, and the Office of the Associate Vice Provost for Academic Affairs, headed by Susan S. Lipschutz.

Monts, to whom CRLT reports, notes that support of these two programs is “part of an overall goal of providing support that will enable units to develop programs reflecting the multiculturalism and diversity of the University and greater community.”

“As a nation and as a people,” he says, “we can no longer consider ourselves apart from the incredible explosion of diversity around the world.

“In the campus community, interaction among individuals and groups reflect similar relationships in society at large. But unlike other sectors of society, institutions of higher learning have been charged with a mission to lead and open pathways of knowledge that address the many challenges confronting modern life.”

Higher education, Monts says, “must continue to challenge narrowly circumscribed approaches to cultural learning. It is our responsibility as educators to expand the meaning of ‘culture’ beyond past definitions. The infusion of multiculturalism into the academic mainstream enriches our understanding of ourselves and others.

“At Michigan and elsewhere, we must continue to place high value on intellectual diversity and the benefit it provides. Increased understanding of truth and cultural values are not luxury items intended for a few; they must be part of the total educational experience.

“As proponents of intellectual diversity,” he adds, “we must continue to explore the history, literature, philosophy and creative expression of human thought and culture, elements that have the potential to enhance the fundamental dimensions of human life.”

Multicultural Teaching and Learning Services Program

The Center has been charged with the development of a Multicultural Teaching and Learning Program to provide services that will “enhance University teaching so it is more responsive to and enriched by the diverse values, perspectives and styles of our pluralistic student population,” says CRLT Director Constance E. Cook.

These services, she adds, “will help and support faculty and teaching assistants as they create a learning opportunity that is open, positive and challenging for all students, and will help articulate a vision of how the University could better facilitate awareness of cultural diversity in teaching and learning.”

The program is being developed at the request of the deans and executive officers based on a proposal endorsed by the Committee on a Multicultural University last spring.

The center has launched a national search for a coordinator of multicultural teaching and learning services. The coordinator will be responsible for:

  • Designing, executing and evaluating workshops, seminars and conferences for faculty and teaching assistants.

  • Consulting with individual TAs, faculty and departmental representatives.

  • Coordinating the efforts of CRLT staff with faculty and staff from other units on campus who work in the area of diversity.

  • Developing grant proposals to fund multicultural activities related to teaching and learning.

    Cook says that multicultural curriculum could be infused into more classes but quickly adds that CRLT “is not ever going to tell faculty what to do about curriculum, but rather help them do what they already would like to do.”

    Beverly Black, a CRLT instructional consultant, explains that the program is designed “to expand faculty visions of what’s possible, to get faculty across campus with the same interests talking to each other, and to provide a common language for discussions of teaching.”

    “Our objective is to facilitate conversations about teaching among faculty.

    It’s easy to discuss research work. Talking about teaching is more difficult,” Cook adds. “We hope to provide a base for those discussions, and offer our support in several areas, including helping faculty handle diverse learning styles in the classroom, deal with sensitive issues as they arise, and infuse multicultural content into the curriculum.”

    Applications for the coordinator position are due Nov. 21, and Cook hopes to fill the position by early summer.

    CRLT Faculty Associates

    CRLT has recently announced the CRLT Faculty Associates Program and is inviting applications for three positions, beginning in fall 1995.

    “The Faculty Associates Program recognizes a faculty member’s interests and contributions in teaching and learning, and in the improvement of undergraduate education,” Cook says. She adds that it “is designed to provide faculty members some release time from their regular teaching responsibilities so they may concentrate on broader teaching and learning issues.”

    In general, the faculty associates will work collaboratively to promote better teaching and learning at the University.

    Cook says they are expected to share innovative ideas and methods with faculty colleagues and/or pursue teaching-related research, while working in at least one of the center’s priority areas.

    Faculty associates will receive release time from one-half of their teaching responsibilities during the 1995–96 academic year.

    The program’s first priority this year is funding two positions to facilitate CRLT’s development of a program of services on multicultural teaching and learning.

    The third position will be filled by a faculty member who has a special interest in other areas of teaching and learning. CRLT would especially like collaboration with faculty to expand and improve methods for evaluating teaching, such as peer review and the use of teaching portfolios.

    The associate also might help build expertise in evaluation methods and lead workshops for interested units, or conduct research related to the evaluation of teaching.

    Cook notes that there are several other areas in which CRLT would appreciate faculty collaboration. They include teaching large lecture classes, active learning, assessment of student learning, TA training and program evaluation. Applications that propose pedagogical or curricular improvement in a faculty member’s department are encouraged.

    Applications for the faculty associate positions will be considered from professors, associate professors, assistant professors and lecturers (with

    three-year appointments on a continuing basis) who hold regular teaching appointments on the Ann Arbor campus.

    Applications are due Nov. 7. For assistance with proposals, e-mail or call Beverly Black, 763-2396.