Office of the Vice President for Global Communications

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Five faculty projects honored with 2011 Provost’s Teaching Innovation Prize

Five U-M faculty projects that take new approaches to improve student learning will be honored May 2 as winners of the third annual Provost’s Teaching Innovation Prize (TIP).

“These five projects are exciting efforts to strengthen and deepen student learning,” says Provost Phil Hanlon. “It’s wonderful to have faculty from several different fields exploring new ways to do this.”


For more information
Provost’s Teaching Innovation Prize
Enriching Scholarship 2011

The prize is sponsored by the Office of the Provost, the Center for Research on Learning and Teaching, and the U-M Library. Winners will be recognized on the opening day of the Enriching Scholarship program.

A faculty committee selected the winning projects from 42 submitted by students, staff and faculty peers. The winners will receive $5,000.

The TIP differs from other teaching prizes in that it honors original, specific innovations to improve student learning, not instructors' overall teaching excellence. The awards also advocate the dissemination of these innovations by more broadly sharing them with faculty colleagues.

The winning projects are:

• The Leadership Crisis Challenge (LCC): Forging Courage, Judgment, and Integrity — Susan Ashford, Michael and Susan Jandernoa Professor of Management and Organizations, Stephen M. Ross School of Business. (Ashford is accepting this award on behalf of the Ross Leadership Initiative.)

The LCC simulation forces students to make decisions under acute time pressure, and to trade off competing demands, thereby addressing the difficulty of teaching these key elements of leadership. Intangibles such as judgment, courage and integrity are hard to meaningfully broach with traditional teaching methods. However, leaving these skills to be learned in the field has costly financial, social and career consequences.

The exercise runs 24 hours and presents a realistic business crisis that poses a series of questions for which there is no "right answer." Acting as corporate executives, student teams present their plans of action to a board of directors (played by Ross faculty), which evaluates the quality of their decisions. The best student teams move on to a final round press conference before actual journalists (Knight-Wallace Fellows).

• Teaching Ethics of/with New Technologies — Paul Conway, associate professor, School of Information

In SI 410, Ethics and Information Technology, undergraduates explore the ethical issues posed by the use of social information technologies. Integrated learning activities work with two distinctive new technologies as both objects of study and pedagogical tools.

Through MediaWiki, students experience directly the ethical challenges of anonymous collaborative writing. The ability to model anonymous behavior within a closed (and safe) community makes it possible for students to take risks that would be unethical if conducted in Wikipedia itself. Using Evolver, digital avatar software, students document the process of creating both realistic self-portraits and fantasy versions of themselves and then write about what personal identity means in virtual environments.

• Infusing Technology for Guided Continuous Learning in a Large Gateway Course — Brenda Gunderson, senior lecturer, statistics, LSA

By carefully selecting and interweaving technologies, instructors can guide large groups of students through challenging material in a way that feels highly personalized. The 1,500 students who enroll in Statistics 250 each semester engage with a suite of a half dozen technologies that gives them multiple paths for developing, practicing, and testing their understanding of concepts and relationships.

Together, these technologies let students discover new ways to understand the material. They can receive appropriate guidance both inside and outside the classroom, so that their learning is continuous, not a set of stop-and-go chunks. This innovation is flexible and readily extendable to many large gateway courses at U-M and beyond.

• Securing Our FUTURE: Foundations for Undergraduate Teaching - Uniting Research and Education — Brian Coppola, Arthur F. Thurnau Professor of Chemistry, LSA, and Joseph Krajcik, professor of science education, School of Education

This program fosters collaboration between local middle and high school teachers and first- and second-year undergraduates in LSA gateway science and mathematics courses. FUTURE gives undeclared undergraduates the chance to design and implement a lesson in an authentic classroom setting, leading many to consider a teaching career.

Two to three U-M students are matched with in-service teachers who propose lesson ideas that they've previously lacked the resources to carry out. The U-M students visit their hosts’ classrooms and enroll in the FUTURE seminar, which covers practical, ground-level ideas about teaching, learning, and instructional design.

• ZOOM: Teaching Time, Space, and Approaches to Knowledge — Douglas Northrop, associate professor of history and Near Eastern studies, LSA

"Zoom" is a course in "big history." It moves through a range of disciplinary perspectives (astronomy, geology, biology, anthropology, etc.) to tell the universe's story from the "Big Bang" to the end of time. This approach covers 13.7 billion years and puts human history into terrestrial and cosmic contexts.

The primary, semester-long assignment engages students in thinking directly about how materials presented by guest lecturers from different disciplines relate to one another. Students form groups centered around a particular discipline and then create a set of wiki pages profiling their discipline: what types of evidence it considers, how it goes about evaluating that evidence, and examples of content knowledge that the discipline has produced.