3 people discussing a posterAt the kickoff event of this year's Enriching Scholarship conference, Vice Provost James Hilton awarded the 2015 Provost's Teaching Innovation Prize (TIP) to five outstanding teaching projects here at the University of Michigan. As Hilton explained, TIP "recognizes the creation of engaging and authentic experiences that fully tap the rich resources of U-M’s residential setting."

This year's projects all emphasized that "learning is often about doing." Hilton remarked, "From community and campus engagement to the application of new technology tools, these winning projects challenge students to actively apply what they’re learning to real situations that can be much messier than those described in textbooks. In the process, students learn to collaborate and think critically, often across disciplinary boundaries."

This year's winning projects include:

Sexual Assault Awareness Month logoApril is Sexual Assault Awareness month, and it has come this year at a time when many U-M instructors are wondering how, in their role as teachers, they can make a difference with this issue on campus. For some, relevant course content provides a perfect occasion for engaging students in discussion about sexual violence and identifying relevant campus resources, initiatives, and policies. But what if you teach in an area where such issues are not relevant to your course topics? How, if you want, can you help promote a safer campus? And how can you be prepared to respond supportively in the event that a student’s learning in your class is negatively affected by an experience of sexual violence? Students often trust teachers as a primary contact when dealing with distress, so no matter your field, it’s useful to be prepared for such encounters.

Recently, student governments in both LSA and the College of Engineering have endorsed language that all faculty can include on their syllabus to provide information about campus policies as well as resources regarding sexual assault and harassment. The students leading these efforts propose that, as easily-accessible documents, syllabi are perfect places to share information such as contact numbers for crisis support services--resources that, by definition, students don't plan to need. They also emphasize the important role faculty can play in drawing attention to safety from sexual assault as a Title IX concern, in minimizing stigma against sexual assault survivors, and in demonstrating an institutional commitment to a campus where students can learn free from the threat of sexual violence. Such syllabus statements were advocated for similar reasons in a recent Chronicle of Higher Education blog.

As alternatives to such a policy-focused statement, some U-M teachers choose to include syllabus statements that focus more directly on the potential impacts on student learning of sexual violence. These might emphasize the boundaries of confidentiality, or point students to resources about supporting their friends and classmates who are survivors of sexual violence. Holly Rider-Milkovich, Director of U-M's Sexual Assault Prevention and Awareness Center (SAPAC), recommends instructors include language such as the following on their syllabus or in speaking with students:

Mark your calendars for the 18th annual Enriching Scholarship Conference: May 4-8, 2015!

Teach Tech logoHosted by the Teaching and Technology Collaborative, Enriching Scholarship is an annual week-long series of seminars and workshops on integrating technology with teaching, learning, and research. If you are interested in adding to your technology toolkit or learning about great uses of technology in teaching at U-M, you have nearly 100 sessions to choose from at this year's conference. Registration is free and open to the University of Michigan community.

This year's conference will kick off with a keynote event on Monday, May 4th, highlighting innovative teaching, scholarship on teaching and learning, and U-M's role in the evolving digital learning landscape.

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All around campus this term, groups of faculty are meeting to exchange and develop ideas about inclusive teaching practices. In this pilot year of the Faculty Communities for Inclusive Teaching initiative, funds from the office of the Vice Provost for Equity, Inclusion, and Academic Affairs are supporting ten different projects designed to spark faculty exchanges about how to cultivate learning environments that welcome and support students of all backgrounds and identities. This year's faculty participants represent over two dozen departments and programs, and their topics of focus range widely, from the effects of religious identity on student learning, to female underrepresentation in particular fields of study, to the dynamics of stereotype threat in science courses.

A full list with brief descriptions of this year's projects can be found on this Faculty Communities for Inclusive Teaching page.