CRLT Blog

In STEM fields, postdoctoral positions are frequently the launching point into the professoriate. Yet many postdocs have two or fewer terms of teaching experience when they begin applying for academic jobs. CRLT and Rackham Graduate School have collaborated to create a unique opportunity for U-M postdoctoral scholars to build their skills in teaching in the sciences: the Postdoctoral Short-Course on College Teaching in Science and Engineering (PSC). 

CRLT is currently accepting applications for the fifth offering of the PSC. The course will take place on Monday mornings, 9:00 AM – 12:00 PM, March 11th through April 22nd.  Applications are due November 1, 2012.
 
Photo of Chad HershockThe PSC was developed and is primarily taught by CRLT Assistant Director, Chad Hershock. In order to flexibly accommodate the demanding research obligations of U-M’s postdocs, he developed the course using a “flipped class” model.  Before each of the seven sessions, participants watch short video podcasts and complete preparatory, online assignments to establish basic mastery of teaching and learning concepts.  During face-to-face meetings the postdocs engage exclusively in hands-on, experiential learning, practice applying the concepts, and participate in reflective discussions.  Both online and during class, the instructors model research-based teaching strategies, so that participants may experience these approaches from the perspectives of their future students.  Short-course topics include:

As teachers at an institution committed to "global engagement," how can U-M instructors best facilitate students' international experiences and connections? And how can we enable students to make meaningful differences in the world? Assistant Professor of Mechanical and Biomedical Engineering Kathleen Sienko has been a campus leader on these questions, developing programs that take students around the world as well as programs that enable students here in Ann Arbor to make and mobilize global connections utilizing the resources of the internet.

Search committees around the country are asking:  "What's your philosophy?"  Research shows that a majority of academic search committees, at all kinds of institutions, ask for a statement of teaching philosophy at some point during the application process--sometimes as a part of the initial application, and sometimes later, after the selection committee has narrowed the field of candidates.  Whether you're in the humanities, social sciences, or natural sciences, odds are good that you'll need such a statement as part of your dossier if you're planning an academic job search.  

Photo of a pen and paperWhat can you do to make sure your teaching philosophy is an asset in your application? CRLT has many resources to help you develop and refine your statement. 

I've written it -- what's next?

If you have a solid draft and would like to make it more effective, you may be interested in attending "Revising Your Teaching Philosophy," a CRLT workshop on November 7, 2012. This workshop is especially useful if you are headed for the academic job market within the next year.

How can we use available data about students to fine-tune our instruction and facilitate their learning? Thanks to the Learning Analytics Task Force and SLAM lecture series, this question is getting lots of attention on campus this year. Some especially innovative answers are provided by 2012 TIP winners Tim McKay, David Gerdes, and August Evrard (pictured below, left to right), whose "Better-Than-Expected" (BTE) project used analysis of large data sets to support student learning in introductory physics courses. 

Dr. Evrard

Dr. GerdesDr. McKayThe three Arthur F. Thurnau professors analyzed data from 48,579 U-M intro physics students over 14 years to generate models for predicting student success in these gateway courses. Correlating data concerning students' preparation (e.g., standardized test scores, prior U-M GPA, previous coursework, etc.), background (gender, socioeconomic status, etc.), and progress through the courses (homework grades, exam scores, class participation, etc.), the BTE team discovered that prior academic performance was a significant indicator of success in the introductory courses. In effect, students' progress through the semester was largely determined by their starting point. The team realized that, in order to develop the learning potential of all students, they needed to move away from a "one-size-fits-all" instructional model.

Enter E2Coach.  With support from the Gates Foundation, the group built an Electronic Expert Coaching system which they launched across all intro physics courses in January 2012.