Great Teaching at University of Michigan

Professor Laurie HartmanLaurie Hartman teaches two courses in the School of Nursing’s Acute Care Advanced Practice Nurse Program (N610 and N573). N610 prepares the Clinical Nurse Specialists and Nurse Practitioner students to synthesize and apply knowledge to manage and negotiate health care delivery systems that address clinical management challenges. Interdisciplinary problem solving is a key component of the course. N573 is a medical management course focusing on acute health conditions in adults and older adults. Evidence-based, advanced practice nursing interventions are discussed in the context of age, culture, race, gender, sexuality, genetics, psychosocial well-being and socioeconomic status. Diagnostic reasoning and decision-making skills are among the main learning objectives.  Read more »

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Have you ever had to refute that negative stereotype of university professors as poor teachers who only care about their research? A new book by Catharine Hoffman Beyer and her colleagues at the University of Washington provides research to back up what many of us already know from experience: most professors care deeply about teaching and continuously work hard on improving it. You can learn more about Inside the Undergraduate Teaching Experience (SUNY Press) from this Inside Higher Ed article

And for some remarkable examples of University of Michigan professors who are innovative and passionate about undergraduate teaching, see our Friday Profiles series. Or look around: they're all over campus. 

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When a professor receives a standing ovation from his students at the semester's end, he must be doing something right. And something rare as well: in the words of one student of Thurnau Professor of History Brian Porter-Szűcs, “the much deserved standing ovation was something I have never seen before or since.”

Porter-Szűcs certainly doesn’t win his students’ acclaim by taking on obviously popular topics. His courses on the history of Poland and the development of the Catholic Church, for instance, focus on subject matter about which many students report having had no prior interest or knowledge. And his courses often treat grim and difficult themes such as the effects of war and the moral complexities of major European social struggles.

Brian Porter-Szűcs But as both students and colleagues report, Porter-Szűcs is beloved for his remarkable commitment to taking undergraduates seriously as intellectual interlocutors and key members of the History department’s academic community. In his undergraduate classes, he engages students as fellow thinkers by giving them primary documents along with a range of historical interpretations—often arguments with which he fundamentally disagrees—and asking them to come to their own conclusions. He uses class blogs to facilitate their interactions with one another’s analyses. And he inspires students to pursue their intellectual passions beyond the bounds of the classroom. Under his guidance as the department's first Director of Undergraduate Studies, the once-moribund History Club has grown into a vibrant intellectual community for undergraduate concentrators. And under his mentorship, a steady stream of students have proceeded to post-graduate study, many of whom who say they would never had thought of themselves as scholars before taking one of his courses. In short, students stand up and applaud Porter-Szűcs not because he entertains them but because he respects them as thinkers.

They do also admit, though, that he is an extraordinarily engaging speaker. Read more »

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Steve Skerlos, Thurnau Professor of Mechanical Engineering, has become so well known among his colleagues as a deeply engaged and innovative teacher that his name has become for many of them a synonym for pedagogical success. His department has developed their own playful terminology: a “Skerlosian Effort” indicates a high score on the “Skerlosian Scale” of teaching effectiveness.

Thurnau professor Steve SkerlosProfessor Skerlos’s own Skerlosian Efforts are many and lasting; students past and present enthusiastically describe the long-term impact he has had on their academic and professional lives. In describing his teaching, they regularly mention his passion, his ability to teach to a range of learning styles, and his sensitive mentoring. Students and colleagues alike praise Skerlos’s model of “learning through doing”—his drive to enable students to become engineers by working as engineers, side-by-side with their professor.
 
Professor Skerlos sparks and fosters student passion partly by emphasizing the potential of good engineering to do good in the world.  He has put sustainability at the center of undergraduate education in engineering, co-creating key programs and specializations in Sustainable Engineering, Global Health Design, and Sustainable Water and Energy. The Program in Sustainable Engineering, where Skerlos is now Director, has a 9-credit specialized study in sustainable engineering. The program is working towards educating all undergraduate engineers in sustainability awareness and how they can act positively in the field through design. Through the work of BLUElab, a student-run program he co-founded, Skerlos has cultivated student interest in sustainability by mentoring and collaborating with student teams on projects that seek to, for instance, recover heat from residential shower water and convert farm waste to bioenergy.
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Online collaboration tools, such as Google Apps, are revolutionizing workplace productivity and teamwork. These technologies also provide tremendous opportunities to enhance teaching, learning, and course management. Because keeping up with the evolution of new instructional technologies can be challenging, CRLT has posted some new resources focused on U-M teachers who are successfully integrating these tools into their courses: 

  • CRLT's webpage on online collaboration tools features short videos, descriptions, and examples of U-M instructors teaching effectively with these technologies.
  • Similarly, CRLT's Occasional Paper No. 31 (pdf), describes how various online collaboration tools can address common teaching challenges across course types and disciplines. Additionally, it provides recommendations on how to implement these instructional technologies easily, effectively, and efficiently.

And here are several other resources we provide to support your effective use of instructional technologies:  Read more »

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