TIP winner

MARY LOU DORF (Electrical Engineering and Computer Science,College of Engineering)

EARTH 380 “Mineral Resources, Economics, and the Environment” empowers students to understand the technical, social, and financial complexities of radically transforming the electricity infrastructure of our campus. Following a flipped classroom format, students are introduced to a particular energy-related concept and given a problem to investigate each week, using the entire Ann Arbor campus as their primary site of inquiry. The problems are scaffolded such that students have the tools they need and produce data independently. Students submit their results via Canvas prior to a weekly discussion section, enabling instructors to aggregate and evaluate the results for similarities and differences, and highlight areas of consensus and disagreement.

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MARY LOU DORF (Electrical Engineering and Computer Science,College of Engineering)

“Creative Process” (UARTS 250) is a course that promotes interdisciplinary learning approaches through the lens of four North Campus “making” academic units: Art & Design; Engineering; Architecture & Urban Planning; and Music, Theatre & Dance. Each term a team of five faculty from four different U-M schools works closely with students to illustrate how thinking and working creatively brings greater productivity, accomplishment, meaning, and richness to multiple aspects of life: academic, professional, and personal.

Rotating through two-week sessions with different faculty members “place[s] students comfortably in zones of discomfort,” where low-stakes, introductory assignments encourage risk, failure, and iteration—all backbone principles for the course. For the final project students are given balloons with a word tucked inside. These words are simple, randomly generated, and as diverse as “butter,” “diagonal,” or “salmon.” The students are encouraged to explore their words etymologically, physically (through dance), spiritually and socially, building on the themes and skills explored during the rotations. Their projects are displayed and discussed at a gallery showing at the end of the semester to illustrate the diversity of work generated.

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MARY LOU DORF (Electrical Engineering and Computer Science,College of Engineering)

A keystone of the Semester In Detroit (SID) project, the “Detroiters Speak” series creates a unique public space for dialogue around several contemporary debates through an innovative one-credit course. Classes are public events open to everyone and anyone who might be interested in the semester’s theme. People from in/around the city of Detroit are “community students,” and are joined by U-M students and alumni who live and work in or near Detroit. All materials for the class are posted on a publicly accessible web portal, and the events are recorded and archived for later viewing.

Where and how gatherings occur is as crucial to the success of the events as the content being discussed. Events are held in the Cass Corridor Commons, a community organizational hub and gathering space that stands as an alternative to the growing tides of gentrification. The regular offering of a light dinner has been crucial in welcoming local residents and creating a nurturing environment to engage in intense and often heated discussions about Detroit. The ongoing nature of the project has not only grown attendance for the events but built opportunities for all types of students to learn together and be challenged intellectually and socially in community classrooms.

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MARY LOU DORF (Electrical Engineering and Computer Science,College of Engineering)

EECS 183 “Elementary Programming Concepts” introduces many U-M students to computing and computer science, and its design dispels stereotypes about what programming is, and who can be programmers. Beginning students often struggle with confidence in their ability to succeed. Female students and underrepresented minorities—who are less likely to have prior experience according to U-M data—are disproportionately impacted. Every aspect of the course is created to be explicitly inclusive. Women and other minority groups in computing are represented in the teaching staff, lecture materials, course projects, and all course materials in general.

Undertaking a substantial programming project and showcasing their teams’ successes build students’ confidence through a sense of earned accomplishment at an early stage of the computer science curriculum. The project becomes tangible evidence that the student can actually do the work of a computer scientist, empowering women and other underrepresented groups to continue on in the major and into the field. Building on the success of the authentic learning opportunities provided, the course boosts retention of students who may otherwise become discouraged and leave before hitting a traditional capstone project.

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L TO R: SANDRO CINTI  (Internal Medicine, Medical School), MICHAEL COLE, & MICHELLE DANIEL  (Emergency Medicine, Medical School)

The design of the Chief Concern Course (CCC) takes a whole-task approach to teaching the complex skill of clinical reasoning to first-year medical students. The curriculum guides the students through increasingly complex cases and emphasizes prompt feedback on the performance of learning tasks, just-in-time information and resources, and opportunities to practice recurring procedures until they become automatic.

Each case begins with a “chief concern,” a patient’s main reason for seeking care. Cases horizontally integrate content from students’ science courses, but discourage overly compartmentalized thinking by deliberately “crossing” organ systems. Students learn an approach to thinking about clinical problems at a time when their content knowledge is just forming, rather than focusing on rote memorization of specific diseases.

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