Provost's Teaching Innovation Prize Winners

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Provost's Teaching Innovation Prize home page and nominations

Awarded in: 2016
Recipient(s) Title

David Hughes

Debriefing Students’ Clinical Skills With the Minute Feedback System


When cutting into a human body, surgery students and their supervisors appropriately focus their full attention on the patient. Providing high quality feedback on a student’s performance in the moment is understandably a lower priority. But if there is no mechanism for pursuing feedback after the fact, the teachable moment evaporates, impeding learning and frustrating students, administrators, and faculty. Using Qualtrics survey software, the Minute Feedback System makes it quick and easy for students to request feedback on a specific aspect of their clinical care via the web. The...
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David Chesney

Developing Software Systems for Children with Disabilities


Creating opportunities for students to engage deeply with “real-world” problems has long been recognized as a high-impact teaching practice. In EECS 481, the innovation lies in the web of relationships that connect undergraduates in the capstone software engineering course with a child (identified by CS Mott Children’s Hospital) who could benefit from assistive technologies. Students learn about a specific disability selected for the semester from clinical faculty and through interaction with the child and family. After an overview of cutting-edge technologies, each...
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Fei Wen

Identify-Solve-Broadcast Students’ Own Mass and Heat Transport Phenomena


Supporting students in the production of work that will be valued by real audiences, not just a grader, is a hallmark of innovative teaching. In 2012, Chemical Engineering 342 won a TIP award by challenging students to demonstrate heat and mass transfer principles for visiting high schoolers. In 2014, ChE342 students took demos of heat and mass transfer to the next level by creating YouTube videos, a multimedia assignment. Students respond enthusiastically to meaningful opportunities for autonomy and creativity. Careful scaffolding of the video project process by the instructor can...
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Brian Coppola

Improving Instruction and Nurturing Future Science Educators


Launched in 2014, the Chemical Sciences at the Interface of Education (CSIE|UM) program models a way to institutionalize faculty-led engagement in instructional development throughout a department. Faculty form teaching groups (analogous to research groups) supported by internal funding and the administrative leadership of a new Associate Chair for Educational Development and Practice. In turn, the teaching groups bring together undergraduate students, graduate students, and postdoctoral associates to undertake meaningful projects that also develop their professional skills. Below are...
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Sapan Ambani

Making Every Second Count With Spaced Questioning Technology


Time. Urology surgery residents just don’t have much left for studying—after performing surgery, caring for patients, and advancing research. Worse yet, cramming doesn’t support retention of concepts fundamental to the field (see survey results below). Fortunately, personalized learning technology can a) keep track of what material each student has mastered and b) schedule periodic testing of remaining content. Best of all, spaced questioning can actually increase retention up to two years. Here’s how it works. At any spare moment, residents access a web-based...
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Awarded in: 2015
Recipient(s) Title

Jill Halpern

Calculus in the Commons: Bringing Math to Life


When students can make meaningful connections to abstract material, they learn more. In Jill Halpern’s project-based sections of U-M’s introductory math sequence, students trek to the Nichols Arboretum to see Fibonacci’s sequence at work in nature. Or they explore the meaning of a difficult concept like halflife through the radiometric dating of dinosaurs in the Museum of Natural History. Beyond providing a realistic context for computations, venturing out of the classroom can engage students both intellectually and emotionally by increasing understanding,...
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Richard Norton

Generating Multidisciplinary Synergies Across Community-Engaged Courses


In U-M’s decentralized academic setting, a huge challenge for community engaged learning is that students and faculty from multiple disciplines sometimes work with the same community without ever being aware of each other’s projects. Changing this dynamic by coordinating across programs is not easy, but the payoffs are profound. When practicums from different schools deliberately focus on a single site, students develop a capacity for collaborating thoughtfully with peers from other disciplines, and communities benefit from better-rounded analyses and proposals....
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Lisa C. Young

Re-Connecting Hopi Seeds: Creating Virtual Dialogues With a Source Community


Students in the fall 2014 Museum Anthropology course (ANTHRARC 497) enjoyed a unique learning opportunity that thoughtfully integrated physical and virtual research. Specifically, student teams created a digital archive of a U-M museum botanical collection gathered from the Hopi reservation in 1935 and then interviewed (via videoconferencing) contemporary Hopi farmers. Blogging about their progress helped students share their experiences, while also documenting and reflecting on the project.   In this video recorded in March 2015 at the Provost's Seminar on Teaching,...
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Zachary London

Teaching Medical Reasoning with EMG Whiz


A web-based simulator, EMG Whiz challenges medical residents and fellows to plan efficient sequences of electromyography tests in order to diagnose nerve and muscle disorders. Training recommendations call for neurologists and physiatrists to perform and interpret 200 complete electrodiagnostic evaluations during their residencies or fellowships. Although hands-on, clinical experience enables trainees to become adept at making common diagnoses, trainees are unlikely to get enough practice with less commonly seen diseases to be able to identify them with confidence, let alone to do so...
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Burgunda Sweet

Teaching Teamwork and Interprofessional Practice in Healthcare


Interprofessional education (IPE) is increasingly viewed by both international health organizations and higher education accreditation bodies as a prerequisite to achieving the “Triple Aim” of improving the patient experience of care, increasing the overall health of communities, and reducing the per capita costs of health care. In response, leaders of five health science schools at U-M agreed in 2014 to jointly prepare their students for such a future by developing a new course, Team-Based Clinical Decision Making. Launched in winter 2015, this course serves more than...
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Awarded in: 2014
Recipient(s) Title

Davoren Chick

CaringWithCompassion.org: A Comprehensive Training Portal for Clinicians Serving At-Risk Populations


Although national accreditation standards expect clinicians to be aware of socioeconomic barriers that impact patient care, no national curriculum existed. A local needs assessment revealed that exposing U-M residents to an informal curriculum through training in underserved clinical settings resulted in no significantly improved knowledge of content essential to the care of the homeless and uninsured.   To fill this gap, an interprofessional group with members from medical education, nursing, social work, internal medicine, pediatrics, communications, and graphic design...
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Sherif El-Tawil

Dancing with Steel Girders: Interacting with 3-D Representations of Buckling Columns in Virtual Reality


Traditional methods of teaching structural engineering are static, making it difficult for students to visualize and appreciate how complex spatial arrangements change when subjected to varying circumstances. When 3-D objects are depicted in 2-D spaces like screens, boards, or lecture notes, students have no opportunity to reconfigure the models at will. Even when working with 3-D physical structures in a controlled, laboratory environment, it can be difficult, costly, and dangerous to demonstrate limit states, especially those associated with compression members and connections....
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Mark Moldwin

Doing Science Firsthand Through Dorm-Room Labs


Identifying students’ most common misconceptions is a strategy for focusing interventions that can yield tremendous payoffs in student learning. Dorm-room labs offer a method for moving difficult concepts off the “wrong answer” list. They are particularly valuable in large, introductory science and engineering courses whereby non-majors can fulfill a breadth requirement, yet lack access to fully equipped lab classrooms.   Dorm-room labs consist of short activities followed by a few questions and a highly structured lab report. They cover abstract concepts...
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Steve Yalisove

Dropping Lecture and Summative Exams to Accelerate Deep Learning


Picture a section of 60 engineering students working in 12 groups, each with its own whiteboard. Prior to class, everyone has carefully read the assigned text and marked it up with social annotation software developed at MIT. After individuals bring homework solutions to class, each group strives for up to 90 minutes to create a superior, collective response. Almost as much time is then spent analyzing differences between the best solution and one’s initial effort: distinguishing conceptual from procedural errors, rating overall understanding, listing areas that need review, and...
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Anne McNeil

Trailblazing With Wikipedia: Improving Student Learning and Easing Implementation


Editing Wikipedia allows students to transmit the knowledge they are gaining to real-world audiences beyond U-M. However, crafting assignments that promote effective student learning and meaningful collaboration, while also respecting Wikipedia’s rules and style conventions, can present a daunting challenge.   Fortunately, instructors no longer have to “go it alone” or “reinvent the wheel,” thanks to the pioneering efforts of Prof. McNeil and her GSIs, who began creating Wikipedia class projects in two graduate level-courses (CHEM 538 and 540)...
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Awarded in: 2013
Recipient(s) Title

Brent Gillespie

Feeling Is Believing: Haptic Feedback Links Math and Intuition


Students may be capable of manipulating mathematical models of physical systems in the abstract, yet lack intuitive understanding of how changes in system variables will manifest physically. The Cigar Box is a tool that makes the same behavior that is being described mathematically accessible to students’ haptic senses of touch and motion. It turns code into virtual environments that can be touched and manipulated, much like the real world objects to which they refer. Best of all, model parameters can be changed on the fly as students interactively explore dynamic systems....
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Mika LaVaque-Manty

Gamifying a Large, Introductory Course and Fostering Student Autonomy


“Gamification” is the application of structures, rules, and logics encountered in games to non-game contexts. Gamifying a course doesn’t consist of just converting conventional grades to points. Rather, the logic of rewards must be pervasively changed. Conventional reward systems “mark students down,” discouraging them from a crucial part of learning: failing and trying again. However, when students focus on “leveling up” and earning points, they are motivated to do more work and to take on new challenges. When students aren’t penalized...
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Michael Hortsch

SecondLook (or if Socrates taught with an iPad): Helping Students Evaluate Their Learning


SecondLook is a study aid that lets learners self-test their ability to recognize visual structures and interpret their significance. Originally developed in PowerPoint and disseminated via a Medical School website, the resource became available through the iTunes Store in November 2012. Over the first three months it was downloaded 1,438 times across 74 different countries.   This teaching innovation is particularly relevant to any discipline that introduces students to daunting amounts of visual material. For example, studying the microscopic structure of tissues constitutes...
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Michael Gould

The Drum Diaries: Inspiring and Integrating Exploration and Practice


The Drum Diaries project fulfills a 30-year wish for a single technological device capable of providing instant access to vast collections of audio and visual music recordings. Digital tablets now offer opportunities to surpass the predominant format typically available to new players of instruments--a method book plus a CD (which often gets lost and thus goes unheard).   Instead, with the Drum Diaries iBook loaded onto an iPad propped on a music stand, a student can quickly switch from reading, seeing and/or hearing to playing along, imitating, or creatively improvising. Music...
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Antonio (Tony) Alvarez

The Stick Project: To Transform and To Be Transformed


How can instructors address the limits of teaching practice- oriented material within the confines of a classroom? How can learners directly experience topics being taught in order to develop rich understandings of abstract and amorphous concepts?   In social work, it is particularly challenging to convey to students the process of personal transformation for clients seeking change in one or more aspects of their lives, and to further address the responsibility inherent in guiding another. Not only must practitioners be able to build effective relationships with clients, but...
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Awarded in: 2012
Recipient(s) Title

Tim McKay
David Gerdes
August Evrard

Better Than Expected: Using Tailored Communication to Optimize Learning


E²Coach takes the form of a highly personalized website that delivers complex feedback and encouragement. Advice is tailored to the student’s background, current standing, and progress over the course of the semester, and is also sensitive to the student’s ambitions and identity (elicited by survey at the course’s outset).    Final grades can be predicted quite well for students embarking upon introductory physics courses due to a 2008 learning analytics project with data on nearly 50,000 U-M students. Of course, some students do better than...
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Kathleen Sienko

Co-Creative, Immersion-Based Design for Global Health


Challenging undergraduates to design medical equipment for use in limited-resource settings requires long-range vision and significant scaffolding. The innovativeness of this initiative is not tied to a specific class but rather lies in a sequence of experiences that has yielded a remarkable payoff. High quality design projects have led to conference presentations, an article in the Journal of Medical Devices, patent applications, and a spin-off social venture.   Initially, U-M’s Global Intercultural Experience for Undergraduates (GIEU) program provided a framework for...
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Lola Eniola-Adefeso

Experiencing "True Engineering" Earlier: Learning Concepts by Teaching to High School Students


Inviting Ypsilanti 10th graders to serve as an audience for “science fair-style” presentations by undergraduate engineering teams is a multi-faceted innovation. Beyond motivating individual undergraduates to learn concepts more thoroughly as they figure out how to teach them, the format supports STEM retention in several ways.    First, putting the onus on undergraduates to creatively link real-world applications to chemical engineering principles increases interest and excitement. This matters because STEM attrition increases when students feel bored or don...
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Joanna Mirecki Millunchick

High Return on Faculty Investment: Addressing Diverse Student Needs in Large Lectures Through Screencasting


Screencasting has previously been featured in projects receiving the Provost’s Teaching Innovation Prize. The innovativeness of this particular project lies in its integration of sound research on learning outcomes from the very outset.   Students from different engineering majors have comparable academic indicators upon entering MSE 220, a large introductory materials science and engineering course. However, their prior exposure to the course material varies widely. Whereas the core curricula for aerospace and chemical engineering majors include MSE-related topics,...
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Theresa Tinkle

Teaching Smarter Not Harder: Improving Students' Close Reading Skills Through Interactivity


Three innovations stand out in this re-invention of  English 350, a survey of literature before 1660. First, instead of prioritizing highly specialized knowledge of cultural contexts, the instructional team prioritized undergraduates’ development of close reading skills. Second, the usual order of things in a large lecture course was reversed in that students spent more time performing close readings themselves, and less time merely observing instructors’ demonstrations of the skills. Third, the introduction of technologies less commonly used in the humanities made it...
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Awarded in: 2011
Recipient(s) Title

Brenda Gunderson

Infusing Technology for Guided Continuous Learning in a Large Gateway Course


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 eagerly engage with a suite of technologies that gives them multiple paths for developing, practicing, and testing their understanding of concepts and relationships.   SMART Presentation Tools: A tablet PC allows the instructor to make the problem solving process transparent and guide students to see connections to earlier material. Lecture...
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Brian Coppola
Joseph Krajcik
Mary Starr

Securing Our FUTURE: Foundations for Undergraduate Teaching - Uniting Research and Education


This program fosters collaboration between first- and second-year undergraduates in LSA gateway science and mathematics courses with local middle and high school teachers. FUTURE gives undeclared undergraduates the chance to design and implement a lesson in an authentic classroom setting, leading many to consider a career in teaching.   Two to three U-M students are matched with an in-service teachers who propose lesson ideas that they’ve previously lacked the resources to carry out. The U-M students visit their host’s classroom and enroll in the FUTURE seminar...
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Paul Conway

Teaching Ethics of/with New Technologies


Undergraduates explore the ethical issues posed by the use of social information teachnologies in SI 410 Ethics and Information Technology under-graduates 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 behavior within a closed (and safe) community makes it possible for students to take risks that...
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Susan Ashford

The Leadership Crisis Challenge (LCC): Forging Courage, Judgment, and Integrity


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 intensive exercise runs 24 hours and presents a realistic business crisis that poses vexing questions: What does a company “owe” the...
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Douglas Northrop

ZOOM: Teaching Time, Space, and Approaches to Knowledge


“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...
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Awarded in: 2010
Recipient(s) Title

Karen Markey

BiblioBouts: A Library Research Game Professors Can Integrate Directly in Their Classes


Developed under a National Leadership Grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services, this open-source game teaches students research and information literacy skills. The game takes place online, so faculty do not have to set aside precious, in-class time for students to practice and develop these skills.   BiblioBouts is the second library skills game created under Markey’s leadership. The first game showed the design team that game play cannot appear unrelated to students’ coursework, lest it be seen as a waste of time. Instead, it must be integrated into...
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Brad Orr

Essential Scientific Computation Applied to Physics Education (ESCAPE)


Introductory physics courses often obscure the elegance and simplicity of the topic by reducing it to unrealistic situations described by a forest of mathematical formulae. ESCAPE’s innovation lies in giving Physics 160 students access to software and numerical techniques used by practicing physicists. With laptop computers handling the number crunching, students can focus on analyzing conditions and building realistic simulations, starting with the trajectory of an inelastic, bouncing racquetball and culminating with a capstone project in which they thoroughly examine a physical...
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Robert Bain
Elizabeth Moje

Learning and Teaching the Disciplines through Clinical Rounds (The Rounds Project)


This project borrows the idea of rounds from medical and nursing training and applies it to the process of preparing secondary school history and social studies teachers. Over three semesters, teacher candidates work in a professional program that integrates discipline-specific literacy, history/social science content and high-leverage teaching practices while they “rotate” through a series of carefully scaffolded and closely supervised clinical experiences.    Traditionally, would-be teachers acquire disciplinary content in LSA, encounter pedagogical theory...
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John Del Valle
Michael Lukela
Rajesh Mangrulkar
Vikas Parekh

Patient Safety Learning Program


Despite efforts to improve patient safety over the last decade, medical errors continue to affect significant numbers of patients. Graduate medical education programs (i.e., residencies) present an excellent  environment for targeting this issue. As frontline providers, residents are well positioned to analyze adverse events and to devise solutions to prevent their recurrence, while integrating best practices into their clinical work.  
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Barry Fishman

Using Collaboration and Communication Technologies to Transform Large Lectures into Small Seminars


Large classes feel more like a small community of learners when students possess multiple avenues for active participation. Each of the four following technologies can stand alone, allowing faculty to experiment with discrete components as time and interest permit. Deployed in combination, these tools support a powerful set of pedagogical practices that leverage the devices students already have with them -- cell phones and laptop computers.   Types of tools and specific examples:   POLLING: Poll Everywhere is a web-based tool that replicates “clicker”...
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