Grants

Funded Projects
Faculty Development Fund (FDF)
Project Title Overview of the Project
Building a Platform for Live, Individualized Feedback During In-Class Programming Exercises
James Juett
Engineering
John Kloosterman
Engineering
Amir Kamil
Engineering

$5991.00

In several of our introductory programming courses (ENGR 101, EECS 183, and EECS 280), we engage students during lecture in code writing exercises supported by a web-based code editor and program visualization tool called "Lobster". We propose additional features we would like to add to Lobster to improve feedback students receive on exercises, provide checkpoints as they work toward a solution, and create an instructor dashboard for tracking students' progress in real-time. These additional features will enable new modes of teaching and learning in the classroom and improve instructor-student interaction. Our plan initially targets in-class exercises in ENGR 101, EECS 183, and EECS 280. Improvements to these courses will impact a large number of students - during the year 2018, they had a combined enrollment of nearly 5,400 students. We plan to hire a UM student as a developer to implement this work.

Lobster is currently used by only about half of the instructors who regularly teach ENGR 101, EECS 183, and EECS 280. We expect more fully featured exercises in Lobster and improved feedback for students and instructors will lead more instructors will adopt Lobster for exercises in their lectures, and we will use the adoption rate as one of our evaluation metrics. We will also obtain multi source feedback from students and instructors to evaluate how the improved version of Lobster compares to the current implementation. We will use the Winter 2020 term as a control and test the newly implemented Lobster features in Fall 2020.
Investigating Spatial Reasoning Training for Introductory Computing
Westley Weimer
Engineering
Bill Arthur
Engineering

$6000.00

Michigan Computer Science struggles to attract and retain undergraduate women and students from lower socioeconomic status backgrounds. Some studies have found spatial ability to be the single biggest predictor of success in computer science, even beyond experience and access to a computer. Spatial ability in incoming students correlates with gender and SES, but spatial ability can be trained. Such transfer training works best between activities that use the same regions of the brain; using medical imaging, our group has recently found such neural similarity between spatial ability and programming tasks.

We propose (1) a controlled, ten-week longitudinal study to investigate the transfer of spatial training to programming ability, and (2) if transfer is found, integration of spatial training into an introductory programming course (EECS 183, part of the CRLT Foundational Course Initiative) curriculum and measurements of effects on performance, diversity and student retention. If successful, the changes can be incorporated into EECS 183 for sustainable benefits.

Studies of over 3,000 students have found that spatial training can help students improve performance in general engineering classes. For example, Michigan Technological University has required such spatial training for low-spatial engineering students for over twenty years. However, they have not yet been evaluated for computer science. In collaboration with an expert in spatial ability and intervention studies from Psychology and instructional faculty from Computer Science, we propose to investigate whether spatial training can be successful at helping to close important gaps in Computer Science student success and retention.
Empowering Educators: The MENTOR Series
Daniel Cronin
Medical School
Michelle Daniel
Medical School
Seetha Monrad
Medical School
Gurjit Sandhu
Medical School
Vineet Chopra
Medical School
Robert Dickson
Medical School

Medical School
Amit Gupta
Medical School
Nathan Houchens
Medical School
Sanjay Saint
Medical School
Jakob McSparron
Medical School
Janet Biermann
Medical School

Medical School

Medical School
Patricia Mullan
Medical School
Michael Englesbe
Medical School

$6500.00

Historically, medical students at the University of Michigan Medical School have had limited educator preparedness training. This is unfortunate as once medical students graduate they have significant responsibilities teaching co-residents and the next generation of medical students. Although a teaching elective does exist within the medical school, it is not scalable and not suited to practice clinical teaching. This grant team seeks to create a new “Clinical Teaching Elective” which will be scalable and flexible, allowing senior medical students to learn core teaching principles and skills while simultaneously being immersed in clinical practice. To accomplish this, our grant team is developing a central repository of best teaching practices that can be used as a curricular tool and on-demand teacher’s guide, the Medical Educators Novel Teaching On-demand Resource (MENTOR) Series, which is comprised of primarily concise educational videos supplemented by summary infographics. Importantly, select videos will also be used futuristically to fill gaps in other areas of the medical school curriculum. The creation team is composed of a diverse group of education experts from various departments and divisions, who are involved in content creation, design, evaluation and implementation. To ensure that our resource is optimally created for a variety of learning styles and preferences, we will be obtaining iterative feedback from medical student group interviews. The grant money will be used to fund food for medical student group interviews, as well as costs of video and infographic production including editing videos, script styles, animations and graphics based off medical student feedback.

Knowledge Sharing: The Museum Anthropology Course and Anishinaabe Basket Makers

$5810.00

The proposed project incorporates new experiential and multicultural learning opportunities for students in the Museum Anthropology course and will contribute to the Winter 2020 Great Lakes Theme semester. Funds are requested to bring two Anishinaabe (Indigenous communities of the Great Lakes region) artists who make baskets using traditional materials to Ann Arbor. The artists will meet with students in the course to discuss museum objects that the students have researched. Through conversations, students gain real-world experience in multicultural engagement and knowledge sharing, which are the foundation for museum/community partnerships. Students will use what they have learned through their research and conversations with the artists to develop an exhibit for the student project display cases in the UM Museum of Natural History (UMMNH).
Undergraduate Public Health Curriculum Assessment and Redesign
Emily Youatt
Public Health

$10000.00

The U-M School of Public Health Office of Undergraduate Education (SPH OUE) requests a Faculty Development Fund award to assess and redesign the undergraduate core curriculum and culminating experience. With an annual enrollment of approximately 90 students per cohort, the core curriculum and culminating experience represent the six required courses all students take during their two years as public health undergraduate students. Delineated during the development of the program, these six courses were structured with input from the full SPH faculty to collectively address the learning domains and competencies defined by SPH’s accrediting body. Taught by faculty members from four SPH departments, these courses are interdisciplinary in nature and address a broad set of learning domains. The intent of these courses is to provide students an integrated introduction to key concepts and knowledge from across the field of public health (core curriculum), and to synthesize experiences in the program and connect them with student’s public health practice and professional goals (culminating experience). Initial feedback from faculty and graduate student instructors (GSIs) teaching required courses and from students enrolled in the courses has been mixed. While instructors and students alike see the benefits of a required, sequential set of courses, concerns remain about the content and structure of the core and culminating experience. We are requesting funding to support an in-depth assessment of strengths and weaknesses of the existing undergraduate required curriculum, and to implement a redesigned curriculum that better meets the learning needs of undergraduate public health students.
Holographic Visualization of Magnetization Dynamics for Improved Magnetic Resonance Imaging Education
Nicole Seiberlich
Medical School
Daniel Fessahazion
Libraries (UM)

$6000.00

In this project, flexible augmented reality holographic displays will be created as visual aids for teaching the basic concepts of Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI). MRI is one of the most important and widely used medical imaging modalities, but also complex and thus challenging for students to understand. Undergraduates and graduate students in Biomedical Engineering, Electrical Engineering, and Physics, as well as medical students and residents, often struggle to truly understand the connection between the MRI scanner settings, the nuclear magnetic moment (which is the source of the MRI signal), and image contrast. Educators attempt to depict the complex motion of the magnetic moment using 2D figures or 3D movies, but these conventional approaches are insufficient and often give the impression that MRI is much more complicated than it really is. Novel holographic visualization apps, using hardware such as Microsoft HoloLens, provide a unique opportunity to help students learn this complex material. Interactive holographic visual aids will be developed in-house at the Duderstadt Center specifically for MRI education. These new tools will be accompanied by lecture materials such that the complete package can be disseminated to any faculty member wishing to teach MRI, including specialized holographic visualization modules for undergraduate and graduate students (BME 499.006 and BME/EECS 516) as well as radiology residents. The success of the project will be evaluated via surveys and improvement in student test scores. The team members involved in this project are enthusiastic and have the expertise and access to students to facilitate this work.
Undergraduate Medical Education Introduction to Antimicrobial Decision-Making
Emily Abdoler
Medical School

$2649.00

Research indicates that physicians have difficulty selecting appropriate antimicrobials for treating infections, which can harm patients and lead to increasing antimicrobial resistance. Difficulty with antimicrobial prescribing likely begins early in medical education, and nationally many medical students consider their knowledge of infectious diseases (ID) and microbiology inadequate at the time of graduation. At the University of Michigan Medical School, the first year ID/Microbiology course is the last dedicated opportunity for medical students to gain knowledge regarding optimal antimicrobial selection; during clinical rotations, they learn directly from practicing physicians who may be among those making antimicrobial prescribing errors. This project aims to provide medical students with a framework for antimicrobial selection and schema for organizing their ID knowledge during the first-year ID/Microbiology course, while also introducing the concept of therapeutic reasoning. The framework will be provided on a laminated card and introduced through an interactive, case-based session. The framework will be reiterated through each of the course’s clinical syndrome lectures, thereby providing an organizing structure for students’ burgeoning knowledge. It also will be reinforced and applied through two new interactive sessions – healthcare acquired infections and antimicrobial stewardship – that touch upon themes of empiric antimicrobial selection and de-escalation. Semi-structured interviews of clinical students before and after project implementation will evaluate the impact on students’ approach to studying ID/Microbiology and managing infections. This project could serve as a pilot for a broader therapeutic reasoning curriculum within the medical school, as well as a prototype for introducing organizing schema in other medical school courses.
Lettersmith: Supporting Students in Client and Employer Communication
Julie Hui
Information

$6000.00

Respectful and professional client and employer communication is a critical skill for students’ professional development. The goal of this proposal is to continue the development of Lettersmith, an online tool that scales expert guidance for student email communication with clients and employers. Instructors (e.g. professors, career counselors, lecturers) express that students continue to make various mistakes in their professional communication, including not using appropriate language, not clearly stating their intentions, failing to personalize their message, or lacking the confidence to even send these messages in the first place. In effect, instructors spend a significant portion of their time reviewing individual emails and repeating the same guidance, sometimes even rebuilding student-client relationships due to avoidable communication errors. For the past three years, we developed and tested Lettersmith (https://lettersmith.io/), an online tool that provides an instructor-informed checklist of best practices, tagged examples provided by instructors and peers, and open space for students to write a draft in their own words. While the prior work focused on improving student communication quality and confidence, we aim to better understand and incorporate instructor needs, specifically 1) supporting greater awareness of student-client and -employer communication relationships, and 2) providing the ability to allow for more nuanced and readily-available communication guidance in the tool. In the future, we hope to perform further studies to better understand how tools like Lettersmith could reduce the gap in access to communication guidance across marginalized student populations, such as first-generation college students and non-native English speakers.
Development of an Interactive Textbook Platform for Engineering and Science Education
John Kieffer
Engineering

$5974.00

The primary goal of this project is to create novel electronic textbooks with interactive content. The key innovative aspect are numerical simulation models, or widgets, of processes and phenomena that are conceptually abstract, involve atomistic level mechanisms that are too small to directly observe, or occur within an industrial scale installation. Hence, they are difficult, if not impossible to demonstrate in class or a laboratory. However, using HTML5 and Javascript, simulations can be directly embedded in the text, and allow the reader to interactively explore processes and fundamental concepts that form the theoretical basis for various disciplines. It allows the reader to immediately test their understanding of the imparted information by manipulating the process parameters or phenomenological conditions to probe the effect on outcomes. Learning takes place through instinctual communication with the simulation, by merely swiping a finger across a tablet to control parameter settings. E-textbooks of this caliber do not yet exist, and their interactive functionality represents a pedagogical innovation. Embedded process simulations provide students with a radically new immersive learning experience, in that the content is not preconceived but it is generated on demand, in response to user queries. To realize this technology on a larger scale we propose to develop an easily expandable and user-friendly coding platform, made accessible through an efficient workflow integration and a generally applicable code design, organized into a library structure. We emphasize high quality GUIs with functional layout, instinctive usability, and esthetically appealing graphics.
Coloring Science

$10000.00

A key factor influencing academic and career choices by undergraduate students is the presence of role models. These role models can be the faculty and graduate student instructors that teach them, but also the scientists that are highlighted in the textbooks and lectures. Currently, there is lack of geographic, ethnic, and racial diversity of these potential role models present in course materials. This is due to the combination of historic and current opportunity gaps, bias in selection by publishers that typically stick to the classic examples, and shortfalls in crediting of past scientific contributions by scientists belonging to such underrepresented groups. In this proposal, we aim to develop a resource that can be used in the main introductory gateway classes to the various biology majors, with the goal to increase the diversity of presented role models to approximately 5,500 students per year. This resource will consist of a collection of lecture slides pertaining to the core concepts taught in these classes, highlighting the key work contributed by scientists of color.