Grants

Funded Projects
Faculty Development Fund (FDF)
Project Title Overview of the Project
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.

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.
New English Language Institute Undergraduate English for Academic Purposes Curriculum

$10000.00

The English Language Institute (ELI), an LSA program which provides English for Academic Purposes (EAP) courses and co-curricular learning opportunities to international graduate students, has been charged with developing undergraduate courses and co-curricular offerings. Since 2013, the almost 2000 international undergraduate students at U-M have had no access to EAP instruction. This faculty group has been tasked with designing a cutting-edge undergraduate EAP curriculum that reflects the latest research on EAP instruction to engage diverse international undergraduates across the University of Michigan. These courses will be carefully crafted to meet the specific reading, writing, speaking, and listening needs of international undergraduates on U-M’s Ann Arbor campus. They will be supplemented with co-curricular offerings, including one-to-one language studio consultations, EAP workshops, and an online pre-arrival course. We will also develop concrete plans for coordination and collaboration with stakeholder units. The FDF-funded portion of our work will begin with a Spring 2020 retreat during which the findings from data collected and analyzed in the prior year and outlines for prospective courses will be reviewed. We will then move on to creating detailed syllabi and teaching materials for specific courses and co-curricular offerings. The overarching goal is to provide comprehensive language, academic, and intercultural support that will ensure the success of every international student on campus.
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.