Funded Projects
Gilbert Whitaker Fund for the Improvement of Teaching
Project Title Overview of the Project
Lessons from the Front Lines: Piloting an Online Platform for Strengthening Community Organization Courses in the School of Social Work Via a Michigan Organizers Video Archive
Barry Checkoway
Social Work
Larry Gant
Social Work
Joseph Galura
Social Work
Shanna Kattari
Social Work
Beth Reed
Social Work
Amber Williams
Social Work


The proposed project aims to create an online platform through which community organizers’ experiences and stories can be captured, taped, and archived in a curated video format and used across multiple classrooms in and outside of the School of Social Work. As an innovative and sustainable teaching model, the project would enhance student learning by integrating Michigan’s community organizers into classrooms using a dynamic digital platform. Lessons from the Front Lines: Community Organizing Archives will feature 15 to 20 organizers in 20-minute videos, sharing their own experiences and their practice, key skills and strategies, lessons from the field, and other information in an interview style setting. These videos will be coupled with short biographies, photos, information about communities/issues, suggested readings, and links to additional resources. For more robust access, the information will be searchable by “type” of practice, and will also have keywords connected to organizers’ profiles. We anticipate partnering with Academic Innovations to create the most user friendly and dynamic online experience while also leveraging the A/V, communications, and technology resources already available to us at the School of Social Work. The videos will be used within multiples community organization social work courses at the undergraduate, masters, and doctoral levels, to supplement and enhance current course content. We intend to reach approximately 100 undergraduates and over 200 graduate students annually. This project supports the School’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion goals to bring diverse voices and experiences into the classroom in new and meaningful ways.
Integration of a Virtual Reality Curriculum for Medical Students, Pediatric Residents, and Pediatric Cardiology Fellows for Cardiac Anatomy and Congenital Heart Defects
Sonal Owens
Medical School
James Cooke
Medical School


Virtual reality involves the use of headsets containing dual display screens to mimic binocular vision. An immersive 3D environment is then rendered from a host computer, allowing the user to explore and interact with the 3D world. A virtual reality software package called "Stanford Virtual Heart" (SVH), developed by a team at Stanford University utilizes this technology to allow users to place themselves "inside the heart," trace the flow of blood throughout the heart, as well as explore different and nontraditional views of the heart, providing a unique learning experience. The software currently includes the normal heart and several common congenital cardiac defects (atrial septal defect, ventricular septal defect, aortic stenosis, pulmonic stenosis, coarctation of the aorta, and patent ductus arteriosus). The UM team will also collaborate with the Stanford team to add several complex cardiac lesions that are critical to understanding cardiac physiology and benefit from early identification and intervention. We plan to introduce this novel educational tool to pediatric residents, pediatric cardiology fellows, and medical students at the University of Michigan to improve upon content delivery and provide a more robust assessment of learner understanding of cardiac structure and physiology. Efficacy will be measured using pre- and post-intervention assessments. Our overall goal is to improve content delivery, learner engagement, visuospatial understanding for these complex congenital heart defects, provide a model for other similar visuospatial-intensive subjects, and provide a scalable model for broader dissemination.
Improvement of Teaching: Fostering Graduate and Faculty Development Through an Instructional Incubator and Teaching Apprenticeship Model


Our project proposes to develop an iterative model for graduate and faculty development which engages the entire Biomedical Engineering (BME) Department in sustainably transforming BME education at the University of Michigan. Our model is a 2-semester Incubator/Apprenticeship sequence. During the first semester (Incubator), graduate students and post docs work with BME faculty to research rapidly changing BME workforce trends, while learning about evidence-based best teaching practices, to conceptualize 1-credit undergraduate BME courses. During the second semester (Apprenticeship), graduate students are mentored in executing their 1-credit courses. The 1-credit courses were designed in response to BME student demand for more early stage BME classes that address industry needs while the graduate student engagement was designed in response to increasing demands to expose graduate students to alternative postgraduate opportunities. Immersing faculty and graduate students in creating courses informed by evidence-based teaching practices will transform how BME is taught in higher education. Finally, cross-departmental involvement will address the department-wide call for a more integrated community. Development of the model is informed by social constructivist theory and situated learning theories, instructional beliefs, and organizational change theory. Monitoring of the progress of the course design will be done through qualitative analysis of pre- and post-course surveys, end of course University evaluations, and focus groups conducted at various points in the sequence. Dissemination will focus on academic research and practitioners with plans to report to appropriate academic communities and utilize social media and the laboratory web page (Transforming Engineering Education co-Laboratory) to reach practitioners.
e-Book Widgets for Experimenting with Materials Processes, Functionality, and Fundamental Concepts
John Kieffer


The principal objective of this project is to create the next-generation study resources for Materials Science and Engineering (MSE) students and professionals. MSE is a very diverse and rapidly evolving field of study, and requires its practitioners to be educated in a broad spectrum of knowledge and skills. For the last two years, I have been working to develop a framework for the rapid preparation, testing, and implementation of effective instructional content. This framework consists of e-books authoring software, a JavaScript (JS) programming environment, and a web server. The products we generate are a series of tablet-based interactive knowledge exploration modules and accompanying web content. The key innovation of these e-books is that they have apps embedded, designed to simulate processes and phenomena that are at the heart of materials behaviors, properties, and processing techniques. These apps are essentially virtual experiments that allow the reader to interactively explore materials behaviors at the atomistic level and fundamental concepts that form the basis for materials theory. Learning takes place by swiping a finger on a tablet to manipulate parameters settings via slider positions or by dragging a curve to change its shape, and then observe the effect that these actions have on the depicted phenomenon or materials response. The interactivity with the learning resource provides a fully immersive and unconventional learning experience. With this request we seek funds to support for student programmers to help develop these apps.
Understanding student learning in introductory astronomy classes


More than 2500 students per year fulfill at least in part their natural science and quantitative reasoning requirements with an intro astronomy class for non-science majors. To make this learning experience as impactful as possible, we should understand what our students are learning (facts, concepts, skills or attitudes) and how instructors shape that learning. Accordingly, the astronomy department has been assessing the learning of ~1000 students/year in some large enrollment 3 and 4 credit classes. This effort has provided an understanding of typical learning gains, how these gains vary between students with different backgrounds and characteristics and gives a rich dataset for both more nuanced analysis and as a baseline for assessing the impact of interventions.
This effort allows us to frame some urgent, important and as-yet-unanswered questions.
a) Has learning actually improved over the last four years, and if so, has that affected students from diverse academic and social backgrounds? Or, have we instead been monitoring but not improving?
b) What, if any, is the measurable impact of particular interventions?
c) How are students learning in our other large-enrollment classes?
The goal of this proposal is to provide the funds to support the effort an astronomy education researcher to continue our assessment effort and answer these questions. This proposal strongly aligns with the Whitaker Fund goal of ‘assessing courses and/or curricula’, and supports our assessment and prioritization of ‘innovations in teaching methods or approaches’ and ‘inclusive teaching practices that foster success for students of all academic and social backgrounds.’
Reproductive justice education: collaborating with reproductive justice advocates to create a video-based teaching.
Charisse Loder
Medical School
Joanne Bailey
Medical School
Chris Chapman
Medical School


Reproductive justice is defined as “the human right to maintain bodily autonomy, have children, not have children and parent the children we have in safe and sustainable communities”. In the United States, there is a history of reproductive injustices in which health professionals were complicit in coercive sterilization, experimentation with sexually transmitted diseases and new contraceptive technologies on women of color. Currently, there is no formal reproductive justice education for health professionals, however, reproductive justice advocates are interested in designing education in cultural humility, reproductive rights and social determinants of health to train providers.Women's studies undergraduates learn about reproductive justice, however, experts in this topic area are often outside of the academic realm. We propose to create video-based education through collaboration with a diverse group of reproductive justice advocates to educate undergraduates in Women’s Studies, graduate nursing students and medical students. These 5-8 minute videos will introduce key reproductive justice topics and can be used in conjunction with lectures, small group discussion and written case discussions. We will assess student and facilitator satisfaction with the video learning tool, student attitudes and confidence with applying reproductive justice skills. Additionally, we will use qualitative methods to determine if learners incorporate key reproductive justice knowledge and skills into coursework.

Instructional Development Fund (IDF)
Project Title Overview of the Project
Sugarbrook Community Engaged Learning Project
Ayesha Ghazi
Social Work


The Sugarbrook Community Engaged Learning Project is a partnership between the School of Social Work, Habitat for Humanity, & the residents of Ypsilanti’s Sugarbrook neighborhood. The partnership was facilitated, & has ongoing support, by the Ginsberg Center. Through fostering meaningful, equitable relationships, students leverage university resources to help Sugarbrook residents advance their equity, & overcome obstacles resulting from historic & ongoing racial & economic oppression. Students have joined the neighborhood's resident-led Action Teams, including Amenities, Neighbor Relations, Kettering, & Youth Activities, working with residents as they conduct neighborhood action to improve their lives. Some of these actions include advocating for speed abatements & curbs from the township, addressing neighborhood safety concerns, working with Ypsilanti Community Schools to convert an abandoned school site to a neighborhood green space, and conducting activities & events for youth, & events to foster and strengthen neighbor relations. In conducting this work, students use an asset, strength-based organizing approach, focused, & helping residents to identify, their capacity, resources, motivation, & tools for change. Students participate in resident-led action that includes a process of collaboratively identifying neighborhood issues, assessing history & context, identifying actionable objectives, implementing interventions, evaluating outcomes, & sustaining change. In doing so, students learn real-life application of social work tenets, tools, & organizing strategies, such as the necessity of fostering genuine relationships, being aware of identities & their intersection with power & privilege, understanding that those affected by an issue, know best the solution to that issue, & that social work practice is approaching environments, individuals, groups, & communities, with a focus on strengths & assets - not deficits.
Connect and Assess
Daicia Price
Social Work


An interdisciplinary group including medicine, nursing, and social work was formed for the purpose of providing Michigan graduate and undergraduate students with an interdisciplinary, experiential learning experience in a community setting. The project will use the funding to purchase the Michigan Model of Health. This grade-specific curriculum will be brought into the classrooms of Dixon Educational Learning Academy. At the same time, these health care students will use their assessment skills to identify physical, social, emotional and learning needs.
Social Work is a Political Profession
Justin Hodge
Social Work


The purpose of the project is to create an initiative that provides social work professionals practical steps to engage in political action. It will be a two-part event: first, there will be a seminar for up to 100 students led by Dr. Lane and it will be followed by a dinner reception with 20 students to dive deeper into a conversation of how social workers can hold elected office positions to drive social change.
This seminar will promote critical thinking for current graduate students and inform their professional political identity. She will discuss how to engage individuals and communities in voting, influencing policy agendas, and seekings and holding elected office. Dr. Lane will introduce critical thinking exercises in the areas of: power, empowerment, and conflict; planning political interventions; empowering voters; persuasive political communication; and making ethical decisions in political social work. The seminar will also touch on the roots of social workers historically involved in political action to challenge systemic social inequality.
Against the Grain: Transversal and Micro-Connectivities in the Ancient Western Mediterranean


This three-day public symposium and workshop, "Against the Grain: Transversal and Micro-Connectivities in the Ancient Western Mediterranean" will bring together an international group of scholars, University of Michigan faculty, and graduate students to discuss theoretical and archaeological approaches to mobility and connectivity through an exploration of case studies from the ancient western Mediterranean. It will consist of public lectures by three senior scholars, a UM graduate student poster session, and a workshop of pre-circulated papers by junior scholars with graduate students serving as discussants. Because of linguistic and national scholarly divisions, the archaeology of the prehistoric and classical western Mediterranean (especially, Iberia, North Africa, southern France, and the western Mediterranean islands) is often omitted from American traditions of teaching and scholarship. The workshop aims to break down these divisions through two aims that tie closely with pedagogy. First, the idea for this event emerged from conversations in my graduate seminar on the same topic convened last semester. The graduate students enrolled contributed to the intellectual framing and planning of the event, which will, in turn, give them and additional UM students an opportunity to showcase their new research and network with senior and emerging international scholars. Secondly, the workshop will result in an edited volume published in English with the aim of facilitating the visibility and access of new work in the region to a wide academic audience. The events will be free and open to the UM community and wider public.
FLOPS: Why and How Films Fail in America
Giorgio Bertellini
LSA - Film, Television, and Media


Courses on American film history generally focus on film that have achieved critical or commercial success, or are of historical importance. The pedagogical assumption is that “winning titles” reveal insights about popular taste. In a course to be first taught in fall 2020, titled FLOPS: Why and How Films Fail in America, I aim to challenge this prevailing approach by considering Hollywood failures as worthy historiographical resources.

By “flops” I do not just refer to works failed at the box office or were critically savaged. Their mark of notoriety stems from the dramatic gap between their anticipated success and their critical and commercial failure. In the course, I seek to show that flops can be significant cultural indicators since they reveal the limits of what constitutes popularity or esteem in a media environment.

Since flops have not received extensive critical attention, any course on their significance requires a basic corpus of documents and short essays, each devoted to individual films. I developed this project after two years of UROP-sponsored collaborative research with about a dozen undergraduate students who studied notorious flops and produced short ten-page essays. An IDF grant would enable me to hire a FTVM Ph.D candidate Joshua Shultze as a research assistant. He will assist me in identifying the case studies whereby a flop can be paired with a contemporaneous “hit.” These pairings will enlighten students on the cultural or commercial dynamics that prevented the former from obtaining success.
Postural Yoga Laboratory


see attached document
Adding an Experiential Dimension to Introduction to Judaism


When we learn about the religious traditions of our own heritage communities, it is typically a multi-sensory and immersive experience only loosely connected to the official beliefs of a given religious community. When we are taught about the religious traditions of other heritage communities, it is a very different experience. The first real consideration of non-heritage religious traditions frequently happens at the college level through the mediation of secondary sources or even textbook descriptions of a tradition’s official tenets. The contrast is not benign. One tradition is experienced as a living tradition-—alive, multifaceted, complicated, and rich in sensory experience. The other is experienced through a flattened description given at second hand-—devoid of complexity or moving sensory associations. Moreover, since introductory courses often elide this formal difference, students may be tempted to attribute the unflattering contrast to the religious traditions themselves. This project seeks funding to break down this dichotomy by introducing new students of Judaism in "What is Judaism" (Introduction to Judaism) to some of the smells, sounds, tastes, and textures of Judaism as a religious tradition.
Master Class: Dr. Christin Schillnger, bassoonist from Ithaca College
Jeffrey Lyman
Music, Theatre & Dance


As part of a national series of celebrations and recitals in honor of my primary teacher Bernard Garfield, former principal bassoonist of the Philadelphia Orchestra, I am hosting four guest bassoonists (all former students of mine) who have each carved a unique niche in the larger discipline of bassoon performance and who are all "grand-students" of Garfield. I am seeking assistance from CRLT via the Instructional Development Fund to cover the honorarium of one of these guests, Dr. Christin Schillinger, Assistant Professor of Bassoon at Ithaca College. Dr. Schillinger is an advocate for women composers and women bassoonists, having recently released a compact disc dedicated entirely to music by women, including many newly commissioned pieces written especially for her. Other past recordings have covered a wide range of contemporary compositions for bassoon and piano, bassoon and percussion, and bassoon with voice. Dr. Schillinger has appeared as a featured guest of the Meg Quigley Competition, an event that offers master classes and a competition to young women bassoonists from across the US. Dr. Schillinger has recently published a historical survey of reed making for our instrument titled Bassoon Reed Making (Indiana University Press 2016.)