From the CRLT Blog

Leading the Classroom in Tumultuous Times: A Video Resource for Instructors
Tue, 09/22/2020
What can and can’t I say to my students regarding the upcoming US elections? How, if at all, can I encourage my students to vote? Is the classroom a free speech zone? What can I do if a student won’t wear a mask during in-person classes? How can I protect my own and students’ privacy in the remote classroom? These are just a few of the questions with which U-M instructors have been grappling this fall as they prepare to teach in the midst of the upcoming U.S. Presidential election, the ongoing impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, the labor movements on campus, and the continued activism and protests against racism and police violence. A recent conversation between Dr. Angela Dillard, Richard A. Meisler Collegiate Professor of Afroamerican & African Studies, and U-M Associate General Counsel Jack Bernard offers an excellent resource for instructors on how to navigate their approach to these issues. It includes insights into topics ranging from classroom disruption and management, to student and instructor privacy, and free speech considerations in and beyond the classroom. The kinds of questions instructors are asking often do not have easy or straightforward answers, and Dillard and Bernard expertly highlight the complex and nuanced nature of these kinds of classroom concerns.
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New CRLT Resource Motivating Students to Learn: Transforming Courses Using a Gameful Approach
Tue, 06/02/2020

Railroad track cross sectionU-M instructors have invested in the idea of gameful learning as a response to the question “How do I better motivate students to learn?” since as early as 2008. Similarly, in the current climate of increased remote or hybrid learning, gameful learning is one possible answer to another question instructors are asking: “How do I build flexibility for students into my course?” As interest in this approach continues to grow steadily at UM and beyond, many instructors seek assistance in better understanding what it means to teach gamefully, including practical guidance for how to get started transforming their course(s). CRLT’s newest Occasional Paper “Motivating Students to Learn: Transforming Courses Using a Gameful Approach” (developed in collaboration with the Center for Academic Innovation), provides a starting point for instructors interested in exploring this teaching method. 


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CRLT Spring/Summer Services to Help you Plan for Fall 2020 Courses
Wed, 05/27/2020

Diag in the SummerAs U-M considers options for a public health-informed Fall 2020, we know that instructors will need to approach the design of their Fall courses with flexibility and remote teaching in mind. CRLT consultants are available throughout the spring and summer with services and resources to help you adapt your instruction to the changes ahead. Whether you need to reimagine your course or modify an already flexible design, CRLT is here to support you with a range of services as you plan for Fall 2020, including the following:


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CRLT Support for Remote Teaching
Mon, 03/16/2020

COVID-19 IllustrationU-M has now officially transitioned to entirely remote instruction, but we know that instructors’ process of figuring out how to navigate this enormous change will be ongoing. CRLT consultants are available to provide ideas, tools, and resources as you think through ways to shift your teaching methods and expectations -- and then rethink them as the trial and error process unfolds. We know that instructors will continue to navigate a series of pedagogical, technological, and social-emotional challenges in their teaching for the remainder of the term, and we’re committed to providing support for U-M’s teachers throughout. Following public health recommendations for, CRLT staff are primarily working and consulting remotely. But there are many ways you can get in touch with us to arrange a phone call, video meeting, email exchange, or online chat:


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COVID-19 and Your Teaching
Tue, 03/10/2020
COVID-19 Illustration

​​As the situation around the COVID-19 coronavirus continues to evolve, we know that many instructors are looking for resources to prepare for or respond to a range of teaching challenges that might emerge. Here are some topics to consider and resources to know about during this uncertain time: 


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Helping Students Navigate Ramadan and Final Exams
Mon, 02/10/2020

RamadanWhile final exams are a stressful time for all U-M students, in the Winter 2020 semester, Muslim students will face an additional set of challenges. This year, the Muslim holiday of Ramadan will fall during finals (the full holiday runs from April 23-May 23), and students observing the holiday will be fasting from dawn to sunset. For many students this entails maintaining concentration and energy for exams that might fall late in the afternoon after waking up before dawn to have an early meal; having to postpone breaking the fast until after taking a late exam; or losing sleep while studying late into the night after breaking the fast.


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Now accepting applications for the 2020 May Preparing Future Faculty Seminar
Thu, 01/30/2020

Anoff Nicholas Cobblah - 2020 PFF Program Assistant

Are you interested in a faculty career after graduation, but aren’t quite sure how to get started? “Preparing Future Faculty” (PFF) can help. This month-long seminar offered by CRLT supports graduate students who will be navigating the transitional period between graduate school and becoming a faculty member. Come join a community of fellow graduate students from across the university as we discuss developing inclusive teaching practices, preparing for the job market, and what to expect after you receive a faculty position. In this blog post, PFF alum and this year’s PFF Program Assistant, Anoff Nicholas Cobblah, gives an overview of the Seminar and how he found it beneficial as he began preparing for the academic job market. 

Like many students, I entered graduate school inspired by my undergraduate professors, but with little understanding of the obstacles I might face in applying for and succeeding in a faculty position. As I began to envision the end of my graduate career, it was hard not to feel powerless in the face of stories about the arbitrary whims of the job market and the burdens placed on junior faculty (especially those who already occupy a disadvantaged position due to race, gender, sexual orientation, class, or nationality). PFF offers hope by providing graduate students with knowledge and concrete skills to help navigate this daunting process. Those who attend the seminar receive guidance in inclusive teaching practices and developing job materials, such as teaching philosophies, diversity statements, and syllabi. During my PFF seminar experience in 2018, for example, I drafted a syllabus for an upper-level English course on “The Evolution of the Victorian Novel.” Like many graduate students, I had no experience designing my own upper-level course. PFF taught me the importance of backwards course design and setting clear course objectives. PFF also allowed me to get productive feedback on my syllabi and other job materials from fellow graduate students both within and outside of my discipline. Articulating the value of my research and pedagogical interests for those unfamiliar with the norms of my field motivated me to more carefully consider the role I hope to play as a faculty member.


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Applying Case-Based Teaching in a Range of Disciplines
Tue, 01/21/2020

Student collaboration with notes around a tableGiven the research on the powerful impact of active engagement on student learning, many instructors at U-M are thinking about how they can increase opportunities for their students to be active and engaged. One way to accomplish this goal is to include case-based teaching in your courses. Case-based teaching is likely a familiar approach if you teach or study in the fields of law, medicine, or business. Funded by a grant from U-M’s Transforming Learning for a Third Century Initiative, the Michigan Sustainability Cases (MSC) project has been experimenting with ways to apply this pedagogy in a wider range of disciplines. A new CRLT Occasional Paper summarizes best practices and lessons learned from MSC that can help you integrate this approach into your teaching, whatever your discipline.


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Teaching in Tumultuous Times
Wed, 01/08/2020

Australia Bush Fire credit - Fredrick VanrenterghemWe wish we did not have so many occasions to provide guidance to instructors on teaching in tumultuous times. The campus community is beginning yet another new term amidst a range of distressing events:  from hate-based violence in the U.S. and around the world (including but certainly not limited to a series of anti-Semitic attacks in New York, a church shooting in Texas, and violence against Muslims in India), to environmental disasters in many parts of the world, to escalating conflict between the US and Iran. As we return from the break to the regular work of teaching and learning, many people in our community are feeling threatened and terrorized, grieving deeply, experiencing intense anger, or fighting a sense of despair at a swelling of hatred and violence in our nation and world. CRLT regularly re-posts the guidance below because it is important to remember that these emotions enter our classrooms, studios, and labs, and they can understandably and significantly affect students’ ability to focus on their learning and work with peers in our intellectual community. 


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Choosing Your Classroom Technology Policy
Thu, 12/05/2019

Lecture hall with students using laptopsAs U-M instructors prepare their syllabi for the upcoming term, one of the most common questions we hear is “What should I include in my technology policy?” As many U-M faculty examples demonstrate, laptops and mobile electronic devices can be leveraged in the classroom to enhance student interaction, collaboration, content knowledge, and practice with key skills. However, they can also distract student users (e.g., Ravizza et al., 2016) and peers (e.g., Sana, Weston, & Cepeda, 2013). Research indicates that divided attention results in poorer performance (e.g., Junco & Cotten, 2012; Leroy, 2009), and that laptop use encourages verbatim note taking, which is less effective for learning (Mueller & Oppenheimer, 2014). So how do you balance these concerns with the desire to leverage technology to enhance student learning?


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