Foundational Course Initiative

Course Type:

Transforming Education At Scale

Foundational courses introduce students to a discipline or a course of study and are often pivotal in their future career paths. CRLT’s Foundational Course Initiative convenes department teams and provides them with a range of expertise to help transform large introductory courses into more engaging, equitable, and inclusive learning experiences for all students.


Building the Initiative

With an investment of $5 million over 5 years from the President’s Academic Excellence Fund, CRLT’s Foundational Course Initiative (FCI) aims to create a 21st-century model for teaching that is grounded in collaborative course design and inclusive practices. FCI consultants provide the time, resources, and infrastructure to make course transformation adaptive, impactful, and sustainable. By establishing a new standard for innovative, collaborative course design and implementation, U-M is striving to lead the world in teaching foundational subjects at scale.

FCI courses participate in a three-year, collaborative course design (CCD) process, which includes a partnership between a department instructional team and educational professionals from CRLT in four areas:

  • Student Support and Classroom Climate
  • Pedagogy and Instructional Design
  • Assessment and Analytics
  • Instructional Technology

The goals of course transformation are specific for each course in the initiative, are driven by the vision of the department team, and are informed by relevant institutional data and research from evidence-based, inclusive teaching practices.

21,261  students enrolled in the first three FCI cohorts of courses


36.5% of undergraduates enrolled in FCI courses in the 2020-2021 year


9,500+ students enroll in more than one FCI course


Collaborative Course Design Goals

  • Enable department teams to “dream big”
  • Focus on inclusive teaching practices
  • Leverage technology and data analytics
  • Employ evidence-based course design
  • Research factors that influence student success
  • Create a 21st-century model for teaching at scale

Why Participate? Here's what we'll help you do...

FCI offers a three-year partnership enables department teams to turn their visions into reality by providing:

  • $10,000 per year for course design and implementation needs
  • Additional capacity and expertise necessary for large scale change
  • Comprehensive data gathering and analysis to inform course design decisions
  • Logistical support, planning and coordination throughout the process
  • Instructor development and opportunities to explore new ideas

Who is Participating?

Cohort 1 at the Course Design Institute

Cohort 1

  • Business Administration 200 - Businesses and Leaders: The Positive Difference
  • Economics 101 - Principles of Economics I
  • Engineering 110 - Design Your Engineering Experience
  • Physics 140 - General Physics I
  • Public Health 200 - Health And Society: Introduction To Public Health
  • Film, Television, and Media 150 - Introduction to Film, Television, and Media

Cohort 2

  • Business Administration 100 - Introduction to Ross: Foundations for Learning Business
  • Biology 172 - Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology
  • EECS 183 - Intro to Programming
  • Mathematics 105 - Data, Functions, and Graphs
  • Movement Science 110 - Biological and Behavioral Bases of Human Movement

Cohort 3

  • Biology 173 - Introductory Biology Lab
  • Engineering 101 - Introduction to Computers and Programming
  • Linguistics 111 - Introduction to Language
  • Mathematics 115 - Calculus I
  • Program in the Environment 201 - Ecological Issues

Cohort 4

  • Electrical Engineering and Computer Science 203 - Discrete Mathematics
  • Nursing 240 - Pharmacology Foundations of Nursing Practice
  • Philosophy 183 - Critical Reasoning
  • Political Science 140 - Introduction to Comparative Politics
  • Statistics 250 - Introduction to Statistics and Data Analysis