Funded Projects
Gilbert Whitaker Fund for the Improvement of Teaching
Project Title Overview of the Project
Developing and Evaluating a Film-based Pedagogy for Intersectionality and Sexual Health Education
Erin Kahle


Sexual and reproductive health (SRH) inequities disproportionately impact vulnerable populations, specifically groups with intersecting and underrepresented identities, including by race and ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, and socioeconomic status. Key to reducing SRH disparities is health care provider education that includes curriculum that expands knowledge of the impact of intersectionality and underrepresentation on health inequity, broadens perspectives and attitudes around holistic care across all populations, and improving cultural consciousness through self-reflection and dialogue. To address this, our project will develop and evaluate an innovative pilot curriculum using film-based pedagogy to explore issues of intersectionality and SRH disparities. The use of art pedagogy has been used to improve communication skills, enhance empathy, and expand cultural consciousness. Using the artistic medium of film, students will have the opportunity to engage in shared learning experiences through facilitated dialogue and critical reflection. The visual nature and in-depth discussions will assist students in integration of the material into future studies and practice. The objectives of this project include collaborating with topical experts to identify relevant films that address broad, cross-cutting topics of intersectionality, identity, and health, and pilot testing course modules, including film and interactive curriculum materials, among a sample of UMSN undergraduate and graduate students. If shown to be valuable and feasible as a educational program, we will expand the course as a health sciences elective curricula in alignment with UMSN principles and creative integration of interdisciplinary elements addressing diversity, equity, and inclusion.
Engaging Undergraduate Engineers in Development of New Laboratory and Simulation Courses
Timothy Chambers
Engineering - Materials Science and Engineering


This project will involve the design and piloting of a new sophomore-level lab course in Materials Science & Engineering. Course content will focus on identified gaps in existing curriculum including additive manufacturing, design and simulation skills, and skills for equitable and inclusive teamwork in engineering. As a key innovation, current undergraduate students will be hired as curriculum development assistants, paid by grant funds, to design, prototype, and iterate on experiments and simulations that will be core components of the new course. Interviews and content knowledge assessments administered to these undergraduate assistants will serve a dual purpose. First, the data will be used for evaluating the effectiveness of the initial course design and for informing iterative development of course content and pedagogy. Second, they will be analyzed to address the research question of what content knowledge learning outcomes are achieved by undergraduates when they are meaningfully engaged in curriculum development. These results will be disseminated at conferences and in peer-reviewed education research publications to inform best practices for curriculum development.
Developing Innovative Collaborations across South Asian Language and Culture Courses
Christi Merrill
LSA - Asian Languages and Cultures
LSA - Comparative Literature
Syed Ali
LSA - Asian Languages and Cultures
Pinderjeet Gill
LSA - Asian Languages and Cultures
Faijul Hoque
LSA - Asian Languages and Cultures
LSA - Asian Languages and Cultures
Arvind-Pal Mandair
LSA - Asian Languages and Cultures
Vidya Mohan
LSA - Asian Languages and Cultures


We are a group of six faculty members in the Department of Asian Languages and Cultures who have received LSA NINI funding for our proposal “Decolonizing the Curriculum in South Asian Languages and Cultures Courses” to develop and pilot multilingual, collaborative projects in and across South Asian languages and cultures courses. This collaboration has been inspired by the work going on across departments to understand DEI issues in a multilingual, transnational context and to find connections between academic expertise and the ethical commitments of lived experience. We seek funding for the four language lecturers in the group to receive 2 weeks of part-time summer support while they work with the two tenure-track faculty members to develop a complement of assignments promoting student collaborations around issues such as “Language Justice in South Asia,” “Social Movements in South Asia” and “Translating Stories of Violence in South Asia” that will be piloted in the 2022-23 and 2023-24 school years.
Developing DEIJ Sample Assignments for ENGR 100
Katie Snyder
Engineering - Technical Communication
LSA - Comprehensive Studies


In 2021, the College of Engineering (CoE) developed new guidelines for teaching ENGR 100: Introduction to Engineering. This course is co-taught by engineering and technical communication faculty and focuses on developing communication and professional engineering practices while working on a design-build-test project. It also fulfills the first-year writing requirement for engineering students. A manual for ENGR 100 instructors offers guidelines, recommendations, and sample assignments and outlines four learning outcomes:
• Employ the Engineering Design Process
• Communicate Effectively as an Engineer
• Practice Professional Engineering Values
• Collaboration in Diverse Teams
Engagement with diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) is included as a subsection in the professional engineering values outcome. The instructor manual offers suggestions for teaching DEI. However, it does not provide sample assignments as it does for the other learning outcomes. Further, while the guide includes case examples to consider justice in engineering design, it does not include assignments that faculty can use to help students apply this topic in their coursework.

Thus, the purpose of this project is to develop a set of sample DEIJ-focused assignments that ENGR 100 faculty can adapt and integrate into their courses. Given that engineering faculty may not have an educational background in DEI content and technical communication faculty may not have experience teaching DEI in a design-build-test course, sample assignments are much needed. These assignments would provide students an expanded view of engineering work, making diversity, equity, inclusion, and justice central to engineering practice. In addition, they would help advance current College-wide DEIJ initiatives.
Embodied-Knowledge in the Post-Pandemic Humanities Classroom
Deborah Forger
LSA - Middle East Studies


In recent years, scholars have increasingly demonstrated the benefits of embodied learning for students’ acquisition of knowledge. To date, however, this emphasis on the body’s role in knowledge acquisition has not translated into pedagogical advances in humanities-based classrooms. This oversight has led to an over-reliance on passive student engagement and assessment, leading to poorer academic outcomes and increased student disconnectedness. I am applying to the Gilbert Whitaker Fund for the Improvement of Teaching to translate the lessons I learned related to embodied knowledge from my pandemic-era instruction into my post-pandemic teaching. Specifically, I seek funds for three new courses I am developing for the 2022-2023 academic year at the University of Michigan. Embodied-Knowledge activities will include the creation of Parchment Scrolls, Aramaic Incantation Bowls, and Books in the Book Arts Studio. Students will also engage with curated items from the Kelsey Museum, the Papyrology Collection, and early books in University’s Special Collections Library. Hands-on and embodied assessment options will also be encouraged. These include opportunities for students to create an exhibit of early Jewish and Christian art or create a 4-to-8-minute video or podcast to showcase their knowledge of a particular area. I will also incorporate regular opportunities for student feedback throughout the course through verbal and written forms to ensure student learning. By creating body-based and sensory-infused pedagogical experiences and assessment options, these courses will introduce students to the ancient world, the Bible, gender, religion, and Early Jews and Christians in a more embodied way.
The Transformative Food Systems Seminar: Building Equity Competency and Strategic Leadership Skills
Lesli Hoey
Architecture and Urban Planning
Ivette Perfecto
Environment and Sustainability (SEAS)
Jennifer Blesh
Environment and Sustainability (SEAS)
Meha Jain
Environment and Sustainability (SEAS)
Andrew Jones
Public Health
Cindy Leung
Public Health


Our team’s objective is to pilot the Transformative Food Systems (TFS) Seminar, a new, cross-unit course that fills a key gap in the University of Michigan’s sustainable food systems curriculum. The course will also contribute to scholarship about pedagogies that build “equity competency” – the knowledge, skills and values needed to recognize and address historical and persistent structural inequities that pervade today’s food systems. The TFS Seminar will form a core requirement of the Graduate Certificate in Sustainable Food Systems and newly launched TFS Fellowship – intended to train future leaders who reflect the communities experiencing the strongest negative environmental, economic, and health impacts of the dominant food system. Through discussions, self-assessments and reflective essays, a 21-day racial equity in the food systems challenge, locally and globally-focused speakers, workshops, service learning, field trips and retreats, and oral history projects, students will: a) learn key definitions associated with structural racism and strategies for addressing equity in the food system, b) reflect on their identities, values, implicit biases, and leadership styles, c) study inequities across various food systems dimensions, scales, and geographies, d) explore diverse career pathways for catalyzing change, and e) practice interpersonal, communication and organizational leadership skills needed for collective action and policy advocacy. Evaluation findings will contribute to an emerging body of literature on critical food systems education and inform the design of a future inter-departmental Master’s Program in Transformative Food Systems, undergraduate major, and PhD training grants in equity-focused, sustainable food systems.
Improving and Expanding on the Instruction of Writing about Creative Practice at the Stamps School of Art and Design
Jennifer Metsker
Art & Design


I plan to create a new course titled Theories and Methods of Writing about Creative Practice for the Stamps School of Art and Design that will allow graduate students to be better supported in writing about creative practice and to foster dialogue between undergraduates and graduate students writing about their practice. The course will introduce students to the theories, methods, and research surrounding writing about creative practice as well as offer them models of this work and an opportunity to explore different modes and genres in this field. In this course, students will be able to think critically about the writing their future practice will require and gain skills that will help them articulate their research and goals. The course will also prepare students to write their graduate theses or senior capstone project. At present, there is no course devoted specifically to helping graduate students improve their writing or understand their relationship with their writing practice and this course will provide them with an opportunity to be supported in their writing practice. Based on the research that the course development will allow me to do, I will also create a handbook for MFA students that will better prepare them for the written thesis. The evaluation and analysis of this work will also provide substantial material for further discussion about the best practices for writing about creative practice at Stamps as well as other institutions.
Putting Physics Under the Microscope
Dante Amidei
LSA - Physics
Jens-Christian Meiners
LSA - Biophysics
LSA - Physics


The University of Michigan graduates one of the largest medical school bound cohorts in the U.S. Most of these students will take the foundational course Physics 135-235, “Physics for the Life Sciences. ” We propose here to begin revising the associated laboratory course Physics 136-236 to employ more directly the physics methods for the life sciences in the 21st century. Approximately 800 students will be affected per semester.

We envision replacing the standard studies of billiard-ball motion with an exploration of transport processes in fluids, on the microscopic scale. Life science students need to know this, and it is, for them, the natural place to introduce the study of motion. It requires that we develop the microscope instrumentation in the context of the introductory physics laboratory. The program has the advantage of using one apparatus as a platform for several experiments and is a cost/effort efficient way to establish a longer-term program of revision.

We propose a concentrated program of work over summer 2020 to kickstart the process, followed by pursuit of equipment funding so that we could roll out at least one microscope-based experiment by Winter 2021. To support the initiation of the project we request $9855, which will allow us to acquire the apparatus ($2777) and support a graduate student to assist in the laboratory (2 months at $3539/mo). The success of this project could be measured by directed questions on student evaluations.
Simulated Cardiac Arrest (Code Blue) Training for University of Michigan School of Nursing Undergraduate and Graduate Students Using a High-Fidelity Patient Simulator and Crash Cart


When a cardiac arrest occurs in the hospital setting a ‘code blue’ emergency response is initiated. The code blue team immediately responds and utilizes a crash cart to resuscitate the patient. University of Michigan 2018 nursing graduates identified they were not prepared to function in the nursing role during a code blue situation. In response, a cardiac arrest simulation is in development using a high fidelity human patient simulator (HPS) and a simulated crash cart equipped with the necessary resuscitation supplies. UMSN currently has a HPS to use in the cardiac arrest simulation, but not a simulated crash cart. This funding would aid in purchasing a training crash cart for use in this ‘Cardiac Arrest Simulation’ with the purpose of increasing confidence and competency of future nurses responding to a cardiac arrest situation, as well as improve patient outcomes.

All senior level undergraduate nursing students and advanced practice nursing students will participate in the ‘Cardiac Arrest Simulation’. A ‘Cardiac Competency Assessment’ tool that will assess the student’s knowledge, skills and attitudes related to cardiac arrest before and after completing the code simulation. Students will be asked to provide feedback about their perceptions of the effectiveness of the simulation experience using the Simulation Effectiveness Tool Modified (SET-M).

This project will augment didactic course content, strengthen competence and confidence in cardiac arrest situations, and positively influence safe practice and patient outcomes. The simulation will be available to roughly 200 undergraduate nursing students and 60 graduate advanced practice nursing students per academic year.
ELI Graduate Writing Curriculum Review
Katie Coleman
LSA - English Language Institute


The English Language Institute began providing English for Academic Purposes support for University of Michigan graduate students in the late 1980s, but now seeks to renew its course offering to reflect changes in graduate enrollment patterns, student requirements, the availability of technology to support teaching, and concerns for student well-being. This renewal is most acute for our genre-based writing curriculum, which consists of four credit-bearing courses. These courses were developed decades ago and targeted to doctoral students with an interest in traditional research genres (journal articles, theses, and dissertations). Our writing curriculum has changed little, despite changes at U-M. Our research genre focus needs to be expanded to include new writing genres, such as professional philosophies, research writing for lay readers, and policy memos. Importantly, we want our writing courses to better align with the needs of master’s students, who now constitute the majority of graduate students. In addition to matters of content, our writing curriculum needs to more systematically consider student well-being, including the effects of stress on writing, and more directly attend to issues around diversity, equity, and inclusion, two important issues not addressed when our courses were first developed. Thus, in our curriculum renewal we aim to expand course offerings to help all graduate students develop a genre mindset with which to approach their current and future writing (Swales & Feak, 2012) while prioritizing inclusive pedagogies and student wellness.
The Team, the Team, the Team: Using the Cooperative Board Game Pandemic to Teach Effective Leadership, Communication, and Teamwork in Medical Education
Emily Peoples
Medical School
Lara Zisblatt
Medical School


Teamwork is essential for the practice of medicine, particularly in the perioperative setting. Team training has been shown to improve communication and reduce the incidence of adverse events in the perioperative setting. Teamwork and crisis resource management have been included in anesthesiology training since the development of the first comprehensive anesthesia simulation environments. Although multimodal, longitudinal interventions are more effective to change behavior, significant barriers such as time, human resources, money, and simulator availability limit the ability of programs to provide more simulation-based education. Cooperative games, including online and board games, are being explored to engage learners in new ways while observing and teaching teamwork in another arena for implementation in the clinical setting.

The purpose of this study is to determine if teamwork-related behaviors are demonstrated and can be observed while health professionals are playing the cooperative board game PandemicTM to teach effective cognition, communication, cooperation, and leadership. For this educational program and study, we will have anesthesiology interns play PandemicTM while divided up into teams. The session will start with an explanation of teamwork including discussions about cognition, communication, cooperation, and leadership. The facilitators will discuss important strategies for managing teams and attributes of effective team members while monitoring progress of the games and debriefing at different points during game play to enhance learning. Success of the intervention will be assessed through a combination of learner self-assessment (using the Teamwork Effectiveness Assessment Module), facilitator assessment (using the Anesthesia Nontechnical Skills instrument), and focus groups.