Author: Jean DeClerck

Introducting the Dean’s Teaching Showcase

by Mike Meyer, director, William G. Jackson CTL

During each spring semester, the William G. Jackson Center for Teaching and Learning works to recognize and reward great teaching that takes place on campus. Last spring, both our Props for Profs and Creative Canvas Course Competition highlighted excellent instruction brought forward by students. Student course evaluations also drive nominations to the Academy of Teaching Excellence and the Distinguished Teaching awards.

This spring, the Jackson Center will work to highlight important contributions to teaching that aren’t noticed—or sometimes appreciated by—students. Many instructors spend hours revising curricula, creating new courses and programs, assessing student work, meeting accreditation requirements or even completing instruction that’s foundational but goes unappreciated until well beyond graduation. To accomplish this, I’ve asked the five academic Deans—Frendewey, Klippel, Pennington, Seely, and Sharik—to take turns recognizing someone each week within their organization doing this kind of teaching work.

The nominees—12 altogether—will have their contributions highlighted in Tech Today each Friday and be invited to an end-of-term luncheon. Our hope is to make these valuable contributions to Michigan Tech’s teaching mission more visible. If you know someone worthy of the Showcase, be sure to tell the appropriate Dean, or let us know at the Center at or 7-3000.

Our first nominee, next week, will come from the College of Engineering.


The William G. Jackson Center for Teaching and Learning schedules events for faculty and instructional staff to provide opportunities to learn new instructional strategies and tools and meet faculty from other departments.  Coffee Chat- Testing Center: Input for Continued Growth and Change (1/20): The Michigan Tech Testing Center has been in existence for just over a year. In that time, it has experienced exponential growth and rapid technological change. In this session, we’ll discuss some of the challenges faced and look for instructor input to optimize resources to handle an expanding repertoire of sponsored exams, an increasing number of accommodated exams, and new security challenges. This coffee chat event is scheduled for Tuesday, January 20 from 3:30-4:30 p.m. Coffee and light refreshments will be provided to those who register by Friday, January 16. Click here to register. Luncheon – Terrific Tools for Blending and Active Learning (1/27): High and low tech tools are being invented constantly to help keep students active and provide instructional flexibility. In this workshop, we’ll survey some of the best tools available and then give participants a chance to explore those that might work best for them. This luncheon is scheduled for Tuesday, January 27 from noon-1 p.m. Lunch will be provided to those who register by Friday, January 23. Click here to register.

Reflect on Your Course Structure and Technology Use

Submitted by Mike Meyer, Director of the William G. Jackson Center for Teaching and Learning

As we wrap up one term and look to the next, it’s important to reflect both on course structures and classroom technologies.   One of the most interesting reflections I’ve seen regarding getting the technology right is Todd Rose’s TED Talk called  “The Myth ofAverage”. (

In this 18 minute video, Todd – a high school drop-out and now Harvard faculty member – compares the fit of a fighter-pilot in a cockpit to that of an “average” student in a classroom.  He argues that without the ability to “customize”, exactly zero students in our courses will optimize their learning.

The William G. Jackson Center for Teaching and Learning will maintain regular hours through December 22 for further discussion about next term, then re-open on 1/5 to help instructors prepare for the new semester.  For more discussion about your courses, stop bythe William G. Jackson Center for Teaching and Learning ( in theVan Pelt and Opie Library, room 219!

Increasing Response Rates on Evaluations

Submitted by Mike Meyer, Director of the William G. Jackson Center for Teaching and Learning

With end-of-term course evaluations under way, many instructors have questions about raising response rates. The UC Berkley Center for Teaching and Learning summarizes the research on this; studies have shown that how the instructor approaches these evaluations can make a big difference in response rate. The key is to go beyond just reminders by explaining to students how their responses will be used by both the instructor and the administration. Asking for feedback about specific aspects of the course (a recent change or something being considered) also seems to increase responses.

Busy students need assurance that the time they take to give feedback isn’t wasted. If you’d like to talk more about how to increase response rates in your class, email or stop by the William G. Jackson Center for Teaching and Learning in Library 219.

Resource Index for Learner-Centered Teaching Methods

Submitted by Mike Meyer, Director of the William G. Jackson Center for Teaching and Learning

As instructors move toward more learner-centered teaching methods, the “flipped classroom” has gotten lots of press.  But “flipping” is more than just recording videos.  The expectation is that delivering content outside of class will free up time for more engaged learning in the classroom.

A great topical index of methods, ideas, and articles related to learner-centered teaching methods can be found on the webpage of the the North Central College’s Center for Teaching and Learning (  The index ranges from tips on interactive lecturing to getting students to participate in discussions, but also includes good articles on teaching critical thinking and collaborative (group) techniques.

I encourage you to survey the site and explore one topic or article related to some aspect of your teaching.  If you’d like to discuss it afterwards, e-mail  or feel free to stop by the William G. Jackson Center forTeaching and Learning ( in the Van Pelt and Opie Library, room 219!

Remix-T: Resource for Media Rich Learning

Submitted by Mike Meyer, Director of the William G. Jackson Center for Teaching and Learning

If you’re looking for new and different ways for students to interact with content, you will find a tremendous resource in Notre Dame’s  Remix-T.   This resource was created by Chris Clark, the Assistant Director and Learning Technologies Center Coordinator in the Kaneb Center for Teaching and Learning at Notre Dame University.  His goal is to help instructors explore options for “creating media-rich learning experiences,” either by having instructors create media or assigning projects where students do.

The site has a project gallery with a large number of example projects, including advice and tools for making videos, comics, timelines, a media “scavenger hunt”, and content enriched maps.  Instructors can also find a page full of inexpensive or free media tools that might be helpful in collecting, organizing, or creating media.

If you’d like to dialog about how media might enrich your course, mail  or feel free to stop by the William G. Jackson Center for Teaching and Learning in the Van Pelt and Opie Library, room 219!

PHET Interactive Simulations

Submitted by Mike Meyer, Director of the William G. Jackson CTL

Another simulation site that should be on every science and engineering instructor’s list is PhET.  Founded by Carl Wieman’s Nobel prize winnings, the University of Colorado Boulder has created highly-interactive simulation environments for a wide variety of basic systems, including forces and motion, earth sciences, chemistry, biology, fluids, vibrations, electromagnetism,  AC and DC circuits, thermodynamics, and general mathematics.

PHET sims generally have very low learning curves, so students can “jump in” and experiment with them on their own.  The sims therefore make excellent pre-lab exercises or introductions to topics.   PhET’s extensive educational research has helped focus the sims on addressing common scientific misconceptions held by students, and the site offers materials that guide use of the sims should you wish to provide more structure.

If PhET isn’t already on your radar, I hope you’ll take a look.  For more information about how these sims are being used in various places around campus, mail  or feel free to stop by the William G. Jackson Center for Teaching and Learning in the Van Pelt and Opie Library, room 219!