Author: Jean DeClerck

Undergraduate STEM Teaching MOOC

An interesting and free “MOOC”  (Massive Open Online course)  on Undergraduate STEM Teaching  is now available. The course will run on the Coursera platform starting October 6th.  It’s produced by faculty, students, and staff at six institutions affiliated with the CIRTL Network, a group of research universities collaborating in the preparation of STEM graduate students and post-docs as future faculty members.  Lead instructors are Trina McMahon (UW-Madison), Rique Campa (Michigan State), Bennett Goldberg (Boston U), and me (Vanderbilt U).

The course is designed to provide graduate students and post-doctoral fellows in the STEM disciplines who are planning college and university faculty careers with an introduction to effective teaching strategies and the research that supports them. Topics include course design, cooperative learning, peer instruction, inquiry-based labs, problem-based learning, diversity in the classroom, and more. Although aimed at future STEM faculty, we expect that current STEM faculty will find the course interesting and useful, too.

Available Online Content for Flipped Classrooms

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

Many instructors are working hard to “flip” their classroom by recording videos or building other content for online review and then using class time for interaction. It’s time consuming and very challenging to make professional online content, but good online sources already exist for some topics. Some even offer introductory online practice. One good source is the Open Learning Initiative (OLI) through Carnegie Mellon University.

Instructors can informally direct students to individual content modules or sign up for an instructor account, which allows students to sign in so their work can be tracked and reported. Topics include a growing list from a wide variety of fields, and access to most resources is free.

If you’d like to talk more about how you might make use of OLI, or if would like to share teaching resources you’ve found, email or feel free to stop by the William G. Jackson Center for Teaching and Learning in the Van Pelt and Opie Library, room 219.

Interactive Graphs to Visualize Concepts and Relationships

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

A picture may be worth 1,000 words. But, when it comes to teaching, an interactive graph may be worth 1,000 pictures.

This week’s teaching resource is the Wolfram Demonstrations Project .

Take a look at just a few categories, and I’m guessing you’ll find something that will be useful during the term.

Unless you already have Mathematica installed on your machine, you will be prompted to download and install a free “Computable Document Format” player as soon as you try to use an interactive. Once you do, you’ll have access to a library of almost 10,000 from virtually all STEM fields as well as business, social sciences, graphic design and even music.

These interactive graphs allow you to change one or more parameters and see immediately how other things change. (For instance, one interactive allows you to change the system temperature and watch the blackbody spectrum change.) I find using simulations like these allow both my students and me to powerfully visualize concepts and relationships between quantities.

If you’d like to talk more about how interactives might be used with students, or if you have favorite teaching resources of your own, stop by or contact theWilliam G. Jackson Center for Teaching and Learning in the Van Pelt and Opie Library, room 219.

Goals for the First Day of Class

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

Michigan Tech instructors need to make the most of every minute.   The good news is that a tremendous number of free teaching resources are available to us, so that –  increasingly – we don’t have to “reinvent the wheel.”  Each week of this fall semester, I’ll showcase one of my favorite online (free!) teaching resources, in hopes that you’ll find some things that increase learning and save you time.  If you have favorite resources, I encourage you to bring them to my attention so I can share them with the instructional community as well.

This week’s resource is Merlot Elixr’s “Goals for the First Day of Class”.

This “case story” is a series of short videos showcasing essential practices for the first day of class and a plethora of ideas to really get the semester started right.   Snippets from a wide variety of disciplines are included, but the general themes (Motivation, Framing, Expectations, Assessment, Climate, and Administration) are generically useful as you plan your first day.

If you’d like to talk more about your first day, or about any aspect of your teaching, feel free to stop by the William G. Jackson Center for Teaching and Learning in the Van Pelt and Opie Library, Suite 219!

September and Early October

The Center 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 — Dr. Barbara Oakley (9/11): Dr. Oakley (Antarctic adventurer, Russian translator, engineering professor, and author) will be in Houghton for a series of lectures at both Finlandia University and Michigan Tech.  This event provides instructors a unique opportunity to learn about her recent research on learning math and science that is presented in her book “A Mind for Numbers”.  Discussion will focus initially on her “10 Rules of Good and Bad Studying” and how they might apply to class design, but topics are expected to range widely! Coffee and light refreshments will be provided to those who register by Monday, September 8.  Join us for this event on Thursday, September 11 from 3:30 to 4:30pm. Click here to register.

Lunch and Learn — Student Accommodations (9/16): A growing number of Michigan Tech students are eligible to receive extra time, quiet space, or other accommodations during class activities. This trend has raised concerns among instructors. In this event, we will explore the process through which student accommodations are granted and the resources available to help instructors appropriately, consistently, and fairly accommodate students. Prior to this blended seminar, participants will watch video interviews with several faculty and administrators involved in this process and then select those most relevant for lunchtime discussion. Lunch will be provided to those who register by Thursday, September 11. Join us for this event on Tuesday, September 16 from noon to 1pm. Click here to register.

Luncheon and Gamification Workshops — Todd Wilmore (9/23): Todd Wilmore is a dynamic speaker and organizational consultant, as well as an adjunct professor at both Central Michigan and Saint Leo Universities. During his visit to Michigan Tech on Tuesday, September 23, he’ll offer both a lunchtime session on the changing role of instructors in higher education and a 75-minute workshop on using game theory in class design (gamification). The gamification workshop will be offered twice (one morning session and one afternoon session), but enrollment will be limited to 40 for each workshop session. All are encouraged to attend the luncheon event. Don’t miss this opportunity to explore innovative techniques with an expert that you can use to motivate your students! To register for any of these events, please call 487-3000 or register online using the links above. Lunch will be available for those who register by Thursday, September 18.

Coffee Chat — Organizing STEM Education Research (10/2): A growing number of instructors on campus have expressed interest in measuring the effects of classroom reforms. The Pavlis Honors College, the Graduate School, the Department of Cognitive and Learning Sciences, the Engineering Fundamentals Department and others have begun working together to formalize programs and centralize resources in order to better support this kind of work. This discussion will include a summary of efforts to-date, a review of a potential campus-wide grant proposal, and opportunities for you to share your input on future directions. All with an interest in STEM Education research are encouraged to attend! This event is scheduled for Thursday, October 2, from 3:30-4:30 p.m. Coffee and light refreshments will be provided to those who register by Monday, September 29.  Click here to register.

Coffee Chat — Information Literacy Learning Goal (10/7): Join the Information Literacy Goal Committee for a collaborative primer about integrating information literacy instruction effectively and efficiently in your course or degree program. Reminder: The Information Literacy University Student Learning Goal (USLG) will be assessed university wide this year. This timely workshop is scheduled for Tuesday, October 7 from 3:30-4:30 p.m. Coffee and light refreshments will be provided to those who register by Thursday, October 2.  Click here to register.


End-of-Semester Grade Submission

The Jackson Center for Teaching and Learning will be conducting two Grade Submission workshops on Friday, April 25 from 10-11am and Tuesday, April 29 from 2-3pm.  Submitting grades via Banner Self Service and via Canvas and CourseTools will be covered. Instructors and instructional staff unable to attend either these workshops are always welcome to call or stop by the Jackson Center for Teaching and Learning in the Van Pelt and Opie Library for help with grade submission.  You can find out how about eLearning Walk-In hours, online help, and how to contact support on Canvas One Stop.

March and Early April

* Luncheon — Scientific Teaching (3/27)
* Luncheon — Assessment at Tech: Information Literacy (4/8)


Lunch and Learn — Scientific Teaching: Mark Decker is a co-director and Teaching Associate Professor in the College of Biological Sciences at the University of Minnesota. Last summer, he was a facilitator for the National Academies of Sciences Summer Institute (NANSI) for Undergraduate Biology Education.The Scientific Teaching approach, which can be applied in virtually all STEM disciplines, advocates several elements including active learning. Mark has been a key player in the design, implementation, and faculty development for new active learning, technology-rich classrooms that seat more than 100 students at the University of Minnesota. Mark’s presentation will focus on how this approach and space has changed his teaching and his students’ learning. Lunch will be provided to those who register by Monday, March 24. Join us for this event on Thursday, March 27 from noon to 1pm. Click here to register.

Lunch and Learn — Assessment at Tech/Information Literacy: Learn how faculty collaborate with librarians to integrate information literacy skills into their classes. This event is co-sponsored by the Office of the Provost and the Jackson Center for Teaching and Learning. Lunch will be provided to those who register by Thursday, April 3. Join us for this event on Tuesday, April 8 from noon-1pm. Click here to register.