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. 

Balancing Work and Life: Great Teaching and Time for You (2/26): New methods of teaching allow communication with students from virtually any place at any time.  How do you find a balance that meets student needs but leaves time for family and personal needs?   The Michigan Tech Work-Life Advisory Committee and the William G. Jackson Center for Teaching and Learning co-hosts this coffee chat in which we’ll explore tips and techniques for balancing the many demands on today’s instructors.  We’ll also brainstorm ways the committee can advocate for the flexibility and resources to keep instructor roles balanced. This coffee chat event is scheduled for Thursday, February 26 from 3:30-4:30 p.m. Coffee and light refreshments will be provided to those who register by Monday, February 23. Click here to register.

Group Work: What Do Students Want from Their Teammates?

This Faculty Focus blog post by Maryellen Weimer, PhD, references a study conducted by Crutchfield and Klamon, called “Assessing the dimension and outcomes of an effective teammate” in the Journal of Education for Business. In the study, peer performance assessment activities with over 800 students were used to determine the correlation between student success in key components of teamwork and the team’s willingness to work with their teammates on future projects.

If you have team projects in your courses, in addition to sharing key components of teamwork with your students, also consider tapping resources available through the William G. Jackson Center for Teaching and Learning (CTL).  The CTL hosts the workshop Fostering Group Dynamics in Instruction, led by Sonia Goltz and Roger Woods from SBE, which will be offered again in late August. In addition, two new CTL workshops will be offered this spring to support group work: Google Drive for Collaboration as well as Canvas Group Tools.  The CTL can also help you leverage CATME, Canvas Quizzes and Google Forms technologies to provide students with feedback on their teamwork skills.

Feel free to contact the CTL at 487-3000 for additional information.

Jackson Grant Recipients Announced

Due to a generous gift from William G. Jackson, the William G. Jackson Center for Teaching and Learning (CTL) is pleased to announce the 2015 grant recipients.  Nearly $55,000 in grants were awarded to instructors and teams of instructors at $1000, $5000, and $10000 levels. These grants will support course/program reform or expansion projects using blended and online learning.
This year’s solicitation placed special emphasis on mentoring of instructors new to blended learning, interdisciplinary collaboration, shared content, matching support, testing, and assessment. A committee, assembled by the Provost and the CTL Director, reviewed many compelling grant proposals in order to select this year’s grant recipients:

$10,000 Level

  • Composition in Digital Environments ($9,846) — Lauren Bowen, Humanities
  • “Flipping KIP”: A Blended Learning Approach for Kinesiology Laboratories ($7,567) — Steven Elmer, Kinesiology and Integrative Physiology
  • Extension of Blended Learning across the Calculus Sequence — Todd King, Mathematical Sciences
  • Global Issues Blended Learning Initiative — Jonathan Robins, Social Sciences

$5,000 Level

  • Integrative Statistics for Social, Behavioral, and Biological Sciences Using Blended Learning ($3,000) — Susan Amato-Henderson, Cognitive and Learning Sciences
  • Development of Blended Learning Course for more Flexible, Online Course Options and Community College ($3,000) — Tara Bal, School of Forest Resources and Environmental Science
  • Shared, Organized Resources for Teaching (SORT) — Amy Hamlin, Engineering Fundamentals
  • Blended and Active Learning for Health Sciences at Michigan Tech — Brigitte Morin, Biological Sciences

$1,000 Level

  • “Starting from Scratch”: Chemical Engineering Laboratory Exercises for \Online Courses — Tim Eisele, Chemical Engineering
  • Creating Interactive E-Reading Assignments for Blended Learning — Chunming Gao, School of Technology
  • Computational Science Models — Ben Ong, Mathematics

Jackson Grant recipients will be working on their projects through spring and summer of 2015, with changes ready for implementation and presentation in the fall.

Dean’s Teaching Showcase: Gordon Parker

The Dean’s Teaching Showcase nominee for this week comes from the College of Engineering. Dean Wayne Pennington has chosen to recognize Gordon Parker, the John and Cathi Drake Professor in the Mechanical Engineering-Engineering Mechanics Department. Both Pennington and MEEM chair Bill Predebon praised Parker as “a great success story of the flipped classroom approach.” Gordon has effectively implemented the flipped classroom model in both a senior level and graduate level controls course, and now has more than 30 video clips that are being used world-wide.

Parker attributes his success to his ability to “borrow techniques from my colleagues, add some of my own ideas, mix them into my teaching style and serve them up to willing students.” He acknowledges that some of his innovations didn’t work, but believes teaching innovation is “encouraged by the Tech culture.” He especially appreciates regular faculty presentations on teaching methods sponsored by the MEEM department, as well as “random conversations in the elevator” which help him improve his teaching.

He has found the flipped classroom to be most effective because it lets him “use class time to exercise what students have prepared in advance.” This allows high expectations and accountability, but seems to work well for most students. Parker enjoys the real-time feedback of the more interactive classroom, and finds the higher level of spontaneity exciting, since “every class is different.”

Parker is also credits his department for working on a new undergraduate curriculum, which is “requiring a high level of communication and coordination between numerous instructors” and is “nothing like my previous experiences of developing courses in my closed-door office.” He appreciates the challenges and imperfections in both teaching and joint curricular changes, but believes the changes are “well worth it.”

Gordon will be formally recognized with the 11 other Dean’s Teaching Showcase nominees at a luncheon near the end of spring term. Please join Dean Pennington, Chair Predebon and the Jackson Center for Teaching and Learning in thanking Gordon for his outstanding contributions to the teaching mission of the College of Engineering.

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 ctl@mtu.edu 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.