Logo for University of Montana Teaching Excellence Initiative: Improving Student Learning

To support UM’s focus on improving student success and learning, the Faculty Development Office (FDO), Phyllis J. Washington College of Education and Human Sciences, and the Office of the Provost are launching the Teaching Excellence Initiative (TEI). The TEI aims to provide new sources of support and recognition for outstanding teaching at UM. The project has three goals:

  • Support and recognize teaching approaches that have been shown to be effective in improving student learning.
  • Help instructors collect formative assessments of student learning around critical concepts and use student feedback to inform their pedagogy.
  • Create opportunities for faculty members to work together to experiment and innovate with their teaching and share findings about student learning with other instructors at UM and across the country.

TEI Mini-Conference: Supporting and Evaluating Teaching at UM

Join us from 12-4 p.m. on Friday, September 13, for a day of sharing pedagogical strategies, learning new ways to obtain feedback on your teaching, and participating in a campus conversation on how to evaluate and recognize teaching excellence on campus. Attend one or all of the sessions as your schedule allows. Please consult the full agenda for the TEI Mini-Conference and register in advance.

Faculty Inquiry Project on Online Teaching & Learning

Are you new to teaching online or in your first two years of teaching online? Or considering starting an online course in the near future? Join us for this faculty inquiry project to explore the most effective ways to transition from classroom-based to online teaching and learning. Discuss course design, assignments, student engagement, instructor presence, online discussions, class community, innovative ways to use Moodle, and other topics generated by the group. Get a chance to see different models for course designs and receive and give feedback from colleagues on new approaches to your courses. This faculty inquiry project will be facilitated by Gillian Glaes, a Visiting Professor in History and related fields, who has extensive experience teaching online both at UM and beyond. Apply to participate by Wednesday, September 18 at 5 p.m. For more information, see the Online Teaching & Learning FIP application.

New Engaging Teaching Practices Course

We are piloting a new online resource on Engaging Teaching Practices this fall, which offers an introduction to research on how students learn, clear guidelines for making your courses accessible to all students, and practical strategies for engaging students throughout the semester. The course was created by Morgen Alwell, from our Teaching and Learning Program, and Marlene Zentz, Jo Costello, and Robert Squires from UMOnline. While the course was designed for new faculty and graduate instructors, it offers ideas and resources to anyone engaged in the work of teaching and learning. It also provides critical information on making your courses accessible to all learners. You can self-enroll in Engaging Teaching Practices and have the option to earn a Certificate of Completion for the course or simply use it as a reference.

Scientific Teaching Institute

Sponsored by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI), the Yale Center for Teaching and Learning, and the Helmsley Charitable Trust, this Institute will bring national teaching experts to UM to share learning strategies that have been shown to improve student understanding and success in STEM courses. Participants will develop an original course module as part of the workshop and be named Scientific Teaching Fellows.

In addition to the TEI efforts, these existing initiatives also support student engagement:

Pedagogy Project

Each year a group of faculty participate in the Small Group Analysis Program of the Pedagogy Project, an opportunity to give and receive feedback on classroom instruction. This small group analysis process allows instructors to receive feedback from their students while their course is in process. 

Learning Assistant Program

The Learning Assistant Program at UM pairs high-performing undergraduate students with faculty focused on transforming their courses into engaging, active learning based courses. To learn how to add a learning assistant to your course, contact Josh Herring, Learning Assistant Program Coordinator, or David Erickson, Professor, Teaching and Learning.