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  launched 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: Mentoring for Student Success

Join us from 2-4:30 p.m. on Friday, March 27 in UC 330-1, for this gathering of faculty members, graduate instructors, and advisors to discuss strategies for offering valuable mentorship to our students. Learn about critical topics for mentoring, collaborative techniques departments can use to support students, and indigenous mentoring approaches. Please RSVP.

Faculty Inquiry Project: Integrating Active Learning Practices into General Education Courses

Join a group of your faculty peers to explore ways to engage students in general education courses through active learning techniques. Participants in this faculty inquiry group will survey research findings on teaching and learning and apply those findings to their general education classes. Through discussions of methodology, course design, and learning goals, you will exchange ideas and resources with peers from across the university community. An opportunity for introducing new techniques, receiving supportive feedback, and crafting creative teaching approaches. Tobin Miller Shearer, History Professor and MUS Teaching Scholar, will facilitate the group and offer support as you build and develop your classroom instruction. This FIP will meet five times on Wednesday or Friday mornings. Applications are due on Friday, January 31, 2020 at 5 p.m.

Faculty Inquiry Project: “It seemed like a good idea at the time” – When active learning meets the reality of the classroom

Join a group of faculty peers who are already implementing student-centered active learning techniques as they work through the missteps, unexpected student responses, and other less-than-perfect classroom outcomes from research-based classroom practice. Learn from others what has worked well and how they have adjusted to unexpected outcomes. Rick Darnell, Instructor, Mathematical Sciences, and Mentor from the Mobile Summer Institute on Scientific Teaching (MoSI), will facilitate this group focused on trying research-based teaching and transforming past stumbles into future successes. This FIP will be meeting 6 times on Tuesdays from 3:30-5. Apply by January 31, at 5 p.m.

Global Learning Community

Connect with globally-minded faculty and staff from all across campus as part of a small learning community this spring. MUS Teaching Scholar Sara Schroeder, an instructor at the English Language Institute, will facilitate meetings in which staff and faculty share ideas on creating more intercultural exchange at University of Montana. Meetings will likely be on Wednesday afternoons. Apply by Monday, February 3 at 5 p.m.

Faculty Inquiry Project: Further developing UM's math co-requisite courses and curriculum

This inquiry project invites faculty from UM's Mathematical Sciences Department and Missoula College to come together to further develop our math co-requisite courses and curriculum as we scale them in accordance with current UM priorities. We will discuss continuing to develop the course curriculum using high impact practices based on three underlying themes: sstudent capability, purpose of materials, and student belonging. This inquiry project will be facilitated by Lauren Fern, Lecturer, Mathematical Sciences, and Student Success Coordinator. Lauren is also a MUS Teaching Scholar and Mentor for the Mobile Summer Institute on Scientific Teaching (MoSI). Apply by Friday, January 31 at 5 p.m.

New Engaging Teaching Practices Course

Take advantage of our great online resource on Engaging Teaching Practices, 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.