Student Learning and Effective Teaching

Learning Resources




























The Undergraduate Science Building is a strong statement of the idea that space matters. Having the right facilities and the right technology does make a difference in student learning. We know that Michigan undergraduates are more likely than students in most other institutions to integrate ideas from several courses when completing their assignments. The USB brings people from several disciplines together under the same roof.

Provost Teresa Sullivan, 9/26/2007


Core Component 3d: The organization‘s learning resources support student learning and effective teaching.

In the sections above, we have focused on the ways in which the University supports and rewards teaching, and the ways in which the University creates rich learning environments for its students and faculty through its learning communities, technology enhanced learning, unique academic programs and offerings, and academic student services that enhance the learning environment. In the final parts of this section, we will focus on the University’s learning resources, including its learning centers, facilities, information technology resources, and many academic units outside the schools and colleges, all of which are crucial elements that allow faculty members and students to teach and to learn effectively.

Academic Resource and Learning Centers

With an eye toward meeting the various academic needs of students, in addition to the services described above, the University provides services to support students in their research, their writing, and their overall ability to succeed academically. Some of these services are University-wide, some are school- or college-based, and some are geared to meeting the needs of specific groups of students. A few of these academic resources and learning centers are described below.

Sweetland Writing Center

Established in 1978, the Sweetland Writing Center (originally called the English Composition Board) in LSA provides writing services for students and faculty members. These services include a writing workshop and a variety of resources on composition, writing, tutoring, and teaching writing. The center also administers LSA’s First-Year and Upper-Level Writing Requirements. For undergraduates, Sweetland faculty and staff members help students select writing courses, teach courses that prepare students for courses that satisfy LSA’s First-Year Writing Requirement, and train upper-level undergraduates to become peer tutors who help fellow undergraduates. For graduate students and faculty members, Sweetland faculty and staff members provide seminars on composition theory and writing pedagogy, train and consult with the instructors of First-Year and Upper-Level Writing Requirement courses, and direct a Dissertation Writing Institute for graduate students. The center also conducts research to improve the understanding of writing and tutoring, and interacts with high schools and the community to foster the exchange of knowledge and experience.

Research Consultation Programs

The Research Consultation Programs at the University Library include a walk-in service that helps undergraduate students with their particular research needs, including how to get started and referrals to the most appropriate sources among hundreds of internet- and print-based library databases and resources.

Center for Statistical Consultation and Research

In addition to the general research support provided by the University Library, higher level statistical services are available through the Center for Statistical Consultation and Research (CSCAR). The center offers statistical services to graduate students (as well as to faculty and staff members) for up to one hour per week at no charge. The center also provides free and remote consulting services on research grants and proposals, database design and management, statistical methodology, and software; it also helps with interpreting the results of statistical methods, presenting the results of statistical analyses, and modeling spatial data.

Engineering Learning Resource Center

The Engineering Learning Center (ELC) at the College of Engineering provides academic support for engineering students. The ELC offers a 24-hour study area and a variety of academic support services, including free peer tutoring, supplemental instruction for select first- and second-year courses, workshops on academic skills such as time management and study skills, and practice exam sessions. Students can also consult individually with center staff members.

Science Learning Center

Through the Science Learning Center’s (SLC) Study Group Program in LSA, students enrolled in introductory science may sign up to meet weekly with study groups (facilitated by trained peer leaders) to review course material, solve problems, and gain an understanding of course concepts. Plus, graduate student instructors who are affiliated with several introductory science courses hold weekly office hours to provide one-on-one assistance. The SLC also sponsors or co-sponsors a variety of free workshops and events for students on such topics as study skills, career options, and study abroad programs. At the SLC’s two centers, students have access to computer labs, meeting alcoves, study space, and a loan desk for reserve and study materials.

Stephen M. Ross Academic Center

The Stephen M. Ross Academic Center is an important commitment that builds upon the classroom achievements of our student-athletes. [Our donors] have provided them with the space to study, to collaborate, and to excel — and any student will tell you just how important that is to succeeding in the classroom.
President Mary Sue Coleman, 11/18/2005

A place that supports the academic success of University of Michigan athletes, the Stephen M. Ross Academic Center of the Department of Athletics provides tutoring and a range of academic services. The building houses a classroom that seats 100 students; large, medium, and small-sized meeting rooms where students meet with professional staff; a career development area; a computer lab with 75 work stations; staff offices for nine academic professionals; and a student lounge.

Multi-Ethnic Student Affairs and the Trotter Multicultural Center

In alignment with the mission of the Division of Student Affairs, the Office of Multi-Ethnic Student Affairs (MESA) and the William Monroe Trotter Multicultural Center are committed to the goals of student learning, diversity, community, life skills and wellness. MESA and Trotter programs and services, which include talks, workshops, cultural events, performances, lunch series, and a calendar of events, help students to develop skills such as cross-cultural competency and personal empowerment.

Learning Facilities


Based on the 2008 report from the Office of Space Use Analysis, the University dedicates more than 557,000 square feet (~52,000 m2) of space to classrooms, more than 517,000 square feet (>48,000 m2) to instructional laboratory space and more than 936,000 square feet (>87,000 m2) to study facilities, for a total of more than 2,000,000 square feet (~190,000 m2) dedicated to space for student learning. Images of most LSA classrooms are available on its classroom facilites website.

Earlier, we described some of the facilities that contribute to the University’s learning environment, including the James and Anne Duderstadt Center on the University’s North Campus, the new Ross School of Business building, and the North Quad Academic and Resident Complex that is nearing completion. In this section, we will highlight some of the changing needs of students and faculty members and the key principles the University uses when designing learning spaces in new facilities or in major building renovations, and we will also briefly describe two state-of-the-art facilities that respond to these changes.

In the area of instruction, lectures, large classes, and individual work are giving way to more interactive, multimedia, and smaller class environments that involve group work. With respect to research, the spaces the University designs reflect an increasingly collaborative and interdisciplinary research environment. Similarly, student life is moving increasingly in the direction of online services, living/learning communities, and gathering spaces. To meet these needs and changes, the University creates new and renovated learning spaces that offer mixed use space, flexible walls and furniture, room for laptop computers, and high-tech options that are also energy efficient. Below we will elaborate on three facilities, two completed and one under construction, that manifest the University’s commitment to enhancing its learning environment for faculty members and students.

  • 1230usbOpened in 2006, the Undergraduate Science Building (USB) has 30 classrooms, lab and study spaces, a 125- seat auditorium, and other spaces that encourage interactive and distance learning. For example, the Science Learning Center uses a satellite hookup to facilitate long distance collaborations. The building offers classes in many disciplines, including chemistry, biology, neuroscience, physics, and communications studies. Two dinner-theater style rooms in the building, for which a virtual tour is available, are good examples of the evolving nature of classrooms reflecting the University’s principles behind classroom innovation.

    The Undergraduate Science Building is a strong statement of the idea that space matters. Having the right facilities and the right technology does make a difference in student learning. We know that Michigan undergraduates are more likely than students in most other institutions to integrate ideas from several courses when completing their assignments. The USB brings people from several disciplines together under the same roof.
    Provost Teresa Sullivan, 9/26/2007

  • As mentioned earlier in the report, the Ross School of Business’s new building, which opened in 2009, helps to catalyze business education through spaces that promote and support action-based learning. For example, the 12 tiered and U-shaped discussion classrooms, with adjacent group-study rooms, support the conversations and explorations that are so essential to successful team-based learning. Also, integrated technology such as wireless technology, video cameras, one-touch lecture-capture devices, plasma screens, and high-speed, print/ scan/copy/fax devices enable students and faculty members to interact with one another on campus and with project-sponsors and teams all over the globe.
  • northquadThe North Quad Residential and Academic Complex is scheduled to open in 2010. It will house students and four academic units in LSA and the School of Information. The building will have several TV studios, a space called the Media Gateway, technology-enhanced spaces for creating and displaying student and faculty projects, media intensive classrooms and research areas, and exhibit space, as well as collaborative workspaces for students, faculty, and staff.

Information Technology Infrastructure for Learning

The quickly evolving field of information technology (IT) is changing how we do business and lead our lives, and this certainly holds true with respect to its effect on the University’s learning environment. This section of the report will touch on the University’s information technology infrastructure, both University-wide and in the schools and colleges,

University-wide IT Support

In 2009, the University announced plans for a new IT structure to better meet the needs of digital-era students and to offer high-performance computing for the recruitment and retention of its faculty and staff. The University has combined Information Technology Central Services (ITCS), Information Technology Security Services (ITSS), and Michigan Administrative Information Services (MAIS) into a new umbrella organization called Information and Technology Services.

  • In an action reflecting the University’s commitment to provide our students with new and exciting learning environments, in 2008 the provost appointed the Special Committee on Institutional Innovation in Collaborative Technologies for Learning and asked the group’s members to explore three main issues: the kinds of environments that help the University to lead the search for innovative ways to create and disseminate knowledge in the information age; the kinds of structures that will support such an environment; and the types of structures that will help the University to share its lessons learned and helpful practices with other institutions. Published in January 2009, the group’s report details their recommendations.
  • Information Technology Services. As the backbone of the University’s IT environment, the range of services provided by the newly-formed Information Technology Services (many of which were previously offered by a an office called Information Technology Central Services or ITCS (which is now part of ITS) helps to connect all members of the campus community with one another through high quality, cost-effective technology and communications services and facilities. The ITS Service Catalog includes over 130 distinct services that range from maintaining the campus internet or backbone to running large-scale backup systems. Most ITS services are free of charge to faculty, students, and staff, but some have associated costs such as the purchase of software through campus-wide agreements that ITS negotiates. Other ITS priorities are to connect the campus community with faculty, scholars, and students from across the globe; to provide infrastructure, middleware, and technology and communications services to all; to engage the campus community in collaborative problem solving; and to plan for future IT needs. By partnering with units across campus, ITS supports the academic and educational goals of the University by maintaining a world-class technology infrastructure that facilitates learning, teaching, and research.
  • Campus Computing Sites provide public access workstations across campus for students, faculty, and staff to use. At sites across campus, users have access to a wide variety of software and services that are part of the University’s “Basic Computing Package.” Several campus computing sites are staffed with computer consultants who can answer Basic Computing Package and sites-related computing questions. Student residents also have access to computing sites in the residence halls. Each hall has a computing site equipped with computers connected to the same campus network and offering the same access to printers, scanners, and software as campus computing sites.
  • ctoolsCTools is a web-based environment that shares course and project websites among instructors, researchers, and students. For coursework, certain CTools features supplement and enhance teaching and learning, such as integrated class schedules, private student-instructor drop-boxes, real-time chat, and email notification of announcements and resources. To support collaboration, CTools helps users to engage together in work on campus and around the world, and gives them easy access to non-University participants and the ability to control access to sites, upload files, and organize a complex array of information for users.
  • The University of Michigan wireless network is available to everyone who has a valid University of Michigan uniqname and password. Access to the wireless network is becoming increasingly seamless and secure with the introduction of campus-specific protocols (MWireless).
  • ITS Education Services, part of Information and Technology Services (ITS), provides education and training programs for the University community and beyond. Workshops are held throughout the year at different locations on the Ann Arbor campus; departments and work groups may also ask ITS to provide workshops specifically for them. These workshops cover many topics of interest to end-users and IT professionals such as database management, using the Internet, the web, and many other resources. ITS Education Services also offers workshops for staff members who serve as IT Trainers throughout the University as well as to students who need technical training to complete their coursework.
  • Through its program of Teaching Questionnaires (TQ), the Office of Evaluations and Examinations (E&E) helps instructors and units to design custom questionnaires for use in evaluating teaching. Before the 2008-09 academic year, E&E each year printed nearly 500,000 TQ forms for more than 16,000 classes. Starting in fall 2008, the TQ program became a paperless, online activity for all courses on the Ann Arbor campus. Instead of in-class completion, students now fill out electronic forms on the web during the final week of the class schedule. The new structure also allows easier customization and data analysis of the evaluations.

Unit Specific IT Environments

Several of the schools and colleges manage their own IT environments, usually as a complement to Universitywide IT services. A few examples are provided below.

  • Perhaps the largest, most dynamic example of a unit-specific IT environment is the Computer Aided Engineering Network (CAEN), which provides the College of Engineering with a comprehensive set of computing technologies that support its instructional, research, administrative, and service missions. CAEN’s high performance desktop computers, up-to-date data network, software library, and overall information and instructional technology environment enhance the quality of education and research throughout the college. CAEN-supported student computer labs provide over 1,000 desktop computers to students on a drop-in basis, 24 hours a day. CAEN also provides web services to the college community, as well as technology support for instruction and collaboration in many of the labs, classrooms, and conference rooms in the college.
  • LSA Information Technology (LSAIT) serves approximately 70 academic and administrative units in LSA, with diverse computer platforms and computer support needs. LSAIT has five operational groups: the Computing Services Group, IT Security and Asset Management, Systems Group for Windows and Macintosh Services, Research Systems and Support for Linux and Cluster Computing, and the Network Systems group. All of the facilities of the college are now wireless.
  • Michigan Technology, the IT office at the Ross School of Business, supports and stimulates the use of technology to enhance teaching, research, and information exchange. The office offers a wide variety of services to students, faculty, and staff, including help with personal accounts and networking as well as computer specifications, setup, networks, and use. Ross School of Business users may reserve many of the office’s IT resources in advance.

Information Technology in the Classroom

  • Faculty members are encouraged to enhance their teaching and students’ learning with support from Faculty Teaching Innovations Through Technology Grants through the Center for Research on Learning and Teaching (CRLT). To date, faculty members have enhanced the teaching of large undergraduate courses with the use of multimedia materials, integrated instructional technology into their teaching, developed their own technological skills, and explored the effective use of technology in the classroom. Additionally, individual schools and colleges promote innovation. LSA, for example, offers faculty members innovation funding through its Instructional Technology Committee grants program and provides a wide range of “Teaching with technology” workshops and consultation services for faculty members and graduate student instructors through its Instructional Support Services organization.
  • As stated in CRLT’s Occasional paper, Teaching with Clickers, since the 1980s the use of clickers has proliferated on college campuses. Faculty from various disciplines such as physics, chemistry, geology, history, mathematics, political science, law, and psychology have introduced clicker systems into their classrooms. Faculty members use clickers for various purposes, depending on their course goals and learning objectives. Common uses of clickers include assessing students’ prior knowledge and identifying misconceptions before introducing a new subject, checking students’ understanding of new material, using peer instruction and other active learning strategies, starting class discussion on difficult topics, administering tests and quizzes during lecture, gathering feedback on teaching, and recording class attendance and participation. The CRLT website provides recommendations, suggestions, examples of using clickers in the classroom, and more.
  • lecturetoolsLectureTools, an interactive educational technology system developed by two faculty members at the University of Michigan, uses a web-based interface to connect instructors and students in large introductory lecture classes. The environment facilitates a richer array of interactions than traditional clickers and creates a more engaging and active learning space. This open-source program is available to all academic users, and in summer 2009 the University announced plans to make LectureTools available as a campus-wide service that will be integrated with the CTools course management system.

General and Off-campus Facilities

Earlier we mentioned the role of the Public Goods Council in the educational environment, whose members represent some of the units highlighted in this section of the report. Below we will describe a sample set of libraries, museums, observatories and planetariums, performance venues, and off-site learning environments, all of which play a crucial and enriching role for students and faculty in the teaching and learning that takes place at the University.

University Library

mlibraryConsistently ranked as one of the top ten academic research libraries in North America, the University Library makes available an extraordinary array of resources and services. The University Library comprises 19 libraries on the Ann Arbor campus and offers a wealth of resources in traditional and, increasingly, digital formats. The Library’s expert faculty and staff members help students, faculty, and other patrons to access the full potential of its information resources and provide a spectrum of assistance for research and teaching. They also help students at every step in their educational career and work closely with faculty members and graduate students to support their research needs.

Print collections number over 7 million volumes, covering thousands of years of civilization, from papyri to reports of the latest advances in science and medicine. The Library’s primary commitment in building collections is to meet the research and instructional needs of University of Michigan faculty and students. In doing so, the breadth and depth of subject, date, and language coverage makes the University Library’s collection an international resource in support of virtually all fields of scholarly endeavor.

In addition to the impressive array of print resources, the University Library’s digital library creates and makes available text, image, and other online collections to scholars and readers around the globe. These curated digital resources complement and extend the traditional holdings of the library.

The collections that comprise the Ann Arbor campus library system, as well as the catalogs of some of the independent campus libraries and UM-Flint and UM-Dearborn libraries, can be accessed through the University’s on-line catalog, Mirlyn. Mirlyn contains more than 31 million citations available through indexes, catalogs to 19 additional libraries (for example, Northwestern University, Purdue University, Wayne State University, and the University of Wisconsin), and access to articles from hundreds of journals. A complete list of University Library system libraries and other independent libraries at the University and links to their websites is available on the University Libraries website.

Many of the University Library operations mimic those at other research institutions, so rather than describing in detail the rich collection of libraries on campus, we will focus instead on a few special activities that are part of the transformative Michigan Digitization Project and other online library resources.

  • The University of Michigan and Google, Inc. have entered into a groundbreaking partnership to digitize the entire print collection of the University Library. Digitized copies of the library’s collections are searchable through the library catalog, Mirlyn. Works digitized by Google are also searchable through Google Book Search. Full text versions of works that are in the public domain can be read online. The Library’s copies, as well as digitized works provided from other libraries, are held in the Hathi Trust Digital Library, a collaborative venture of the Committee on Institutional Cooperation, the University of California Digital Library, and several other university libraries, led by the University of Michigan libraries. There are currently over 4.5 million volumes held by Hathi Trust, and the number is expected to grow to over ten million within the next year. The University of Michigan embarked on this partnership for three key reasons:
    • The project creates new ways for users to search and access library content, opening up the University’s library collections to our own users and to users throughout the world.
    • Only through partnerships can we achieve such large-scale (preservation-based) conversion to digital collections.
    • This transformative activity enables the University Library to build on and re-conceive vital library services for the new millennium.
  • Formed in 1996, the Digital Library Production Service (DLPS) of the University Library provides infrastructure for campus digital library collections, including both access systems and digitization services. DLPS provides access to over 200 text, image, and other collections that collectively provide access to over a million digital objects.


The University’s ten museums, including the merged Nichols Arboretum and Matthaei Botanical Gardens, provide another rich set of resources for campus constituents and the general public. Brief descriptions of a few of the University’s museums are provided below.

  • The Exhibit Museum of Natural History has the goal of promoting people’s understanding and appreciation of the natural world and our place in it. The museum contains exhibits on prehistoric life, including Michigan’s largest display of dinosaur fossils, Michigan wildlife, geology, and anthropology, and houses a planetarium with a new digital projection system. It also offers educational programs for the benefit of the University community and the broader southeastern Michigan community, highlighting the latest scientific research at the University. Science Cafes are regularly hosted by the museum to provide the public an opportunity to discuss current science topics with University experts and visiting scholars.
  • ummalogoThe University of Michigan Museum of Art (UMMA) helps to present, interpret, and preserve the world’s visual arts heritage, serving as a teaching and research arm of the University and as a lively and welcoming resource for campus, community, and beyond. In March 2009 the UMMA re-opened after an expansion and renovation project that more than doubled its size and dramatically expanded its exhibition, research, and program opportunities. The museum is a reimagining of the University art museum as a new “town square” for the 21st century. With new galleries highlighting works drawn from the museum’s collections of more than 18,000 artworks (representing over 150 years of collecting at the University); special exhibition spaces; “open storage” galleries; a range of educational and event spaces; expanded open hours; meeting spaces for campus and community organizations; new programs in music, dance, film, and the spoken word; and new spaces to relax all contribute to a place that brings the arts to the center of public life at the University and beyond.
  • Initiated in 1837, the University of Michigan Herbarium collections include specimens from scientific expeditions made by University biologists, and many others have also entrusted the archival research materials that they collected from nearly every region of the world to the Herbarium’s care. The 1.7 million specimens of vascular plants, algae, bryophytes, fungi, and lichens, combined with the expertise of the faculty-curators, students, and staff provide a world-class facility for teaching and research in systematic biology and biodiversity studies. Working collaboratively with faculty members and students, the goal of the Herbarium is to make the University a leading center for training and research in studies of the history, the change mechanisms, and the conservation of Earth’s diverse life forms.

Observatories and Planetariums

Also supporting the University’s educational missions are several Observatories and Planetariums, including the Angell Hall Planetarium and the historic Detroit Observatory.

Performance Venues

The various performance venues at the University provide performance space for students in the School of Music, Theatre & Dance, which offers more than 450 performances per year, many of which take place in the two concert halls in the Earl V. Moore Building housing the school. Such venues are also important to students who pursue performance opportunities outside their regular course of study. One example is through MUSKET, a student organization in which theater and non-theater majors alike participate, which has been producing musicals for almost 100 years.

  • walgreenThe Charles R. Walgreen, Jr. Drama Center includes more than 97,000-square feet on two floors, classrooms, studios, Department of Theatre & Drama offices, wardrobe and scene-building space, the Penny J. Stamps Auditorium, and the 250-seat Arthur Miller Theatre, named after the late Arthur Miller, a University alumnus. In March 2009 the Walgreen Drama Center and Arthur Miller Theatre received the Architecture Merit Award from USITT, the Association for Performing Arts & Entertainment Professionals.
  • Hill Auditorium, which seats more than 3,700 and was dedicated in 1913, has been an integral part of the University and the community ever since. Designed by Detroit architects Albert Kahn and Ernest Wilby, the auditorium was built primarily with funds bequeathed to the University by Arthur Hill, a regent of the University from 1901-1909. Extensive renovations completed in 2002 preserved the history of this architectural and acoustical gem, and brought about improvements that enhance the experience of performers and audiences alike and that has addressed the building’s aging infrastructure.
  • Located within the Michigan League building on central campus, the Lydia Mendelssohn Theatre opened in 1929. Renovations in 1995 added new carpeting, seats, lighting equipment, and curtains to the facility, which seats 642. The theatre is one of the few in the United States to have a “cyclorama,” a curved wall at the back of the stage that improves sound in the theater and can be used for creative lighting effects.
  • Opened in 1971, the Power Center for the Performing Arts, which seats 1,368, is the University’s most technically sophisticated performance space. The audience’s seating area is modeled after the Greek theatre at Epidarus, while the stage was an experimental combination of proscenium arch and thrust. No seat in the Power Center is more than 80 feet from the stage, creating an unusually intimate performance setting.

Off-site Learning Environments

Concluding this section on the University’s learning resources, we briefly describe the University’s Biological Station and Camp Davis, two rich venues for field experiences by University students and faculty members.

  • biostationFounded in 1909, the University of Michigan’s Biological Station (UMBS) is dedicated to education and research in field biology and related environmental sciences. In a world undergoing unprecedented changes in land use, climate, resource extraction, and species distributions, the UMBS plays a significant role in preparing graduates to understand, deal with, and solve environmental problems. Founded on cleared land acquired from lumber barons, the station’s 10,000 acres have been reforested via natural processes. Student and faculty researchers study the biota of a landscape ravaged by catastrophic logging and subsequent fires, allowing them to learn first-hand how land exploitation affects the natural environment. UMBS students engage in and learn about biology and environmental science by studying directly in the field and by developing relationships with leading researchers.
  • campdavis Camp Davis, the Department of Geological Sciences’ Rocky Mountain Field Station, provides an unparalleled field learning experience for students each summer, and has done so since 1929. Camp Davis hosts such courses as Introductory Geology, Geological Mapping, Ecosystem Science, Energy, and occasionally the History and Literature of the West. Located within the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem and just south of Grand Teton National Park, Camp Davis provides an ideal outdoor classroom that offers scenic and educational geology and ecology. Lower-level undergraduate students from the University of Michigan earn natural science credits in a tight-knit and engaging academic environment, while upper level undergraduate students receive hands-on learning experiences that are required for degree completion in geology and environment programs. The University recently completed the first phase in the renewal of camp facilities.