Faculty at Flint colleges partner for year-long discussion on teaching, student engagement

Eight Kettering faculty members participated in the FLC along with 16 others from the three other higher education institutions in Flint. The faculty members were split into three inter-disciplinary subcommittees to discuss teaching methodologies.

Kettering University faculty partnered with their peers at University of Michigan-Flint, Mott Community College and Baker College of Flint for a year-long Quad Pod Faculty Learning Community (FLC) initiative.

“From a higher education perspective, we believe that this is the first time that a faculty learning community has occurred across four campuses,” said Dr. Terri Lynch-Caris, Director of the Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning at Kettering.

Eight Kettering faculty members participated in the FLC along with 16 others from the three other higher education institutions in Flint. The faculty members were split into three inter-disciplinary subcommittees to discuss teaching methodologies and student engagement. One of the recommendations made by the committees was to incorporate more real-life examples in the classroom.

Dr. Laura Mebert. Liberal Studies, and Dr. Leszek Gawareck, Mathematics, both chose to immediately implement elements of a local crisis in their classroom assignments and conversations.

“We decided that the Flint water crisis is what we wanted to focus on,” Mebert said. “The national conversation about that issue mushroomed after we had already chosen it.”

In her senior seminar classroom, Mebert offered students the option to discuss the ethics of the Flint Water Crisis as it related to their readings for the mid-term paper in February 2016.

“Often students choose a topic from their co-op but I offered them a small amount of extra credit if they chose the Flint Water Crisis because it required additional research,” Mebert said.

Half the students (14-of-28) in Mebert’s class elected to write about the crisis in leadership and other ethical issues surrounding the current water crisis.

This classroom example was used as a part of a student engagement research project that Mebert is completing with the other members of her FLC. The project is aiming to understand how using real-life examples in the classroom impacts learning and student engagement.

“It’s been wonderful be able to talk about classroom engagement with people from a variety of institutions,” Mebert said. “Through our preparation for this research, it’s familiarized me and other faculty members with the literature related to student engagement. This has opened up new ideas for student engagement.”

The faculty members who participated in the FLC were:

  • Dr. Michelle Ammerman, Applied Biology

  • Dr. Lihua Wang, Chemistry

  • Dr. Montserrat Rabago-Smith, Chemistry

  • Dr. Farnaz Ghazi Nezami, Industrial & Manufacturing Engineering

  • Dr. Laura Mebert, Liberal Studies

  • Dr. Leszek Gawareck, Mathematics

  • Dr. Matthew O’Toole, Mathematics

  • Dr. Theresa Atkinson, Mechanical Engineering

For more information on how Kettering faculty are improving the classroom experience for students, visit the Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning website.