CSE establishes Teaching Lab aimed at building faculty community and promoting collaborative education culture

The new Teaching Lab seeks to create a faculty community around our teaching mission, reflecting the department’s values of supporting students through a world class education.
Andrew DeOrio portrait
Prof. Andrew DeOrio

CSE has established a new Teaching Lab with the aim of building a community culture  of shared education strategies for faculty and staff. Directed by Dr. Andrew DeOrio, the Teaching Lab complements CSE’s five research labs in Artificial Intelligence, Computer Engineering, Interactive Systems, Systems, and Theory of Computation.

DeOrio has emphasized the importance of structural practices in the implementation of educational methods within the department, saying, “Our department values education and cares about our students, and this is an update to our organizational structure to reflect those values.”

We recently met with Dr. DeOrio to learn more about the Teaching Lab’s mission and his vision for how it will serve the community. Following is a bit of that conversation.

What is the aim of this new lab?

The aim is to build a community for faculty around teaching similar to the existing communities around research areas like AI or theory.

What do you hope that having a teaching lab will accomplish?

I think it will be a great place for faculty to learn from each other, and to share innovations and best practices. This is especially important with the big classes that we have and the large numbers of students that we serve. We have some unique and innovative strategies in our classrooms that lots of faculty should have access to. It’ll also raise the visibility of some of the great things that are happening in the classroom here at Michigan CSE.

What prompted this lab’s creation?

Our department values education and cares about our students, and this is an update to our organizational structure to reflect those values.

Each of the other five labs focuses on a technical or theoretical aspect of computer science and engineering, how does teaching fit into this group?

We are a research institution and part of our DNA is that there is value to teaching and research happening in the same place. Having a home and a community around teaching is important just as it’s important to have a community around research areas.

In terms of activities, are you anticipating hosting guest speakers or holding other types of events?

Yes, I anticipate holding events that raise the national and global visibility of our department’s leadership in education. I also think we can serve our graduate students in a unique way, particularly those who are interested in teaching-focused faculty careers. We hope to hold events that help them learn about and get better at the teaching aspect of those faculty aspirations. I can also see us collaborating on events with the engineering education research community or events for sharing knowledge on best practices for sharing knowledge in large courses, things that our peer faculty would find useful.

You’ve named a lot of groups within the college. Does this seem like the kind of versatile project to bring different demographics together?

This new Lab is meant to be a community and a home for all kinds of faculty who want to share innovations and best practices around teaching. It’s already the case that CSE faculty attend a lab that they share an interest in.  We plan to continue in that tradition of collaboration.

You were recently quoted in an article about how teaching track faculty can improve undergraduate education. How do you see the efforts of this Teaching Lab impact the undergraduate experience in CSE?

When faculty are forming a community around education, students are going to benefit. We have some unique and high-quality ways of delivering some great courses to a high number of students, and sharing those ideas can improve courses for all faculty who want to participate.