Teaching and Learning

“I like ASL projects because so many people benefit from the work. Students try harder when they know their projects mean something. The community participants enjoy the chance to share their work with young people and get assistance on a project. As a faculty member, it is more fun to come to work when you know you can make a difference in your town.”

        Prof. Charles Ganzert (Communication and Performance Studies), 2008 NMU Excellence in Teaching Award Recipient and Chair, Academic Service Learning Advisory Board


Academic Affairs is committed to excellent teaching and student learning. The AAUP/NMU Agreement states that the most important criterion for tenure and promotion is teaching effectiveness. Faculty who receive NMU excellence in teaching awards are chosen based on a variety of objectives demonstrating their exceptional teaching skills.

New faculty members attend faculty orientation, are assigned a faculty mentor and have access to an online resource manual. The documentation of effective teaching for all faculty members occurs through the formalized faculty evaluation process across all disciplines.

The Teaching and Learning Advisory Council (TLAC) values, promotes, recognizes, and co-sponsors the Excellence in Teaching Award and offers a TLAC conference grant that assists faculty in attending conferences on pedagogy. The TLAC Web site maintains a resources page with links to teaching and learning materials from other institutions and locations. TLAC also schedules workshops throughout the academic year, enabling faculty to keep abreast of innovations in pedagogy.

Northern has recently embedded Academic Service Learning (ASL) throughout its curriculum. NMU is a member of Michigan Campus Compact. Professional development events are regularly held to encourage the effective use of service learning. Approximately 15 percent of NMU faculty members have taught an ASL course, which have a special designation in both the schedule book and on student academic transcripts. Broadcasting faculty have used ASL to teach advanced video by developing local documentaries such as "The U.P. 200: A Community Pulling Together." Both the TLAC and the ASL advisory boards offer faculty seminars and workshops to increase awareness of different student learning styles and use of teaching methods beyond the lecture.

The Course Technology Alliance consists of technology-related departments on campus that coordinate with one another to provide faculty with support that allows them to develop technology-rich, hybrid and online courses. The Center for Instructional Technology (CITE) is located in the lower level of the Learning Resources Center with staff to support faculty use of technology in the classroom, online teaching, and faculty professional development involving technology use. Under the Teaching, Learning, and Communication (TLC) initiative, faculty and staff are issued a new mobile device, including software, technical support and maintenance insurance. All classrooms on campus have wireless access, enabling faculty and student use of mobile devices for classroom instruction and group exercises.  Online education, a 2008 NMU AQIP action project, has increased awareness of opportunities for distance education and quality in course delivery.  CITE also provides faculty workshops covering course content and management software, support software, and faculty showcases of best practices. Faculty TLC awards recognize exemplary faculty use of mobile devices in teaching, research, or community service. Separate TLC awards are also available for staff and students. The Course Technology Innovation Project (CTIP) is a pilot project that seeks to increase the innovative use of technology in NMU courses.

The Olson Library provides librarian liaisons to academic departments. These liaison provide library instruction in the classroom on research methods and library services, create online customized library support guides for each course, and aid students with research assignments.

Many students take advantage of faculty led study abroad courses, which take place in another country, and usually occur early in the summer semester. For three summers,  nursing and health education faculty Eileen Smit and Mary Jane Tremethick have led students to Honduras for a course in global health care. Criminal justice professor Bob Hanson led a group to South Africa with studies focused on criminal justice practices in the rich context of social change and race relations.

NMU provides many programs that enhance student learning. The Honors Program is designed to meet the needs of academically talented students with interdisciplinary and department-based courses. The program offers small class sizes and research opportunities. NMU offers up to 40 research fellowships in the Freshman Fellows Program, a competitive program that pairs freshmen with faculty mentors.

The First Year Experience Program helps students maximize academic success, familiarizes them with campus resources, and facilitates the development of positive relationships of first-year students with faculty, staff, student leaders and peers.

The Superior Edge Program provides opportunities to learn about community engagement, diversity awareness, leadership development and real-world experience. Upon graduation, students receive a Superior Edge enrichment transcript along with an academic transcript.