McNeil Awarded Teaching Innovation Prize for "Trailblazing with Wikipedia" Project


By University Record
Apr 28, 2014 Bookmark and Share

Anne McNeil

Chemistry professor Anne McNeil is one of five UM faculty with projects that demonstrate fresh approaches to advance student learning who will be recognized May 5 as winners of the sixth annual Provost's Teaching Innovation Prize.

In 2008,  McNeil began developing a class project for students to edit science content on Wikipedia to enhance learning, build collaborative skills and improve scientific information available to the public. The Wikimedia Foundation became aware of the project, consulted McNeil, and created the Wikipedia Ambassador Program and the Wikipedia Education Program to support faculty-guided student contributions.

The project was highlighted as a case study on the Wikipedia Global Education Program website, where McNeil's course materials are freely available. The broader impact of this project extends beyond the classroom, as 60 science-based Wikipedia sites have been edited (or created) by the students in her courses.

"These impact-driven projects are innovative because they push the boundary between learning in the 'Ivory Towers' and fulfilling real-world needs of accurate and accessible scientific information; because they challenge students to develop fundamental understanding of concepts by finding, digesting and synthesizing relevant information with the general public as the audience in mind; and because it's a lot of fun for students to publish their work conveniently and engage in global conversations on their topics," wrote Ye Li, chemistry librarian, Shapiro Library.

McNeil is an Arthur F. Thurnau Professor, associate professor of chemistry, LSA, and associate professor of macromolecular science and engineering, College of Engineering.

The award is sponsored by the Office of the Provost, the Center for Research on Learning and Teaching, and the U-M Library.

"These projects offer effective new ways to increase student engagement with and mastery of course material," said Provost Martha Pollack. "The faculty's commitment to improving student learning is a real strength of the university."

The UM community is invited to meet the innovators at an 11:30 a.m. poster fair and strolling lunch in the Michigan Union, before the TIP awards are presented at 12:30 p.m. in the Rogel Ballroom on the opening day of Enriching Scholarship 2014.

In addition to TIP posters, the fair will feature projects by teams who received CRLT Investigating Student Learning grants, Learning Analytics Fellows projects, and technology projects from Teaching and Technology Collaborative members.

Adapted from: University Record, April 28, 2014