Creating, Communicating, and Customizing the Mission of CRLT-Engin

Tershia Pinder-Grover, Center for Research on Learning and Teaching in Engineering (CRLT-Engin), University of Michigan

Back in 2013, CRLT-Engin began a process to formalize our mission statement. At the time, we began by gathering the mission statement of our University, College of Engineering, and the main teaching center,the Center for Research on Learning and Teaching (CRLT). The center director also pulled ideas from internal CRLT-Engin documents describing the center's purpose as a starting point. Then, the director, assistant director, and instructional consultant met several times to brainstorm, craft, and revise the statement. Over a period of two months, the CRLT-Engin staff revised the mission statement through several conversations among the staff and additional feedback from a broad set of stakeholders. For example, the statement was shared with our advisory board (approximately 7 faculty members), the director of CRLT, and the associate dean for undergraduate education. After each of these conversations, the CRLT-Engin staff reviewed and revised the mission statement accordingly. At the end of this process, we created the following mission statement:

The mission of CRLT-Engin is to serve U-M CoE and promote excellence in learning and teaching by:

  • Conducting and cultivating rigorous engineering education research that leverages our colleges' innovative educational experiences and that has a broad impact locally, nationally, and internationally,
  • Facilitating the adoption of research-based teaching practices and seeking continual improvement of teaching and student learning through a comprehensive range of professional development programs, and
  • Providing leadership and service at the local, national, and international levels.

To communicate our mission statement to various stakeholders, we have included it as a part of our annual report, highlights brochures, and our website. We send out copies of our annual report via email to all faculty in the College of Engineering. We provide printed paper copies to our advisory board, department chairs, and key administrators. In addition, we've structured our website to align with the mission statement (i.e., sections focused specifically on engineering education research and teaching/learning).

Finally, in terms of adapting our message to different audiences, we emphasize different parts of the mission depending upon the context and needs of the audience members. For example, when the director presented CRLT-Engin to the College of Engineering's Development department, the presentation focused mostly on the teaching and learning aspects of CRLT-Engin's mission. Since Development wanted us to present information that would engage potential donors, we focused on providing stories or narratives about how faculty change their teaching practices to better support student learning based upon their interactions with our center. In contrast, when the director presented at the Program Director's meeting or department meeting, the director shows the value of CRLT-Engin to engineering faculty using numbers (ie., number of services, workshops, etcs.), graphs (e.g., use of services over time), and other forms of numerical data (e.g., teaching grants awarded to engineering faculty).


Center Profile: Center for Research on Learning and Teaching in Engineering (CRLT-Engin) - University of Michigan