Center for Learning and Teaching, Joint Institute


As early as 1962, the University of Michigan (UM) established the Center for Research on Learning and Teaching (CRLT), which is the first of its kind in the U.S. For close to half a century, CRLT has played a leading role among America’s top research universities in promoting “a university culture that values and rewards teaching, respects and supports individual differences among learners, and encourages the creation of learning environments in which diverse students can learn and excel.”1

Currently, there are around 1000 teaching centers at U.S. colleges and universities, all serving important functions in their respective institutions, similar to the CRLT. However, very few organizations exist in Chinese universities that support the development of teaching and learning in a systematic way. The UM-SJTU Joint Institute (JI) therefore took the initiative to establish a Center for Learning and Teaching (CLT-JI) at the beginning of the fall semester, 2010. Adapting the CRLT model of successful programs and services, the CLT-JI endeavors to tailor-design teaching and learning services to match the particular institutional environments at the JI and Shanghai Jiao Tong University (SJTU). The major focus of CLT-JI is to offer teaching and learning services that are relevant, practical and interesting to JI faculty, graduate students and teaching assistants.

CLT-JI launched two major projects in its first year of operation:

  1. Faculty Development (FD) programs: These include the Teach-in-English (TiEn) program which provides practical training for SJTU faculty preparing to offer their courses in the English language. Through this training, participants expand their teaching and language skills by actively communicating in English on topics such as learning theories, teaching methods, course design and delivery, educational research and current best practices. Another FD program sponsored by the CLT-JI is a series of teaching seminars held during lunch hours for the JI teaching staff to explore and discuss issues related to teaching and learning.
  1. Teaching Assistant (TA) program: Based on a needs-assessment survey of current JI instructors and TAs completed in Fall 2010, CLT-JI has developed a comprehensive TA program for the 80 or so teaching assistants working for the JI each semester. This program starts from a streamlined TA recruitment and hiring process, continues with professional training sessions, mid-term consultation and final job performance evaluation. The TA training sessions include a full-day TA orientation conference before a semester starts, and on-going hands-on, teaching and learning workshops during the semester. CLT-JI is also implementing a TA Peer Mentor program to build a leadership team of experienced TAs who will, after advanced training, serve as CLT-JI workshop facilitators and peer consultants to new TAs. 

On April 22, 2011, SJTU established a university-wide teaching center at SJTU, the Center for Teaching and Learning Development (CTLD-SJTU). As a result, CLT-JI is merging its services and operations to become an integral part of the CTLD-SJTU.

Starting fall semester, 2011, CLT-JI will continue to refine and expand existing teaching and learning services within the UM-SJTU Joint Institute, while reaching out to the university-wide community of SJTU by being a model or prototype of innovative teaching and learning programs sponsored by the CLTD-SJTU.