About TaLT


The Bruce K. Nelson Faculty Development Center at Eastern Michigan University launched its Teaching and Learning Together (TaLT) initiative in the summer of 2022. Since then, it has grown to become a signature program at the FDC, and continues to grow in a wide variety of ways.

What is TaLT?

TaLT is an attempt to rethink education at EMU. Too often, we think of education as being about how the experts (the faculty) take the knowledge that they have and pour it into the heads of the novices (the students). Obviously, this must happen sometimes within education - if the professor understands how to calculate partial derivatives and the student does not, this kind of knowledge transfer must happen. This model of education, however, misses something deeply important.

In the TaLT perspective, education is relational. Students learn better, and faculty will enjoy their teaching more, when we forge powerful relationships and connections between the two. These partnerships can take the form of research collaboration, engaging in a form of co-teaching, or even just hanging out in the faculty member’s office discussing Sunday’s football game. But, at its heart, TaLT is about rethinking student-faculty relationships - it is about making students partners in their education, rather than just the objects of it. It is about harnessing the power of these relationships to rethink what is possible in teaching and learning at EMU.

  • Why did TaLT Begin? Expand dropdown

    Most directly, because of COVID. Eastern Michigan University has historically been known for its small class sizes and the close bonds that form between students and faculty. If you have ever attended the Undergraduate Symposium or the Graduate Research Fair, or watched students and faculty engage with each other in community-based projects, you will see what it looks like when students and faculty work together to produce a meaningful product. Once you begin to think of education as being relational, the potential is limitless.

    Furthermore, we invite you to ask any faculty member how they got to where they are. We imagine that somewhere in the story is a mentor who helped that future faculty member see that they could do it. Think about what it means when you find someone who believes in you, wants you to succeed, and makes the time to help you do so. Most faculty have been the recipient of such encouragement, and it seems only reasonable to hope that they can offer this kind of support to their students. For so long, this ethos was EMU.

    And then COVID hit. COVID did not change the world entirely; many of the issues we dealt with during COVID, such as structural racism, climate change, and economic inequality, existed before COVID and continue to exist. However, COVID did change the way in which we interact with one another, leading to an increasing disconnect between students and faculty here at EMU. 

    Nobody should be blamed for this; that time period was marked by significant stress on everyone, some of which continues to this day. But when students lacked the capacity to reach out to faculty, and vice versa, connections suffered. This was not helped by the fact that we were mostly teaching online, which in all but the most extraordinary cases made it harder to forge these connections. Coming out of COVID has not been easy; among other things, students need to “re-learn” the value of building connections with faculty, after years of not experiencing the benefits of doing so.

    To counteract this disconnect, the Faculty Development Center and its Director, Jeffrey L. Bernstein, aimed to "hit the reset button" and rebuild these connections through an ambitious initiative like TaLT. This work was firmly grounded in Eastern Michigan University’s strategic commitment to prioritize student-centered learning and academic success. You can learn more about our original mission to forge stronger connections between students and faculty and to further support student learning and success by reading our Director's Vision Statement, written at the very beginning of the TaLT initiative. 

  • Where Do the Students Fit In the Origin Story? Expand dropdown

    We’re glad you asked! When we considered building TaLT, the FDC very much wanted to hear from our students about how they viewed this disconnect. To this end, FDC student workers Jessi Kwek and Hannah LaFleur wrote a powerful blog post which shined a light on how EMU students felt they had missed opportunities and connections in recent years; the genesis for this blog post was a conversation between EMU students and Dr. Mays Imad, our keynote speaker at the 2022 CONNECT Teaching Conference

    Furthermore, as we prepared to launch TaLT, our student workers Jessi Kwek and Lauren Silvia contributed an insightful essay, “The Importance of Student Voice,” which aimed to highlight the ways in which the students, faculty, and community as a whole can benefit from student-faculty partnerships. Jessi and Lauren’s work was one of our guideposts as we launched the initiative; Jessi and Lauren, in fact, became our co-Lead Students (alongside Lead Faculty Member Sarah Ginsberg) as we launched TaLT in the fall of 2022.

  • What Does the Literature Have to Say About All of This? Expand dropdown

    We are not, of course, the first people to hatch upon this idea and write about it. At the beginning, we devoted significant efforts towards learning more about what the existing literature says about this disconnect in higher education and about the value of student-faculty partnerships overall. This annotated bibliography highlighted key things we learned through this deep dive into the literature. We continue to read, and are now moving our efforts toward making our own contributions to the literature, based on our experiences at EMU.

  • What Is Happening with TaLT These Days? Expand dropdown

    Lots of exciting things are happening, and we encourage you to explore this webpage to learn about them. As some highlights, we can share the following:

    • The Faculty Development hosted the Flipping the Script Teaching Conference on December 1, featuring sixteen presentations and two plenaries, all done by students! This event did a great job highlighting the important contributions students can make to teaching and learning.
    • This year, we are running a learning community, facilitated by Professor Courtney Lewis (Athletic Training) and Graduate Student Alivia English (Speech-Language Pathology) that focuses on building stronger connections between faculty and students in clinical education fields.
    • Professor Sarah Ginsberg and Graduate Student Shay Morrison (both Speech-Language Pathology) are co-facilitating a learning community on Collaborative Course (Re)Design, in which pairs of faculty and students come together to jointly redesign a course being taught by the faculty member.
    • FDC Student Workers Liv Overbee and Trinity Perkins, along with Professors Bernstein and Ginsberg, were recently awarded a grant from Women in Philanthropy at Eastern Michigan University, to do research on how students think about connections with faculty. Liv and Trinity also plan to present their research on the value of the Flipping the Script conference at the Undergraduate Symposium this March.

    Click through the rest of the webpage to learn of more projects - past, present, and future - being done under the TaLT umbrella.

  • What If I Want to Get Involved in this Work? Expand dropdown

    If you’d like to participate in this initiative in any way, we’d love to hear from you. Please fill out this form, or email us at [email protected] to let us know of your interest in this work. We are always looking to involve more people - faculty, students, and staff - in TaLT!


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