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Michael Palmer

Director; Professor, General Faculty; Lecturer in Chemistry

Michael Palmer joined the Center for Teaching Excellence in the Fall of 2003. As Director, he leads the CTE’s efforts to improve teaching and student learning at UVA. As part of that work, he helps design and direct a variety of the Center’s educational development programs, such as the CTE’s annual Course Design Institute and ULAs@UVA program.  His educational development research centers on teaching consultation techniques, graduate student professional development, course design initiatives, and the impact intense instructional development activities have on teacher beliefs and practices. Published accounts of his work can be found in:

  • To Improve the Academy: A Journal of Educational Development
  • Practically Speaking: A Sourcebook for Instructional Consultants in Higher Education (2nd Ed, 2012; editor Kate Brinko)
  • New Directions for Teaching and Learning
  • Studies in Graduate and Professional Student Development
  • Journal of the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning
  • Change: The Magazine of Higher Learning.

He was the 2011 Professional and Organizational Development Network in Higher Education’s (POD Network) conference co-chair and served on the core faculty of the POD-sponsored New Faculty Developers Institute from 2009-15. He is a former member of the POD Network’s board of directors (2013-2016), chair of the Membership Committee (2013-2016), and Chair of the Robert J. Menges Award subcommittee. With colleagues Dorothe Bach and Adriana Streifer, he won the 2014 POD Network Innovation Award for work on a valid & reliable syllabus rubric; with Lindsay Wheeler and Itiya Aneece the 2015 Robert J. Menges Award for Outstanding Research in Educational Development for work on student perceptions of syllabi; with Adarsh Char, Lauren Kane-Sample, Chip Evans, William Hall the 2016 POD Network Innovation Award for work on c3Design.

Michael’s pedagogical interests include course design, active learning, student motivation, and creative thinking. He teaches a seminar on the science of learning, a highly interdisciplinary course on infinity, and a large-enrollment, inquiry-based laboratory course for first-year chemistry students. In 2012, he won one of UVA’s All-University Teaching Awards.

Born and raised in Wyoming, Michael obtained his B.S. and Ph.D. in chemistry at the University of Wyoming in Laramie. There he won both the University of Wyoming Outstanding Dissertation Award and the Sara Jane Rhoads Award for Outstanding Research for the Ph.D. Degree in Chemistry. Upon completing his graduate studies, Michael accepted a postdoctoral research position in the Chemical Engineering Department at the University of Virginia. Michael’s research focused on environmentally and industrially important catalytic processes, from the desulfurization of petroleum feedstocks and the conversion of natural gas to liquid fuels to the selective oxidation of aromatic compounds. Published accounts of his chemical research can be found in the Journal of the American Chemical Society, Journal of Physical Chemistry B, and Organometallics.

Michael’s Complete CV

Educational Development Awards

  • 2016 POD Network Innovation Award, with Adarsh Char, Lauren Kane-Sample, Chip Evans, William Hall. c3Design: A Highly Interactive, Online Course Design Learning Environment
  • 2015 Robert J. Menges Award for Outstanding Research in Educational Development, with Lindsay Wheeler and Itiya Aneece. Not Your Granddaddy’s Syllabus: Investigating Student Perceptions of Course Syllabi.
  • 2014 POD Network Innovation Award, with Dorothe Bach and Adriana Streifer. Measuring the Promising: A Valid and Reliable Syllabus Rubric.

Recent Educational Development Activities

  • Chair, POD Network Menges Award Subcommittee (2016-present).
  • Member, POD Network Governance Committee (2016).
  • Member, POD Network Core Committee (Board of Directors), 2013-2016.
  • Chair, POD Network Membership Committee, 2013-2016.

Recent Publications

  • Palmer, M.S., Gravett, E., LaFleur, J. (submitted). Measuring Transparency: A Learning-Focused Assignment Rubric.
  • Palmer, M.S., Wheeler, L. B., & Aneece, I. (manuscript in preparation). Student perceptions of content‐ and learning‐focused syllabi.
  • Palmer, M.S., Wheeler, L. B., & Aneece, I. (2016). Does the document matter? The evolving role of syllabi in higher education. Change: The Magazine of Higher Learning, 48:4, 36-47.
  • Palmer, M.S., Streifer, A.C., & Williams-Duncan, S. (2016). Systematic assessment of a high impact course design institute. To improve the academy: A journal of educational development, 35(2), 339-361.

Recent Conference Presentations

  • Cruz, L., Lohe, D., Palmer, M.S. (accepted). Educational Development Thinks Big: Cultivating an Organizational Development Mindset. The International Consortium for Educational Development Conference, Atlanta, GA, June 5-8.
  • Wheeler, L., Palmer, M.S., Connors, K. (2016). Development and Implementation of Observational Studies to Assess Classroom Practices. National Conference for the Professional and Organizational Development Network in Higher Education, Louisville, KY, November 9-13.
  • Palmer, M.S., Gravett, E., LaFleur, J. (2016). Measuring the Transparency of Assignment Descriptions. National Conference for the Professional and Organizational Development Network in Higher Education, Louisville, KY, November 9-13.
Select Invited Workshops on Teaching & Learning

Recent Courses Taught

Teaching Awards

  • 2012 UVa All-University Teaching Award