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Michael Palmer

Director, Associate Professor, & 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. He also helps design and direct a variety of the Center’s educational development programs, such as the CTE’s graduate student professional development program, Tomorrow’s Professor Today, the annual Course Design Institute, Nucleus, and Ignite programs.  He also presents interactive workshops locally, nationally and internationally; and he regularly consults with faculty, graduate student instructors, departments, and administrative units about teaching and learning matters. His educational development research centers on teaching consultation techniques, graduate student professional development, course design initiatives, and the impact intense professional 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 has served on the core faculty of the POD-sponsored New Faculty Developers Institute since 2009. He is a former member of the POD Network’s Core Committee (2013-2016), the organization’s board of directors, and chair of the Membership Committee (2013-2016). 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, creative thinking, and teaching large enrollment courses, particularly in STEM disciplines. He teaches a highly interdisciplinary course on infinity, a seminar on the science of learning, 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).
  • Member, POD Network Governance Committee (2016).
  • Member, POD Network Core Committee (Board of Directors), 2013-2016.
  • Chair, POD Network Membership Committee, 2013-2016.
  • Core Faculty Facilitator, Institute for New Faculty Developers, 2009, 2011, 2013, & 2015.
  • Conference co-Chair, POD Network, Atlanta, GA, 2011.
  • Conference Program co-Chair, POD Network, St. Louis, MO, 2010.

Recent Publications

  • 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.
  • Palmer, M.S. & Matthews, T. (2015). Learning to see the infinite: Measuring visual literacy skills in a 1st-year seminar course. Journal of the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning, 15(1), 1-9.
  • Palmer, M.S. (2015). Learning to see the infinite: Teaching visual literacy in a 1st-year seminar course. In D. Little, P. Felten & C. Berry (Eds.), New Directions for Teaching and Learning. No. 141 (pp. 19-29).  San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.
  • Palmer, M.S., Bach, D. J., & Streifer, A. C. (2014). Measuring the promise: A learning‐focused syllabus rubricTo improve the academy: A journal of educational development, 33 (1), 14-36.

Select Conference Presentations

  • 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.
  • Palmer, M.S., Wheeler, L., & Aneece. (2015). Not Your Granddaddy’s Syllabus: Investigating Student Perceptions of Course Syllabi. National Conference for the Professional and Organizational Development Network in Higher Education, San Francisco, CA, November 4-8.
  • Palmer, M., Streifer, A., & Williams-Duncan, S. (2015). Systematic Assessment of a High Impact Course Design Institute. National Conference for the Professional and Organizational Development Network in Higher Education, San Francisco, CA, November 4-8.
  • Palmer, M., & Streifer, A. (2014). Measuring the Promise: Assessing Syllabi Using a Valid & Reliable Rubric. National Conference for the Professional and Organizational Development Network in Higher Education, Dallas, TX, November 5-9.
  • Palmer, M., Bach, D., & Inkelas, K. (2014). From Development Intervention to Student Learning: Systematically Measuring the Arc of the Educational Transformation Process. Conference for the International Consortium of Educational Developers, Stockholm, Sweden, June 15-17.
Select Invited Workshops on Teaching & Learning

Recent Courses Taught

Teaching Awards

  • 2012 UVa All-University Teaching Award