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How Big Money Can, and Can’t, Shake Up Teaching

Three years ago, two of America’s most influential universities made eye-popping commitments to improve teaching. Harvard University announced that it would devote $40-million to encourage its faculty members to experiment in the service of learning.

The University of Michigan at Ann Arbor would run a $25-million project seeking much the same thing. On both campuses, faculty members on and off the tenure track have submitted proposals for competitive grants of up to $50,000 to take calculated risks in their courses. They’re creating digital textbooks, organizing workshops on teaching statistics, assigning common reading in engineering, and, in all cases, studying the results.