Courses for the five-week Spring term have the ability to have a considerable impact on student experiences as they navigate the next few weeks of this crisis. From implementing discussions and assignments on COVID to making extra efforts to develop community remotely, instructors have a wide breadth of opportunity to create dynamic experiences for students, despite the virtual classroom.

Here is a look into how some courses are adapting and reacting to the current crisis:

Sex Differences in Brain, Behavior, and Disease

Instructor: Jennifer Cummings, lecturer in the Department of Psychology

PSYCH 430 will discuss the history of sex differences in a variety of species, including humans, rodents, birds and frogs. Topics will include sex differences in brain structure and function, and consequences of sex differences in susceptibility to and progression of various diseases, including autoimmune function and virology, according to the course description.

Cummings hopes to use her course to combat the disconnection and disengagement students have felt in the last few months after leaving campus.

“One of my goals this term has been to promote a sense of community within my course,” Cummings said. “My first assignment was for students to post a photo of themselves, or of something that represents them, and discuss it. As students reviewed and commented on their classmates’ pictures, they quickly identified their shared interests – and struggles – within their community of learners.”

Cummings will develop this sense of community through breakout groups during discussion periods, which will allow students to discuss course topics as well as other issues.

“I am hopeful that these things will help my students remember they are students at the University of Michigan,” Cummings said, “that while this phase of their education is different from previous semesters, it is just a phase. And, one that they will navigate successfully.”

Read the full article at Michigan News.