2013 Teaching Innovation Grant Recipients Announced

Interest in educational innovation is alive and well at WPI.

Interest in educational innovation is alive and well at WPI. The Educational Development Council and Academic Technology Center received 23 proposals for close to $190,000 in funding and awarded 12 grants totaling $75,000. Compared to 2012, the number of proposals increased by almost 300%, and the funds requested increased more than 400%.

2013 Faculty Learning Community Grant Recipients
The WPI Course of the Future

Joe Beck, Assistant Professor of Computer Science, LST

Joe plans to focus initially on the graduate course Graphical Models for Reasoning Under Uncertainty (CS566), an advanced topic in ar- tificial intelligence (AI). He will transform the course using the idea of “flipping the classroom.” Outside of class, students will learn from existing high-quality, online, open content in the AI field, including existing MOOCs. Class time will be used for discussion and group problem solving. He would also like to explore how students’ learn- ing experience might be customized using such an approach.

Jim Cocola, Assistant Professor of Literature, Film, and Media, HUA

Jim will focus on extending one of his favorite pedagogical tools— the course wiki. By aggregating existing content from other archives, databases, and digital initiatives, and by augmenting that material with original features tailored to specific learning environments, goals, and outcomes, Jim believes that course wikis can provide truly enriching educational experiences for students across disci- plines, whether they’re engaged in building a better robot, consider- ing a complex case study, or working through the world of a Great Problems Seminar. In his Film Studies course, Jim wants to enable students to upload materials to the course wiki more effectively, in order to transform this resource into a more collective endeavor. This community-oriented, constructivist approach to learning could serve as a model for many other WPI courses, informing blended and distance offerings in various departments and schools.

Rob Lindeman, Associate Professor of Computer Science, IMGD

Rob is interested in modifying an existing course, IMGD 3100, Interfaces for Interactive Environments, using a Massive Online Open Course (MOOC) approach. He will structure the course to be delivered at Ritsumekan University, by working collaboratively with a colleague at that institution, Dr. Haruo Noma, who is currently a Scholar-in-Residence at WPI.

2013 Educational Development Grant Recipients

Enhancing Student Visualization Skills

Holly Ault (PI), ME; Kris Wobbe, Undergraduate Studies; Aaron Ferguson, Office of Disability Studies
Spatial skills are important in many careers including engineering and science. Students with good visualization skills are more successful in introductory engineer- ing, math, and science courses and are more likely to persist in the first year. This proposal outlines a program to assess the visualization skills of first year students, provide opportunities for improvement to students with low spatial skills, and evaluate the outcomes of the program.

Creation of a Water Resource Center

Corey Denenberg Dehner, Worcester Community Project Center, IGSD
Students comment that the projects program is a large part of the reason they came to WPI. At present the Global Perspective Program cannot accommodate all of the qualified applicants desiring to complete their Interactive Qualifying Project at an off-campus project center. A central Massachusetts-focused water resource center would systematically integrate municipalities, government agencies, watershed associations, conservations commissions, and WPI student projects while serving as a research venue for graduate students.

Campus Is Abuzz: The WPI Pollinator Garden Project

Robert Gegear (PI), BBT; Ally Hunter, BBT
The aim of this project is to plant and maintain a pollinator garden to serve as a teaching tool for the WPI community. A general curriculum will be developed and disseminated to the WPI teaching community as a “how to” for using the garden as a teaching tool. Multiple disciplines and departments will benefit from use of the garden for hands-on learning, as will the K-12 outreach programs.

Cross-Cultural Project Design: A Reader for STEM Students on Sustainable Development

Laureen Elgert (PI), SSPS; Tom Robertson, HUA
This project will develop a prototype of an engaging, concrete, and thought-provok- ing reader for STEM students interested in overseas projects, especially in the de- veloping world. Collecting and packaging 4-6 already published chapter-length case studies of engineers and other technicians at work overseas, as well as other strate- gically selected readings, the reader will emphasize the social and environmental context of technological projects, and will point to common pitfalls, best practices, and established ethical standards. It will be extended in an NSF application.

2013 Course Design Technology Grants
Funded by the Information Technology Division

An Interactive Grammar Lab for ESL Writers

Esther Boucher, HUA
The purpose of this project is to develop a technology-supported approach to teaching grammar and improving writing for ESL learners. The project involves designing and building interactive modules and multimodal presentation of materials focusing specifically on grammar that would be used to supplement the teaching of undergraduate writing courses for international non-native speakers of English at WPI.

Clicking the German Classroom

Ulrike Brisson, HUA
In order to enhance student participation in the German classroom, this project will be used to develop in-class exercises to which students can respond using clickers. Using such technology will ensure the participation of all students, provide feedback to the instructor about grammatical or lexical problems so that these can be addressed. Current materials don't lend themselves to the use of clickers and need to be developed.

Reinforcing Concepts and Connections Across the Biology Curriculum

Michael Buckholt (PI), BBT; Jill Rulfs, BBT
The purpose of this proposal is to create concept maps for BB1035, BB2550, BB2901, BB2902, and BB4008. Additionally, a variety of available tools (e.g., Lovely Charts, Visio, Popplet) will be evaluated for use in concept mapping that can be employed by all members of the biology faculty.

Clicker Questions for Preparation for Introductory Mechanics Laboratories

Nancy Burnham, PH
This project will create nine sets of explanatory material and clicker questions for conference instructors such that students are better prepared for their 50-minute mechanics lab sessions.

From Feedback to “Veedback”: Increasing Instructor Efficiency and Student Engagement through Screencasted Teacher Commentary

Ryan Madan, HUA
This project will research, experiment with, and implement a system of “veedback” (audio-visual feedback) in providing instructor commentary on students’ written work in Elements of Writing (WR1010). Screencasting software will be used to cre- ate an individual movie for each student essay that pairs a visual record of on-screen interaction with the student’s digital text, ultimately creating a voice recording of instructor reactions and suggestions. Such a technique promises to make comment- ing more efficient for the instructor and more engaging for students.

Foundations of Music through Interactive Technology

V. J. Manzo, HUA
A traditional education in music requires the ability to play an instrument in order to realize the core concepts of musicianship. The proposed project will result in the development of software that will allow students without prior music experience to learn these musicianship skills through the use of accessible software-based instru- ments. This software will enhance the learning experiences in our fundamental mu- sic courses, provide a multimedia instructional tool for faculty, and prepare students for participation in our music ensembles.

April 16, 2013

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