Teaching Innovation Grants
2015 Call for Proposals and Application Guidelines (.docx file)
The Morgan Teaching & Learning Center, the Educational Development Council (EDC), and the Academic Technology Center (ATC) seek to foster innovation in teaching and to support bold new ideas for WPI undergraduate and graduate education by funding initiatives that enrich learning in classrooms, laboratories, and projects. This year $75,000 is available for distribution among the following three programs:
- Faculty Learning Community Grants
- Educational Development Grants
- Course Design Technology Grants
The main distinction between the Faculty Learning Community (FLC) and the other types of grants is the cross-disciplinary, collaborative nature of the FLC. Details about each of these grant programs are provided below. The deadline for receipt of all types of proposals is February 2, 2015. Awards will be announced in D-term.
Class of ’57 Teaching Development Travel Grants are also available solely for professional development activities related to teaching. Proposals for these travel grants can be submitted to the EDC at any time during the academic year.
Faculty Learning Community Grants
A Faculty Learning Community (FLC) is a small group of faculty from multiple disciplines engaging in inquiry and action around a central theme, in order to advance faculty development, trans-disciplinary dialogue, reflection on scholarly teaching practice, and community building. Faculty members apply as individuals, and the awardees selected by the EDC become members of the FLC. Each participant will create, plan, implement, and assess his or her own initiative, with regular feedback from the group. The FLC will also include professional staff from the ATC and Gordon Library and will be facilitated by Prof. Chrys Demetry, Director of the Morgan Teaching and Learning Center.
Proposals are solicited around the broad theme of Innovations in Teaching and Learning for the Future. What might a WPI course, project, or some other type of learning experience look like 5-10 years from now? How might the increasing availability of high quality online content affect how we design learning experiences? What opportunities are there to add further value to project-based learning and interaction between WPI students and faculty and with our collaborators around the world? In the context of these and related questions, trends, and debates, this program aims to support bold experiments, novel ideas, and transformative models for learning experiences at WPI, whether inside or outside the context of a course.
All tenured and tenure-track faculty and full-time non-tenure track faculty are eligible to apply. Full-time WPI employees with significant educational responsibilities will also be considered.
Commitment and Expectations:
The FLC requires a one year commitment, with the option of a two year commitment. The group will meet once per month beginning in May 2015 and will identify some common reading to inform its work. Participants are expected to plan their projects during the summer months, with feedback and support from the FLC. Project implementation will take place during AY 2015-16. The FLC will conclude at the end of May 2016 and will be expected to document its work and report out to the WPI community using a medium of its choice.
Those participants who continue into a second year will serve as mentors for new FLC participants and continue to refine their own projects.
Each participant will be granted $7,500 in two stages. The first half will be awarded at the start of AY 2015-16 when the planning stage is complete. The remainder will be awarded at the end of May 2016 when the collective work of the FLC is complete.
Participants who continue for a second year as mentors will receive $2,500, with the first payment at the conclusion of the summer planning period and the second at the conclusion of the academic year.
Prospective applicants are invited to contact any member of the EDC (Chrys Demetry, Joe Duffy, Lauren Mathews, Jeanine Skorinko) or the ATC (Kate Beverage, Mary Beth Harrity) with questions prior to submission. Applications must include the following:
- A narrative statement of no more than 2 pages that addresses the following questions:
- What is the nature of your interest in this year’s theme of Innovations in Teaching and Learning for the Future? What trends in higher education and/or at WPI would you like to address?
- What specific course(s), project(s), or other type of learning experience will be your focus in the FLC? What goals do you have for transforming the teaching and learning experience in that focus area? What novel ideas, bold experiments, or transformative models would you like to explore? To what extent could your approach serve as a model for others at WPI?
- Why are you interested in participating in a Faculty Learning Community as compared to a solo project? What would you bring to the group? Are you interested in a one-year or two-year commitment to the FLC?
- A brief description of your project focus, to be used for publicity purposes. The description should not exceed 80 words; proposals with descriptions exceeding this limit may be returned.
- A letter of support from the relevant department or program head (or the relevant Dean if the applicant is a department head.)
All three elements of the application must be submitted electronically to firstname.lastname@example.org by February 2.
EDC and ATC members will use the following criteria in selecting FLC participants: level of interest and insight into this year’s theme; originality of initial ideas; commitment and potential contributions to the collaborative nature of the FLC; and the desire for a diverse, trans-disciplinary group.
Educational Development Grants
With these grants the EDC is interested in promoting innovative teaching that enhances student learning, providing seed money for pilot projects that could strengthen proposals for external funding, supporting evaluation of ongoing or proposed innovations aimed at publication, and supporting professional development or external partnerships related to teaching and learning. This program does not fund routine updating of courses, curricula or teaching methods.
Proposals in any area are welcome. Special consideration will be given to those that address identified areas of need such as active and collaborative learning in the classroom, innovative approaches to large enrollment courses, and curricular enhancements related to ethics, diversity and pluralism, global perspectives, or communication (written, oral, visual). Projects that bring external visitors to WPI (e.g., partial support for a sabbatical) are also encouraged.
All WPI faculty and staff are eligible to apply. Collaborative projects among groups of faculty and/or staff are especially encouraged.
Funding Levels and Allowable Costs:
Applicants propose their own budget. Grants for single investigators focusing on a single course or project center have ranged from $3,000 to $7,000 in recent years. The EDC encourages multiple investigator, program-wide, and/or cross-disciplinary initiatives, which would be suitable for higher levels of funding.
Typical allowable costs include: (a) hourly wages for students (not tuition); (b) faculty compensation (note 1); (c) fees for an assessment/evaluation consultant (note 2); (d) supplies, software, and equipment (note 3); and (e) travel and professional development related to the project. Evidence of cost-sharing from the program or department, or from other sources, often strengthens a proposal but is not essential.
Note 1: Applicants are encouraged to hire students for project activities whenever appropriate. Faculty compensation is appropriate only for activity that extends beyond normal teaching expectations; applicants are advised to address this point in their budget justification. Faculty compensation may be used either for summer support or academic year release time (pending approval of department head). For full-time faculty and staff, benefits will not be charged to these grants.
Note 2: Working with an evaluation consultant is encouraged. Contact Chrys Demetry for names of consultants who have worked with WPI faculty members in the past.
Note 3: This grants program does not provide funding for software and equipment for routine, high quality education of WPI students since that normally comes from department capital or IT budgets. However, software or equipment necessary for enabling a pedagogical experiment that will be assessed is suitable for funding.
Prospective applicants are encouraged to discuss their ideas with a member of the EDC (Chrys Demetry, Joe Duffy, Lauren Mathews, Jeanine Skorinko) prior to proposal submission. Proposals must contain the following:
- Cover page (see file linked at top of page)
- Budget with justification (see file linked at top of page)
The narrative should not exceed three single-spaced typewritten pages with 11 point or larger font. Use of headings is recommended. The narrative should discuss:
Need for the project: scope of the problem to be addressed, relevant background (e.g., current literature, current practices and resources);
Approach: project objectives, methods or procedures to be used, a plan for assessing and evaluating project results, innovative elements;
Outcomes: how the project will be beneficial to WPI students; expected results and/or further directions that the project might take; a plan for dissemination and/or future funding.
Proposals should be submitted electronically by February 2 to email@example.com as a single file containing the cover page, budget form, and narrative. If signatures are not included in that document then a cover page with signatures should also be sent to the Morgan Center by campus mail.
EDC members will evaluate proposals for the originality of ideas, educational soundness of the approach, scope of impact, and potential for dissemination and/or external funding.
Reporting Requirements and Grant Conditions:
Grantees are responsible for consulting with WPI’s Institutional Review Board (IRB) to determine if the project involves human subjects and constitutes exempt or non-exempt activity.
At the conclusion of the funded project, and on or before the due date agreed upon between EDC and the principal investigator, the PI must submit a written report that clearly documents the outcomes of the project and how EDC funds were expended. All award recipients will be required to present the results of their project at a faculty luncheon (or its equivalent), to be arranged by the Morgan Center upon completion of the project.
EDC will request from grantees sufficient follow-up information to allow inference of longitudinal effects, such as impacts on students, dissemination of project results, and success in acquiring outside funds.
All funds unexpended by the deadline reporting date will be returned to the EDC for redistribution the following year. Extensions must be requested in writing.