2015 Teaching Innovation Awards
The TLC awarded five (5) faculty members with the Teaching Innovation Award for the 2014-2015 academic year. This award recognizes the effort put forth by faculty who have redesigned their courses or introduced new courses, using new methods or innovative approaches to applying the research on learning to the practice of teaching. The recipients of the award received $1,000. The award is not a reimbursement grant, but rather a monetary prize to recognize faculty achievement. Awards were presented at a luncheon reception in April.
Lisa Blee, History
Lisa created a new course, FYS 100: FFF: Nature, Environments, and Place in American Thought, as a way to introduce students to major traditions in environmental thought – a rich interdisciplinary field spanning history, religion, sociology, landscape architecture and biology. She organized the course to encourage students to think about environmental philosophy from the inside outward; starting with discussion of place-memories, then considered how culture shapes perceptions of the world, how we alter environments, and consequently how we impact society. The assignments followed the same trajectory, moving from contemplative practice, to group-based publicly-engaged work, and finally to the collective curation of a digital exhibit.
Lisa introduced three novel approaches in this course: contemplative practice, public engagement, and a digital platform. She incorporated these elements to facilitate student learning of course materials, build new skills, and explore the relationship between self- awareness and social engagement. While these approaches are well-known to a small number of practitioners of contemplative pedagogy, public history, and digital humanities, the innovative feature of this course is the way she combined them to re-enforce one another and engage her students in truly interdisciplinary inquiry.
Jill Crainshaw, Divinity
Jill created a new course, MIN 790: Sacraments and Ordinances: Histories, Theologies, and Practices, to teach students about the history and theology of Christian sacraments and invite them to rethink what it means to lead their communities in practicing these sacraments. Jill wanted her students to explore how significant elements of worship are connected to local and global contexts, environments, and economies, and she wanted them to consider how these connections matter to Christian theology and practice.
Because sacramental practices in Christian traditions involve common physical elements (water, bread, wine, oil, fire), Jill adopted place-based strategies to get students to cross the gap between theory and practice. Her course’s innovation invited students to consider how sacramental practices are connected to particular places where they serve and lead. Students engaged in activities, such as visiting water treatment plants and interviewing a local hourly wage bread baker and then baking bread from scratch to share with class. Her assignments were structured to encourage students to expand on this new way of thinking and to link worship practices and theologies with the broader parameters of their identities as religious leaders and the challenges present in the communities where they will lead. As a result, the school’s student-led, twice-weekly chapel services now show a more place-based understanding of the sacraments. Students from Jill’s class often bake the bread used in chapel. Also, students are now writing liturgies and prayers for chapel services and designing other worship elements that reflect new understandings of bread, wine, water, fire, oil and other physical and sacramental elements.
Michael D. Gross, Chemistry
Michael completely redesigned CHM 361L: Advanced Inorganic Chemistry Laboratory, moving from a traditional format, where students conducted a series of experiments and then produced lab reports, to a team-based format. In the new format, students worked on four open-ended problem statements in groups of 3-4 throughout the semester (approximately three weeks for each problem).
Michael cites important components of his team based innovation. First, this format facilitates student autonomy. Given only a problem statement, it is up to the students to decide what technical background and concepts are relevant, decide what information they need to collect in lab to effectively address the problem, develop an effective plan to collect that information, analyze the real (and often messy) data they collected, and make/support conclusions that address the problem statement. Second, each team member had a different role that rotated during each problem cycle. Third, there was a mix of individual and team responsibility for each project. And finally, students were required to write a reflection after each cycle, evaluating their own work in regards to technical content, problem solving, teamwork, the solution to the problem statement, and any adjustments they made based on what they learned in the previous problem cycle.
Teresa Sanhueza, Spanish and Leah Roy, Theatre
Teresa and Leah partnered to revise Teresa’s SNP 347: Contemporary Theater in Spain and Spanish America course. For this course, Teresa took a more holistic view of theater and the learning process. Previous iterations of this course had been taught as a literature class, containing no practice of theater. In the redesigned version of the course, Teresa introduced a “reading-seeing-doing-creating” theater structure that connects the literary traditions of theater to theatrical practices.
She began by first teaching students how to read a play using the Think Aloud model, reading the play and verbalizing her thought processes for the students. She then had Leah and her IPLACe troup perform a staged reading of a scene from one of the plays the class had read. Students then worked together, following the model provided by Leah and her students, and performed their own staged reading of a scene. The last step involved writing an additional scene for the play and a reflection on their process.
The Teaching Development Fund
The Teaching Development Fund offers financial support of up to $1,500 per academic year to assist faculty in enhancing their teaching skills or in developing innovative teaching projects. The Fund may be used to attend teaching-related workshops and conferences, or to purchase materials that will benefit teaching and improve student learning in their classes. Requests should clearly delineate how the project will enhance teaching and learning, and have a clearly laid-out budget. The Fund will not be awarded if the proposal focuses primarily on the research, writing, and artistic activities of faculty members. The Fund will not pay for books, student labor, student field trips or guest speakers. For these requests visit the provost’s office funding opportunities here.
For more information on the Fund and how to apply, download the instructions here: Teaching Development Fund 2015-16.
Office of the Dean of the College
Funding opportunities listed on the website of the Dean of the College.
Office of the Provost
A comprehensive list of international funding opportunities, service opportunities, and similar resources by the Office of the Provost.