At many schools, faculty members currently are applying for summer research grants. This blog posts suggests that in addition to research grants, schools consider summer teaching innovation grants. Just like good scholarship, developing experiential learning courses or course components takes time.
Summer Teaching Innovation Grants – An Experiment that Worked
At Georgia State, like at many schools, our dean has encouraged us to integrate experiential learning throughout the curriculum. And, he has put his money where his mouth is.
Faculty can compete for summer teaching innovation grants which are funded at the same level as research grants. Both junior and senior faculty members have taken advantage of the summer grant opportunities to either revamp existing courses or create new ones.
What A Grant Can Produce
This video illustrates some of the courses developed through the innovation grants.
We use the video as an admissions tool and at alumni functions to highlight the law school’s innovative and experiential teaching across the curriculum.
In the video, you will hear about numerous courses that integrate experiential learning. Many of those courses were developed as a result of summer teaching grants. For example:
Professor Corneill Stephens, after twenty years of teaching first year contracts, radically revamped the second semester of his course. That semester now devotes substantial time to “hands on” contract drafting and interpretation.
Professor Erin Fuse Brown, who has only been teaching a few years, developed a capstone simulation health care transactions course, taught with practicing attorney adjuncts.
Professor Jessie Gabel Cino, shortly after she was granted tenure, created a bankruptcy assistance program course in which students work with practicing attorneys to handle simple bankruptcies.
These courses, described in more detail in the video, are just a few examples of courses that came into being as a result of a summer teaching innovation grant.
The grant award process is competitive and judged by the following criteria:
- The project must result in the creation of a new class or redesign of an existing one that will integrate skills/professional values/experiential components not traditionally taught in conventional courses.
- The project proposal must include a statement of learning objectives and outcomes for the course.
- The project must include a plan for assessment of learning outcomes, including both formative as well as summative assessment methods, as appropriate.
- The project must be capable of being completed over the summer in which the grant is received and implemented preferably in the ensuing academic year.
- The project proposal describes a plan for making the new or redesigned course sustainable (capable of being taught on a recurring basis.
Creating a Culture of Teaching Innovation and Excellence
All grant recipients must present to the faculty in the semester following their grant-based course. This presentation allows other faculty to learn about new courses or changes to existing courses and prompts thinking about one’s own course.
The video describes courses that came into being due to summer teaching innovation grants, and includes some course innovations that resulted simply from a culture which demonstrably values teaching innovation through concrete actions such as summer grants, weekly informal coffees to talk about teaching, and emphasis on teaching in our annual reports.
It’s not too late to for your dean to offer summer grants as a way to further develop institutional support for teaching innovations. If these are not already in place at your school, perhaps you can encourage your dean to consider this option.
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