The Vice-President, Academic, the Institute for the Study of Teaching and Learning in the Disciplines (ISTLD) and the Teaching and Learning Centre (TLC) are very pleased to announce a significant new grants program at SFU: the Teaching and Learning Development Grants.
With funding from the University Priorities Fund and the Office of the Vice-President, Academic, this new partnership between the ISTLD and the TLC recognizes that exploring new methods and approaches to teaching and learning is an integral aspect of SFU’s forward momentum. Applying a research-oriented approach to developing these practices will help us ensure that we remain at the forefront of teaching and learning techniques and will allow us to diversify and enhance the student experience at SFU. Our goal is to employ the most effective means of conveying our knowledge and experience to our students and to encourage the scholarly, critical analysis of teaching and learning methods at SFU.
As Dr. Jon Driver, Vice-President, Academic and Provost explains, “Our faculty members often tell me that they see their work as going beyond providing content to transforming how students think and problem-solve. We hope to pinpoint what teaching methods best allow for this and match teaching practices to the purpose of a particular course or discipline.”
The impetus for this exciting new opportunity came from listening to educators and students share their experiences. For the past three years, the ISTLD has supported faculty-led inquiry into questions about teaching and learning with small grants of less than $3,000. Dr. Cheryl Amundsen, the Director of the ISTLD, believes that the format and scope of this new initiative will both enhance SFU’s capacity to explore new teaching and learning methods and further encourage faculty to engage in the scholarly analysis of their practices.
Our educators are well aware that teaching methods such as lecturing are often very successfully supplemented by more hands-on or active learning experiences. Practices such as experiential learning can enable students to become better prepared to take advantage of future opportunities and become more engaged in their own learning. Dr. Stephanie Chu, Interim Director of the TLC, echoes Amundsen’s enthusiasm. She is looking forward to increased interactions between faculty and educational staff, and to showcasing the ideas and results that emerge from this new resource.
Driver, Amundsen, and Chu all emphasize that the structure of these grants ensures that the supports that will allow instructors to investigate the questions that interest them are available. Allowing educators to research topics that are meaningful to them and providing them the necessary assistance to do so will be critical to the success of this endeavour.
The primary purpose of this new grant program is to support faculty-led inquiry into questions about teaching and learning. Research should be discipline-focused, initiated by faculty members, and related to questions about teaching and learning specifically of interest to faculty. Proposals that develop new practices at the course or academic program level are encouraged, as are proposals in alignment with the 2010-2013 Academic Plan and departmental/faculty plans. Available funds include up to $3,000 for smaller or pilot projects and grants that are over $3,000 and up to $10,000 for larger projects. Financial resources will be allocated primarily to the hiring of research assistants, data collection and analysis, and disseminating results. Applications for smaller funding requests will be accepted on a continuous basis and larger applications are due April 1, 2011 and October 1, 2011. Normally, projects will be completed within one year.
We welcome your questions and comments and look forward to participating in this project as it moves forward.