Grants for Innovative Teaching
As part of its ongoing commitment to enhancing teaching and learning, the Searle Center for Advancing Learning and Teaching supports faculty, staff, post docs and graduate students who wish to experiment with new ways to help and encourage students to learn. Such innovation might produce:
- New courses
- New course materials
- New methods of assessment or evaluation
Northwestern faculty, staff, post-docs and graduate students are all eligible to apply for an innovation grant. Applicants must not have received an innovative grant from the Searle Center for 3 years prior to the current application (this does not apply to funds received through Searle programs, such as the Searle Fellows program or the Teagle graduate teaching assessment project). Applicants must be officially teaching any course for which materials are requested.
Because we view assessment to be a vital part of teaching innovation, applicants are required to attend a relevant program, short course, or set of workshops offered by the Searle Center prior to their application to learn to better assess outcomes. Such programs and short courses include, but are not limited to, the Searle Fellows program; the Teaching Assistant Fellows program; Teaching, Learning and Technology program; or a selection of related faculty or graduate student development workshops on teaching and learning. Applicants are encouraged to consult with a senior member of the Searle Center for Teaching Excellence about their projects prior to submission.
Proposals should be no more than 5 double-spaced pages and should include the following information:
- Clear explanation of critical teaching question or problem that you are trying to address
- Support for the importance of the problem from relevant literature
- Description of the innovation:
- What are your learning objectives/expected outcomes? (What will students be able to do as a result of their encounter with this project, course or material?)
- What are the learning activities students will engage in to help them meet these goals?
- Pilot evidence:
- Preliminary indication that the proposed project will help students develop intellectual abilities more effectively than previous methods. (This may be evidence from the literature or from your own teaching experience.)
- Detailed assessment plan:
- How do you plan to assess whether learning objectives/desired outcomes have been met? (please identify specific methods, instruments etc).
Please note: Standard Small Group Analysis are offered by the Searle Center free of charge, but more tailored assessment and evaluation (e.g. pre-post surveys, focus groups, conceptual checks, observation, interviews etc) must be written into the budget. The Searle Center has a pool of specially trained teaching consultants (advanced graduate students) who may be hired for this purpose (budget $16-18/hour), although you may want to hire your own student if you need specialized technical support, data collection, or analysis.
- What are your plans to extend this innovation, if appropriate, beyond the funding period?
- Detailed budget:
- How will grant funding be allocated? (See restrictions below.)
Available funding may vary, but successful applicants will receive between $1000.00 and $1200.00. Some examples of how funds may be used include: innovative teaching materials (including some software), payment for student assistants, and training fees. There are some restrictions on how funds may be allocated including:
- Rationale for including each item to be funded must be clearly indicated in assessment plan.
- We are not able to fund faculty salaries or computer hardware.
- Only in certain cases will conference travel be funded.
Please consult with Searle Center staff if you have questions about funding.
Within a year of the money being granted, awardees are expected to submit a short report (2 pages) that details how the funds were allocated and identifies the project outcomes.
Submission Process and Deadlines
The Searle Center directors will review grant proposals twice a year: February 15 and July 15. Proposals should be submitted to Susanna Calkins. Late applications will be reviewed at the next deadline. Applicants will be informed of their status within three weeks of the deadline. Proposals will be evaluated according to rationale, the innovative quality of the project, preliminary evidence and the overall assessment plan for the project.