Grant Samples

Below are sample projects for each of the three structural streams (Development and Innovation, Lesson Study, SoTL), and one illustrating the special topic track (Experiential Learning).

Sample Development and Innovation Grant Projects

After participating in a teaching square to see others’ peer review activities in which students give feedback on each other’s drafts, four colleagues will work together to design a new, more engaging model for students helping each other to revise their drafts.  (Note that the Seeding SoTL Initiative funds may be used to support a teaching square.)  

An instructor and her teaching assistants will revise the opening unit of a course to integrate one of the small but mighty principles (self-explanation through think-alouds) from James Lang’s book Small Teaching.  (Note that the Seeding SoTL Initiative funds may be used to purchase books for a reading group.)   

Seeing students struggle to understand some key disciplinary concepts, an instructor will develop an app that represents these concepts visually and interactively, enabling students to explore and experiment with them in a new way.   After a curriculum review identifies some “bottlenecks” for students in an intro-level course, a team of academic staff and former students will use the “decoding the discipline” process (Pace & Middendorf, 2004) to better understand the problem, and then revise the course guided by the classic principle of “backward design” (Wiggins & McTighe, 1998).   

Sample Lesson Study Grant Project

"Surfacing the Structures of Patriarchy: Teaching and Learning Threshold Concepts in Women’s Studies" by Holly Hassel, Amy Reddinger, & Jessica Van Slooten (Women's Studies), from The International Journal for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning, 2011 

"The teaching and learning problem that has presented the greatest challenge in women’s studies courses is students’ development of an understanding of gender as a social construct—that is, their individual choices and behaviors as framed within a social structure, particularly patriarchy. Our first step in lesson design was the establishment of our learning goal: … students will be able to identify ways that patriarchal values are reinforced or challenged in the dominant culture. We also established a working definition of patriarchy…. From the outset we perceived that the complexity of patriarchy as a threshold concept would necessitate a multi-part lesson that would introduce, review, and then ask students to apply the new concept. Consequent class sessions and assessment exercises asked students to continue to apply the lesson’s concepts and skills….

We conducted two lesson study iterations. In the first iteration, students read the first two chapters of Allan Johnson’s book The Gender Knot: Unraveling our Patriarchal Legacy, and were asked to complete a pre-class reading quiz online using our course management software. The lesson consisted of a brief instructor lecture, a small group artifact analysis activity, and a post-class homework assignment. Lesson instruction was observed and documented. We evaluated student learning through the observer reports and through an evaluation of three student-produced artifacts: the pre-lesson quiz, an in-class group worksheet, and a short paper analysis of an artifact of the student’s choice completed as homework. We made revisions to our lesson to account for responses from observers and students…. 

In post-lesson meetings, we normed our evaluation of student performance on the quiz, the group worksheet, and the homework…. In contrast to the absence of meaningful data found in the group worksheet, we found the homework to be particularly meaningful. This assignment asked that students find their own popular cultural artifact and then analyze it in terms of the four core values [of patriarchy, according to Johnson]. These short papers were, as a whole, interesting and insightful. They provided a rich opportunity to gauge individual student comprehension of the concept of patriarchy, often making clear the specific concept(s) with which a student was struggling…. We concluded that the revised lesson led to a significant shift in learning – far more students met the learning goals while far fewer students failed to meet (the exceeds category remained largely the same). We see this as evidence that the second iteration was successful at increasing student achievement of the lesson’s learning goal described above...."  [Full article available here]

Sample SoTL Grant Project

"Developing historical case studies for teaching geoscience concepts" by Glenn Dolphin (Geoscience) & Wendy Benoit (Chemistry), 2014

Case studies have been used as a mode for teaching in law, medicine and business for decades. Only recently has attention turned to their advantages in science education. In particular, our project focuses on historical case studies, taking an important geological development or biographical figure and building a narrative around that subject as a way to give context to the geologic content to be taught. Cases are co-created with a team of both faculty and undergraduate students. The first phase of the project included the development of three case studies, teaching aspects of continental drift, stratigraphy, and radioactivity. In the second phase, four more cases are being developed to look at study of the seafloor, extinction of the dinosaurs, meteorite impacts, and developments in anthropology. We have already conducted pilot studies of the first three cases within multiple class structures (15 – 300+ students) and they are in their final round of edits. We also hope to get them published in a journal and as an on-line resource to enable a wide audience to use them. In addition to the cases as products of the project, the undergraduate research assistants have gained experience doing independent research in the history of geology. They have interacted with historians and philosophers of science as they built and revised their cases. They have participated in the implementation of the cases in multiple university classes. They have presented numerous times to scientists, historians and philosophers of science, and science educators, traveling as far as Rochester, NY, and Brazil. Finally, this year, we will be studying transcripts from our weekly group meetings from the phase 1, in an attempt to shed some light on the process of independent undergraduate research.


Sample Experiential Learning Project (Practice Stream)

"Do Simulated Clients Enrich Learning Experiences for Final Year Veterinary Students?" by Darlene Donszelmann (Veterinary Medicine), 2015

Communication skills are developed through repetition and practice in increasingly more challenging simulated scenarios. Students in the first three years of the University of Calgary’s Faculty of Veterinary Medicine learn core clinical communication skills, but they aren't formally reinforced in their fourth and final year. Previously learned communication skills are often disregarded by final year veterinary students anxious to diagnose and treat their patients. Some final year rotations utilize owner-absent cases and thereby lack a client for the student to experience a real veterinary-client-patient relationship. 

Standardized, simulated patients are commonly utilized across many disciplines including medicine, kinesiology, nursing and paramedical scenarios. Veterinary communication curricula also utilize simulated clients. The owner-absent fourth-year dental rotations present an ideal opportunity to pilot the use of trained simulated clients embedded in real veterinary cases. Through interaction with simulated clients, students will have an opportunity to further practice and refine their communication skills by obtaining a relevant history, building relationship, explaining the clinical reasoning underlying their diagnostic and treatment plans, answering client inquiries, discussing pain control, informing the client of the financial implications, and presenting discharge instructions. Students will evaluate and critically reflect upon their experiences with simulated client, real patient cases in order to help determine the value of the learning experience created.