Academic Innovation and High Impact Practices Awards 

The Faculty Center offers grants of up to $500 to underwrite explorations in teaching, course development or curricular design that show promise of having a significant and positive impact on the academic environment at Franklin & Marshall College.   Two categories of projects are supported:  Academic Innovation and High Impact Practices. 

Academic Innovation Awards support faculty as they try something new in their teaching. Previous awards have been made for materials needed for an activity, specialized software, transport for a new community-based experience, first-time field trips, attendance at a workshop on a new pedagogy, etc. Faculty have used funds for a particular course, an event tied to a major, activities across departments, and curricular assessment. 

The second category of funds, new in the 2017-18 academic year, is for High Impact Teaching Practices. Activities supported by this type of grant need to be explicitly tied to one or more features of teaching/learning shown to have a high impact on student learning and success.  A document describing high impact practices in more detail is available at this link. Funds for guest-speakers, field trips, theater or dance productions will likely fall into this category if they are not a new activity for the faculty member.

Note that both grants are intended to provide for one-time expenses. Also, whether an award supports either an innovation or a high impact practice, assessment of the activity is expected,  including submission of a one paragraph summary of the assessment findings. Hypothetical assessment examples are available in the section below.

As funds are limited, faculty members may only submit one application for either an Academic Innovation Award or a High Impact Practice Award, per semester. Each award is capped at $500 and increasing demand forces us to limit the size of some awards to less that the maximum amount. While applications can be submitted at any time and are reviewed on a rolling basis, we encourage you to apply well in advance of your project. We seek to spend approximately half of our funds in each semester to assure equal access to funds for spring and fall courses. Awards are available for summer courses as well; applications should be made in the spring and/or the summer.

The Academic Innovation / High Impact Practice Grants will not provide the following:

  • funding for multiple iterations of an event, experience or project
  • expansion of normal budget lines
  • reimbursement of costs incurred or projected in completion of any academic degree
  • textbooks or equipment (note: computer software to enhance blended learning in a course is eligible for funding)
  • faculty stipends
  • funding for scholarly research

Individual faculty members requesting funds, not their Department Chairs, should apply using the appropriate form, linked below.

Successful submission of either grant application will generate an automatic email receipt. If you do not receive this email, your application was not complete and will not be processed. Please contact the Faculty Center  Coordinator with any questions or issues concerning the submission process.

Academic Innovation funds helped support Professor Sergio Diaz-Luna's launch of the first Bilingual Creative Writing Workshop in the Fall of 2016. Pictured are students in a session for  "The Art of Prose & Poetry in Spanglish," organized by  the Department of Spanish & Linguistics and The Writing Center.   

To Apply...

Academic Innovation awards support faculty as they try something new in their teaching. Previous awards have been made for materials needed for an activity, specialized software, transport for a new community-based experience, first-time field trips, attendance at a workshop on a new pedagogy, etc. Faculty have used funds for a particular course, an event tied to a major, activities across departments, and curricular assessment. 

 

High Impact Practices awards, new in the 2017-18 academic year, are for high impact teaching practices. Activities supported by this type of grant need to be explicitly tied to one or more features of teaching/learning shown to have a high impact on student learning and success. A document describing high impact practices in more detail is available at this link.  Funds for guest-speakers, field trips, theater or dance productions will likely fall into this category if they are not a new activity for the faculty member.  

Assessment of Academic Innovation / High Impact Practice Awards 

Why are you being asked to include an assessment?

A main reason for asking whether and how the project you propose worked is to gather evidence about the impact of your efforts – is this something you should do again? If so, should you do it differently? Towards this end, your assessment should have meaning for you and for the students.

An additional reason to include an evaluation is to provide evidence that may be useful in helping you make the case for additional departmental funds or for evaluation processes (e.g., tenure, promotion, departmental review).

Applicants are encouraged to embed their assessment in existing assignments/projects. You might create an exam or quiz question. You might ask for a refection as part of regular low-stakes writing assignments. You might evaluate participation in a discussion.

Assessment Examples:

  • A faculty member requested Tinker Toys and Lego blocks. To illustrate aspects of the concept of systems control, a faculty member creates an assignment that requires students to work in teams in a mock assembly line to construct fun creations. A question that asked about the concepts being illustrated was written for a regularly scheduled exam. The faculty member found in grading the exam that one particular detail of the model was not well understood by the bulk of the students. This led the faculty member to 1) rewrite a section of her activity to better emphasize that feature, and 2) to explicitly visit that aspect of the model during her debrief of the exercise during class time.
  • A faculty member brings an expert to speak with his students, in part to illustrate diversity of experience around a particular topic. In the class session after the visit, the faculty member asks students to write for 3 minutes about how the discussion with the speaker brought out perspectives that they had not considered in depth previously. The faculty member finds that a small but significant proportion of the class were unclear about a portion of the argument being made by the visitor. He elects to do a more extensive debrief of the visit and the argument being made by the visitor than he had originally planned. Students were then asked to do a second low-stakes writing assignment; the faculty member finds that a larger number of students have grasped the nuances of the argument made by the visitor.