Curricular  Innovation Grants 

*supported by the Arthur Vining Davis Foundation (AVD)

The Faculty Center is once again excited to announce the availability of grants for CURRICULAR Innovation. The aims are to encourage instructional faculty to explore something new/different or to address areas of need to enhance student learning. Anyone teaching a course is eligible to apply, although preference is given to persons with continuing contracts. Guidelines are provided at the end of the document. 
**Applications Due March 2, 2020**


The AVD Curricular Innovation award is meant to impact multiple courses and typically involves more than one individual. Previous projects, listed below, have included an exploration of data science as an interdisciplinary topic, a reading group on capitalizing on diversity to enhance the liberal arts experience, developing critical pedagogies for heritage learners of Spanish, and collaborating to team teach a course across two divisions (see website for examples of previous successful projects). Departments have also used funds to instigate major curricular review. Cross disciplinary work is highly encouraged. Awards can be up to $4,000 and can include faculty stipends at the rate of $40/hour, funds for books, supplies, speakers, and travel as appropriate. Work should occur during May and June 2020. The final report is due June 26, 2020.

Details of Application

AVD Curricular Innovation proposals should be less than 5 pages. You may feel you have provided the essential information in a shorter document. A one-paragraph executive summary or abstract of the project should be included at the beginning of the application. If multiple persons are involved, describe how the collaboration will work. The Guidelines section provides additional details.

As a final paragraph in the narrative, discuss how the project contributes to the professional development of individuals in the group teacher/scholar.  

Please include an overview of budget information (not counted in the 5 pages). This should be in tabular format with brief explanations as necessary. 

For example:

    stipends for 3 participants:         2,400

    travel expenses (DC, 1 night)        1,200

    books                      150

    total                    3,750.



Members of the Faculty Advisory Board and the Interim Director of the Faculty Center will evaluate proposals for clarity of purpose, potential for impact on students and the overall curriculum, persuasiveness of how the approach will accomplish the goals (reference to evidence-based practices is recommended), and discussion of how the project contributes to the professional development of the faculty member. Be sure that appropriate persons have been consulted (e.g., department/program chair) about the offering of the course(s) or change to the curriculum. 

Amelia Rauser, Interim Director of the Faculty Center, is happy to chat about ideas or point you to resources.

Guidelines for Proposal Narratives

Narratives should provide: 1)  an overview of the course(s) involved; 2) a description of the proposed change(s); 3) a statement and explanation of the desired outcome(s); 4) a description of the products that will be generated; 5) an outline of the activities to be undertaken; 6) a discussion of how those activities will lead to the particular outcome; and 7) a description of how you expect the change to positively impact students. The exact information you provide will depend on the project you are proposing (e.g., appropriate products might be syllabi, assignments, white papers, a summary of discussions among participants). Preference is given to proposals that are clearly grounded in evidence-based practices. If you are proposing a project that does not fit neatly into this set of categories, please be in touch with Amelia Rauser.

Considerations for the Narrative

The following questions might be useful in writing the Course Revision/Creation or the AVD Curricular Innovation proposals. They are neither prescriptive nor exhaustive. Some faculty will prefer to write an extended narrative that embeds the information; others will craft an application that provides the information more directly. The format is less important than clarity of reasoning and argument.  The reader should be convinced that the work involved is above and beyond the kinds of revisions expected of faculty as part of typical course development. 

If a new course(s) is being proposed, please ask the relevant department/program chair(s) to email a statement indicated when the proposed course will be taught to

The following questions should be used to guide the writing of the proposal, but note that, depending on the project, not all of the questions may be relevant, such as in the cases of projects that span departments or involve the entirety of a major/program. 

General Information

What is the numerical designation of the course(s)?

What does the course(s) cover? (please be clear but succinct)

Who are the students that typically enroll? (e.g., juniors, majors in a particular department/program, non-majors)

How does the course fit into the larger curriculum? (e.g., writing intensive for the major, first time students exposed to a topic/skill/perspective, only course in which students get particular information, general education course)

On what skills do you focus? (e.g., technical expertise, primary source analysis, listening, debate, collaboration, etc.)

Reason for revision:

1. What is it about the course/curriculum that isn’t working as well as you’d like? Why is a change needed? (e.g., content is outdated, students don’t seem to progress sufficiently on a particular skill, students aren’t prepared when they arrive in class, current events suggest some new content/approaches, there is a greater range of preparedness among students).

2. What changes/work are you proposing? What outcome are you expecting? What products will be produced? (e.g., develop/tailor several case studies, include more content related to diverse perspectives, include a new topical area, create more staged-assignments, provide more time to practice applying content to problems, develop better group work). In the case of some AVD projects the work may involve departmental retreats, visiting other programs, collecting data about current majors, etc.)

3. Why/how do you expect the change/work you propose to accomplish your revision vision? (e.g., introducing some new examples will better engage students; paying more attention to group management should improve collaboration; a more open-ended format will encourage creativity; peer evaluation might enhance critical analysis; structured rubrics might provide more useful peer evaluation; introducing clicker questions will help me know what students are struggling with; including a new topic area will provide an entrée to the material for a broader range of students; review of transcripts will give a view of the path students are taking through the major; review of other programs will provide options for how to restructure the requirements) Citations to the literature should be provided as appropriate.

4. What is the evidence/experience that leads you to think the particular change/work you propose will accomplish your goal? (e.g., conversation with departmental colleagues, particular readings you’ve done, previous assessments, suggestion by an external reviewer, tinkering you’ve already done, recommendation by disciplinary experts, pedagogical research).

5. How will you know whether the change has been successful in the short term? In the long term? What evidence will you accept that you’ve accomplished your goal? (e.g., mid-semester evaluation, student focus group, change in student engagement, change in average student performance, change in enrollment patterns, conversation with departmental colleagues)

Additional Considerations

How will you spend the time funded by the grant? (e.g., reading, developing assignments, analyzing syllabi from other institutions, attending a conference, working with colleagues, researching)

How will you spend the funds? (e.g., travel, stipend, books, workshop registration, paying student(s) for collaborative efforts)

Are there budgetary implications beyond the revision? (e.g., subscription to new computer program, purchasing a new piece of equipment, yearly field trip for class, new expendable materials, new library purchases) If so, how will the change be sustained beyond the grant-funding period?

How will you ensure a balance of work for you and the students in the long run? (e.g., reducing content, exchanging readings, exchanging/revising your own grading commitments)?





Past AVD Awards 

2018-19 Project Titles and Awardess

  • Reflection and Updating of the Introductory Psychology Laboratory
    • Christina Abbott (PSY)

    • Krista Casler (PSY)

    • Lauren Howard (PSY)

    • Megan Knowles (PSY)

    • Allison Troy (PSY)

  • Developing a Data Science Curriculum for F&M
    • David Ciuk (GOV)

    • Jen Meyer (GOV)

    • Ed Novak (CPS)

    • Berwood Yost (COR)

2017-2018 Project Titles and Awardees

  • Encouraging Collaboration and Evaluating Pathways to Success in the General Chemistry Curriculum 
    • Chemistry Department
  •   Shared Goals for Area Studies Laboratory Experiences
    • Meredith Bashaw (PSY)

    • Ryan Lacy (PSY)

    • Elizabeth Lonsdorf (PSY)

    • Timothy Roth (PSY)

  • Assessment of Writing Proficiency Project
    • Spanish Department

2016 - 2017 Project Titles and Awardees

  • Connecting Science and Humanities:  Animals through the Ages
    • ​Elizabeth Lonsdorf  (BIO)

    • ​​ Gretchen Meyers (CLS)

  • Re-Examining the Language Studies Requirement Course Sequence in Italian
    • Giovanna Faleschini Lerner (ITA)

    • Arianna Fognani (ITA)

    • Maya Greenshpan (ITA)

    • Chelsea Pomponio (ITA)

  • Rethinking the Pedagogy of Introduction to  Philosophy
    • Lee Franklin (PHI)

    • Nick Kroll (PHI)

    • David Merli (PHI)

2015-2016  Project Titles and Awardees

  • Curricular Models of Academic Citizenship
    • Amy Lytle (PHY)
    • Maria Mitchell (HIS)
    • Jeremy Moss (TDF)
    • Jon Stone (GER/RUS)
  • Undergraduate Research in Economics
    • Yeva Nersisyan (ECO)
  • Inquiry and Analysis in the Music Curriculum
    • Sylvia Alajai
    • Matthew Butterfield
    • John Carbon
    • Karen Leistra-Jones
  • Enriching Connections Between Majors – BOS & WGSS
    • Alison Kibler
    • Cynthia Krom
    • Jorida Papakroni
    • Jeff Podoshen

2014 - 2015 Project Titles and Awardees

  • Developing Critical Pedagogies for Heritage Learners of Spanish at F&M
    • Kathrin Theumer (SPA)
    • Maria Elena Aldea Agudo (SPA)
    • Jessica Cox (SPA)
    • Jialing Liu (SPA)
  • Capitalizing on Diversity to Enhance the Liberal Arts Classroom Experience
    • Alison Kibler (AMS/WGSS)
    • Meredith Bashaw (PSY)
  • New Courses in Islam in North America, CNX 2 – South Asia, and Revisions to RST 370 – Islamic Law and Ethics
    • SherAli Tareen (RST)