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Pedagogical Inquiry Grants

Grant Recipients

Center for Teaching and Learning
Pedagogical Inquiry Grants

Purpose: Whitman faculty are continuously exploring new approaches to their teaching. The CTL Pedagogical Inquiry Grant program, generously funded through a number of endowments, provides special opportunities to do this exploration with the additional benefit of scholarly support and shared inquiry into teaching and learning. Grant recipients gain expertise that they can share with the faculty community at Whitman through hosting CTL programs; departmental and cross-departmental conversations; and through hosting CTL programs.

Eligibility: Priority is given to instructors in long-term teaching appointments because of the likely longer duration of the benefit to students. However, visiting faculty may apply, particularly when their participation may bring expertise that benefits the teaching of other faculty. We also encourage instructors to invite relevant staff members into their project. If the staff member is providing support that goes beyond their normal job duties, they can receive a stipend for this support with approval of the staff supervisor.  No department may apply more than twice in a single academic year (September 1-August 31).  In addition, no faculty member can receive more than $3000 in stipends during a single academic year.

Review Process: Project proposals are reviewed two times per year. The deadline for projects starting Spring 2023 is October 31, 2022; the deadline for proposals for Summer or Fall 2022 is April 3, 2022.  Applications should be sent to Mary Raschko, Associate Dean for Faculty Development. Our proposal application requirements are minimal in part because of our expectation that drafting the application itself is part of the inquiry process. The CTL steering committee often responds to an application with additional questions and suggestions before making a final decision. Depending on the availability of grant funds, the CTL committee may ask about sharing the costs of specific line items in the budget proposal (i.e. materials books, journal subscriptions, etc.) with department budgets and/or endowments dedicated to such purposes.

Application Requirement: Please use the application template to provide:

  1. Cover page including budget details , a list of organizer(s) and participants.
  2. A narrative that directly answers the questions for the project type selected below.
  3. Budget justification (see below for guidelines)
  4. Anything else, as relevant. Feel free to let us know any questions you had in putting this application together or anything else you'd like us to know.

Grant Deliverables: After the project has concluded, the project member(s) must submit the following to the Associate Dean for Faculty Development, Mary Raschko, in order to receive stipends:

  1. A report to the CTL steering committee that explains how the initial goal of the inquiry project was met, preliminary information on its impact on student learning, and how the grant recipient envisions sharing the results of the project with others on campus.
  2. Relevant teaching materials, such as course proposals, syllabi, specific assignments, revised learning goals, evaluation rubrics/criteria and/or assessment plans, that emerge out of the project and are highlighted in the report.
  3. CDI recipients are expected to present the results of their project in a CTL-sponsored program or similar event that facilitates faculty learning.

Project Types

Please note:  Fall and/or Spring First Year Seminar course development is encouraged as an indirect outcome of PIG-supported projects, as meaningful results inspired by broader CDI or DI projects, which in turn go beyond regular departmental or program business. The PIGs are not in place for directly funding FYS course development.

A. Cross-Departmental Inquiry (CDI) Project. An interdisciplinary team explores a common area of study. This might include how a particular topic is taught from multiple perspectives, or a particular skill that cuts across disciplines (e.g., writing, oral communication, quantitative skills, intercultural learning). The participants involved will benefit from the experience of learning alongside each other. Each faculty member may request up to $1,500 in compensation and a coordinator may request an additional $500 in recognition of the additional organizational time. The following are questions to consider and address in preparing a CDI application:

  1. What is the common area of inquiry that you want to explore, and why do you think it is important?
  2. Who are your team members, and what does each bring to your inquiry? (1-2 sentences are fine.) Remember that staff can be included in your proposal. You might also mention people you had hoped would participate but who are not available, with a note of how they might be included in work after the grant is completed.
  3. What does each of you imagine to be the outcome of your participation in the project? Is it improved teaching of writing? New interactive activities that help students get more from lectures? A better understanding of how a particular topic might connect across disciplines and programs? Improved content and curriculum coordination around closely related topics? Each proposed participant needs to provide 2-3 sentences. Additionally, if there is some kind of shared "product" (public exhibit, a shared assignment or rubric, etc.), mention that here.  As the expectation of all projects is a CTL program at a minimum, please specify what format you expect this program to take (e.g. interactive workshop, panel presentation and discussion, etc.)
  4. What preliminary texts/sources will guide your work? Some of these might be focused on content (e.g. articles or books about gender, animal studies, graphic novels) but you should also include some pedagogically focused readings about how to teach content.

The report should include a brief description by each person of specific changes they made/will make in at least one course.

B. Departmental Inquiry Project. Members of a department want to go beyond their regular departmental business to focus on an area or program identified as a high priority for rethinking and innovation.  Each participating faculty member may request up to $1,500 in compensation. The following are questions to consider and address in preparing a departmental application:

  1. What is the specific aspect of student learning that has sparked the department's decision to work together? What about students' performance has been less than expected? What source of information led the department to identify this as an issue (e.g. external review results, assessment in the major, alumni feedback, etc.)?
  2. What will success look like after your project ends? What do you envision will have changed in terms of what students can do?
  3. What specific collaborative work is necessary and which department members are participating? For example, a department might undertake curricular mapping to see where specific skills are being taught to ensure students are getting repeated opportunities to build their performance on that skill.
  4. What scholarly research or expertise would you like to focus on to guide your inquiry? This could include general scholarship on teaching and learning, or it could entail something specific to your field. It might also include consultation with someone beyond campus with qualified expertise in particular pedagogical approaches. In your application, please give the committee a clear explanation of your use(s) of such scholarship and expertise.

C. Pedagogical Enhancement Project. An individual instructor seeks to address some challenges in student learning by changing a pedagogical approach in their course. The changes sought to go beyond the "what" of content to the "how" of engaging students with that content. Just a few examples include developing collaborative assignments or activities, learning clickers or other technologies that facilitate student engagement, developing new ways of grading student work, and developing an assignment in collaboration with a local community organization to facilitate community-engaged learning.  Faculty may request up to $1500 in compensation.  The following are questions to consider and address in preparing an individual application:

  1. What is it about your students' performance that you would like to improve and why?
  2. Thinking about what you hope to see improved a year after your project has ended, describe what you envision will have changed about students' performance or experience in your course.
  3. What resources on teaching and learning might guide your work?  Please include several titles you might include as a point of departure.

Budget Guidelines

Stipends. Participating faculty may request a stipend, up to the maximum amount specified above.  Please provide an estimated schedule of faculty participation to justify your stipend request(s).  Remember to explicitly indicate whether staff participants should receive a stipend as agreed by their supervisor. Stipends are paid upon receipt of the final project report.

Consultants. A consultant with expertise can be brought to campus, ideally to meet with a group of faculty to help with assignment design or some other pedagogical aspect of the project. Their travel expenses, plus a stipend of $500, can be requested.

Readings. There are many books and online resources already available and the CTL can order titles we do not yet own. Each participant may request up to $100 in books or other research-related fees.

Equipment and Supplies: Any equipment purchased with PIG funds will become the property of Whitman College. For requests involving technology, please consult with David Sprunger, Director of Instructional and Learning Technology, prior to submitting your application.

Student Assistants. Students often offer valuable perspectives on the classroom or curriculum. Up to 80 hours of student assistance can be requested (at the same rate as the Abshire awards). Explain why the student's assistance is especially valuable to the project.

Grant Recipients

Nicole Simek (Director of GNDS; French and Interdisciplinary Studies); Lauren Berger (Psychology; Consortium for Faculty Diversity Fellow); Eva Hoffman (German Studies); Lydia McDermott (RWPD); Suzanne Morrissey (Anthropology and Gender Studies) and Zahi Zalloua (French and Interdisciplinary Studies).
Gender Studies Curriculum Revision & Course Development  Report
Description: After conducting a self-study and external review this year, the Gender Studies Program has identified a number of curricular revisions we'd like to pursue.  We are applying for a departmental inquiry grant in order to jump start this process with a period of intensive work this summer from July 29-Aug 23, 2019.  During the grant period, we will focus on two main goals:
1) Develop a 200-level course centered on intersectionality and interdisciplinary methods to help serve as a bridge between introductory and upper-level coursework
2) Consider alternative structures for the program in order to better reflect current emphasis in the field; rebalance 100-, 200-, and 300-level coursework; and enhance opportunities for praxis and collaborative research among students and between students and faculty.

Pavel Blagov (Psychology)
Psychotherapy Theories (or Science of Psychotherapy, TBD) Report
Description: Develop a 2-credit seminar course called either Theories of Psychotherapy or Psychotherapy Science. Part of my motivation behind requesting course pilot funding is that I am not certain which direction would be most advantageous to take (whether to focus on critiquing theory or research).  Both topics are outside my research areas of specialization and, to the extent that I have practiced psychology in recent years, I did not provide much intervention, nor have I ever been involved in psychotherapy outcome research.  Respectively, I would have to review a considerable amount of empirical articles, books and video material to develop the course. 

Eva Hoffman (German Studies); Julia Ireland (German Studies) and Emily Jones (German Studies and Environmental Humanities)
German Studies Reconfiguration Report
Description: In response to Spring 2019 FLL external review report and to changes in our staffing in the program, German Studies proposes a Departmental Inquiry Project for the fall semester (2019) to address the following areas:
- Reconfiguration of the senior capstone experience
- Curricular review and revision
- Integrate new staff into a cohesive program

Lydia McDermott (Rhetoric, Writing and Public Discourse); Matthew Bost (Rhetoric, Writing and Public Discourse) and Kaitlyn Patia (Rhetoric, Writing and Public Discourse)
Rhetoric, Writing and Public Discourse Curricular Revision Project Report
Description: Starting in the 2019-2020 academic year, the existing Rhetoric and Composition programs will merge to form a new department: Rhetoric, Writing and Public Discourse. The primary intellectual impetus for the merger is the recognition that rhetoric as a field exists across two broad lines of rhetorical inquiry internationally and nationally: Rhetoric as it is taught as a subset of Communication Studies and Rhetoric and Composition as they are taught in English, Composition, or Writing Studies departments. One of the primary staffing and curricular reasons for the merger is the recognition that rhetoric, across both public speaking and composition courses, must balance development of a specific major curriculum and engagement with rhetoric as a field with teaching written and oral communication skills that have been broadly discussed in faculty retreats and across conversations about general education, and frequently referenced as growth areas or strong areas of interest across the college.

Lynn Sharp (History)
Theory as History: Accessibility and the Links between Life and Ideas  Report
Description: This project proposes to work collaboratively with a junior history major, Connor Rauch, to improve students' reading and comprehension of theoretical texts in order to improve discussion and develop a richer relationship to the past within the classroom. Although the project involves one particular class; the outcome will be applicable to many.

Ginger Withers, Project Lead (Biology); Andrea Dobson (Astronomy); Michael Coronado (Biology); Jon Stratton (Computer Science); Albert Schueller (Mathematics); Jim Russo (BBMB); Nate Boland (Chemistry); Kirsten Nicolaysen (Geology) and Fred Moore (Physics)
Planning for the STEM HUB  Report

Ginger Withers (Biology)
Developing tools for students to communicate and advocate for science
Description: The primary goal of this project is to develop new ideas and approaches to teaching science literacy and communication. Depending on how we restructure the first-year experience, and general education requirements, I anticipate an opportunity to develop a new course that could be a first-year seminar, part of a pod, or an interdisciplinary course for upper level students.  The project includes four opportunities for pedagogy development and innovation.

Julia Ireland, Project Lead (Philosophy)
"Cosmopolitanism, Citizenship, and Belonging" Final Integrative Essay, Oral, and Writing Fellow Re-tooling  Report
Description: As part of my last fall "Cosmopolitanism" course requirements I included an optional 15-17 minute oral presentation and 7-8 page "Final Integrative Essay" intended to apply course concepts to a current problem touched on in the course, e.g. female genital mutilation, asylum cities, the immigration caravan. The integrative essay echoed language included in the Global Studies Area of Concentration without there being a paradigm or model for that requirement; students who had concrete ideas did superbly, others just defaulted to a traditional philosophy paper or got lost somewhere in the process. My hope was to scaffold an assignment structure or guidelines for putting together such an assignment by working together with my course Writing Fellow, Nicki Caddell.

Janis Be and Aaron Aguilar-Ramirez (Hispanic Studies)
Designing Meaningful Formal Oral Communication Assessments and Fostering Dialogue across Difference in the Introductory-Level Humanities Classroom Report
Description: Create two innovative Hispanic Studies courses at the 100-level. Janis Be developed Contemporary Latin American Cinema: An Introduction (HISP 144) and Aaron Aguilar-Ramirez is currently developing US Latinx Literatures and Cultures: US Latinx Literatures and Cultures (HISP 143).

Lee Keene (Project Lead), Amy Blau, Julie Carter, Ben Murphy and Emily Pearson (Penrose Library)
Integration of Librarians into the First Year Experience

Jason Pribilsky (Anthropology)
Revamping/Reprising Spiritual Soundscapes 300 Level Anthropology course

Lisa Uddin, Libby Miller, Krista Gulbransen and Matt Reynolds (Art History and Visual Culture Studies)
Reimagining the Art History and Visual Culture Studies Introductory Course  Report

Janis B (Hispanic Studies)
Revitalizing the Senior Capstone Experience in Hispanic Studies Report
Description: 1. Efforts toward curricular revision and enhancement of Hispanic Studies 490/Senior Capstone with a primary goal of demystifying the process and providing better academic support for students as they engage in specific methods and conventions of scholarly production within the field. 2. Significantly modify the course syllabus in order to better guide and support students throughout all phases of the writing process.

Shampa Biswas (Political Science), Susanne Beechey (Political Science), Lisa Uddin (Art History and Visual Culture Studies), Leena Knight (Biology), Noah Leavitt (Career and Community Engagement Center), Susan Holme (Off-Campus Programs), Kelsey Martin (Community Learning Specialist), Laura Sanchez (Intercultural Center), Keith Raether (Fellowships and Grants), Hannah Paul (Student Representative) and Aliyah Fard (Student Representative)
Cross-Departmental Inquiry Project to plan and administer "Race, Violence, and Health" faculty-adopted organizing theme for 2020-21.

Carlos Vargas-Salgado (Hispanic Studies)
Enhancing the Teaching of Drama in Spanish: Recording Selected Plays in Spanish Report
Description: Combining my experience as a play director with my educator's interest, I propose to start recording Spanish Plays, performed by professional, Spanish speaker actors from Mexico, and coordinated, rehearsed and directed by me from Walla Walla.  These recordings will greatly benefit the students taking HISP341 Writing in the Air, Contemporary Drama in Spanish and can be used by other students in other Spanish classes.

Elyse Semerdjian (History, organizer/coordinator), M Acuff (Art), Eunice Blavascunas (Anthropology/Environmental Studies), Peter de Grasse (Theater/Dance), Daniel Forbes (Sheehan Gallery), Lauren Osborne (Religion), Daniel Schultz (Religion), Özge Serin (Anthropology), Yuki Shigeto (Japanese), Xiaobo Yuan (Religion/Anthropology).
The Body as Pedagogy: Explorations in Body Studies and Affect Theory
Description: A multi and interdisciplinary faculty study group to explore cross-disciplinary research on the body, including questions of representation, race, gender, materiality, affects and its relationship to non-human material environments.

Provost and Dean of the Faculty
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