Carolyn Sparrey, an assistant professor in Mechatronic Systems Engineering, is using her teaching and learning grant to develop a virtual lab for the study of biomechanical engineering.

Grant Winners

October 06, 2011
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Research has always been a priority at SFU. And the current three-year academic plan adds a strong emphasis on teaching and learning.

It made perfect sense, then, when VP Academic Jon Driver connected the dots by announcing a grant program for research into teaching and learning this past January.

The program operates as a partnership between the Institute for the Study of Teaching and Learning in the Disciplines (ISTLD) and the Teaching and Learning Centre (TLC), with funding from the University Priorities Fund and the VP Academic’s office.

Its primary purpose is to support faculty-led investigations of questions about teaching and learning with small grants of up to $3,000 and larger grants of up to $10,000.

And now that the first grants have been awarded (see recipient table, left), the fruits of the initiative are becoming evident. What’s striking about the list is the variety of academic units represented and the diversity of scholarly inquiry. The line-up ranges from Sarah Johnson’s proposed study of iClicker use in the Department of Physics to Charles Bingham’s evaluation of leadership experience in student-led cohorts in the Faculty of Education.

The two larger grants will go to instructors in the School of Engineering Science, but here too the investigations are diverse. Glen Chapman and Ash Parameswaran will look into “Enhancing student learning with tools to generate multiple problem sets,” while Kamal Gupta will consider “Experiential learning via hands-on robotics engineering and programming for senior undergraduates.”

Financial resources will be allocated primarily to the hiring of research assistants, data collection and analysis, and disseminating results, and in most cases projects are expected to be complete within a year. The outcomes will be available to members of the university community and promise to be both exciting and practical.

As Driver said when he introduced the grant program, “Our faculty members often tell me that they see their work as going beyond providing content to transforming how students think and problem-solve.

“We hope to pinpoint what teaching methods best allow for this and match teaching practices to the purpose of a particular course or discipline.”

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