Teaching and Learning Grants: A Multi-Level Evaluation

Grants of up to $5,000 are available to SFU faculty members through the Teaching and Learning Development Grants program. The grants are intended to recognize teaching development as a scholarly activity and to stimulate faculty-led investigation of new or innovative teaching and learning practices. We are conducting a formal evaluation of this program.

Learn more at: www.sfu.ca/tlgrants

Principal Investigator: Dr. Cheryl Amundsen
Funding Agency:
SFU, VP Academic

Additional Team Members: Cindy Xin, Veronica Hotton, Greg Hum

What's Proposed

Teaching and learning development grants are meant to:

  • Provide support for SFU faculty members to investigate questions about teaching and learning of interest to them
  • Provide support for experimenting with and investigating the effectiveness of innovative approaches to teaching and student learning.
  • Support the systematic investigation of how the design of teaching supports learning.
  • Enhance conversations about teaching and learning across academic units.
  • Provide recognition that scholarly activity around teaching in one’s discipline is a legitimate activity to be recognized in promotion and tenure decisions.
  • Provide a way to fit with the growing national and international agenda to subscribe to the practices underlying the “scholarship of teaching and learning.”

In short, the intentional design of the grants program has two broad goals: 1) to enhance individual knowledge and practice as related to teaching and learning, and 2) to engage faculty in teaching as a socially situated practice.

This project involved the intentional design of the grants program to meet the above listed goals and the formal evaluation of this design.

How This Project is Carried Out

As an overarching evaluation framework, we draw on Maki’s (2004) notion of building an institutional process of inquiry over time and across multiple levels of the university using a ‘cycle of inquiry’ that deepens as we come to better understand the scope of what we are evaluating, providing the opportunity for depth and emergent findings.

However, whereas Maki’s focus is on student learning through the systematic consideration of curriculum, our focus is on faculty, student and institutional learning through systematic inquiry into teaching and learning by faculty. Our evaluation framework focuses on both outcome and process across three levels: individual (faculty member and student), program/department and institutional (Fanghanel, 2007). Norton’s (2009) notion of “pedagogical action research” specific to the higher education context brings these three levels together by producing research evidence at a micro level (individual projects) with the aim of dissemination to make changes at the meso (departmental) and macro (institutional) levels. Our broad purpose is consistent with that of program evaluation: to collect feedback about the process that has been put in place and the outcomes that have emerged in order to better understand and improve both (Levin-Rosalis, 2003).

Why This Project Matters

The findings from this evaluation will be used for three reasons: 1) to continually improve the program, 2) to provide evidence of impact to the VP, Academic to support further funding, and 3) to share with educational developers, faculty and administrators at other universities through conference presentations and publications.

How This Project is Put into Action

Instructor & RA surveys Course level implications & general implications, teaching & learning (e.g., confidence, interaction, engagement), researching teaching, teamwork, dissemination of results, overall evaluation of the program (merits & shortcomings).

Instructor and RA interviews: Probe more deeply: course level implications & general implications, teaching & learning, researching teaching, teamwork, overall evaluation of the program (merits & shortcomings).

Analysis of submitted documents Student learning and motivation, implications on teaching practice, dissemination of results.