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The goal of the Course Incubator project is to radically redesign large enrollment classes to increase the success of our students. Projects will focus on transformative design of an entire course. Faculty are encouraged to THINK BIG. The challenges and objectives of the course might dictate redesign activities such as replacing some or all lectures with experiential or immersive activities, redesigning learning spaces and classrooms, incorporating new technologies, and more.

The Office of the Provost and the University Center for Teaching and Learning are now accepting proposals from Pitt faculty for funding to assist them in the redesign of large courses. Funding will be provided to support initial planning and proposal development, as well as development and implementation activities.

Pre-proposals that outline initial ideas for course redesign will be due on Nov. 4, 2019. As part of the pre-proposal, faculty may apply for up to $2,000 to cover costs for planning a significant course redesign. Funds can be used to attend relevant conferences, visit other universities, purchase books or other materials that will assist in preparation of the final proposal. Faculty will be notified by Jan. 15, 2020, whether they have been awarded pre-proposal funding.

Recipients of pre-proposal funding are expected to submit a Full Proposal that details the redesign activities for a specific large enrollment course, with a target of implementing the redesigned course in the 2020-2021 academic year, assessing effectiveness, and re-implementing in the 2021-2022 academic year. Pre-proposal funding should be spent before March 30, 2020, when the full project proposals are due.

A 3-5 page Pre-Proposal should include the following:

  • Course name and number
  • Brief course description
  • Average number of students in a course section
  • Average number of sections taught within a semester
  • Drop/Fail/Withdraw (DFW) rate
  • Brief description of course format and assessments
  • Barriers to student learning and engagement
  • Proposed transformation to overcome barriers
  • Funding requested and description of activities (if applicable)

Additionally, if the course is taught in multiple sections, the Initial Proposal should address the issue of consistency across sections and show evidence of a commitment among course instructors to collaborate on alignment across sections.

Please email Pre-Proposals to Lorna Kearns at lrkearns@pitt.edu by Nov. 4, 2019.

Full project proposals will be due on March 30, 2020. Funds can be used to support a range of activities and resources, including summer support for faculty on less than 12-month contracts. We anticipate making two to three awards in May 2020.

The objective of this phase is to develop a comprehensive proposal for implementing the course transformation. It is expected that Teaching Center staff will be heavily involved in the implementation phase. Instructional designers and teaching consultants will be available to provide assistance in revising syllabi, designing learning activities, developing assessment strategies, and consulting on classroom teaching. Media specialists and videographers may be called upon to design online tutorials, shoot and produce videos, and build instructional modules in CourseWeb. Therefore, the full proposal should be developed with a good deal of input from Teaching Center staff.

The Full Proposal should include these elements:

  1. Cover Sheet, including:
    • Project title
    • Name, contact information, and signature of the corresponding Project Director
    • Name and signature of Project Director’s department chair (or dean in non-departmental schools)
    • Total funds requested
  2. Executive Summary including highlights from the body of the proposal
  3. Key Project Personnel
  4. Body of the Proposal, including:
    • Course name, number, and description including average number of students in a course section, average number of course sections taught in a semester, and average Drop/Fail/Withdraw (DFW) rate
    • A description of current course format and assessment of student learning
    • A clear statement of the goals and rationale of the proposed course transformation including a description of how the proposed transformation will achieve the project goals
    • A statement on impact that identifies the number of students to be positively affected by the redesigned course
    • A sustainability statement that explains how the goals of the course transformation will be maintained across course sections and beyond the period of funding
    • A description of how the effectiveness of the course transformation will be assessed including methods for data collection and analysis
  5. Budget and Budget Justification, including, but not limited to:
    • Purchase of supplies and equipment needed for the project and unavailable from school, departmental, or other University sources
    • Purchases or costs for development of new instructional resources
    • Student assistant salaries, including fringe benefits charges as applicable, along with a description of duties
    • Travel to acquire necessary project resources or to obtain training
    • Project-related consultant costs
    • One month of summer salary (including fringe benefits charges) to be paid as direct compensation for those on 8- to 10-month base salaries and to cover release time for those on 12-month base salaries
    • Note: Unacceptable budget items include travel and maintenance costs for participation at professional meetings, subscriptions and professional journal costs, editorial assistance, and release time, except for faculty on 12-month base salaries.
  6. Required Letter(s) of Support for the proposal from the project director(s), department chair, or dean in non-departmental schools
  7. Required Appendix consisting of most recent course syllabus
  8. Optional Appendices for references, figures and tables, and/or additional letters of support

If your Pre-Proposal is approved, you will be notified by Jan. 15, 2020 and asked to submit a Full Proposal. Full Proposals may be sent to Lorna Kearns at lrkearns@pitt.edu. Full Proposals will be due on March 30, 2020.

Faculty interested in redesigning an entire course with enrollment greater than 100 are encouraged to apply. Pre-proposals and full proposals must be approved by the appropriate chair, dean, or campus president. Faculty are strongly encouraged to work with the University Center for Teaching and Learning to develop ideas and identify evidence-based project goals prior to submitting the pre-proposal and full proposal.

Preference will be given to:

  • Courses that impact large numbers of students
  • Projects redesigning whole courses rather than individual sections
  • General education and introductory courses
  • Courses with documented high Drop/Fail/Withdraw (DFW) rates
  • Demonstrated buy-in and support from departmental faculty, chair, dean, or campus president
  • Plan for sustainability
  • Use of strategies to leverage technology

For more information, contact Lorna Kearns, director of Next Generation Learning, at lrkearns@pitt.edu.

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