MnSCU awards 12 grants to improve student learning

Posted: June 23, 2006

Contact: Doug Anderson, doug.anderson@so.mnscu.edu, 651-201-1426

The Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system has awarded 12 grants totaling more than $125,000 to help support faculty-led projects aimed at improving student learning throughout the system.

The grants, offered through the system's Center for Teaching and Learning, are for projects in the 2006-2007 academic year. The projects support goals in the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities strategic plan, such as increasing access and opportunity, continuously improving the quality of instruction and innovating to meet current and future educational needs.

"It's gratifying to see that our faculty and staff are looking for new and creative ways to enhance student learning and provide a rich experience at our colleges and universities," said Chancellor James H. McCormick. "I'll be eager to see the results of these promising projects."

Four grants were awarded as part of a systemwide pilot project called Designed for Learning, which is being conducted by the system's teaching center with the National Center for Academic Transformation. The national group (thencat.org) focuses on improving learning outcomes while reducing instructional cost by using information technology.

This pilot project is focused on improving student achievement in large-enrollment, multi-section courses by using teaching technologies that also engage students in active learning. Each project will involve five to 10 faculty members, instructional technology staff, librarians and others.

Eight other grants support initiatives that promote active learning and better assessment of student learning. All of the grants require matching funds by the grantee institution and collaboration among faculty and staff, other system institutions or elementary and secondary schools.

Descriptions of the projects follow.

Designed for Learning projects

Minnesota State University, Mankato (Team Leader: Randall McClure) - $20,000 to improve students' information literacy skills in English 101. The intended result is to increase class time for writing instruction while providing highly interactive online modules, created by English and library faculty, that enable students to better research, evaluate and present information.

St. Cloud State University (Team Leader: Maureen Tubbiola) - $20,000 to redesign Biology 151: Cell Function and Inheritance by incorporating online materials, testing and a biology tutoring center. An in-class student response system or classroom "clickers" also will be added to assess students' understanding during lectures and discussion.

Southwest Minnesota State University (Team Leader: Tony Greenfield) - $19,200 to redesign Biology 100: Biology of the Modern World by adding software that makes class lectures available online for review by students. In addition, the redesign will incorporate online review and assessment, peer tutoring and more lab time without increased faculty load.

St. Cloud State University (Team Leader: Debra Japp) - $20,000 to redesign CMST192: Introduction to Communication Studies, a required course for all students who graduate from the university. The redesigned course will use undergraduate teaching assistants leading small group discussions and a communication center with a full-time director and teaching assistants who will help students individually. Online materials will provide supplemental course materials and quizzes to give students immediate feedback.

Active learning and student assessment grants

Increasing Student Involvement in Large-Enrollment Courses
Rhonda Ficek, Minnesota State University Moorhead, $4,970 for "Pedagogy, Strategies and Supporting Technologies"

Linda Fuselier, Minnesota State University Moorhead, $4,976 for "Enhancing Active Learning and Incorporating Peer Teaching"

Course Innovations Using Technology
Lakshmaiah Sreerama, St. Cloud State University, $5,600 for "Development and Implementation of Online Course Materials for Forensic Science"

Tai Jen Liu, Pine Technical College, $11,310 for "Redesigning Math Foundation"

Pam Sukalski, Minnesota West Community and Technical College, $4,490 for "Information Literacy: Community College and High School Collaboration"

Serving Diverse Learners
Janice Hofschulte, Pine Technical College, $5,000 for "Early Childhood Development Anti-Bias Education"

James Knutson-Kolodzne, St. Cloud State University, $5,000 for "Acknowledging Diversity in Higher Education for Racial Equity"

Community Outreach
Maria Mikolchak, St. Cloud State University, $4,953 for "Writing a Story: Mastering the Discipline through Civic and Technological Engagement"