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Faculty Innovation Grants awarded by Bryant University's Center for Teaching Excellence aid educators in pioneering new methods of teaching and learning.
2023 faculty grants explore new technologies, experiential learning, social impact
Aug 15, 2023, by Stephen Kostrzewa
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Over the course of 11 years, more than 50 Faculty Innovation Grants have been awarded for a range of projects, from developing robotics courses to supporting 3D printing to pioneering new methods of faulty/student engagement. Uniting all of the grant recipients, however, is a desire to ensure that students get as much as possible out of their education and are prepared to excel at Bryant, in their careers, and in their lives after college.

“Our Faculty Innovation Grant recipients are representative of a faculty who take their responsibility as educators, to the teaching process, and to their students very seriously,” notes Ilisabeth Bornstein, Interim Director of Bryant University’s Center for Teaching Excellence (CTE) as well as Lecturer in Legal Studies and Pre-Law advisor. “They are already innovating in their courses and throughout the curriculum. The grants are there to assist them in their work.”

All full-time Bryant faculty members are eligible to apply for the grants, and Bornstein notes that this year’s recipients were selected from a variety of disciplines and career stages. Encouraging innovation, she notes, is baked into Bryant University’s culture, no matter what you teach or study.

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FIG proposals are reviewed by the CTE, the Provost’s office, and the previous year’s Innovation Grant winners. The recipients must also present their projects to other faculty at an event like REDay, Bryant’s annual celebration of student and faculty research.

“Through the Faculty Innovation Grant program, we’re helping to ensure that conversation about innovation in the classroom remains at the forefront of teaching and learning at Bryant,” says Bornstein, who notes the CTE supports and enriches the practice and scholarship of teaching and learning at Bryant University in a number of ways, including providing consultation, resources, and programs across a variety of areas ranging from course design to online learning.

The Faculty Innovation Grant winners for the 2023–2024 academic year are:

Lindsay Amper, Ph.D., Lecturer of Psychology: “Counseling Theory and Practice – Applied Learning Opportunities in the Community” 
Amper’s grant award will fund the establishment of semester-long experiential learning opportunities that will allow students to apply concepts learned during their classroom experience. Through the grant, Amper’s “Counseling Theory and Practice” course will partner with Friends Way, a Rhode Island based bereavement center that provides grief services to children ages three to 18 and their families, and Conversations to Remember, a non-profit organization that connects seniors with college students to help seniors combat loneliness. These partnerships will allow students to learn from practitioners through experiential exercises.

Jennifer Horan, Ph.D., Lecturer of History, Literature, and the Arts: “Engaged Humanities: Using Diasporic Literature to Meet the Goals of Experiential Learning with Social Impact” 
Horan will use her grant to create avenues for students to build cultural competence skills and knowledge in real world settings, hone their sense of social justice, and take part in community engaged learning — including connecting with diverse cultural and community stakeholders. The grant will fund travel opportunities, entry to community events connected to course content, guest speakers serving diasporic and diverse community stakeholders, and expenses for a multimedia exhibit at the end of the semester.

Jongsung Kim, Ph.D., Professor of Mathematics and Economics: “Enhanced Classroom and Flipped Learning in Econometrics” 
Kim’s grant will aid in creating educational materials that will help students better understand data analysis, which is becoming increasingly critical in the job market, by introducing new applied learning experiences that will incentivize students to improve their knowledge and skillset. Grant resources will be used in the development of teaching and learning materials for statistical software Stata, R, and Python; new and revised data analysis examples for in-class presentations; and assignments for data visualization.

Robert Patalano, Ph.D., Lecturer of Biological and Biomedical Sciences: “Student Engagement with the Environmental Sciences through Virtual and Augmented Reality” 
Patalano will use his Faculty Innovation Grant to develop new virtual reality content related to the environmental sciences that will help non-science-major undergraduate students understand why environmental sustainability is essential to all business, while also helping to reduce science anxiety. The award will fund travel to Yellowstone National Park, Lake Placid, NY; Cape Cod National Seashore; and New Hampshire's White Mountains National Forest. for filming.

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