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Faculty Receive Funds for Projects to Leverage Resources and Connections Across ACM

Published: October 8, 2012

Can the ACM colleges – 14 distinctive campuses spread across hundreds of miles – use technology to create active classrooms that bridge the geographical divides and connect the colleges' diverse academic expertise?

Are there ways that online learning can be used to enhance the educational mission of residential liberal arts colleges, which are known for their face-to-face teaching?

As assessment of student learning has become a central concern in higher education, what can ACM colleges learn from each other as they work to develop effective models for assessment?

These are questions that faculty from across the ACM will address in three collaborative projects receiving funds from the ACM-Mellon Faculty Career Enhancement (FaCE) Project. Faculty from six colleges have taken the lead in proposing and organizing the efforts, which will draw participants from all 14 member institutions to attend workshops, collaborate in small groups, and serve on an advisory committee.

The FaCE Project is supported by a generous grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. These are the last three of more than 50 grants awarded through Phase II of FaCE to enable ACM faculty to organize conferences and workshops, conduct research, and present the results of their collaborative work at national conferences.

The projects and their leaders are:

  • Assessing Student Learning in the Liberal Arts: Sharing Best Practices
    Leader: Robert Williams (Associate Professor of Education, Lawrence University)
  • InterCampus Classroom Connect: Use of Network Technology to Leverage ACM Resources in the Classroom
    Leaders: Susan Ashley (Professor of History, Colorado College), Arjendu Pattanayak (Associate Dean and Professor of Physics, Carleton College), and Mark Schneider (Associate Dean and Professor of Physics, Grinnell College)
  • Online Learning Initiative: Pilot Course in Calculus
    Collaborators: Kristina Garrett (Associate Professor of Mathematics, St. Olaf College) and Chad Higdon-Topaz (Associate Professor of Mathematics, Macalester College)

"All three projects are aimed at leveraging resources and connections across the ACM to expand what can be offered to students at our colleges," said ACM President Christopher Welna. "Over the past four years, the FaCE Project has encouraged collaboration among faculty to develop, test, and evaluate innovative models and practices to improve teaching and learning. The faculty then share the results within the ACM and beyond, to the larger higher education community, so the successes can be replicated elsewhere."

In InterCampus Classroom Connect, groups of faculty will test ways of using web-based technology to seamlessly connect live classrooms on different campuses, thereby amplifying the benefits of active engagement by students in their courses. For example, two classes in which students are engaging in peer reviews and critiques – anything from poetry writing to scientific poster presentations – might connect with each other to enlarge the range of perspectives. Or a professor with a particular specialty could remotely join a class on another campus to enrich a discussion.

The experimental online calculus course, offered in the summer and featuring live instruction, will be aimed at ACM students majoring in disciplines other than math, such as economics and chemistry. Information technology staff and a faculty advisory committee will provide support to the two professors who are designing the course.

A sharing of experiences and best practices will be the focus of Assessing Student Learning in the Liberal Arts. The centerpiece of the project will be a workshop gathering faculty from 11 ACM colleges who have been active in developing and implementing academic assessment programs on their own campuses.

As with all FaCE-funded collaborations, results of these three projects will be disseminated on the ACM FaCE Project website hosted by SERC at Carleton College.


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