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$2 Million Grant Supports Faculty Innovation in Teaching, Learning and Research

Published: February 19, 2014

Go to ACM Notes

One of ACM's most extensive and successful grant-funded faculty development efforts, the Faculty Career Enhancement (FaCE) Program, will continue to support innovative, collaborative projects by faculty at the member colleges through 2020, thanks to a $2 million grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

"Emerging digital technologies and new understandings from cognitive science of how students learn offer opportunities to develop innovative approaches to teaching, learning and research," said ACM President Christopher Welna. "This generous funding to continue the FaCE Program will enable ACM colleges to expand their support for faculty to engage with these exciting and vital opportunities."

Earth & Environment in Italy

Opportunities for students, such as the off-campus program Earth & Environment in Italy, have grown out of faculty projects funded by the FaCE Program.

The new grant underwrites a third phase of the FaCE Program that began in 2004 with an initial grant from the Mellon Foundation and a second award in 2007. Throughout the program, FaCE has funded faculty-initiated projects – most of them collaborative – focused on teaching, learning, and scholarly research. So far, the program has supported 150 faculty projects with more than 1,700 participants. Over one-third of the projects have been workshops and conferences bringing together faculty and administrators from across the ACM.

"The FaCE Program has shown us that faculty at ACM colleges are eager to collaborate with their peers on strategies and techniques to advance their teaching and research," Welna said. "We've also seen that there are practical challenges that faculty face when they want to collaborate on projects, especially when it's with faculty colleagues on other campuses."

To address those challenges, this phase of FaCE incorporates structures and supports to help smooth out the bumps in the road, so faculty can more effectively collaborate. The grant proposal also lays out a blueprint for building capacity to initiate and sustain innovation and collaboration across ACM beyond the life of the FaCE grant.

Read more about the FaCE grant:
"FaCEing the Future Together" by ACM President Christopher Welna in ACM Notes

A prime example of both support and sustainability will be the creation of a consortial instructional technologist position, based at the ACM office. This new staff member will facilitate faculty projects, as well as connect faculty at the ACM colleges with each other and to national discussions in the higher education community about technological innovations in teaching and research.

The instructional technologist will be closely involved with the FaCE Program as a whole, as well as with individual faculty projects. During the course of the third phase, financial support for the position will shift from the FaCE grant to the ACM consortium, which will continue funding the instructional technologist position after the grant is completed.

The grant proposal lays out four main goals for FaCE during the next six years:

  1. Strengthen faculty capacity to develop and implement collaborative proposals. Resources to nurture effective project planning are built into the way the grant operates. A yearly consortial conference on a topic that is a priority for FaCE funding will gather interested faculty to provide a springboard for planning projects to propose for funding. Blended learning is the likely topic of the opening conference this year, with a conference in 2015 on applying discoveries in cognitive science to learning in the classroom.
  2. Prioritize innovative collaboration. Faculty projects will be selected through a competitive process and grants awarded in two funding cycles per year. Selection criteria will emphasize substantive importance, collaboration, innovation, timeliness, and potential for helping to contain costs.
  3. Disseminate results and their significance. Funding will be available to support faculty in using a variety of vehicles – articles, presentations, panels at professional meetings, and websites – to disseminate the outcomes of their projects to their peer faculty and more broadly in the higher education community.
  4. Build sustainability. In conjunction with the FaCE Program, the ACM colleges will create an ongoing infrastructure to support innovative faculty development by providing ongoing funding for collaborative and innovative projects, by maintaining technical support for the projects, and by implementing the most compelling results from the initiatives funded through this project.

The FaCE Value Conference in fall 2011 brought together faculty from across ACM to share the learning from their projects.

The goals in the third phase of FaCE build on a solid foundation provided by the program's second phase. Welna noted that one of the most significant achievements of that phase, completed last year, has been the number of projects that faculty have continued beyond the funding period, to the benefit of the colleges and their students. For example:

  • After organizing a working group and meetings on protecting human subjects in student inquiry, faculty at multiple colleges worked with their colleagues at each campus to revise their policies, procedures, and educational materials for the protections of human subjects. With help from some of the faculty involved in the FaCE project, ACM instituted an ethics review process for independent study projects on ACM off-campus study programs.
  • Another multi-college project allowed faculty to create an off-campus study program in earth sciences that is operated by one ACM institution and draws students and visiting faculty directors from across the ACM.
  • An online applied calculus course that was created by faculty from two colleges and enrolled students from 12 ACM colleges in its pilot year will be offered again this summer and is being studied as a prototype for offering future consortial online courses.
  • A conference on integration between academic and athletic programs helped launch ongoing annual all-ACM athletic tournaments aimed at fostering those connections.

"It's been more than a year since the last round of FaCE-funded projects wrapped up, and we still regularly hear from faculty inquiring about funding for projects they are eager to do," Welna said. "Some of them want to follow up on previous FaCE activities, while others have ideas for new projects. The interest among ACM faculty to engage in collaborative, innovative projects clearly has not abated."

Planning for FaCE, including the opening conference, will continue throughout the spring and summer, with a Call for Proposals for the first funding cycle expected during the fall term of the 2014-15 academic year. Key personnel from all of the ACM colleges, including the chief academic officer and a faculty development liaison on each campus, will be closely involved with FaCE communications and activities.


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