By Beverly Makhani, Undergraduate Education

PULLMAN, Wash. – Seven grants of $7,000 recently were awarded to faculty for 2016-17 to develop innovative strategies that demonstrably enhance student learning, with preference given to projects that impact large numbers of students.

“We had a record year in terms of the number and quality of proposals,” said Mary F. Wack, vice provost for undergraduate education. “Many of the projects are exploring new directions in using technology to support student learning. Others are using data to drill down into the barriers to learning in certain courses or disciplines. I look forward to seeing the impact on student success in coming years.”

The Samuel H. and Patricia W. Smith Teaching and Learning Endowment was established in 2000 by alumni and friends following the retirement of WSU President Sam Smith, who led the university for 15 years.

The next call for proposals will be issued in December with an application deadline of Feb. 1.

The awardees, their disciplines and projects are:

• Beth Buyserie, English: “The English 101 Portfolio Outcomes Project,” which uses data in student portfolios to determine professional development for English 101 instructors to reinforce strong learning outcomes and buttress those that are weak or missing.

• Sara (Aichia) Chang, teaching and learning: “Virtual Immersive Teaching and Learning Lab (VITAL lab),” which is somewhat like a 3D movie where learners move around in the space and interact with the environment.

• Wayne Cochran, electrical engineering/computer science, WSU Vancouver: “Visualization of Data Structures and Algorithms using Multitouch Interfaces,” which uses mobile technology to construct engaging interactive environments that reveal the underlying science of data and remove the mental blocks that hinder student success.

• James Durfey, crop and soil sciences: “Precision Agricultural Education,” which prepares graduates for real-world employment by setting up simulated companies with employer input, giving students hands-on practice in all phases of the changing precision ag industry.

• Laura Griner Hill and Ashley Vaughan, human development: “Impacting Undergraduate Student Outcomes Utilizing Service Learning’s Best Practices,” which researches national literature in order to apply findings about service learning and student success in the context of early childhood education courses.

• Matthew Hudelson, mathematics: “Spatial Inquiry and Reasoning (SPIRE), Phase I (Virtual Classroom Demonstrations and Laboratories),” which includes virtual reality experiences in a video-game setting and virtual 3D classroom demonstrations and labs to develop mathematical and spatial abilities critical for STEM (science, tech, engineering, math) success.

• David Shier and Nathaniel Nicol, politics, philosophy and public affairs: “Bringing Logic into the 21st Century: Retooling Classes for Enhanced Student Success,” which flips the Philosophy 201 (Introduction to Formal Logic) classroom and incorporates recent advances in logic software.