Washington State University faculty members are engaged in six new projects to improve undergraduate education, thanks to funding from the Samuel H. and Patricia W. Smith Teaching and Learning Endowment.

Since 2000, the endowment has provided support for dozens of faculty-initiated projects aimed at enhancing education. Thousands of learners have benefitted from scores of innovative ideas to transform pedagogy and curricular issues, said Mary F. Wack, vice provost for academic engagement and student achievement. Wack has led the Smith Grant program since its establishment to honor President Smith upon his retirement.

“The wide scope of projects selected this year reflects a breadth of interests among faculty,” said Wack. “The grant recipients represent four colleges on two WSU campuses, and the results of their work will impact students across the university.”

Newest Smith Grant recipients

From the College of Arts and Sciences

Ruth Gregory, scholarly assistant professor and director of undergraduate studies for the Digital Technology and Culture (DTC) Program, for the project “Digital Technology and Culture in the Community AmeriCorps Program: Closing the Equity Gap in Internship Experiences and Compensation.” The program will address internship inequity by creating an AmeriCorps unit at WSU focused on providing students from marginalized backgrounds paid internship opportunities.

Nikolaus Overtoom, clinical assistant professor of history, for the project “Engaging an Equitable Antiquity.” The project will emphasize diversity, equity, and inclusiveness in the study of antiquity by redeveloping two courses—History 337 (Women in the Ancient World) for the Global Campus and History 395 (Topics in History: Ancient Warfare and Society).

Patty Wilde, assistant professor and director of composition at WSU Tri-Cities, for the project “Culturally Responsive Approaches to Writing Instruction: Using a Multi-disciplinary Community of Practice to Improve Equity and Student Outcomes” with Tri-Cities co-applicants Lori Nelson, scholarly assistant professor of biology; Tracey Hanshew, scholarly assistant professor of history; Robert Franklin, clinical associate professor of history; and Vanessa Cozza, scholarly associate professor of English; with facilitation by Janet Peters, scholarly associate professor of psychology. The project will use culturally responsive teaching knowledge to re-envision approaches to writing instruction, assignment design, and assessment in the context of their courses.

From the Carson College of Business

Dipra Jha, scholarly associate professor and assistant director of the School of Hospitality Business Management, for the project “Increasing Active Student Engagement in Large Lecture Courses by Incorporating Collaborative Online International Learning (COIL).” The project will support redesign of a large undergraduate lecture course by incorporating collaborative online learning pedagogy, utilizing distance-learning technology in both synchronous and asynchronous formats. There will be peer-to-peer interactions between students from WSU and COIL partner institutions in Kosovo and Peru.

From the Edward R. Murrow College of Communication

Porismita Borah, associate professor of strategic communication, for the project “Learning to Identify Misinformation in Social Media Platforms and Strategies to Build Media and Digital Literacy Skills in Lower-level Communication Courses.” The project involves developing a course to empower students with the skills to understand the digital media ecology, how to maneuver the landscape, and how to fight misinformation in their daily lives.

From the Voiland College of Engineering and Architecture

Jia Cheng, instructor of civil and environmental engineering, for the project “4E Virtual Community Learning for Both In-person and Online Courses.” Moving from passive to proactive learning, students will post a sentence or upload a picture to a virtual community each day to show they have discovered some type of engineering phenomena around them; peers will be able to view and leave comments to others’ posts.