Six Smith Teaching and Learning grants awarded

Group picture of the 2023 Smith Teaching and Learning grants.
Six Smith Teaching and Learning grants were awarded. Pictured here are (l to r): Andy Cavagnetto, Samantha Swindell, Ashley Boyd, Kate Watts, Jenni Sandstrom, Christy Jacobs, and Emily Sablan.

Proposals from 13 Washington State University faculty working independently or in groups have been awarded six Smith Teaching and Learning grants for 2023–24. Faculty will use the awards to address equity gaps in student performance and experiential learning to help meet employment criteria. The awards will also help faculty eliminate differences in student achievement across multi-section courses.

“The proposals we have chosen to support this year are very diverse and will have the potential to impact the education of thousands of WSU students in the future,” said William B. Davis, interim vice provost for academic engagement and student achievement. “We are pleased that many faculty applied for a Smith grant and that proposals had solid and creative ideas to benefit teaching and learning.”

Smith awards are funded by the Samuel H. and Patricia W. Smith Teaching and Learning Endowment, established in honor of retired WSU President Sam Smith in 2000. The grants are overseen by Davis.

The Smith is one of two types of Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, and Access (IDEA) grants available each year to specifically advance teaching and learning. Criteria detailed in the Smith grant proposal change each year.

Awardees for 2023–24

Andy Cavagnetto, of the Dept. of Teaching and Learning, will conduct a project titled, “Developing Adaptive Teachers through Negotiation, Equity, and Gamification.” This award will allow creation of an experience in the BIOL/TCH_LRN 430 (Methods of Teaching Secondary Science) course. The project will challenge the common views of teaching and supports a view of the classroom that is equity based, has greater student accountability, and is fun. This will be achieved by developing a course that models and supports students’ understanding of adaptive pedagogy.

Samantha Swindell, associate dean and faculty in the Dept. of Psychology, will engage in a project titled, “College of Arts and Sciences’ Integrative Interest Clusters.” This award will support the creation of “interest clusters” that will help WSU students develop skills using a unique curricular framework, connecting thematically related courses into integrated learning experiences that foster a sense of community. Clusters will likewise provide faculty with the opportunity to engage in collaborative teaching arrangements with colleagues who share similar interests but bring different expertise and perspectives to the teaching/learning context.

Ashley Boyd, from the Dept. of English, received a grant for a project titled, “Integrating Social Justice and Culturally Sustaining Pedagogies Across English Education.” Her co-applicants from English are Jeff Jones, Kate Watts, and Rachel Wolney. This project seeks to streamline social-justice content and pedagogies across the four required courses in WSU’s English teaching program. The award will support efforts to: ensure the success of all students, including those who are first-generation, students of color, and/or students who are differently-abled; and to establish coherence in instructors’ engagement with materials, texts, and teaching activities to cultivate teacher-candidates’ knowledge and application of IDEA.

Sarah Ullrich-French, of the Dept. of Kinesiology and Educational Psychology, will conduct a project titled, “Review and Updating KINES 201/UCORE with IDEA-based Pedagogy.” The goals of this project include enhancing KINES 201 (Exploring Meaning in Sport and Movement), a multi-section UCORE HUM course, so that it can be delivered with the highest quality, using current IDEA-relevant pedagogy principles to foster critical thinking and communication, and enhance the ability to deliver this class in a consistent manner across all sections. The project will lead to a thorough review of the KINES 201 course, and will develop updated instructor resources and class materials to ensure consistent delivery across all sections of this class—typically five per semester.

Emily Sablan and Christy Jacobs, from the Dept. of Mathematics and Statistics, received the award for a project titled, “Improving STEM Pathways in Math 100.” The goal of this project is to redesign the MATH 100 (Basic Mathematics) course to reduce the C-/D/F/W rate. Instructors will create short lecture videos for students to watch before class, activities for students to work on during class time, and weekly “Canvas check-ins.”

Hana Johnson, of the Dept. of Management Information Systems and Entrepreneurship, is pursuing a project titled, “B-A 100: A Multi-section, Multi-campus Course Revision.” Her co-applicants are: Chris Cooney, also from MISE; Mark Beattie from WSU Everett; and Jenni Sandstrom, from WSU Vancouver. Mark and Jenni are both faculty in the School of Hospitality Management. This project will provide funding for incorporating a new text and simulation into case-based teaching. Instructors will develop lesson plans including creating assignments, developing lecture/class discussion related to the simulation, exploring new experiential learning activities, and most importantly, determining how cases will illustrate and reinforce the textbook and simulation concepts.  

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