Provost's Initiative on Teaching Advancement (PITA)

Request for Proposals Due Monday, April 28, 2014

Since 1998, the Office of the Provost and the Teaching Advancement Board (TAB) have sponsored the Provost's Initiative on Teaching Advancement (PITA). The purpose of this communication is to request proposals for projects soliciting funding for fiscal year 2015 (July 1, 2014–June 30, 2015).

For fiscal year 2015, a limited number of grants are available, to be awarded on a competitive basis. Approximately 8-9 grants in the amount of $7,500 are available for projects that meet the objectives, terms, and criteria described below.

The Initiative

PITA grants enable recipients to design, implement, and assess instructional innovation that has a high probability of enhancing education at Illinois. The projects most likely to be funded are those that clearly align with priorities established in the Campus Strategic Plan, and where PITA award resources might be leveraged to increase external support. Activities that may be supported by PITA grants include, but are not limited to:

  1. Projects that strengthen excellence in instruction by way of teacher-to-teacher mentoring and evaluation. Proposals that involve one or more of the college Teaching Academies are especially encouraged.
  2. Projects that improve existing courses. Viable improvements include the incorporation of innovative educational technologies, or the development of community-engagement opportunities.
  3. Development of new courses and pilot classes that are intended to become part of the core curriculum of a department or program.
  4. Instructional research that examines the effectiveness of some aspect of instructional practice or that develops methods to measure instructional effectiveness.

PITA funding is not available to support the redesign of highly specialized courses. Proposals for teaching-related travel may be submitted to the TAB Teaching Advancement Travel Grants Program.

In addition, the Center for Teaching Excellence may provide PITA award recipients limited support.

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Objectives

The objectives of PITA are:

(a)   To support the continuous improvement of instructors on campus, including TAs and non-tenure track faculty.

(b)   To support the implementation of teaching innovations and enhancements (not including equipment).

(c)   To encourage the development of multiple, discipline-appropriate assessment alternatives (e.g., teaching portfolios, peer evaluation, and mentoring programs), and the dissemination of successful models to other units for use in support of teaching improvement.

(d)   To seek broad participation from the many disciplines across campus.

(e)   To increase visibility of teaching excellence, enhancement, and innovation across and beyond the campus community.

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Terms

Any college, school, department, instructional unit, or working group representing more than one academic unit may apply, as may any individual instructional staff member. Each proposal must be endorsed by the appropriate unit executive officer(s). Multi-unit proposals should designate a lead administrative unit (see below).

Grants are for a one-year period.

Budgeted items may include a mixture of resources needed to complete the project, including graduate assistant support, materials and supplies, travel support, and discretionary funds.

In addition to a mid-year summary, grant recipients are to provide a written final report that:

(a)   Summarizes the activities and results as they relate to the proposed objectives.

(b)   Discuss strengths and weaknesses of the results.

(c)   Suggest ways that the results might be replicated or improved.

(d)  Summarize the activities and results as they relate to opportunities for securing external funding or resources.

Grant recipients are expected to participate in the Annual Faculty Retreat as well as campus-wide workshops on teaching advancement. In addition, all final reports will be shared with the campus community.

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Criteria

The TAB will evaluate proposals and present recommendations for awards to the Provost. Selection criteria include:

(a)   To what extent do the proposal objectives align with the priorities established in the Campus Strategic Plan?

(b)   To what extent would the successful completion of the project improve the quality of teaching and learning on this campus? To that end, does the proposal include specific mechanisms for measuring improvement in teaching and learning?

(c)   To what extent would the successful completion of the project contribute to knowledge about how to assess teaching effectiveness and student learning? Does the proposal describe specific approaches to measuring the enhancement of teaching effectiveness? Are these approaches clearly grounded in a disciplinary tradition of inquiry, or in inquiry practices recognized in the SoTL community?

(d)   What is the likelihood that the project can be completed within the proposed time frame and budget?

(e) To what extent might the funding of a PITA grant for this project be leveraged into increased external support? For example, how might the PITA grant serve as seed money for a teaching initiative that may then be leveraged into a viable proposal for external funding? Alternatively, how might the PITA grant help secure additional support from external source(s) for the proposed project?

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Proposals

Proposals should be limited to three pages, excluding the endorsements defined below, and should include the following information:

(a)   Project overview

  • Title and 300-word abstract.

(b)   Project narrative

  • Clear identification of the project objectives and how they align with the priorities established in the Campus Strategic Plan (and with college and unit elaborations of the Plan).
  • Project rationale and relation to the current state of knowledge in the field.
  • A description of the project plan for achieving the stated objectives, including an implementation timeline and mechanisms for measuring outcomes.
  • An explanation of how the PITA grant might be leveraged to secure or compete for external support.
  • Explanation of the practical impact the project’s anticipated outcomes will have on teaching and learning at Illinois, and the visibility it will provide beyond the campus community.

(c)   Funding justification

  • Use the budget categories mentioned above under "Terms."

(d)   Endorsements

  • A letter of endorsement from each proposer's unit executive officer (UEO), indicating agreement that the proposal aligns with the unit's aims within the framework of the Campus Strategic Plan, and college-level elaborations therof. Each UEO's cover letter should make explicit reference to the proposal's title and the name of the lead proposer. If applicable, letters should specifically address any unit cost-sharing mentioned in the proposal's budget.
  • Endorsement of the lead proposer’s college dean, indicating agreement that the proposal aligns with the college’s aims within the framework of the Campus Strategic Plan. The dean’s endorsement should make explicit reference to the proposal’s title and the name of the lead proposer. It should also specifically address any college cost-sharing mentioned in the proposal’s budget.

Past or current PITA grant holders are eligible to apply.

Applicants are invited to address questions to Associate Provost Peter Mortensen (333-7157), to TAB co-chairs Mark Micale and Stephen Notaro, or to any other member of the TAB. The Board reserves the right to work with applicants to refine the program of work.

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Submission

To apply, one paper copy of the proposal should be sent to PITA, Teaching Advancement Board, 204 Swanlund Administration Building, MC-304, by 4:30 p.m. on Monday, April 28, 2014. Please be sure that the proposal includes contact information for the lead proposer (e-mail address, telephone number, and fax number).

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Timeline

PITA awards will be announced the week of May 26, 2014. [UPDATE: PITA awards will be announced the week of June 17.] Funds will be transferred to the appropriate administrative unit after July 1, 2014, for expenditure on project implementation during fiscal year 2015.

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Committees / Teaching Advancement Board