The ReLIC Grant Program:
Reengineering Large Introductory Courses to Enhance Learning, Persistence, and Graduation
The purpose of the Reengineering Large Introductory Courses (ReLIC) grant program is to enhance learning, persistence, and graduation rates of UD students by addressing the needs of faculty teaching large (generally more than 60 students per section) introductory courses. The grant provides both financial and staff support through a multi-phase process throughout an 18-month process beginning in the Spring of 2018.
Special consideration will be given to groups of faculty teaching the same course with different sections who wish to work together to generate common student learning outcomes and common assessments.
Grant Program Elements
Faculty who are accepted to this program are required to participate in a Professional Learning Community (PLC) that meets at least twice each month over the course of three semesters (e.g., Spring 2018, Fall 2018, and Spring 2019). Based on their specific needs, additional opportunities and resources may be made available, including:
- Participation in a 3-day ReLIC Institute or Course Design Institute (CDI)
- Participation in an Active Learning in Large Classes Workshop (1 day)
- One-on-one or course-group consultations with CTAL staff during the summer
- Supplemental Instruction undergraduate tutors (in collaborating with the Academic Enrichment Center)
All participants will also be required to:
- Redesign one course and teach (along with their colleagues) the course using common syllabi and assessments
- Participate in longitudinal assessment by CTAL of the redesigned course
Departments who participate may be awarded up to $30,000 total. Individual faculty participants will be awarded $500 at the beginning of the PLC and $500 at completion ($1,000 total). Other funds will be distributed to faculty participants as jointly agreed with CTAL. As a guiding principle, CTAL will require that all faculty be compensated for their time and work e.g., course redesign during the summer, course buyout for a course coordinator to redesign the course and materials, participation in CTAL workshops.
A fully redesigned course (or courses) with common learning outcomes and assessments.
|April 1, 2018||Proposals due with all supporting documentation, including letters of support as required.|
|Late April 2018||Participants are notified and initial dates for the PLC meeting schedules are confirmed.|
|May 2018||The PLC starts to meet. They meet regularly to review issues within their courses and annotate course materials where there is concern. Additionally, the participants will work with CTAL to determine what additional resources and support will be required including how the remaining budget will be allocated.|
|June 2018||Potential Activities: Course Design Institute + Active Learning Workshop|
|Summer 2018||Participants undergo the complete course redesign process, in collaboration with CTAL, their colleagues in the PLC, and staff in Academic Technology Support as needed.|
|Fall 2018 or Spring 2019||Newly-redesigned courses are taught. Participants submit student artifacts to CTAL for documentation and assessment.|
|Spring 2019 or Fall 2019||PLC continues to meet and share reflections through the creation of a (short) summary paper and minutes from their meetings, sharing these documents with CTAL.|
Detailed Description and Rationale
This grant program is designed to create sustainable, high-impact change within large introductory courses that have historically presented great challenges to UD students. In keeping with the priorities from within the Office of the Provost, CTAL is committed to helping UD students graduate within 4 years and increasing the persistence especially of underrepresented minority and first-generation students. Large, introductory (often lecture format) courses provide significant hurdles for a large portion of our undergraduates and their challenges in these courses often prevent them from continuing within a major or the completion of their degree. This grant will allocate time and resources for faculty to address the concerns specific to their courses and disciplines while also creating a professional community of educators committed to improving outcomes for all of UD’s students.
This year-and-a-half-long grant program offers participants an opportunity to meaningfully reflect on the aspects of their courses that may be hindering student success. While the program will be tailored to meet the needs of each course, department, and faculty member, all participants will actively participate in a Professional Learning Community (PLC). The PLC will begin by identifying the support and resources that will be most useful in the process of course redesign. This structured time will also allow participants to discuss research and pedagogical approaches that specifically address the challenges of large introductory courses, while also sharing experiences from the courses that will be the subject of a substantial redesign. Studies (e.g, Vescio, Ross, & Adams, 2008) suggest that well-developed PLCs have positive impact on both teaching practice and student achievement. Over the course of this PLC, faculty will become acquainted with the broader factors that influence student persistence, analyze aspects of their courses through a developmental lens based on cognitive science, and create a list of “areas for improvement” in their courses based on their findings in the relevant literature.
Subsequent phases of the program may include participation in one of CTAL’s Course Design Institutes (CDI or ReLIC Institute) and Active Learning in Large Classes workshop. These institutes present faculty with an opportunity to focus on course (re)design and work through the process of backward design while supported by CTAL professionals, other Faculty Commons partners, and faculty colleagues. At the end of the 3-day institute, participants will have created sound learning outcomes, authentic common assessments, and a scaffolded plan to support student learning. Following this institute, grant participants will have an opportunity to learn more about and participate in demonstrations of some of the most effective pedagogical strategies for engaging students in large courses.
Faculty members will complete the course redesign process during the summer which allows faculty to create all of the necessary pedagogical materials for their new courses, including (but not limited to): exams, quizzes, practice quiz question banks, course Powerpoint or Google slides, lab exercises, experiments, problem sets, video captures of lectures, class notes or outlines, study guides, a course reader, etc. During the summer, grant participants will be able to take advantage of one-on-one consultations with CTAL staff and other Faculty Commons partners e.g., UD Library, Academic Technology Support.
In the beginning of the Fall 2018 or Spring 2019 semester, the penultimate phase of the grant begins with the delivery of the redesigned course. The PLC will continue to meet so that faculty may share their insights with their colleagues and develop the practice of regularly reflecting on their teaching. To facilitate access to the course materials, faculty will grant CTAL staff observer access to course materials and activities e.g., course Canvas site. To aid with documentation and assessment of the course and the larger ReLIC program, faculty will also ensure that CTAL will have access to completed student artifacts e.g., papers, projects, exams.
Finally, the PLC will continue to meet in the following semester (Spring or Fall of 2019). This will allow participants to collaborate with CTAL to review the results of the course redesigns and create a sustainable plan to maintain these initiatives at the department level.
Applications are due by April 1, 2018. Each department can submit only one application and applications must be submitted online. The course must be a large (generally more than 60 students in a section) introductory (100- or 200-level) course offered during the Spring of 2018 and Fall of 2018. Faculty applying to participate must collaborate on one application that includes the following elements:
- A description of the course and a compelling argument that redesigning this course will significantly improve student learning and success for a large number of UD students.
- A letter from the department chair certifying (a) that the faculty members involved in this project are teaching this course (or will be teaching this course) during the semesters specified, (b) his or her support of this project, and (c) each faculty member’s participation in the program.
- Evidence that there is consensus in the department that the course should be modified and that modifications will be sustained for a reasonable period of time e.g., minutes from a meeting with the details of an affirmative vote from the faculty in the department, a formal charge from the department’s curriculum committee.
- A copy of the current syllabus for this course.
All faculty who apply must agree to:
- Participate in the PLC for the duration of the program; this includes both the Spring 2018 and Fall 2018 semesters.
- Share the following course materials with CTAL:
- Current Syllabus
- Access to Canvas site (if applicable)
- Current and future assessments, including rubrics and student artifacts
- Participate in any activities as mutually agreed upon through consultation with CTAL.
We are especially interested in proposals from:
- Faculty teaching courses with higher D, F, and withdrawal rates
- Faculty teaching courses that do not have common assessments across multiple sections.
Vescio, V., Ross, D., & Adams, A. (2008). A review of research on the impact of professional learning communities on teaching practice and student learning. Teaching and Teacher Education, 24(1), 80-91.