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November 20, 2003

How to teach: Across the disciplines

Award-winning Pitt faculty showed off their teaching innovation wares at last week’s third annual “Teaching Excellence Fair,” a half-day smorgasbord of instruction-related presentations.

Co-sponsored by the Provost’s office and the provost’s Advisory Council on Instructional Excellence (ACIE) and coordinated by the Center for Instructional Development and Distance Education (CIDDE), the fair primarily is a forum for winners of 2002 innovation in education grants to summarize their work for other Pitt faculty, according to Andrew Blair, vice provost for faculty affairs.

The teaching innovation grants are awarded annually in the spring by the ACIE, which Blair chairs. Among the 25 proposals submitted in 2003, 14 projects were awarded varying amounts of funding. Those grant recipients are expected to present at next fall’s teaching fair, Blair said.

Some 200 proposals have been reviewed by ACIE during the first four years, although the number of proposals is down from past years, Blair said. Pitt’s faculty view the program “as prestigious and attractive, reflecting the provost’s sponsorship and the advisory council’s membership of excellent teacher/research scholars,” he said. “A lot of work goes into preparing these proposals, and the standards for selection are quite rigorous. Although many of the projects involve technology innovations, that is not essential. We want to send to faculty the clear message that even in a large research university like ours, teaching is essential.”

The awards vary between $4,000 and $25,000, depending on the project proposal and scope. The 15 winners from 2002 presented at the Nov. 14 teaching fair. Among the disciplines they represent are: nursing, chemistry, psychology, medicine, administration of justice, English, linguistics, education, political science, anthropology, biology, engineering, communication, physics and astronomy, social work and geology.

Blair said, “We look for projects that are not one-time projects, but that can demonstrate sustainability. We’re particularly interested in cross-disciplinary projects that can enrich the educational experience across our curriculum.”

The teaching fair also featured prominent Pitt faculty leading conversations about teaching methods and techniques, and CIDDE staff exhibiting novel instructional support technology.

This year’s teaching fair drew more than 100 browsers for the various demonstrations and discussions, according to CIDDE staff.

Requests for proposals for 2004 awards went out to Pitt faculty last month, Blair said. The deadline for applying is Jan. 30. Awards are announced in April.

The criteria for submitting proposals for the provost’s innovation in education grant program are available on-line at:

—Peter Hart               


Filed under: Feature,Volume 36 Issue 7

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