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Faculty Development Resources: TEACHING & LEARNING RESEARCH GRANTS

Faculty Research Grants: Professional Development in the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning

Re-launch: Research Grants to Support Teaching and Learning Excellence

Faculty research grants are available to all faculty who are interested in researching best teaching and learning practices in their classroom and have been teaching at Otis for at least one year. Three $2,500 grants will be awarded in Spring 2022.

The mode of research is pedagogic - a philosophy of reflective practice, dissemination of research, engagement of students, and attention to disciplinary specificity.

The scholarship of teaching and learning, or pedagogic research is an established field of academic discourse involving carefully investigating your teaching practice and in turn developing the curriculum. It requires a systematic and evidence-based study of student learning, often through a small-scale research project engaging students.

Pedagogic research is a form of self-study, and/or action research involving critical reflection and reflexivity on current practice, which gives way to new knowledge. It encourages investigating learning, including what works and what does not. As with any rigorous research endeavor, you will need to be well-informed and critically reflective.

Pedagogic research has the goal of improving the quality of education locally and further afield, through dissemination of your findings to your colleagues at Otis and beyond, in conferences and in art and design education journals

An excellent guide to pedagogic research methodologies is embedded within this guide on Pedagogic Research within STEM fields.  Focus on sections 4 and 6.

Process to Apply and Receive Funding

Grants will total $2,500, paid out over the span of the research project.  The expected duration is May 1, 2022 through June 30, 2023.

Deadline for submission: April 25, 2022 (completed submissions will receive a $100 stipend)

To Apply:

Requests will be reviewed and recommended for funding by the Assessment Committee. Mentorship throughout the length of the project will be provided by the Teaching Learning Center, Library, and Provost's office.

Successful applications will address the research grant proposal rubric.

Completion of Research

Reports should cite current research from the literature of assessment, and should include what the faculty member learned and recommends for improved teaching at Otis, and beyond.

Faculty will report on the research and its findings in a format appropriate for dissemination (publication).

Funds will be dispersed at the completion of various milestones during the research project.

There are four phases of the projects:

Phase 1 - Proposal completion and submission will generate $100 stipend

  • Faculty Workshops on March 15, 17, 24, 31
  • Proposals due April 25th
  • Reviewed in Assessment Committee end of April

Phase 2 - Summer 2022 - completion of this phase will generate $1,000 stipend

  • Complete Literature Review
  • Layout Research Methodology
  • Create Course Materials
  • Mentorship

Phase 3 - Academic Year 2022/23

  • Teach the course
  • Gather evidence

Phase 4 - Due June 1, 2023, completion will generate $1,500 stipend

  • Analyze & interpret results
  • Write report

Phase 5 - Publicize findings

Focus of Research: Equity and Assessment

Focus: 2022 - 2023 - Assessment and Equity

Feedback, assessment and evaluative methods and tools have the power to be expansive when used to chart and promote student learning and development over time. This is especially true with respect to students who are often placed at the margin of learning—BIPOC students, students whose first language is not English, students who have learning differences, and students who face financial challenges.

Evaluation and measurement have often been used as means to compare these students to more privileged students and thus push them even further to the margins, when it should be employed to support their development.

While evaluation allows us to understand dimensions of student outcomes; when the focus shifts to the inputs—that is, the learning and development opportunities of students in their individual context, assessments have the potential to be much more constructive, to be more equitable and responsive to student diversity.

In an educational context, equity means developing environments and systems in ways that provide students with what they need based on  attention to the particulars of their situation. Equality, by contrast, entails providing them with the same, standardized set of conditions and resources regardless of circumstances.

This research grant is a call to investigate and experiment with methods of assessment that can support equity, as opposed to equality or standardization. It’s an opportunity to work toward assessments—and assessment systems—that help improve practices which support student growth and student diversity. These assessments may take many forms: including written, oral, discussion-based, and critique.  They may be self-assessments or peer assessments in addition to faculty assessments. In all cases, the effort is focused on learning what students are learning (or not learning) as students are challenged and encouraged to build knowledge, attitudes, dispositions, skills, and practices.

In this spirit, here are five ideas to consider as you develop a research proposal:

  1. Assessments and "measurement" should be used to gauge student learning, development, and improvement over time.
  2. Assessments should be used by faculty to adjust their practices (how they teach, what they teach, when they teach, and so forth) to respond to and meet the needs of students.
  3. Students should not feel intimidated by assessments, but see them as opportunities to understand where they are and consider what they need to do to improve.
  4. Punitive assessments send the wrong message and can raise anxiety among learners, especially the ones who most need our support.
  5. Perhaps most important, assessment tools should be just as diverse as the students who engage with them.

Re-centering and refocusing measurement systems and assessments on inputs will help to develop practices that more closely align with student needs.

Research on Equity in Assessment Practices

Incorporating Indigenous Knowledge Systems in Assessment/Grading Practices

Marcella LaFever (2016) Switching from Bloom to the Medicine Wheel: creating learning outcomes that support Indigenous ways of knowing in post-secondary education, Intercultural Education, 27:5, 409-424 
Abstract: Based on a review of works by Indigenous educators, this paper suggests a four-domain framework for developing course outcome statements that will serve all students, with a focus on better supporting the educational empowerment of Indigenous students. The framework expands the three domains of learning, pioneered by Bloom to a four-domain construction based on the four quadrants of the Medicine Wheel , a teaching/learning framework that has widespread use in the Indigenous communities of North America (Native American, First Nation, Metis, Inuit, etc.). This paper expands on the cognitive (mental), psychomotor (physical) and affective (emotional) domains to add the fourth quadrant, spiritual, as being essential for balance in curricular design that supports students in their learning goals. The description of the spiritual quadrant includes a progression of learning outcomes and suggested verbs for developing learning outcome statements. Evaluation and practical implications are also discussed.

Elabor-Idemudia, Patience. “CHAPTER NINE: Identity, Representation, and Knowledge Production.” Counterpoints, vol. 379, Peter Lang AG, 2011, pp. 142–56, 

Elabor-Idemudia, Patience. Situating Knowledge Systems 

LaFrance, Joan and Nicols, Richard. “Reframing Evaluation: Defining An Indigenous Evaluation Framework.” The Canadian Journal of Program Evaluation Vol. 23 No. 2 Pages 13–31 ISSN 0834-1516 Copyright © 2010 Canadian Evaluation Society 
Abstract: The American Indian Higher Education Consortium (AIHEC), comprising 34 American Indian tribally controlled colleges and universities, has undertaken a comprehensive effort to develop an “Indigenous Framework for Evaluation” that synthesizes Indigenous ways of knowing and Western evaluation practice. To ground the framework, AIHEC engaged in an extensive consultation process including conducting a number of focus groups in major regions of the United States. Cultural experts, Indian educators, and evaluators shared their concerns regarding evaluation and described how evaluation fits within a cultural framework. This article summarizes the focus group discussions and describes how the framework developed using the key principles of Indigenous ways of knowing and four core values common to tribal communities

Beriont, L. (2020). Decolonizing evaluation. Emergence Collective. 

Council for the Advancement of Standards in Higher Education (2020). Indigenous Student Affairs CAS standards. 

Cushman, E. (2016). Decolonizing validity. Journal of Writing Assessment, 9(1).    

Equity in Assessment

Wall, A. F., Hursh, D., & Rodgers, J. W. (2014). Assessment for Whom: Repositioning Higher Education Assessment as an Ethical and Value-Focused Social Practice. Research and Practice in Assessment, 9 (Summer 2014), 5-17 
Abstract: It is often argued that as “consumers” of higher education, students, parents and leaders need objective, comparative information generated through systematized assessment. In response, we critique this trend toward reductionist, comparative, and ostensibly objective assessments in the United States. We describe how management has replaced democratic self governance in higher education, and connect current managerial leadership with the use of assessment as a tool in furthering market based educational aims. Lastly, we provide an alternative view of assessment as an ethical, value concerned social practice that creates space for dialogue about how higher education contributes to learning toward the public good

Feldman, Joe. Grading for Equity : What It Is, Why It Matters, and How It Can Transform Schools and Classrooms, SAGE Publications, 2018. ProQuest Ebook Central,
Written for K-12 educators - still an excellent resource for higher ed. Provides a critical historical backdrop, describing our inherited system of grading; a summary of the research on motivation and equitable teaching and learning; and specific grading practices that are more equitable with examples, strategies and evidence of effectiveness.

Jan McArthur (2016) Assessment for social justice: the role of assessment in achieving social justice, Assessment & Evaluation in Higher Education, 41:7, 967-981, DOI: 10.1080/02602938.2015.1053429

McArthur, Jan. Assessment for Social Justice : Perspectives and Practices Within Higher Education, Bloomsbury Publishing Plc, 2018. ProQuest Ebook Central,

Hanesworth, Pauline, Seán Bracken, and Sam Elkington. "A typology for a social justice approach to assessment: learning from universal design and culturally sustaining pedagogy." Teaching in Higher Education 24.1 (2019): 98-114. 

Feedback in Higher and Professional Education : Understanding It and Doing It Well, edited by David Boud, and Elizabeth Molloy, Taylor & Francis Group, 2013. ProQuest Ebook Central, 

Tai, Joanna, et al. "Developing evaluative judgement: enabling students to make decisions about the quality of work." Higher Education 76.3 (2018): 467-481. 
Abstract: Evaluative judgement is the capability to make decisions about the quality of work of oneself and others. In this paper, we propose that developing students’ evaluative judgement should be a goal of higher education, to enable students to improve their work and to meet their future learning needs: a necessary capability of graduates. We explore evaluative judgement within a discourse of pedagogy rather than primarily within an assessment discourse, as a way of encompassing and integrating a range of pedagogical practices. We trace the origins and development of the term ‘evaluative judgement’ to form a concise definition then recommend refinements to existing higher education practices of self-assessment, peer assessment, feedback, rubrics, and use of exemplars to contribute to the development of evaluative judgement. Considering pedagogical practices in light of evaluative judgement may lead to fruitful methods of engendering the skills learners require both within and beyond higher education settings.

Sambell, Kay, et al. Assessment for Learning in Higher Education, Taylor & Francis Group, 2012. ProQuest Ebook Central,

Bryan, C., & Clegg, K. (Eds.). (2019). Innovative Assessment in Higher Education: A Handbook for Academic Practitioners (1st ed.). Routledge. 

Equity Minded Assessment Worksheet 

Competency Based Learning

Competency Works: In  Pursuit of Equality - A Framework For Equity Strategies in Competency Based Education. Prepared for the National Summit on K-12 Competency-Based Education 2017

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