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Week of January 21, 2013

Nominations for 2013 Provost’s Teaching Innovation Prizes due Feb. 4

2013 Provost’s Teaching Innovation Prizes of $5,000 will be presented to up to five faculty projects this spring, with the current call for nominations due Feb. 4. This is the fifth year the prizes are being awarded.

This prize differs from other teaching prizes in that it honors original, specific innovations to improve student learning, not an instructor’s overall teaching excellence.

Engineering Professor Lola Eniola-Adefeso (right) explains how she encourages her students to experience “True Engineering” by teaching concepts to high school students. Her approach was a 2012 Teaching Innovation winner. Photo by Pam Fisher.

Faculty members who develop the most original approaches to teaching are considered for the prizes, which honor and encourage creativity in the classroom. The awards also advocate the dissemination of these innovations by more broadly sharing them with faculty colleagues.

Students, faculty, graduate student instructors, department chairs, directors, deans and staff members are invited to submit nominations. Faculty self-nominations also are welcome.

“Our faculty are innovative educators who find remarkable ways to enhance student learning through new technologies, entrepreneurial experiences, global engagement, and service to others,” says Provost Phil Hanlon. “It will be exciting to learn about the projects that are nominated this year.”

Award criteria include originality, significant impact on teaching effectiveness, student learning or retention, potential for widespread use within or across disciplines, and the potential for scalability.

“It is a joy to see the enthusiasm that students and faculty have for exciting new approaches to pedagogy. Innovation is truly valued on this campus. Each year we have been delighted by the number of students and others who have taken time to nominate excellent, innovative projects,” says Constance Cook, associate vice provost and executive director of the Center for Research on Learning and Teaching.

While the awards recognize innovative pedagogy, students are the ultimate winners as they benefit long term from the fresh approach to learning that the annual prize encourages.

A 2012 prize-winning project, Experiencing “True Engineering” Earlier: Learning Concepts by Teaching to High School Students, challenged undergraduate students to learn engineering concepts through the process of creating demonstrations for high school students. Tying abstract concepts to real world examples interests and excites students.

One of the students of Lola Eniola-Adefeso, assistant professor of chemical engineering and biomedical engineering, said, “The ChE 342 project was one of my first experiences of true engineering. Unlike the prior courses that explained the theory, this project brought science to application.”

Another 2012 winning project, Teaching Smarter Not Harder: Improving Students’ Close Reading Skills Through Interactivity, by Theresa Tinkle, Arthur F. Thurnau professor and professor of English language and literature, reversed the usual order of instruction in a large lecture course.

Students spent more time performing close readings themselves and less time merely observing instructors’ demonstrations of the skills. The technologies deployed in this large humanities course had the effect of transforming it into smaller seminars.

One student said, “Improving our skills of close reading — something that is often hard to learn even through one-on-one engagement — was accomplished stunningly, even in a lecture hall of so many students.”

Honored faculty members say receiving the prize has a positive effect on their future teaching and on their respective departments and schools.

A faculty committee will judge the nominations and recommend the winners to the provost. The awards will be announced May 6 at the annual, campuswide technology conference, Enriching Scholarship ( For more information on nomination and selection processes go to


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