Grants in Higher Education

Engaging Evidence

Click here for other projects in Outcomes and Assessment.

May 2012
Union College, Gettysburg College, and Washington and Lee University
Engaging Evidence: Improving Student Learning
Project Leaders: Therese A. McCarty (Union), John E. Ryan (Gettysburg), and Marc Conner (Washington and Lee)


$230,000 over 25 months for Union College, Gettysburg College, and Washington and Lee University propose to move forward with campus-based projects to: (1) help students connect academic and co-curricular experiences as a way of promoting a cohesive understanding of liberal education, and (2) implement practices for measuring and sustaining these activities in order to foster long-term improvements in student learning. The three institutions comprising this ad hoc collaborative plan to share qualitative and quantitative data from their projects and strategies for success with one another. They also plan on presenting at the Association of American Colleges & Universities national meeting as a means of sharing information with other institutions interested in adopting similar programmatic initiatives.

November 2011
University of Puget Sound (WA) and Whitman College (WA)
Engaging Evidence from the Senior Capstone Experience
Project Leaders: Alyce DeMarais (University of Puget Sound) and Michelle Janning (Whitman College)


$150,000 over 24 months to improve student learning within senior capstone experiences (typically senior seminars or senior theses in a major), as well as in departments and programs. While each college will pursue its own plan for achieving this end, they will be in regular contact to share experiences, offer feedback, and learn from each other. 

May 2011
The Council of Independent Colleges
Engaging Evidence: Using Data to Strengthen Student Learning in Independent Colleges and Universities
Project Leaders: Richard Ekman


$220,000 over 16 months to create a network of independent colleges and universities systemically trained with the knowledge they need to more fully use their assessment data to improve student learning. Forty institutions will be selected - who have campus projects with clear foci and implications for the use of assessment data across the campus - to participate in a two-day workshop (two workshops will be held, with 20 institutions at each workshop) and involve presentations with leading experts, campus leaders sharing information about successful projects, and small group work. After the workshop, the Council of Independent Colleges staff will maintain ongoing contact with the teams for approximately one year to monitor their progress. In addition, participants will continue to interact through an online community and through campus visits.

Gettysburg College, Union College, and Washington and Lee University
Engaging Evidence: Improving Student Learning (planning grant)
Project Leaders: Therese A. McCarty (Union), John E. Ryan (Gettysburg), and Marc Conner (Washington and Lee)


$70,000 over 12 months to focus on building increased engagement as well as enhanced integrative thinking among their students. More specifically, Gettysburg College will: (1) collect and analyze data on a pilot program that merges students' First-Year Seminar courses with their First-Year Experience program and then (2) use these data as well as previously collected data to construct a plan to spearhead changes in advising and co-curricular learning. Union College will support the initial conceptual development of an advising tool called a "Plan of Study" to improve integrative student learning across core courses, terms abroad, and capstone projects. Washington and Lee will assess effective teaching strategies in their four-week Spring Term, with an emphasis on understanding how to best foster creative and critical thinking abilities among students. As part of this collaboration, the three institutions will meet at a national conference, visit each other's campuses, and use collaborative web tools for document and data sharing.

February 2011
Agnes Scott College and Davidson College
Influential Interventions: Improving Outcomes for Underrepresented Students
Project Leaders: James Diedrick (Agnes Scott) and Verna Miller Case (Davidson)


$200,000 over 24 months to enhance student learning among the colleges' first-generation and underrepresented minority students, especially during students' first year of college. Efforts at both Agnes Scott and Davidson will focus on (a) engaging a wide range of faculty in workshops and course revisions in order to improve the pedagogy in gateway courses and (b) assessing and strengthening the quality of support in academic resource centers. Both colleges are committed to implementing permanent changes on campus and disseminating the results of their work beyond their own campuses, through presentations at national conferences as appropriate. 

Bucknell University, Dickinson College, and Lafayette College
Enhancing Diversity and Diversity Education at Bucknell, Dickinson, and Lafayette
Project Leaders: Michael A. Smyer (Bucknell), Neil Weissman (Dickinson), and Wendy L. Hill (Lafayette)


$300,000 over 29 months to (1) develop curricular and co-curricular support to enhance the success of underrepresented students and (2) engage in work designed to improve teaching and learning about diversity. Bucknell University will engage in faculty-led work to develop best practices for teaching diversity, create "faculty learning communities" focused on diversity, and offer a series of workshops on teaching diversity. Dickinson will enhance its support for male students of color and international students by testing and evaluating models to improve learning outcomes for these students and also evaluate the institution's diversity requirement. Lafayette will focus on incorporating diversity throughout the curriculum and also train a team of student leaders to serve as peer educators about multiculturalism and social justice. The institutions will meet regularly over the duration of the project to discuss progress, share expertise, and plan coordinated activities. 

Dartmouth College and Brown University
Faculty Development at the Next Level: Departments and Academic Programs
Project Leaders: Thomas H. Luxon (Dartmouth) and Kathy Takayama (Brown)


$200,000 over 24 months to work toward embedding faculty development and learning-centered practices into departmental structures. At both Dartmouth and Brown, teaching and learning centers will work with a small group of departments to develop and implement department-wide student learning outcomes. Each institution will draw on the expertise and influence of their teaching and learning centers. The institutions' project leaders and faculty participants will work together to discuss assessment data, share information, and report on projects. 

Wesleyan University and Amherst College
Enhancing Student Development of Skill in Exposity Writing
Project Leaders: Sean McCann (Wesleyan) and Jyl Gentzler (Amherst)


$199,234 over 24 months to carefully examine existing data on student writing and develop robust pedagogical support for faculty and new courses that incorporate that pedagogy. Wesleyan's evidence-based efforts will focus on strengthening students' expository writing as well as the content and delivery of advanced-level writing courses. Amherst's evidence-based work will concentrate on developing high-impact pedagogical techniques in the first-year seminar and in the pilot Advancing Writing Seminars (AWS). The institutions will work together to share the results of their projects at national and regional conferences and through publications devoted to studying innovations in higher education.

Xavier University of Louisiana and Dillard University
Supporting Undergraduate Matriculation through Mentors, Interventions, and Tutoring (Project SUMMIT)
Project Leaders: Monique Guillory (Xavier) and Ramona Jean-Perkins (Dillard)


$200,000 over 24 months to improve student performance in select first-year and developmental courses that work toward key learning outcomes as part of an overall retention effort. To work toward this goal, the institutions will use "Supplemental Instruction" (SI) as a mode of instruction that strategically targets academic courses and offers regularly scheduled, out-of-class, peer facilitated review sessions to all enrolled students. Xavier and Dillard will meet regularly over the course of the project and engage senior academic leaders at both institutions in assessing the feasibility of institutionalizing supplemental instruction. 

November 2010
Willamette University and Lewis & Clark College
Engaging Evidence: Interventions for Quantitative Reasoning
Project Leaders: Marlene Moore (Willamette University) and Harry Schleef (Lewis & Clark College)


$200,000 over 30 months to use existing data to implement two distinct programmatic interventions that have as their aim the improvement of students' quantitative reasoning literacy and skills. Willamette will integrate quantitative reasoning modules into existing courses across the curriculum, with a special emphasis on courses not typically viewed as being quantitative in their focus. Lewis & Clark will develop a quantitative reasoning course, as well as data-based strategies for identifying incoming students who would most likely benefit from such a course. The institutions will meet regularly over the duration of the project to discuss their progress, process, outcomes, and assessment results. 

Wofford College and Elon University
Using Assessment Evidence to Improve Programs and Promote Shared Responsibility for Mission-Based Outcomes
Project Leaders: Ellen Goldey (Wofford College) and Peter Felten (Elon University)


$200,000 over 25 months to enhance student learning by making assessment evidence more transparent, accessible, and actionable at the level of academic and co-curricular departments. Two major efforts compose the core of this project: 1) Working with academic departments to use existing evidence to improve any aspect of their programming. Departments will develop action plans based on analyses of relevant data, and will implement them with the support of mini-grants; 2) Using existing, as well as new, evidence to understand the ethos surrounding issues of pluralism (ethnic, spiritual, and other) and to further nurture students' cultural competence. The two aspects of the project will be integrated through a diversity of forums, including faculty / staff / student workshops and inter-institutional sharing conferences. 

University of Puget Sound and Whitman College
Engaging Evidence from the Senior Capstone (planning grant)
Project Leaders: Alyce DeMarais (University of Puget Sound) and Michelle Janning (Whitman College)


$50,000 over 10 months to undertake the planning phase of a project that will develop and use assessments of major-specific senior capstones to refine department and program outcomes and in so doing, improve students' academic experiences. Specifically, Puget Sound will define rubrics for the assessment of senior experiences at the department / program level; explore and share best practices across campus; and enhance the accessibility of existing data so that they can be integrated with the senior experience assessments. Whitman will facilitate and enhance communication about its Senior Assessment in the Major (SAM) as a means of increasing understanding about assessment efforts across major and the institution; analyze existing data to more systematically identify major-specific learning outcomes in the SAM; develop a more efficient SAM evaluation tool; and use the data gathered to clarify specific learning outcomes moving forward. Over the course of the grant, the institutions will share resources, project results, and best practices.