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New Teaching and Learning Initiatives Funded

Ursinus College faculty are taking a leading role in several projects that will address the improvement of teaching and learning through student engagement.

The projects are supported by the Pennsylvania Consortium for the Liberal Arts (PCLA) via a $250,000 grant it received from the Arthur Vining Davis Foundations. Ursinus is involved in four out of the five grant-funded projects, and is the project lead for three of them.

By working across PCLA campuses with faculty, students, and staff, project participants are encouraged to provide robust, researched solutions to common challenges in classrooms and curricula. All grantees will attend a conference on June 6 at Franklin and Marshall College.

The Ursinus projects are:

  • Taking the “I” out of Team: Teaching Students to Collaborate and Communicate Across Differences. Ursinus will partner with Washington & Jefferson College to design a new course on group communication that focuses on working collaboratively in teams, with an emphasis on embracing the benefits of diversity. Sheryl Goodman, an associate professor of media and communications studies, and Jennifer Van Gilder, an associate professor of business and economics, are leading the project for Ursinus.
  • Mini-Conference on Digital Learning and Digital Liberal Arts Fellows. Working with Gettysburg College and Muhlenberg College, a mini-conference will be held in June on the Ursinus College campus to offer a forum for faculty and students from the three institutions to help build digital humanities initiatives throughout their curricula. The Ursinus faculty involved are Meredith Goldsmith, a professor of English, and Kara McShane, an assistant professor of English.
  • Learning to Map Spaces of Belonging on a Liberal Arts Campus. With Muhlenberg College, the project uses student-collected data about where on campus students feel like they belong; qualitative data on perception of requirements for belonging in these spaces; and quantitative data on student well-being. The Ursinus faculty involved are Jasmine Harris, an assistant professor of sociology; Patrick Hurley, an associate professor of environmental studies; and Vanessa Volpe, an assistant professor of psychology.

Additionally, Ursinus is part of a project, Promoting Equity and Inclusion through Pedagogical Partnership, being led by faculty at Bryn Mawr College. It aims to create campus-specific partnerships focused on promoting equity and inclusion in the classroom, and Diane Skorina, director of research, teaching and learning services for Library and information Technology and co-director of Ursinus’s Teaching and Learning Institute, is representing Ursinus on the project.

Formed in 2014 through funding from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the PCLA, which has 11 member institutions, strives to enhance cross-institutional knowledge in order to improve the quality of the institutions and programs.

Since inception, the Arthur Vining Davis Foundations have awarded more than $300 million to colleges and universities, hospitals, medical schools and divinity schools. —By Ed Moorhouse

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