Learning and Education Advancement Fund – Advance Notice

From: Susan McCahan, Vice-Provost, Innovations in Undergraduate Education
Date: August 25, 2015
Re: Learning and Education Advancement Fund – Advance Notice

Fund Overview
The Vice-Provost, Innovations in Undergraduate Education invites proposals for the inaugural round of the Learning and Education Advancement Fund (LEAF). The focus of this new program is to enrich the learning experience of undergraduate students in first-entry Divisions across the University by supporting projects that anticipate, leverage, and create positive changes in both the modes and mechanisms of undergraduate education at the University of Toronto. The Fund will provide academic divisions and units with a means to develop and enhance the assessment and application of high-impact teaching practices within the range of learning environments at the University.

Grant Tiers
LEAF supports two levels of grant activities:

  1. Seed ($5,000-$15,000) and
  2. Impact ($15,000-$100,000)

Seed grants are intended to encourage experimentation at the local level, either within a course or a set of courses, as a means of fostering small-scale innovations or pilots with the potential for future scalability. These projects should hold significant promise for scalability within their home unit or transferability into other undergraduate learning contexts. Grants in this category range from $5,000-$15,000.

Impact grants are designed to support large-scale projects with the potential to significantly enhance core elements of undergraduate education within or across academic units and divisions at the University. This can range from projects designed to scale, sustain, and institutionalize high-impact teaching and assessment innovations that have already experienced successful experimentation in their local contexts, to the development of new mechanisms and tools for proliferating innovative pedagogical practices. Grants in this category range from $15,000-$100,000.

This two-tiered system is intended to provide opportunities for teaching and learning projects that explore, implement and scale up promising practices at different stages of their development and implementation, and creates a pathway for projects from their initial inception to their full potential. Grants in both tiers are provided for a maximum of 3 years.

Application Information
The full application process will occur through the LEAF website available in mid-September. The site will contain the complete list of proposal requirements, including a budget template and funding requirements. Until the website is available, application guidelines and requirements can be obtained by contacting:

Jane Johansen
Executive Assistant to the Vice-Provost, Innovations in Undergraduate Education

The primary goal of the LEAF initiative is to provide undergraduate students with greater exposure to high-impact teaching practices that accomplish one or more of the following:

  • Support and enrich the transfer of learning through active learning opportunities, both within and beyond structured educational settings.
  • Provide students with a robust and clear understanding of their learning progress, particularly through the enhancement of assessment practices and transparency regarding learning outcomes.
  • Equip students with the skills necessary to become successful independent learners.
  • Strengthen the global learning experience of undergraduate students in first-entry Divisions, both on campus and through international opportunities.
  • Cultivate students’ self-directed meaning-making practices in pursuit of professional and personal goals.
  • Encourage collaborations amongst instructors and staff across academic units and Divisions with the purpose of creating exceptional learning experiences for undergraduate students.

Thematic Areas
Proposals that integrate one or more of the following key thematic areas will be given preference. This list is not exhaustive. Proposals that address the goals through alternative means are encouraged.

  • Urban and community engagement: Leverage the University’s geographic location within the greater Toronto region in order to provide students with new and imaginative ways to engage with and deepen their understanding of local partners and their issues, through both research and practice.
  • Experiential learning: Expand the availability of learning opportunities in authentic and relevant contexts. This can come in the form of work-integrated learning, community-engaged learning, research opportunities, placements, field courses, unique project-based learning, etc.
  • Undergraduate student research: Research involvement supports the development of creativity, critical thinking, analytic expertise, and other key skills. Projects can come in the form of establishing new opportunities for mentored research, supporting students in developing knowledge and skills developed through research, and creating tools that help undergraduate students better understand and articulate the learning outcomes achieved through research activities.
  • Learning analytic applications: Create new data sets, or leverage existing data sets, to support learning and teaching goals. This could involve, for example, analyzing patterns of student behaviour and outcomes to improve the design of programs, support student success and retention, and support pedagogical change.
  • Development of learning opportunities through the use of technological tools: Support the development, implementation or assessment of technologically-enhanced learning.
  • Multi- or Inter-disciplinary and Inter-Divisional teaching and learning collaborations: Create collaborative projects that attempt to develop new pedagogical models or investigate key questions related to curricular development within and across different disciplinary and Divisional contexts.
  • Communities of practice in pedagogy: Establish and support communities of practice within and between individuals, units or Divisions engaged in the study of teaching and learning practices and their impact on student success.
  • Social Engagement: Create or improve systems that facilitate student and faculty interactions with 1) other learners, 2) the instructor along with the entire instructional team (TAs, peer assistants, etc.), and 3) the extended network of local/global practitioners and experts, as well as the community of stakeholders at large.
  • Enhancement of student assessment and feedback processes: Enhance student assessment and feedback processes and outputs to ensure all students receive the highest quality support and direction to achieve learning and life goals.
  • Other