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Advisory Council on Instructional Excellence Meeting

April 13, 2006


826 Cathedral of Learning




A. Blair (Chair), J. Erlen, J. Grabowski, C. Hinderliter, K. Linduff, G. Stoehr, K. Van Lehn, M. McNeil, and J. Nicoll (for D. Davis, Staff Liaison)


Approval of the Minutes (A. Blair):


A motion for the approval of the February 7, 2006, minutes was made, seconded and accepted unanimously by the members present. The minutes will be posted to the ACIE website.

2. Report of the Chair (A. Blair, Council Chair; and Chair, Instructional Grants Committee):

Dr. Blair informed Council that Provost Maher had approved eight Innovation in Education proposals for funding, as Council recommended, and the letters to project directors informing them of their awards have been sent. The Pitt Chronicle will publish an article about these projects in its April 17 issue.

Although the Instructional Grants Committee has not formally met, the summary tables that were produced in the evaluation survey of the awards program have been updated, as recommended by Council, and copies were distributed for members’ reference. In looking at the distributed updated summary tables, one Council member asked for a breakdown of overall funds awarded by unit. It was also suggested that funding may be available elsewhere for these types of efforts, and it may be helpful to get this information to determine if the program might be affected by other grant programs. Dr. Blair agreed with these suggestions and thanked members for their thoughtful and active participation in the proposal review process.


Faculty Development Committee Report (J. Grabowski, Chair): Professor Grabowski indicated that his committee met on April 6, and there were a number of issues on its agenda. The first item was a review of the second Faculty Book Discussion initiative that was approved by Council in February for a three-year period, after which a review of this effort would be undertaken. (Dr. Nicoll distributed copies of the Faculty Book Discussion Report from the Spring 2006 session.) Professor Grabowski noted that the once-a-term sessions seem to be “about right,” is working well, and this schedule will be continued. Dr. Nicoll indicated that faculty are already signing up for the Fall 2006 sessions.

The committee members also began to plan the sessions for the 2006-2007 academic year. There will be no major changes in format, and recommended that the book, The Art of Changing the Brain: Enriching Teaching by Exploring the Biology of Learning, by James E. Zull, which links the areas of neuroscience research of the brain with learning, be the discussion centerpiece for the year.

The ensuing discussion turned to restructuring of courses, and one Council member was asked to describe the changes he had made in teaching his core courses to engage students by going beyond the standard lecture format. Another member asked if newly-implemented teaching approaches are being documented and available for other faculty to see and adapt to their own courses as appropriate. Another suggested that faculty members might want to visit a particular class where new approaches are being used. Dr. Nicoll indicated that CIDDE is interested in this topic and is currently preparing a proposal for such an effort. She reminded members about the “Curriculum Clips” that were produced with the Bellet teaching award winners as a good example of such an effort.

Continuing the committee’s report, Professor Grabowski circulated the Summer Instructional Development Institutes (SIDI) 2006 brochure for members’ information. The first session will focus on student learning activities that can strengthen student retention and transfer, a topic which Council agreed on earlier this year. This was followed by a brief update from Dr. Nicoll on the “mCasts” that are now available on the CIDDE Website, which Council had learned about via a demonstration at its January meeting. Efforts to promote this part of the Website are now being reviewed, and will include articles in the Teaching Times and the University Times.

In conclusion, the committee report briefly touched on a possible future committee initiative that would create a faculty forum that addresses research on the science of learning.


4. Adjournment:

With no other business to conduct, the meeting was adjourned at 11:00 am. The next meeting of the Advisory Council is scheduled for Friday, May 12, 3:00-4:00 pm, Room 826 CL.




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