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Advisory Council Instructional Excellence
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Advisory Council on Instructional Excellence Meeting

September 27, 2007


826 Cathedral of Learning




A. Blair (Chair), S. Albrecht, R. Brand, P. Brusilovsky, J. Camillus, J. Erlen, P. Gupta, A. Humphrey, P. Manning, D. Marsh, K. McDonald, C. Singh, K, VanLehn, C. Wilcox, and D. Davis (Staff Liaison); Provost J. Maher



Welcome and Introduction of Members (A. Blair):


Dr. Blair welcomed new and continuing members of the Advisory Council, noting that about one-third of Council are new members.  He then introduced Provost James Maher, who gave Council its charge for the academic year (2007-08).


Provost’s Charge to Council (J. Maher):

Provost Maher gave a brief history of the creation of the Advisory Council, noting that it=s main agenda is to advise the Provost on the means to encourage instructional development and teaching excellence at the University of Pittsburgh, as well as to understand what faculty are facing in trying to accomplish in both teaching and scholarship; to oversee the Innovation in Education Awards program, a small grants program for faculty for projects that strive to encourage the use of technology and other methods of innovative teaching; and to advise the Center for Instructional Development and Distance Education (CIDDE) which sponsors programs and provides assistance to enhance teaching.  He also noted that Advisory Council members are serious scholars who are committed to teaching and research; and the Council as a whole has had marvelous effects through assisting faculty University-wide in the enhancement of their courses.  

In his charge, Provost Maher asked Council to continue its ongoing reflection on what is being made available to faculty through CIDDE programs and workshops offered to help faculty to make teaching better.  He noted that the annual Teaching Excellence Fair has provided opportunities for discussion among faculty and for them to experience what new and/or improved techniques others have developed and implemented through the Innovation in Education Awards project.  He then requested that an ongoing evaluation be conducted of the outcomes of the grants program.  Specifically, he would like Council to identify and to document what in the program is working and what is not, possibly through surveying project directors again.  It was observed that the Council has been working on strengthening the project evaluation section of the RFP.  In order to help faculty in preparing proposals, the ACIE website has added a section that stresses this component by posting select, previously-funded projects that contain good examples of how the projects will be evaluated.  One Council member suggested that Provost Maher remind the Council of Deans about the instructional grants program and ask them to encourage faculty members to submit proposals (Provost Maher agreed to do this).  

In closing, Provost Maher stated that important work is being done by the Council and encouraged members to continue to provide their knowledge and to maintain an aggressive agenda for pursuing instructional excellence at the University of Pittsburgh.  (Provost Maher then left the meeting.)


Approval of the Minutes (A. Blair):

Dr. Blair then asked for a motion from continuing Council members for approval of the June 7, 2007 meeting minutes, which was offered, seconded, and accepted as written.  The minutes will be posted to the ACIE website.


Innovation in Education Awards 2008: RFP (A. Blair):

Dr. Blair distributed a copy of the RFP 2007.  He noted that the RFP needs to be distributed to faculty soon, so as to be available for the Teaching Excellence Fair on November 7.  Last year=s RFP made changes in the assessment component as recommended by Council during the previous year’s review.  It was noted at the 2007 Proposal Review debriefing that further clarification may be needed.  Council members were given a revision in the wording under Section 4.E., that will be added to the 2008 RFP.  Another item discussed was the possibility of electronic submission of proposals.  Dr. Blair indicated that this was tried earlier on in the program, but due to the volume of proposals received at that time, and the incompatibility of computer software programs used in various units, it did not work well.  Since the newer software is more flexible, and the number of proposals has been fairly steady at a reasonable number, it was agreed that electronic submission will be implemented this year.  The RFP will now state that electronic submission is required, along with a hard copy with original signatures submitted to the Office of the Provost.  The Council’s proposal review process will also be affected slightly by this change and will be finalized in the months to come.  A revised copy of the 2008 RFP will be sent to Council members for information prior to distribution to faculty.


Council Committees and Membership (A. Blair):

Council received a list of the three Advisory Council committees (Faculty Development; Best Practices Implementation, and Instructional Grants). Also distributed were the statements on the revised responsibilities of the Best Practices and Faculty Development Committees that were discussed at the June 7 meeting.  Dr. Blair noted that there are now two regularly-meeting standing committees, each composed of half of the Council membership, with the third committee, Instructional Grants, now composed of the whole Council, since it is the full membership that participates in the review of proposals and approves the content of the RFP.  He then asked new members to select a committee on which they would like to participate, and that continuing members who originally selected the Instructional Grants Committee also choose one of the other two committees.  Dr. Davis coordinates the Best Practices and Faculty Development committees= meetings.  Committees report on their activities at full Council meetings and also provide agenda items for full Council discussion.



Teaching Excellence Fair (D. Davis):


Dr. Davis encouraged Council members to attend the November 7 Fair to observe the presentations of the projects funded last year and to respond to questions from participants about the awards program.  Dr. Blair noted that the ACIE website links to a membership page that contains the names and affiliations of current Council members, as well as photographs.  Dr. Blair requested that new members furnish us with a digital photograph for the site if they have one; and, if not, CIDDE photographers will be taking photos at the Teaching Excellence Fair at no cost for this service, which can then be forwarded to Mrs. Wykoff via e-mail for publishing on the website.



With no further business, the Advisory Council adjourned at 3:05 pm.  The next Council meeting is scheduled for Friday, October 12, 10:00 am, 826 CL.

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