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Faculty Senate Selects Innovative Projects

By Anne Bromley

From creating a virtual plant collection for landscape architecture to presenting the  multi-media animation of Dracula, the latest University Teaching Initiatives aim to engage students more with their subject matter.

This week a Faculty Senate subcommittee awarded 31 projects with grants of up to $5,000. This is the second year of a three-year pilot program to promote excellent teaching, funded by the provost¹'s office with $100,000 annually.

The initiatives, selected from 44 proposals, come from a cross-section of schools with undergraduate programs. Some will help launch new courses, such as an art history class in Chinese painting and an Environmental Sciences/Government course in "Politics, Science and Values" that will link electronically to public policy agencies.
Several will improve the use of instructional technology in teaching foreign languages -- developing a course for teaching Spanish to health care professionals and upgrading the language lab in the Arts & Sciences Center for Instructional Technologies, for example.

These and other projects will be cross-disciplinary, noted Education professor Daniel P. Hallahan, chair of the senate subcommittee that made the selections. Professors Janet Allaire from Pediatrics and Martha Snell from the Curry School, for instance, plan to upgrade a course in augmentative and alternative communication, using Web-based
case studies and other equipment.

"Several were very good and go beyond making a Web page for a class syllabus to making material more accessible to students," Hallahan said.

Some of that material is historical, such as Olivier Zunz' project to create an archive of photos from American history since Reconstruction. Some is scientific, such as testing new lab experiments in thermodynamics, for a course taken by students in several Engineering departments.

The funds will be available July1. A forum showcasing the projects will be held in early fall.

Source:  Inside UVA May 14, 1999

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