Grants to enhance teaching and learning experiences open until April 19

Student working at a desk with laptop and notebook.

To help enhance teaching and learning experiences at McMaster, eligible faculty and instructors can apply for three funding opportunities offered by the MacPherson Institute.

To help enhance teaching and learning experiences at McMaster, eligible faculty and instructors can apply for three funding opportunities offered by the MacPherson Institute until Monday, April 19.

The Small Teaching and Learning Exploration Grant, the Priority Areas for Learning and Teaching (PALAT) Grant and the Leadership in Teaching and Learning Fellowship are opportunities for McMaster’s teaching and learning community to explore or implement new teaching methods, diverse teaching approaches and new ways to interact with students. Learn more about how these funding opportunities have helped to support impactful projects through the experiences of three grant recipients.

Mohamed Bakr: Transporting students with virtual reality

Mohamed Bakr recently completed his two-year LTL Fellowship, which helped him to develop a virtual reality tool that he could use in his classroom. As a professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, Bakr’s original intent was to provide students with an immersive virtual experience to help them understand complex concepts. However, with the transition to remote teaching and learning through the pandemic, Bakr believes virtual reality could also help McMaster and even the global teaching and learning community be better prepared for an uncertain future.

“We need VR tools for students who are not in the labs. What happened to us with COVID, I think every University is going to take into account for their planning for the future,” says Bakr. “We must have a plan B to go to a fully online mode where a student can put on these glasses, be in the labs at McMaster doing their experiments and then take off their glasses and they’re not in McMaster anymore.”

Ruth Chen: Creating a smooth onboarding process for instructors

In the 2021 winter term alone, the School of Nursing hired a staggering 134 sessional instructors and 53 teaching assistants. The logistics of onboarding and training such a large volume of new hires from varied teaching experiences and geographic locations was complicated.

As assistant dean, academic resources, Ruth Chen knew it was critical to create a standardized process to ensure instructors and teaching assistants were receiving the same information and support. Through the Leadership in Teaching and Learning (LTL) Fellowship, Chen has seen the tangible benefits of the work she has done and acknowledges the broader implications it has for the community.

“The LTL Fellowship really does offer so much support to faculty across campus who are interested in building a positive learning experience for students,” says Chen. “It’s reinforces how teaching and learning is valued at McMaster.”

Teal McAteer: Validating new learning approaches

Teal McAteer, associate professor in human resources management at the DeGroote School of Business, began exploring opportunities to apply for grant funding to see if she could better understand the full impact of the transformative learning approach she was using in her “Leadership Development” course.

McAteer initially applied for the LTL Fellowship to assess the efficacy of her 12-week leadership course, and then received a renewed commitment to her research through the Priority Areas of Learning and Teaching (PALAT) Grant. With this support, McAteer and her team were able to outline the positive and measurable impact of the leadership course design. The results of the four-year study titled “Should we start coaching young leaders through Transformative Learning Experiences before they enter the workplace?” will be published in the Journal of Transformative Learning in Fall 2021 in and will contribute to best practices for course design in the future.

“I am odd, I am non-traditional, I do step outside the box in what I believe is important,” she says. “But I can’t reiterate enough, if it wasn’t for the MacPherson Institute, there is no way I would be getting published.”

For more information, please visit the web pages for the Small Teaching and Learning Exploration Grant, the Priority Areas of Learning and Teaching (PALAT) Grant and the Leadership in Teaching and Learning (LTL) Fellowship.

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