Tuesday, April 23, 2024

UTSA invests $200K to elevate student engagement

UTSA invests $200K to elevate student engagement

The Teaching and Learning Reimagined program will enable faculty to use technology to engage students in and out of the classroom.

JANUARY 25, 2022 — Through a new program known as Teaching and Learning Reimagined, the UTSA Department of Academic Innovation has awarded $200,000 in seed funding to 26 projects enabling faculty to experiment with technology and pioneer new strategies that engage students in and outside the classroom. The grants will support faculty efforts to reimagine their courses across modalities, from face-to-face to hybrid to fully online.

“Faculty support, creativity, and innovation has a direct impact on the student learning experience,” said Melissa Vito, vice provost of Academic Innovation. “Teaching and Learning Reimagined provides faculty with the time and resources needed to rethink how they approach big program changes or collaborate with each other and students.” 

While these 26 projects represent a wide array of topics, each will address one or more of the following objectives:

  • Create unique interdisciplinary projects that can become an educational point of distinction for our UTSA community and an ongoing part of the undergraduate experience; 
  • Reshape a course or program using educational technology that expands and strengthens a positive change in student learning that is experiential, adaptable, accessible, inclusive, collaborative and personalized;
  • Research and evaluate innovative learning practices to incorporate more authentic assessments, encourage students to assess their performance and lead to curricula focused on equity, accessibility and inclusiveness;
  • Support the creation of communities of practice at UTSA among peers who are passionate about student-centered learning, sharing ideas and exploring new ways to contribute to educational innovation; or demonstrate how their project would; and/or
  • Pilot new digital learning technology that helps align innovative pedagogy to student experience in online spaces.

“UTSA students and faculty are quickly becoming critical parts in dreaming what’s next across a lot of different professional field.”

Teaching and Learning Reimagined’s inaugural cohort of faculty members will pilot their projects through the 2022-23 academic year. They’ll receive assistance from UTSA Academic Innovation’s instructional designers and consultants to utilize a suite of tools and academic resources.

This team, led by Marcela Ramirez, interim assistant vice provost for Academic Innovation’s Office of Teaching, Learning and Digital Transformation, will share best practices related to inclusive pedagogical innovation, digital literacy and transformation and evidence-based research practices. In addition, Academic Innovation will highlight the faculty’s work and progress throughout the year.

Several of the projects tap into San Antonio’s rich history as a cultural intersection and UTSA’s connections to the local community. For example, one project puts computer engineering students and behavior analysis students together to solve real problems for children with disabilities in San Antonio. Another will examine how humor and student-choice humanize the classroom. Regardless of the topic, each of the 26 projects focuses on relevant, forward-thinking ideas that will enhance learning experiences and opportunities for UTSA students.

The program’s participants applied for tiered grants based on the scope of their work and collaboration with other faculty members. Projects that demonstrated an interdisciplinary approach within or between colleges received more significant start-up funding. 

“As our recent designation as a Carnegie R1 institution demonstrates, UTSA faculty have deep expertise and recognize the impact of their work,” said Vito. “These great researchers and instructors understand that innovative course design, combined with their outstanding material advances the work of their fellow faculty members and our external partners like NASA.”  

“We want UTSA to be a first choice university for students and faculty,” said Ramirez. “These projects contain a mix of elements that will benefit all students, regardless of whether they join UTSA on campus or online.” 

The COVID-19 pandemic was the inspiration for many of the initiatives’ projects. UTSA faculty members realized during the pandemic that they could collaborate and connect in powerful new ways to design learning experiences.

“After almost two years into the pandemic, higher education is still coming to terms with how to operate in an environment that demands flexibility without sacrificing quality or inclusivity,” said Ramirez. “Teaching and Learning Reimagined will help UTSA continue to improve its student offerings and has the potential to help other institutions that are still trying to figure it out.”

Ramirez will share best practices related to inclusive pedagogical innovation, digital literacy and transformation and evidence-based research practices. In addition, Academic Innovation will highlight the faculty’s work and progress throughout the year.

“You can feel the momentum at UTSA,” said Vito. “Whether it’s in the classroom, in labs, or on the football field, UTSA students and faculty are quickly becoming critical parts in dreaming what’s next across a lot of different professional fields. Teaching and Learning Reimagined will help us stretch even further.” 

Learn more about UTSA Academic Innovation.

Teaching and Learning Reimagined

Funding recipients and projects: 

  • Beatriz Alaniz (HCaP), Richard Hartley (HCaP), Heather Trepal (COEHD), Sydney Knowles (HCaP) – Multidisciplinary Field Education Professional Simulation Initiative
  • Fatma Arslan (CEID), Johnathan Votion (CEID) – Equitable, Flexible & Inclusive Learning in Electrical & Computer Engineering Labs
  • Lilian Cano (COLFA) – Oral & Written Expression in Spanish Course Redesign
  • Guenevere Chen (CEID), Leslie Neely (COEHD) – Solving Real-World Problems with Data Analytics & Human Behavior Science
  • Christopher Combs (CEID) – Hybrid Learning & Aerospace Testing in CEID Curriculum
  • Makiko Fukuda (COLFA), Willie Schaefer (Academic Innovation) – Introduction to Japanese Culture through Anime
  • Henry Griffith (CEID) – Transforming Introduction to Electrical & Computer Engineering
  • David Han (ACOB) – Pedagogical Innovation for Teaching Statistics & Data Science to Engineers
  • Jasmine Harris (COEHD), LaGuana Gray (COLFA) – Innovation in African-American Studies: Collaboration & Experiential Learning
  • Matthias Hofferberth (COLFA) – Model UN Reimagined – Sustaining the Alamo Model UN Virtually
  • David Huenlich (COLFA) – The Texas German Experience of San Antonio
  • Sue Hum (COLFA), Mark Bayer (COLFA) – Story and Counter-Story: Including Diverse Perspectives in Persuasion & Rhetoric
  • Olesya Kisselev (COEHD) – Teaching Foundations of Language Science to Improve Teacher Preparation
  • Vittorio Marone (COEHD) – Reimagining Online Teaching & Learning Through Humor
  • Kristy Masten (COLFA), Sue Hum (COLFA), Tara Schmidt (UTSA Libraries) – Picturebooks Reimagined: Maximizing Multimodal Literacy to Tell Cultural Stories
  • Valeria Meiller (COLFA) – The Plants in Our Lives: Reforesting Ideas through the Vegetal World
  • Jude Okpala (COLFA) – Reshaping Film Genres for Online Learning
  • Chris Packham (COS), Carmen Fies (COLFA), Jessica Gaskin (NASA), Anthony Cucolo (Retired, U.S. Army) – Leadership & Science Iteration Program
  • Pablo Requena (COLFA) – Language Problems in the Real World: An Innovative Experience
  • LesLeigh Ring (COLFA) – Roadrunners GoReact!
  • Rebecca Schroeder (University College), Ashwin Malshe (ACOB), Jianwei Niu (COS) – Improving Data Literacy for Facilitating Student Success
  • Mehdi Shadaram (CEID) – The Impact of Modern Technology on Society
  • Scott Sherer (COLFA), Libby Rowe (COLFA) – Study & Creation: Integrated Collaboration in Art History & Contemporary Art
  • Drew Stephen (COLFA), Bridget Drinka (COLFA) – Semester in Urbino: This is Our Classroom
  • Philina Wittke (COLFA) – 500 Years of Human-Machine Interaction: German Inventions
  • Mimi Yu (COLFA) – Interactive Learning Through Authoring with Online Tools


Brett Copeland

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of The University of Texas at San Antonio.

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UTSA Today is produced by University Communications and Marketing, the official news source of The University of Texas at San Antonio. Send your feedback to news@utsa.edu. Keep up-to-date on UTSA news by visiting UTSA Today. Connect with UTSA online at Facebook, Twitter, Youtube and Instagram.



University of Texas at San Antonio receives ‘transformational’ $40M gift

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The University of Texas at San Antonio is dedicated to the advancement of knowledge through research and discovery, teaching and learning, community engagement and public service. As an institution of access and excellence, UTSA embraces multicultural traditions and serves as a center for intellectual and creative resources as well as a catalyst for socioeconomic development and the commercialization of intellectual property - for Texas, the nation and the world.

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