Banner with an image of a professor with the words, The grant gave me the opportunity to expand my students' twenty-first century communication literacy skills. -Scott Kowalewski, Associate Professor of Rhetoric and Professional Writing.


CAI offers grant funding to faculty and departments to support academic and pedagogical innovation that enhances student learning.  

Currently, we offer three types of grants - Dow Professor, Department Innovation, and Open Education Resources. Hover over the images below and click "More" to view details about the grants and links to apply.

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Dow Professor Grants

Funded by Herbert H. and Grace A. Dow foundation, these grants provide funding to SVSU faculty for implementing and evaluating a year-long innovative teaching project. Every year we offer 5-6 teaching innovation grants. The grants are submitted through the Office of Sponsored Programs and are evaluated by a committee of faculty members.

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Department Innovation Grants

Every year the Provost provides funding for three Department grants that support department-level innovation. The purpose of the award is to support innovative department projects that will improve teaching or other department practices related to student learning and success. Selected departments implement a two-year project that is focused on implementing creative student learning experiences at the department level.

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Open Education Resources Grants

Funded by the Title III grant, the purpose of this award is to help faculty create course materials using open education resources to reduce the cost of textbooks for students in developmental or general education courses.

Banner with the words, Funded Projects.

Click on the arrows to read more about our current projects and the various expanding tabs below to learn more about our past funded projects.


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Past Projects

 Click on each title below to expand it for more information on the past projects for that year

Dow Professor Grant Recipients:

Brandon Haskett, Associate Professor of Music

Title: Digital/Accoustic Collective

This project is meant to serve both the MUS 306 Music Technology students, the larger music department, and the university community in which the technology collective would perform. This proposal would enable the music department to upgrade our music technology lab in such a way that collaborative composition, editing, sampling, and production could take place in real-world contexts. Additionally, it would allow for new music to be created that would bring varied genres of music into performances at SVSU and in the community. This project would result in our students’ increased exposure to digital music creation and collaboration, allow them to use their previous knowledge of popular music genres to create something new, and give students real-world experiences with hardware, software, and their related processes, which will prepare them more fully for the professional world.


Scott Kowalewski, Associate Professor of Rhetoric and Professional Writing & William Williamson, Professor of Rhetoric and Professional Writing

Title: Preparing 21st Century Communicators 

Our goal for this project is to better prepare students for the demands of 21stcentury communication that rely on digital video production. This project extends the work we began in 2017, integrating audio production into the Professional and Technical Writing curriculum. We seek funding to purchase digital video recording equipment and supporting peripheral equipment that will augment resources already available to students through the PTW Recording Studio and Center for Experience Research and Design. Implementing digital video projects across several courses, spanning all levels of our curriculum, we will collect artifacts and interview students to learn more about the ways in which digital video production impacts their rhetorical awareness, technological adeptness, and design competencies, as these criteria relate to the core areas of knowledge in the PTW program. This project extends our students’ professional development and career preparedness, meeting the demands of contemporary communicators.


Aneesha Gogineni, Assistant Professor of Mechanical Engineering

Title: Active Learning in Thermodynamics

This proposal seeks funding to incorporate a hands-on active learning approach in thermodynamics. This approach will be developed by working with Center for Academic Innovation (CAI) to redesign the course so that it incorporates new low-stake and high-stake assessments. Funding will be used to purchase and assemble the many hands-on materials, as well as for the Socrative app, which will be integrated into the class to increase student responses to questions, analyze their understanding level, and engage them in the subject. The data collected from the redesigned course will be presented at a conference. IRB training will be completed in Spring, and an IRB proposal will be submitted by Fall semester.


Department Grant Recipients:

Grace McClurkin, Department of Mathematical Sciences

Title: Active Learning Library

According to the Mathematical Association of America’s Instructional Practices Guide’s Manifesto, mathematics instructors, “must gather the courage to venture down the path of uncertainty and try new evidence-based strategies that actively engage students in the learning experience.” The mathematics department proposes to pursue these goals within the basic statistics (M132A/B) curricula, precisely by the curation and creation of modular active learning lessons, with which any instructor may augment their course.


Emily Beard-Bohn, Sherrin Frances, & Conor Shaw-Draves, Department of English 

Title: Writing About Writing

Initially this proposal will fund the recruitment and training of English faculty to join this pilot and use the Writing about Writing textbook in their sections of English 111. During the course of this pilot, we intend to collect and analyze three years’ worth of quantitative data and qualitative data. We expect piloting the Writing about Writing pedagogy will provide a strong writing foundation for students by teaching them how to write for genre and discipline specific purposes, and we believe this knowledge will transfer to other classes and contexts.


Scott Kowalewski, Associate Professor of Rhetoric and Professional Writing & William Williamson, Professor of Rhetoric and Professional Writing

Title: Using Makerspace in PTW

The RPW Department seeks to fund a Makerspace within the Center for Experience Research and Design. This space would create tangible design pathways that connect to a wider array of PTW courses and initiatives and programs. It would support design thinking and invention literacy.


Open Education Resources Grant Recipients (2019/2020):

Grace McClurkin, Assistant Professor of Mathmatical Sciences


Tommy Wedge, Assistant Professor of Theater


Julie Keil, Associate Professor of Political Science


Dow Professor Grant Recipients:

Julie Keil, Associate Professor of Political Science

Title: The Effect of Undergraduate Moot Court Participation on Post Graduate Success

Last year over 800 undergraduate students from 70 universities competed in moot court. Competition is often stressed but experiential learning is more critical for universities evaluating the benefits from the program. This project looked at the academic benefits of undergraduate moot court to the students involved in the SVSU program who have graduated, focusing on the academic value to success in law school, graduate school and employment, utilizing interviews of graduated moot court students to assess the benefits the program had to them and effect it had on post-graduate success. The study concluded that the experiential value of moot court included challenging students academically, help increase critical and analytical thinking, and develop a nuanced understanding of the judicial system, as well as to prepare them for future careers. It can also assist student recruiting and retention for universities by providing an academically challenging and rewarding opportunity for students.


Tina Thornton, Assistant Professor of Nursing & David Rzeszutek, Associate Professor of Theatre

Title: Interprofessional Education with Theatre Students as Standardized Patients for Nursing Simulation

Research has found that simulation is educational for theatre and nursing students and beneficial to the students and the University overall. Standardized Patients (SPs) have been shown to be an effective teaching strategy in nursing education. However, recruitment costs, training and wages of live SPs are barriers to their use in nursing programs. Collaboration with theatre students can possibly eliminate some of the barriers of professional SPs. This proposal was for the use of SVSU theatre students, as SPs, for five simulations in the undergraduate nursing program to determine if their use is feasible and will increase the overall learning satisfaction, communication/skills competence, and confidence of nursing and theatre students. The scenarios will be enacted live, followed by debriefing, including a “teachable moments” discussion and evaluation forms determining the perceived value of the course.


Sylvia Fromherz Sharp, Assistant Professor of Biology & Joseph Weaver, Assistant Professor of Psychology

Title: Writing an Experimental Passage: A Project to Improve Research-Critical Skills and Mastery of Core Cell Biology Principles in Diverse Student Populations

Future success in STEM fields is more likely if students have mastered core principles in foundational areas (“core science” skills) and have developed strong reading, critical thinking, problem-solving, data analysis and communication skills (“research-critical” skills). In agreement with this skillset as a predictor of future student success, many pre-professional standardized tests require students to analyze experimental passages. An experimental passage consists of a short narrative and related data figure; accompanying questions require analysis and interpretation of data and/or mastery of core principles. Underserved students often report being underprepared for the rigors of passage-based exams and more broadly, often lack confidence in their core science, research-critical skills. How can we improve mastery of core principles while developing research-critical skills in diverse populations of students? Evidence supports active learning experiences for effective student learning (Freeman et al., 2014). Here we reported the development, implementation and preliminary assessment results of a novel active learning approach: An experimental passage-writing project in cell biology. Our results suggested the passage-writing project may be a powerful approach to enhance student engagement while providing systematic and iterative support to develop key skills. Improved student confidence and success is predicted to have cascading positive effects, including improved academic success, increased retention, and better career preparedness.


Department Grant Recipients:

John Baesler, Professor of History

Title: Oral History of Mid-Michigan

This project is directed at students currently enrolled in the Public History Minor, history majors with an interest in a career in public history, all history majors. The goal is to make oral history projects an integral part of history instruction across the curriculum, with the objective of providing students with opportunities to practice history rather than learning about history, and, in the end, better prepare students for careers in the field of history outside of academia.


Sylvia Fromherz Sharp, Assistant Professor of Biology
Co-PI: Arthur Martin

Title: Infusing Evidence-Based Best Practices for Student Learning in the Biology Curriculum

A team of Biology Department members plans to engage in professional development activities to learn about and incorporate evidence-based best practices pedagogy including active learning in the biology curriculum. The team will collaborate to develop a new, student-learning centered introductory biology lecture series built with a best-practices framework.


Open Education Resources Grant Recipients (2018/2019):

Elson Boles, Professor of Sociology

Incorporated a new online syllabus format, a how-to guide for General Education students, and is in the process of writing an open Sociology text to share with the OER community.


Kimberly Lacey, Associate Professor of English

All primary texts implemented were links to Open Resources, students researched their own primary online texts, and instruction was structured in a highly-structured weekly format.


Kevin Meyer, Assistant Professor of Economics

Adopted a new Open textbook, incorporated the use of an interactive app, and provided new videos and slides to clarify subjects for students.


Erik Trump, Professor of Political Science

Incorporated new text introductory pages for each course section, offered online access to primary texts and moved from using files for sharing information, to providing materials in tabular format.


Joseph Weaver, Assistant Professor of Psychology

Created an interactive textbook in Canvas tailored to his course needs. Also incorporated videos, activities, relevant text, quizzes, discussion boards, and conference tool meetings into his course.

Dow Professor Grant Recipients:

Bill Williamson, Professor of Rhetoric and Professional Writing & Scott Kowalewski, Associate Professor of Rhetoric and Professional Writing

Title: Preparing 21st-Century Communicators: Audio Production in Professional and Technical Writing

This project better prepared professional and technical writing (PTW) students to be rhetorically-effective, technologically-adept 21st-century communicators.


Chris Giroux, Associate Professor of English & Hideki Kihata, Professor of Art

Title: The Still Life Project

The goal of this project was to create collaborative service-learning opportunities for SVSU students, particularly Art majors and Writing Center tutors, to gain practical experience with writing, editing, and photography.


Rhett Mohler, Assistant Professor of Geography

Title: Acquisition of an Unmanned Aerial System (UAS) for Curricular and Co-Curricular Use

This project gave interested students an opportunity to gain hands-on experience with UAS technology.


Arthur Martin, Associate Professor of Biology

Title: Active Learning and Project-Based Laboratories for the Biological Sciences that Build Critical Thinking and Conceptual-Based Skills

Development of Project-Based Biology was a project proposed by Arthur Martin (Associate professor of Biology) along with Dr, Cal Borden, Ms. Katie Cottrell-Donahue, Dr. Sylvia Fromherz, Dr. James McEvoy, Ms. Kathleen Pelkki, Ms. Amanda Ross, Dr. David Stanton and Dr. Rosalyn Sweeting to develop project-based laboratories for the first-year experience of undergraduate students studying biology as part of their degree requirements.


Gary Lange, Professor of Biology, Holly Little, Lecturer of Biology & Katherine Cottrell-Donahue, Lecturer of Biology

Title: Engaging Students in a Non-Majors Biology Classroom through Increased Active Learning

This project sought to enhance and expand the active learning modalities students and exposed to our non-majors BIOL 104B-Human Biology course.


Sally Decker, Professor of Nursing

Title: Use of Gaming: "Friday Night in the ER" as an Educational Learning Experience

Introduced educational gaming as a strategy that has the potential to provide active learning and stimulate student motivation.

Dow Professor Grant Recipients:

Emily Beard-Bohn, Associate Professor of English & Patricia Cavanaugh, Professor of English

Title: Gamification to Enhance Comprehension, Retention, and Motivation in General Education Courses

Gamification was a project in which two faculty introduced role-playing academic games in one of their courses for both academic insight and motivation. The games were in their second round, so revisions and improvements have been made. The faculty members offered a workshop in March to share with any interested SVSU faculty on the games themselves, some of the current research on gamification, and their insight on the value.


Adam Warhausen, Assistant Professor of Chemistry

Title: Creation of a Customized Laboratory Safety Video Specific to SVSU's Needs

The goal of this project was to create a new laboratory safety video to be utilized in the lower level chemistry labs. This was done in order to replace the very outdated Starting with Safety (1991) safety video that the American Chemical Society (ACS) created. A group of SVSU students recorded the necessary safety procedures and lab skills that are pertinent to the laboratory experiments that are carried out here at SVSU. The ACS’s video, which has been a staple at the majority of academic institutions, does not capture the attention of today’s students. It is envisioned that the new video will be made available to the students online via Canvas in order to free up valuable teaching time during the lab meeting. In order to verify that the students are watching the video, an online quiz or possible “lab safety scavenger hunt”¹ will be utilized in order to evaluate the students’ competency of laboratory safety. Anticipated outcomes of the students in these lab sections were to improve their retention of safety information, familiarize them with the actual lab space that they will be utilizing, and have them all using proper laboratory techniques.


Jan Hlavacek, Assistant Professor of Mathematical Sciences

Title: Use of R-Studio and WeBWorK in an Introductory Statistics Course

Statistics courses using simulation-based inference face two challenges: such courses require much heavier use of computational resources, and there is only a small number of well-developed homework exercises. This project used an online R-studio server to provide computational resources, and a WeBWorK homework server to provide a way to develop custom homework exercises.


Anthony Crachiola, Associate Dean of the College of Science Engineering & Technology

Title: Development of a Multi-Purpose Micro-Teaching Math Video Library

This project created an online library of math micro-videos to be available for all SVSU faculty and students and for use in multiple math and math-based courses across multiple departments. As many students have different, isolated gaps in their algebra skills, faculty can customize their usage of these videos to individual students. The videos will also support the goals of other university functions such as math tutoring and teacher certification test preparations. The anticipated outcomes are an improvement in student learning, reduction of class time spent on review topics only needed for select students, and more targeted individualized feedback and instruction.

Dow Professor Grant Recipients:

James Bowers, Assistant Professor of Criminal Justice

Title: Use of iPads to Support Group Work in the Classroom

iPads and other electronic devices are increasingly utilized in college classrooms, but most students who own iPads do not use them for educational purposes (Lindsay, 2011). This study was an exploratory study examining student perceptions about iPad use in the classrooms with group work and the possible impact on student grades. Two sections of an upper-level course (CJ 401 Issues and Policies) were used as the experimental (used the iPads for group work) and the control group (paper and pencil group work). Preliminary results show that students have positive feedback regarding the iPad use and the iPad group has had the same or better test scores as the pen and paper group.


Jennifer Chaytor, Assistant Professor of Chemistry

Title: Development of Online Pre-Laboratory Activities in Organic Chemistry

The goals of this project were to develop online pre-laboratory activities for CHEM 231 (Organic Chemistry I laboratory). The pre-lab lecture, currently presented by the instructor at the beginning of the laboratory session, will be recorded using lecture capture software and posted online for the students to view prior to attending the lab session. Videos describing the equipment to be used, common laboratory techniques, and safety concerns will also be developed. Additionally, pre-lab quizzes will be written and posted online on Canvas to be answered by students prior to the lab session. Anticipated outcomes are to improve the students’ understanding of the theory and techniques undertaken in the lab, decrease their anxiety regarding complex lab procedures, improve their work efficiency during the lab period, and increase consistency of pre-lab lectures across all instructors including adjunct instructors.


Averetta Lewis, Professor of Nursing, Kathleen Schachman, Harvey Randall Wickes Endowed Chair in Nursing, & Dustin Spencer, Assistant Professor of Nursing

Title: Using Digital Standardized Patients

Diagnostic errors are consistently identified as a prominent cause of preventable morbidity and mortality and have been targeted by the Institutes of Medicine as “the next frontier for patient safety” (National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, 2015). This project facilitated the development and refinement of diagnostic reasoning skills in Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP) students through innovative, technology-rich strategies. The project used digital standardized patients to teach and reinforce the collection and analysis of patient data to arrive at accurate medical diagnoses. Through the creation of an online “virtual clinic,” FNP students will interact with digital patients to develop and hone interview and examinations skills, judiciously order cost-effective diagnostic testing, and refine cognitive skills that enhance diagnostic reasoning. Outcomes include diagnostic accuracy, relevance, time on task, self-confidence, adherence to standards of care, cost-effectiveness, and satisfaction.


Dustin Spencer, Assistant Professor of Nursing, Suzanne Savoy, Assistant Professor of Nursing, & Cynthia Hupert, Assistant Professor of Nursing

Title: Flipped Classroom Implementation in a BSN Curriculum

The “flipped classroom” model is an innovative teaching strategy that has been shown in literature to promote educational excellence in nursing through increased knowledge retention, critical thinking, and clinical judgment. The flipped classroom model has been implemented in the bachelorette nursing program by Dustin Spencer DNP, Suzanne Savoy Ph.D., and Cynthia Hupert, MSN. This innovative model utilized the evidence-based delivery of instructional materials prior to class, with active participation from students in class through problem and team-based learning activities. These activities were designed to promote enhanced learning. Undergraduate nursing students in the first and second semesters were the target population with the anticipated goals of increasing long-term retention of key concepts and fostering lifelong learning skills and sound clinical judgment. The results have been promising in regards to student learning outcomes, though mixed in regards to student engagement and satisfaction.


Chris Nakamura, Associate Professor of Physics

Title: Laboratory Activities for Enhancing an Upper-division Lasers Course

This project investigated the use of short, demonstrative laboratory activities for aiding students in understanding upper-division physics ideas from both theoretical and experimental perspectives. Developing this integrated understanding is a central goal of physics, but most traditional physics curricula separate theory and experiment. Increased effort to explicitly connect theory and experiment may be a useful goal in physics, and other disciplines. The project developed, or adapted, 6 laboratory exercises for an upper-division physics course to help make these connections in a natural context: Lasers and Optoelectronics. The experiences developing the experiments highlight challenges inherent to the approach that must be overcome to justify the approach. In particular the nature of experimental work, the time required conducting experiments, and the larger impact on the course requires significant consideration. Further work is warranted, but real solutions to these challenges are critical to continued implementation. 


George Corser, Assistant Professor of Computer Science & Information Systems 

Title: Collaborative Computer Science Education (CCSE)

The Collaborative Computer Science Education (CCSE) project created lesson incubators, which are close-knit groups of computer science teachers and students. These teaching and learning communities have access to an online system ( which helps them build up-to-date and peer-reviewed lesson materials, including videos, lab instructions and quizzes that enable measurable results. Computer science course materials change rapidly, with new programming languages, software upgrades and professional best practices changing almost as fast as curricula can be developed. Computer science teachers can now work together to keep their materials up-to-date. CCSE builds computer science education materials, not only for students in the classroom but also materials for teachers to continuously improve their domain-specific skills in both technology and pedagogy.

Excellence in Online Teaching Award

This award recognizes a full-time faculty member who has demonstrated excellence in online teaching by creatively and effectively using appropriate technologies and best practices to design and teach online and/or hybrid courses at SVSU. The recipient must have designed and taught one or more online or hybrid courses using innovative instructional approaches and appropriate technologies with a demonstrated impact on student learning. Alumni, students, faculty and staff may nominate candidates.

Click on the text below to expand further information

  • Quality of course design (Based on Quality Matters Standards
  • Instructional and technology innovation, and
  • Demonstrated effectiveness in achieving student learning outcomes and creating an engaging, interactive learning environment. How did the use of technology help in accomplishing the learning objectives of the course? What innovative strategies and tools were used to facilitate interactions and to promote student engagement? Nominees will be asked to provide a short description of the innovative and effective strategies/tools used in the course/s and share examples of student work (please comply with FERPA guidelines in sharing student work) and data to support their nomination. The finalists will be asked to provide a demo/tour of the course to the committee.

The nomination deadline for the Award is March 1st by 5 PM. 

To be eligible for this award, a faculty member must be currently employed full-time at SVSU and must have designed and taught one or more online courses. In making your nomination, cite evidence that the nominee meets the above criteria. The recipient will be announced at the annual awards banquet in the spring.


Jennifer Bridges

Department of Kinesiology


Sherrin Frances

Department of English