Gilbert Whitaker Fund for the Improvement of Teaching

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Deadline for Submission: 4:00 p.m. on Tuesday, January 24, 2017


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The Gilbert Whitaker Fund supports activities that enhance the quality of student learning at the University of Michigan. For the Winter 2017 competition, preference will be given to collaborative projects that focus on the assessment of student learning or assessment of student engagement (within or outside the classroom), at the departmental, school/college, or institutional level. Grant awards up to $10,000 are available.  

Funding Priorities

Preference will be given to collaborative projects that focus on assessment of student learning and learning experiences at the department, school/college, or institutional level.
These proposals might include activities such as the following:
  • developing plans for using capstone courses to assess the impact of the curriculum or for evaluating the impact of internships or field placements;
  • examining student learning related to the university’s engaged learning outcomes (
  • facilitating faculty discussions about desired outcomes for the major or some other aspect of the curriculum;
  • investigating the learning climate and the degree to which all students feel welcomed and supported in their learning
  • developing surveys, focus groups, and other processes for collecting information from graduating seniors and/or alumni about their experiences in a department, school, or college;
  • collecting data, or analyzing existing data, to inform implementation of curricular reform or examine the impact of a recent curriculum revision;
  • implementing a system for collecting and analyzing student work (e.g., in e-portfolios) to assess the impact of the major or a subset of courses on student learning
  • evaluating the impact of an instructional innovation (e.g., team-based learning, online peer review, inquiry based labs, community-based learning, etc.) on a set of courses or a whole department (e.g., gateway courses, first-year seminars, a subfield within a department)
  • facilitating retreats for faculty discussions of the implications of data collected via surveys, interviews, or analysis of student work
  • other areas that assess or evaluate student learning, attitudes, or experiences across courses or programs.
The following CRLT assessment resources may be particularly helpful during the grant writing process:
In addition to assessment projects, collaborative proposals that focus on the following types of activities are also welcome:
  • Innovations in teaching methods or approaches;
  • Innovations in the curriculum;
  • Inclusive teaching practices that foster success for students of all academic and social backgrounds;
  • Faculty and/or GSI educational development activities

Selection Criteria

Assessment projects will be evaluated on the following criteria:
  • Alignment with the funding priority to examine student learning and student learning experiences at U-M.
  • Clarity of the assessment project and associated activities and research questions
  • Use of appropriate methods to answer key questions
  • Feasibility of the project
  • Potential impact of the project to enhance the learning outcomes and experiences of significant numbers of U-M students.
  • Plans to foster dissemination and discussion of the work among key departmental, college, or University stakeholders
For other projects, priority will go to proposals that clearly articulate how they will:
  • Substantially enhance the  learning outcomes and experiences of significant numbers of U-M students.
  • Substantially contribute to engaged learning at U-M
  • Represent activities that go above and beyond standard elements of course development or course revision.
  • Incorporate appropriate methods for assessing, documenting, and disseminating project impact.
  • Clearly link to departmental, college, or University educational priorities.
  • Can be sustained beyond the funding period.
  • Create or enhance collaborations across faculty and/or units.


The competition is open, on the Ann Arbor campus of the University, to all tenured and tenure-track faculty; clinical instructional faculty; and lecturers who have continuing appointments and course development responsibilities (i.e., an assignment from the dean, chair, or associate chair to develop a new course or significantly revise an existing course).  For collaborative proposals, the project director listed on the Application Cover Sheet must meet eligibility requirements. Applicants who received Whitaker Fund grants in the past may seek support for new proposals. If a choice must be made between projects of equal merit, priority will be given to the proposal submitted by an applicant who has not received funds during the previous academic year.


Proposals are due at 4:00 p.m. on Tuesday, January 24, 2017.

Submission Procedures

All applications are handled electronically and must be submitted by 4:00 p.m. on Tuesday, January 24, 2017.
  1. Download and complete
    1. this cover/budget worksheet (not to exceed $6,000 or $10,000 from the Provost’s Office, depending on the conditions stated in the INTRODUCTION. See BUDGET section below for allowable expenses).
    2. see FUNDING section below for allowable expenses.
  2. Prepare a 2-3 page proposal in accordance with the Guidelines below.
  3. Solicit letters of support from deans, chairs, or other relevant colleagues (optional, but strongly encouraged).
  4. Merge all application materials into a single pdf file.
  5. Click the Submit Application button at the top of this page.
    1. Fill out the web form, which requires a project overview.  This project overview (250 word maximum) will be included in a set of summary documents provided to the review panel.
    2. Upload the pdf file. Name your file LastName_GrantType_Year.pdf (e.g., Smith_Whitaker_2017.pdf).

Chair Evaluations

  1. Forward to your chair this Chair Evaluation Form along with a complete copy of your application packet.
  2. The chairperson should evaluate the proposal and then forward the Chair Evaluation Form to  These must be received by 4:00 p.m. on Tuesday, January 24, 2017.

Proposal Guidelines

Applicants should prepare a 2-3 page proposal that includes the following items:
  1. Goals of the Project.  Clearly state the goals of the project, and indicate how the proposed assessment activities relate to departmental or college/school priorities.
  2. Project Implementation.  Be specific about what the project will entail.  Explain what activities are to be carried out and by whom. Describe what data will be collected and how it will be analyzed.  Provide a timeline for the project.
  3. Impact on Teaching and Learning. How will these activities be used to improve teaching and learning at the University of Michigan? How will the project be sustained after the funding period?
  4. Names of faculty members and others involved (do not include C.V.s).  Please explain how each collaborator will contribute to the successful completion of the project.


On the budget worksheet, provide a justification of the budget so that it is clear why each requested budget item is essential to the success of the project. Travel and conference attendance, in particular, require substantial justification.  Grant monies must be used for project costs that do not fall within the realm of regular departmental expenditures.  
The following expenditures (among others) may be included in the budget request:
  • Retreats, workshops or planning sessions
  • Focus groups, surveys and written materials
  • Data analysis
  • Facilitator or consultant honorarium
  • Faculty summer salary
  • Graduate or undergraduate student salaries
  • Materials and supplies
  • Travel and registration fees for special teaching-related seminars or workshops
  • Other travel essential to the project
Funding is NOT available for:
  1. Registration fees for workshops, seminars and meetings that are not directly related to teaching
  2. Graduate Student Instructor (GSI) salaries
  3. The tuition portion of a Graduate Student Research Assistant (GSRA) appointment

Funding Period

The period of funding may vary to fit the needs of the project, but is limited to two years. The funding period cannot begin until April 2017.  Projects must be completed by April 30, 2019.

Funding Decisions

All Gilbert Whitaker Fund applications are reviewed and ranked by the appropriate dean and then undergo a review process carried out by members of the CRLT staff and the CRLT Advisory Board, composed of faculty from across campus. The final funding decisions will be made by the Office of the Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs. Awards will be announced in late March 2017.

Reporting Requirements

CRLT requires all grant recipients to disseminate their results by completing a brief web form within three months of the project’s completion. These reports will be publicly displayed on the CRLT Grants Reports website.

Questions and Consultations

Please contact CRLT at 764-0505 or if you have questions. CRLT staff are available to consult with grant applicants as they prepare proposals.