Investigating Student Learning Grant (ISL)

Investigating Student Learning Grant (ISL)

ISL Grant winners and their publications/presentations

Guidelines for the 2016-2017 Competition

CRLT's support had an impact on every student that walks in through our doors in the fall -- and it also got me a couple of publications!
-Former Investigating Student Learning Grantee, Jeff Ringenberg (Engineering)

For 2016, the Office of the Vice Provost for Global and Engaged Education and CRLT will award monies from the Investigating Student Learning (ISL) Grant to faculty who wish to investigate engaged student learning in their courses or programs.  Grants will be awarded to faculty who plan to investigate educational practices that promote one or more of the following engaged student learning outcomes in U-M courses or educational programs:

  • Creativity
  • Intercultural intelligence
  • Social/civic responsibility and ethical reasoning
  • Communication, collaboration and teamwork
  • Self-agency and the ability to innovate and take risks

This grant will be of particular interest to those who wish to:

  • evaluate the impact of engaged teaching strategies in a course and publish the findings
  • develop small-scale learning analytics projects, or use academic data to understand and improve student engagement
  • pilot engaged learning strategies in a curriculum with an evidence-based approach

Awards of $6,000 are available to individual faculty members. Grant awards of $8,000 are available to faculty member-graduate student/postdoc teams.  CRLT staff will be available to consult with ISL Grant applicants as they develop their proposals, and with grantees as they carry out their projects and prepare results for dissemination. For assistance with proposal development, please contact [email protected].

Expectations of grant winners include:

  • Attendance at a one-day initial ISL grantees’ meeting at U-M to be held on January 6, 2017;
  • A follow-up consultation mid-project (May-September 2017) with a CRLT consultant; and
  • A poster presentation at a Winter 2018 forum and completion of a brief web form about key project outcomes by March 31, 2018.
  • Grantees will also have opportunities to participate in U-M bicentennial events focused on the future of higher education.


Selection Criteria

Applications will be evaluated on the following criteria:
  • Alignment with the funding priority to examine educational practices that promote engaged student learning outcomes (see above for a list of these),
  • Clarity of the research question(s) to be investigated,
  • Use of appropriate methods that align with the research question(s) being asked,
  • Feasibility of the project,
  • Potential impact of project,
  • Plans for dissemination,
  • Specification for how participation in the ISL Grant and with the ISL group will further the project, and
  • Specification of graduate student/postdoc collaboration (if applicable).


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 designee to develop a new course or significantly revise an existing course). Grants may be made to individual faculty members, or to teams of faculty members and up to two graduate students/postdocs who wish to undertake a joint project.

To ensure that a variety of applicants have the opportunity to implement innovative teaching and learning activities, recipients of Fall 2015 ISL Grants will not be eligible to receive funding for this competition but they are welcome to apply again in future ISL competitions.

Proposals for the same project may not be submitted to both this Investigating Student Learning competition and the Fall 2016 Faculty Development Fund Competition.


Proposals are due by 4:00 p.m. on Wednesday, October 19, 2016. For assistance with proposal development, please contact [email protected].

Submission Procedures

All applications are handled electronically and must be submitted by 4:00 p.m. on Wednesday, October 19, 2016:

  1. Prepare a 3-5-page proposal in accordance with the proposal content guidelines below.
  2. Download and complete this cover sheet. Please save your proposal and the cover sheet as one .pdf file.
  3. Click the Submit Application button at the top of this page.
  • Fill out the webform. Please note the following:
  • Funding requested: Please type "$6,000" if you are applying as an individual faculty member or a faculty team. Please type "$8,000" if you are applying as a faculty member-graduate student/postdoc team.
  • Start and end dates: Please use January 1, 2017 as your start date and January, 1 2018 as your end date.
  • Applicant: A faculty member must be listed as the first (lead) applicant.
  • An abstract of no more than 250 words is requested.
  • No budget is required for ISL applications.
  1. Upload the coversheet, in .pdf file format.
  2. Click on the Submit Application button at the bottom of the page.

You will receive confirmation from CRLT that your application has been received.

Proposal Guidelines

An applicant should prepare a brief three-to-five page proposal, along with the cover page.  The proposal must include information on the following aspects of the project:

  1. Title of the project.
  2. Research question(s) to be investigated. Please state your research question about specific engaged learning outcomes(s) you hope to investigate in your project, selecting one or more of the following:
  • Creativity
  • Intercultural intelligence
  • Social/civic responsibility and ethical reasoning
  • Communication, collaboration and teamwork
  • Self-agency and the ability to innovate and take risks

Please provide a clear explanation of the significance of the question for postsecondary teaching and learning -- in your discipline and for U-M instructors generally. If prior literature about teaching in your field speaks to the importance of your investigation, please include this information in your application.

  1. Methodology. Please tell us about how you plan to answer your research questions (e.g., What evidence of engaged student learning outcomes will you collect? How will you analyze these data?). We seek applicants who have experience with the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL), as well as those who are new to the enterprise, so preliminary ideas are welcome. If your ideas are preliminary, please also indicate how CRLT staff can help you develop your project’s research plan during the January 6, 2017, initial ISL grantees’ meeting.

To describe how you will approach the question, you may wish to include information on the following: What types of activities will you undertake? What evidence of student learning will you collect? How will you analyze these data? We are open to methods and evidence relevant to your discipline, such as (but not limited to) quantitative analysis of student assignments (tests, papers, other assignments); qualitative analysis of informal classroom assessment methods (minute papers, journal entries, response papers); systematic personal reflection; or studies involving interviews, surveys, or focus groups. Please note that use of student ratings data alone will not be considered sufficient.

  1. Implications & Dissemination. Describe how your findings will inform future iterations of your course/curriculum, and discuss the broader implications of your results (for your department, your discipline, or university teaching and learning more broadly). Beyond participation in the CRLT poster presentation, please explain how you plan to share the results of your work with colleagues at U-M and beyond. This sharing might include plans for publication, conferences, or work within your department.
  2. Timeline. Indicate the projected timeline for the various phases of your project. Priority is given to proposals that have preliminary or final results by the beginning of January 2018.
  3. CRLT support. Please tell us how you anticipate that participating in the ISL Grant will further your project. For example, what support/feedback do you hope to receive from CRLT or the ISL community of grantees?
  4. If a graduate student or postdoc will be on the application please indicate the role that s/he or they will play in the project. NOTE: Grant monies cannot be used for Graduate Student Instructor (GSI) salaries or the tuition portion of a Graduate Student Research Assistant (GSRA) appointment.
  5. Please affirm that you, and the members of your project team, will be able to meet the commitments of the ISL Grant:
  • Attendance of all grantees (faculty and graduate students/postdocs) at a one-day initial ISL grantees’ meeting (to be held on January 6, 2017);
  • A follow-up meeting mid-project (May-September 2017) with a CRLT consultant; and
  • A poster display at a Winter 2018 forum, such as a Provost’s Seminar on engaged learning.

Please note that a budget is not a required component of the proposal.

Funding Period

The period of funding will vary according to the requirements of the project, but is limited to two years. The funding period cannot begin until January 2017. Projects must be completed by January 1, 2018.

Funding Decisions

All Investigating Student Learning Grants are peer-reviewed by U-M faculty.  Awards will be announced at the end of November 2016. ISL grant funded projects will not need to undergo IRB review, if applicants abide by University of Michigan IRB guidelines established for CRLT classroom research projects. For questions on these guidelines, please contact CRLT ([email protected]).

Questions and Consultations

Please contact CRLT ([email protected] or 734-764-0505) for more information about the application guidelines or assistance with proposals.