Student success at forefront of new teaching grants for College of Arts and Sciences faculty awardees

Four Mississippi State faculty members in the College of Arts and Sciences recently were awarded inaugural Professional Development in Teaching Grants, a new initiative designed to foster undergraduate student success by equipping faculty and staff with tools needed to lead large numbers of students.

The new grants, to be awarded annually, will provide awardees the funds to attend a professional teaching-based workshop or conference and an additional stipend to implement new ideas or teaching practices.

The awardees include Cody Fondren, an instructor in the Department of Classical and Modern Languages and Literatures; Evan Kaplan, an instructor in the Department of Biological Sciences; Amanda Patrick, an assistant professor in the Department of Chemistry; and Angelle Tanner, an associate professor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy.

Kathy Sherman-Morris

Kathy Sherman-Morris

Kathy Sherman-Morris, assistant dean for academic affairs in the College of Arts and Sciences, said the grant comes out of efforts to increase undergraduate student success by assisting faculty and staff in their professional development. Stipends will be granted to the awardees once they have demonstrated an implementation of new ideas or teaching practices.

“We created this program to allow faculty to pursue professional development opportunities that will lead to the application of high quality or transformative teaching practices in their class,” Sherman-Morris said. “Faculty teaching large numbers of students do not always have the opportunity to attend teaching-focused professional development activities outside of the university. We hope this program will provide them this opportunity.”

Individual faculty proposals for the grant were reviewed by the dean, associate and assistant deans from the College of Arts and Sciences, and selected faculty who have been recognized for outstanding efforts in teaching. The team considered the applicants’ goals in attending professional development opportunities, how many students would benefit from the implementation of new practices, and the applicants’ vision for the application of new ideas in the classroom.

Sherman-Morris said she hopes this grant not only benefits the awardees, but all College of Arts and Sciences faculty.

“We plan to follow up with the awardees to see how they were able to incorporate ideas into their classes and will facilitate their sharing these ideas with other faculty members in the college,” Sherman-Morris said.

The awardees will attend their selected workshops and conferences this year, with the goal of implementing best practices in their upcoming courses.

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Callie Simonton | College of Arts and Sciences

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