Philadelphia University Nexus Learning™ Grant


2017 Application

2017 Budget Template

Scoring Template for Reviewers

Dean's Letter of Support

Program Director or Coordinator’s Letter of Support

Deadlines for Spring 2017 applications:

  • Applications are due February 3, 2017
  • Notifications sent on March 10, 2017
  • Grant funds initially available after July 1, 2017
  • The grant project can be undertaken at any time in the funding year.   
  • Grant funds must be used by May 31, 2018, with all requests for reimbursement processed by June 30, 2018.
  • Final report due on Monday, August 31, 2018.

The Director of the Center for Teaching Innovation and Nexus Learning (CTinL) is also available to talk about proposals at any time.

2016 Recipients

Kasey Wagoner and Edward Santilli
"Promoting Physical Intuition through Experiment-Based Learning."
View Proposal

This proposal seeks funding to overhaul the introductory physics course at Philadelphia University. The primary focus of this redesign will be to teach students physics, rather than math, by piquing their curiosity and guiding their intuition through experiment-based learning. The modern pedagogies adopted in this project will give ownership to the students, which has been clearly shown to increase student engagement in, aptitude for, and attitude toward physics. These approaches appeal to the Hallmarks goal of scientific understanding through curiosity and rigorous inquiry and also align with the basic principles of the Nexus Learning initiative. Two different but complementary approaches will be taken, with each approach using research-proven methods. Semester by semester, the developers will work together to assess which aspects of the two approaches work best, eventually convolving these successful approaches into one course which is best for Philadelphia University. We have a well defined rubric for quantifying student learning gains and the successes will be shared with scientists at the local and national levels.

Wendy Wachter-Schutz and Bridget Trivinia
"Interprofessional Collaboration: Proving Physical and Occupational Therapy Services at a Student Run Pro-Bono Clinic."
View Proposal

Students enrolled in the Occupational Therapy (OT) program have limited opportunity to collaborate with those from other healthcare disciplines. Additionally, eight OT programs exist in the greater Philadelphia area. All programs compete for mandatory fieldwork sites. It is the context in which students implement knowledge from the classroom into real –world situations. Students have the opportunity to work with patients, practice clinical skills, and build confidence in their abilities. However, with the increased number of fieldwork programs and limited sites available, programs are challenged in providing adequate experiences. The Chester Community Physical Therapy Clinic, located on Widener University’s campus, is a student run pro-bono facility, which previously only provided physical therapy (PT) services to uninsured or underinsured members of the Chester community. Recently, a pilot program has been implemented with student volunteers from the Philadelphia University OT Program one night a week with supervision provided by the authors of this proposal. This research project aims to expand this opportunity by structuring this experience within our OT program so that more students would benefit from this unique off-campus Nexus Learning experience. Goals include provision of fieldwork; development of leadership, clinical skills, professional behaviors, and confidence; mentorship of students, and increasing clinic hours from one to two days per week.  Project implementation includes ongoing use of student volunteers and offering Level I fieldwork opportunities to OT students.

Stephen DiDonato, Richard Hass, Amy Baker, and Michelle Gorenberg
"Trauma-Informed Inter-Professional Education amoung Health Science Graduate Programs."

Faculty from Philadelphia University’s Community and Trauma Counseling (CTC), Physician Assistant (PA), and Occupational Therapy (OT) programs have a unified (immediate) goal of developing a comprehensive trauma-informed inter-professional educational model to be utilized within higher education settings that will enhance the students’ trauma-informed clinical skills and knowledge within these three programs.  Once refined, this model can be expanded beyond these three health programs into other health science disciplines in a continuous fashion in order to enhance the student’s experience and the care that they deliver to their future patients.   The CTC, PA, and OT programs have a long-term visionary goal of developing an inter-professional clinic that serves the emotional and behavioral needs of children, adolescents, and families from the Philadelphia area.  In addition to providing clinical outreach, the clinic will also serve as a venue for collaborative, real-world inter-professional training for students in the CTC, PA, and OT programs, and potentially other health programs within the Philadelphia University Community. In support of these immediate and visionary goals, the aim of this Nexus grant is to develop and deliver a trauma-informed inter-professional educational module to CTC, PA, and OT students, to be implemented Summer, 2016. This module will build extend on the previous pilot project data from the 2015 CTC and OT comprehensive inter-professional training module. Funding provided by this grant will support the research, development, execution, and assessment of this inter-professional training module.

Robert Fleming and Christopher Pastore
"Game Based Learning."
View Proposal

Gamification, or Game Based Learning (GBL), in higher education is an emerging mechanism for establishing an additional mode of student engagement. Although gamification might appear to be an attempt to add “fun” to the learning process, it has been shown to learning enhancements for students. A game that generates curiosity on the part of the player leads to engagement, autonomy and meaning – key elements of critical thinking. Engagement is a critical element of Nexus Learning; curiosity is a Hallmark outcome of DECSYS.

2015 Recipients

Jeanne Felter and Michelle Gorenberg
To develop and deliver a trauma-informed, inter-professional training module for CTC and OT students

The Community and Trauma Counseling (CTC) and Occupational Therapy (OT) programs want to create a trauma informed inter-professional clinic that serves the emotional and behavioral needs of children, adolescents, and families from the Philadelphia area.  The clinic will also serve as a venue for collaborative, real world interprofessional training for students in the CTC and OT programs, and potentially other health programs within the university.  

The aim of this Nexus grant is to develop and deliver a trauma informed, interprofessional training module to CTC and OT students, to be implemented Summer, 2015. This module will represent a pilot of the first step in comprehensive interprofessional training in trauma informed practice. 

Ryan Long and Frank Wilkinson
Evaluation of Change in Attitudes in Response to a Personal Genetic Information Exercise
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View Final Report

Knowledge of one’s own genetic information may cause distress. When genetic information is not kept private, this exposes one to the risk of being harmed by third parties. Genetic testing therefore generates ethical, professional, and public policy problems. We intend to study how performing genetic self tests and participating in classroom discussions on genetic testing impacts student attitudes on such issues. The project will be implemented simultaneously in Hallmarks core and Biology major courses in both the fall and spring.

Marcia Weiss
Digital Learning Tools to Enhance Student Learning
View Proposal
View Final Report

The purpose of this project is to develop and assess the effectiveness of a scaffold of digital resources that support individual student learning in upper level design courses, specifically Jacquard and Advanced Jacquard.  Six years ago I created a series of video demonstrations.  While helpful, it is apparent that increased technological support via revised videos, searchable data fields and hyperlinks (a scaffold) will increase student mastery of course content.    My Nexus Learning hypothesis is that enhanced digital learning tools will support student learning through individualized pacing and mastering of complex and varied concepts.  

  • This project seeks to determine if increased integration of technology can: 
  • Enhance pacing and depth of upper level design courses.
  • Enable students to participate as active, engaged learners in activities that foster exploration, synthesis and discovery.
  • Facilitate better-informed design and structural decisions.
  • Create a structure that supports individualized learning in real world projects.

Anne Bowers and Kathryn Mickle

Human Case Studies and Demonstrations for Active Learning and Application of Critical Thinking for Improved Mastery of Anatomy and Physiology from the Freshman to the Sophomore Foundational Courses
View Proposal
View Final Report

The purpose of this project is to support improved student mastery of fundamental anatomy and physiology knowledge and critical thinking skills for health professionals through a longitudinal collaboration across courses in the freshman and sophomore year using POGIL (Process Oriented Guided Inquiry and Learning) pedagogies.  

Currently 35% of students do not meet progression requirements for health majors in anatomy and physiology.  We will collaborate across the freshman and sophomore level to redesign four modules and then track both immediate student learning gains as well as longitudinal gains. 

Madeleine Wilcox and Raju Parakkal
Implementing Best Practices for technology-assisted peer review in a Capstone Course.
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View Final Report

This project will identify and promote best practices for implementing technology assisted on line peer review.  Existing paper based peer review methods have produced limited success.  Research undertaken in studio classes at Philadelphia University by Alex Messinger and Lisa Phillips, professors of interior design, provide initial evidence of positive results for the use of Google Docs software for student peer reviews in a studio setting.   This project will examine whether this pedagogical tool would serve the needs of a “traditional” classroom in the liberal arts and will employ a more technologically versatile and student friendly tool. Our additional goal is to examine whether anonymity in peer review allowed by the online process would impact the quality of student feedback.  This study will be bolstered by data acquired from previous iterations of courses and a workshop for faculty.

2014 Recipients

Wendy Wachter-Schutz
The Effects of RATs and TBL in the Classroom as a Means to Promote Student Preparedness and Integration of Key Academic Concepts
View Proposal

Anne Bower/Frank Wilkinson
Design, Implementation, Assessment and Professional Development Training of Faculty for Innovative Pedagogical Approaches to Biology Foundation Instruction
View Proposal

Previous Recipients

Kim Douglas, Assistant Professor of Landscape Architecture
Interdisciplinary Collaboration in the Design Studio
We must develop a new way of teaching design studio that takes the design studio into the real world and out of isolation and provides the missing link of collaboration among ‘experts’ and mirrors ‘real’ project work. We will develop an interdisciplinary collaborative studio over the summer that includes outside consultants and liberal arts faculty.  For this grant we intend to develop a studio curriculum that addresses collaboration among varied disciplines with landscape architecture and architecture students.  The collaborative studio will improve upon existing studios now being taught and developed with C-ABE and C-SLA as well as outside experts.

Katie Gindlesparger, Director of the Writing Program and Assistant Professor of Writing
Writing Across the Curriculum:  Writing Beyond Writing 101
PhilaU has a sophisticated structure for WAC already in place: we require writing in all four years and writing intensive courses in every major; additionally, many programs require extensive writing in courses not designated as writing intensive. The trouble is, many faculty inherit these structures but aren’t trained how to teach in them.

This grant addresses the question, “How do we convey writing in a way that doesn’t alienate.”  How might we help faculty integrate writing into their studios, labs, and specific disciplinary expectations?  This grant proposes a “teaching circle” for faculty to learn more about writing pedagogy.

Katharine Jones, Associate Professor of Sociology, and Barbara Kimmelman, Associate Professor of History
Course Re-Design: The College Studies Capstone
Our purpose is to develop and pilot an alternative version of the current College Studies Capstone, Contemporary Perspectives in Fall 2013 that would integrate this Capstone with students’ senior year work in their majors, in order to revise both curricular content and encourage more active classroom practices.

Capstone classes are among the high impact practices that solidify student learning of concepts and skills, as evidenced by AACU data. They also showcase PhilaU’s commitment to integrative, collaborative learning based on active pedagogy.

The chief priority of this project is to achieve an integrated capstone experience that provides a more meaningful culminating experience of the students’ college careers by asking them to apply what they have learned in College Studies directly to their professional activities.

Kihong Ku, Assistant Professor of Architecture, and Susan Frostén, Associate Professor of Architecture
Incorporating Open Source Knowledge Communities into the Research Skillset of the Design Student as Evidenced through Prototyping of Interactive Architecture
We propose to incorporate and promulgate the use of information from open source knowledge communities and social media networks into the information literacy and research skills agenda of the architecture program.  As entry points, we will use the studio, ARCH-502 Design X: Digital Methodologies and the theory seminar, ARCH-320 Ecology and Making. This supports proposed changes in the Architecture curriculum to create a more defined and enhanced design research agenda through a required theory seminar and design research studios.

Meriel Tulante, Assistant Professor of Italian Literature and Chair of World Languages, with Professors Farida Ferradji (French and Arabic), Concetta Caporale (Italian), Eiko Carr (Japanese), Siegfried Boettjer (German), Carlos Gonzalez-Ferrin (Spanish), and Maria Peale (Spanish)
Developing Best Practices in Nexus Learning for World Languages
The purpose of this grant is to provide an intensive and focused faculty development opportunity for the World Languages instructors at Philadelphia University. Participation in the ACTFL conference will promote instructors’ development on a personal level for instructors as well as involve them in a research effort to experiment with and enhance language instruction at the university.

This project does not envisage a single pedagogical framework, but will explore different ways of teaching that reflect Nexus Learning practices and best serve Philadelphia University students. Meriel Tulante (Chair of World Languages) will lead a workshop before the conference to discuss Nexus Learning and the goals of the project as well as a workshop after the conference to consider and collate what we have learned.