2019-20 Williams Instructional Fund Recipients

Arctic Icebergs

Instructors: Dave Sutherland, Mark Carey, Casey Shoop

This project will pilot innovative teaching practices while allowing students to examine how Arctic icebergs move from Greenland fjords to the global imagination. Through two new courses, team-taught by three professors (one each from the natural sciences, social sciences, and humanities), Arctic icebergs will be used as a case study for teaching about larger environmental issues. This problem-based teaching experiment will incubate first in the Clark Honors College (Year One) and then scale up for the College of Arts and Sciences (Year Two) to focus on real-world scenarios and collaborative undergraduate research.

The Oregon Theater Project: Teaching Students to Research and Document Local Film History

Instructors: Michael Aronson, Elizabeth Peterson

This course presents students with the opportunity to learn historical research methods and to create new knowledge about critical aspects of film history in Oregon. The idea for this project comes out of an experimental CINE 3XX-level course, co-taught by Aronson and Peterson in spring 2018 on local film exhibition history, where students performed research on primary sources and published their findings on a public, online platform. This proposal will further develop the course through another installation, and will also streamline the existing website so it is easier for student, instructor, and public use. This project allows Oregon students to transform into cultural and film historians, and the scholarly writing that students will publish online is an important way for students to synthesize and share what they have learned from their research of primary (and local) sources.

Math, Improv, and the Museum

Instructor: Ellen Eischen

This project integrates approaches from improvisational theater and museum engagement to facilitate the exploration of mathematics, both through an undergraduate course first offered in Spring 2020 and in an exhibit of resulting student projects at the Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art. The course will expose students to the visual beauty of mathematics and approaches to engage with it using techniques from applied and visual thinking strategies. The museum exhibit will pique the interests and curiosity of a much broader audience who might not otherwise be exposed to abstract mathematics. The project will also bring an improv specialist to campus for two separate, in-class workshops to facilitate guided discussions and reflections as part of an inclusive teaching environment.

Native American Studies Major Development

Instructor: Brian Klopotek

The purpose of this project is to host a summer workshop (accompanied by other efforts) to develop a Native American and Indigenous Studies major at the University of Oregon. To do so, a week-long meeting will be held to map the new major, plan syllabi for any new classes needed, and craft an official proposal. Native American studies faculty will convene with representatives from each of Oregon’s nine federally recognized tribes, as well as the five tribes that make up the Chinook Indian Nation, in addition to other stakeholders from the Native community around the UO and Eugene-Springfield area, to discuss courses, content, and the major itself.

Fresh Eyes: Bringing Developmental Psychology Tasks into the Classroom

Instructor: Kathryn Mills

This proposal will result in the creation of materials for in-class demonstrations of developmental psychology tasks. When possible, students will interact hands-on with the materials used in these tasks, and when not possible, videos will be created instead to be shown in class. While explaining complex developmental psychology experiments in class, even while testing along the way via iClicker, stationary aspects of this learning style make it difficult for many students to follow the sequence of events or understand what is happening in a given experiment. Demonstrating these tasks with new materials from this course will allow students to have a better grasp of what it might feel like to be a participant in various experiments, and will allow them to more deeply grasp the parameters and limitations of these experiments that are the foundation for the discipline of developmental psychology.

Student Produced Educational Videos

Instructor: Mark Carrier

Many introductory biology instructors create videos to present course content for students and share it with their courses via Canvas. These videos are often used as stand-alone sources of information and are helpful for students because they can learn course-specific information at their own learning pace. This project seeks to generate a set of course-specific educational videos that are created for students by their peers who have already had success with the same concepts. For students who don’t necessarily identify with their professors, videos featuring their peers’ diction and descriptions of the concepts can help more students connect with the material and increase their confidence in mastering the topics.

Teaching Through Core Concepts in Human Physiology

Instructors: Robin Hopkins, Philip Matern, Jon Runyeon

Currently, majors in the Department of Human Physiology take a series of six core anatomy and physiology courses taught by three different instructors. The aim of this project is to implement the framework and teaching practices of “core concepts” across these six courses and thereby improve the educational experience of undergraduates by creating a new model of learning. The framework of core concepts will help students see they are actually applying the same core concept to new systems, and help them focus on applying physiologic mechanisms in different contexts rather than memorizing something completely new each time.