$2 million grant to strengthen engaged teaching at Minot State University
A $2 million Title III grant from the U.S. Department of Education will assist Minot State University, over the next five years, in improving services for students and faculty and aid Minot State in increasing retention and graduation rates.
"As an institute of higher education committed to engaged learning and student success, this grant will give us the boost we need to start some new, exciting initiatives," said Gary Rabe, vice president for academic affairs at Minot State. "We feel very grateful that the Department of Education has provided almost $400,000 a year to help us begin our Center for Engagement in Teaching and Learning, with a central objective of requiring new levels of engagement for all our students."
CETL will coordinate all the retention and engagement activities for Minot State students and faculty. The new cornerstone project will also enable MSU to expand its existing tutoring program into peer tutoring and mentoring for all students and organize a faculty-development program to enhance the first-year experience of students.
Title III grant money will provide funds to hire a full-time director for CETL, as well as a tutoring/mentoring coordinator and an administrative assistant. The Department of Education funds will allow for two part-time associate directors to be hired from within existing MSU faculty or staff. Aside from jobs created to run CETL, the grant money will also provide students with additional on-campus, paid internships and 75 mini-grants to faculty and staff to support new engaged-learning opportunities for students.
"The focus of Minot Stateís Title III grant is to strengthen our institution by providing the best possible experience for students," said Rabe. "Oftentimes, a first-year student struggles with being away from home or adjusting to the pace of university life. We imagine that with these additional resources a student will have strong, capable, well-trained professionals to turn to with questions or concerns."
The Title III grant provides MSU with the resources necessary to begin engagement projects as part of the university experience. A key goal of the project is providing all students at least three "engaged experiences." These could include a civic engagement or service project, a service-learning project (tied to a course), relevant employment or a field experience (i.e. internship or student teaching). With this additional weight placed on being engaged, Minot State feels we are preparing students to be quality, involved citizens in their community and environment.
As a part of the push to provide additional engagement opportunities, Minot State is implementing a pilot program this fall. This will combine the concepts of a first-year experience, a first-year seminar and learning communities into PLACE, or Purposeful Learning, Achievement and Community Engagement.
The PLACE pilot program will give groups of incoming students three separate classes together, allowing them to form deeper bonds amongst themselves as well as connect course work and experience into one interdisciplinary study. This fall, the program will mix required courses in English, with either history or education and an elective course. The program will be evaluated at the end of the semester and modified to address any challenges.
"This is truly an exciting time for Minot State, as we continue to provide students new educational opportunities and experiences that align with our Vision 2013 strategic plan," said Rabe. "Starting CETL by November and employing cutting-edge approaches to the first-year student will prove immensely beneficial to their growth and ultimately, the regionís future."
The hiring process for the CETL director is already underway, and the office space for the center will soon be renovated, with the first floor of Old Main as the location.