• Apply to the Teaching Innovation Fellows Program

    Collaborate - Innovate - Share

    The Teaching Innovation Fellows Program allows faculty to deeply explore strategies to improve their teaching practice, student learning, or faculty culture at Park University. Applicants are encouraged to select a topic of interest in one of the three categories below:
    • Teaching: radical innovation, pedagogical reimagining, or the future of learning and working
    • Learning: student success, student retention, or improved student learning outcomes
    • Culture: fostering faculty culture for women, underrepresented groups, or building an engaged faculty learning culture
    Selected Fellows will participate in an external certification that includes engagement with new resources, activities, and a network of faculty to learn about innovative practices and build an SoTL project to present or publish. They will explore their chosen topic in their own practice and facilitate a Special Interest Group (SIG) in the Park faculty community.


    Three Teaching Fellows will be selected each spring to serve during the following academic year. All interested faculty (full-time, adjunct, distance, etc.) are invited to apply.
  • AY 2023-2024 Application

    Thank you for your interest in the FCI Teaching Innovation Fellows program. Applications for the AY2023-24 Teaching Innovation Fellows have closed. Please check the Teaching Innovation Fellows webpage late Spring 2023 to see who has been awarded a fellowship for the 2023-24 academic year.

  • Teaching Fellows Application Information

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    Why Apply?

    Becomea thought leader and practitioner of innovative teaching practices!
    • Fellows Stipend Award of $2,000  
    • External Certification Program for Innovative Practices (ACUE/Gardner/Coursera/Etc.) 
    • Support to build an SoTL project towards presentation or publication
    • Collaborative knowledge sharing sessions within a faculty community (special interest group)
    • Award and recognition (including a letter of distinction, certificate, and digital badge)  
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    Program Overview

    As a Teaching Fellow, you will get to:
    • Have access to a self-paced external certification toward your development  
    • Join a network of innovative practitioners focused on teaching and learning 
    • Share your learning and innovative practices within the Park community
    • Contribute to your professional CV with a collaborative SoTL project
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    Evaluation Criteria for Applications

    Completed via blind peer review

    1. Topic: rationale for a timely and relevant topic in one of the three categories.
    2. Interest: 150 words or fewer on interest in the program and rationale for applying. 
    3. Impact: how the certification will impact your students and teaching practice.
    4. Connection: One potential idea for an SoTL project to share what you learn.
  • Important Dates

    • January 18 = Applications Due
    • January-February = Blind Review Process
    • March 1 = Fellows Notified
    • May 16 = Fellows Retreat 
  • Examples of Former Faculty Fellows'

    Application Responses

    Please view the following winning fellows' responses as guidelines.

    Authentic Teaching & Engaged Learning in a Digital World, Amy Wolf & Leslie Umstattd

    In courses you’ve taught, how have you engaged students in active, collaborative, or innovative learning approaches? Please provide at least one example. (1-2 paragraphs)

    There are a variety of ways we structure teaching to engage students in a collaborative and active learning framework. To begin, we work from the beginning to build relationships with the students. Students are immediately enrolled in a GroupME and download the app to provide opportunities for them to engage with the faculty and one another with a quick and easy messaging system. They do not need to login to any systems to begin engaging with one another.

    In addition, students engage in creative, community building activities in an online classroom. For example, in one course, students create an original "commercial" to introduce themselves to everyone in class. They post the commercial in the GoREACT video assessment system for peer review. GoReact is another innovative program that is used. This program allows students to upload video for instructor feedback (directly on the video) and for peer review.
    We have also worked to make sure that the discussion boards are engaging and create a sense of dialogue instead of asking students to regurgitate information. We are in a trial period this semester in posting video responses to the discussion boards instead of written responses, which will allow the students to be more thorough in their responses, and to explain their ideas instead of copying the information from resources.


    Another approach that we have taken is providing opportunity for student voice and student choice via assignments. Giving students a choice in their method of completing an assignment gives them freedom to create a product that suits their own personal learning and helps them to make personal connections with the content.

    Another way we engage students is by asking students to add to the course by finding resource materials (including videos) to share with their peers in the form of “ripped from the headlines”. Giving them the opportunity to become the teacher helps to solidify content and provides an opportunity for students to have a vested interest in their learning.
    Throughout the semester, we work to scaffold student learning by providing project-based or problem-based work. The students work on the project throughout the semester and add to their projects as they apply new understandings to their project.

    We also like to engage students is via announcements. We use announcements to help students set their goals for the week via unit introductions and then a wrap up at the end of the week as well as providing helpful tips on time management, goal setting, or study habits via quick reference YouTube videos, blogs, and articles.

    Finally, we use the Zoom feature quite often in classes. When using Zoom to meet with students, it has helped us make better connections to the students. During the video conferencing, we often see the animals. Another time, we took the students on a journey at the Parkville campus as they have never been able to see it due to their location. Zoom has also been used in helping students understand assignments better. Recording the instructions and going through the rubrics have really helped enhance student understanding of projects.


    Please explain how you might approach leading a Special Interest Group on this topic and how it might innovate teaching and learning at Park.

    Title: Authentic teaching and engaged learning in a digital world.
    The proportion of students who take online courses exclusively continues to grow each year. Furthermore, students who take at least one class online demonstrates substantial growth (over 30%) each year (Lederman, 2018). Although the proportion of students taking online courses is growing, Park University’s student population enrolled exclusively online continues to decline (Smeed, 2019). There are more institutions of higher education entering the online market; thus creating a saturated market (Collegis Education Staff Writers, 2017).

    Park University has been ahead of the game with distance education. The first Park University “internet” courses were offered in 1996 (Eskey & Roehrich, 2013) which was an entire year before the online platform, Blackboard, was introduced in 1997 (Miller 2014). To continue as leaders in distance education, Park University Faculty and Staff need to reexamine our coursework and delivery practices of our online coursea. As Faculty Fellows we wish to research and guide conversations that will help us think about our teaching and engage learners through meaningful experiences. Embarking in this collaborative venture as co-fellows, with a faculty member and the Director of the Digital Learning Team, we will also foster further relationships between faculty and instructional designers.

    As we explore student and faculty engagement, we will turn to literature and our experiences to guide our conversations. An initial literature review has helped us understand the basic tenants of engagement and outline our conversations throughout the fellowship period. We found from Bowen (2005), in Cohen and Jackson-Haub (2019), there are four fundamentals to student engagement which include, 1. Active and involved learning; 2. Direct experience with the object or content; 3. Understanding the contexts of the subject through multidisciplinary learning; and 4.) Learners engaged in the social and community contexts. Furthermore, Redmond et al.’s (2018), in Cohen and Jackson-Haub (2019), assumed five elements of engagement, which include 1. Social engagement 2. Cognitive engagement 3. Behavioral engagement 4. Collaborative engagement and 5. Emotional engagement.

    As a result of the preliminary literature review, we have developed a topical outline for the fellowship which includes the following sessions:

    1. Contextual factors understanding the Emotional Intelligence (cognitive overload) in the online learner (building community, inside and outside of the classroom) 
    2. Technologies including 3rd party vendors. We plan to record testimonials from faculty to share. 
    3. Creating discussions that engage students in meaningful and interactive dialogue instead of regurgitation of information. 
    4. Project-based/Problem-based learning 
    5. Supporting student engagement that is developmentally appropriated from 100 level to 600 level coursework. 
    6. Grading vs. un-grading, scaffolding, and cohort learning.

    We will design every SIG to be application based. Faculty will be able to immediately apply information as we end with a “nugget for today”. At the end of the session, faculty will be tasked with a “Go and Do.” Each returning session will begin with a show and tell, encouraging faculty to share what was effective.

    Retain without the Mundane, Ann Culton

    In courses you’ve taught, how have you engaged students in active, collaborative, or innovative learning approaches? Please provide at least one example. (1-2 paragraphs)

    Whether in the traditional classroom, online environment, or in our Pirate Patch system, connecting with students is key to engagement, retention, and student outcomes. Having taught in each of these environments, I see the role that this connection plays. While there are similarities, there are also big differences in how we make these connections, depending on the platform.

    When designing course and learning objectives using Bloom’s Taxonomy, action-oriented words are used. This parlays nicely with key words we might use to define how we engage students. Building an environment where curiosity, enthusiasm, interest and attentiveness are at play helps to build an engaging classroom. While teaching in a traditional classroom setting, we see those actionable outcomes more easily, but just how do we do this in a Pirate Patch, blended or fully online setting? The key for each is building a rapport and using multiple learning strategies.

    PIRATE PATCH/BLENDED CLASSROOM: As an instructor at Fairchild Air Force Base, teaching within Pirate Patch is a must. At any given time, I have three or more sites within classroom. Classes meet one time a week and cover up to three learning objectives. Breaking objectives into blocks allows me to cover one objective in each hour of class. For example, in week three of CA 105, I designate the first hour for listening. Within that hour I include several strategies to connect across learning styles, including lecture, video, class discussion, skills assessments, and group projects. I used the same format for the second lecture on emotional intelligence and finally on communication apprehension.

    Some of the techniques I use to build collaboration include non-verbal cues. According to McCorskey and McVetta, students who are more likely to engage will sit toward the front or middle of the classroom (depending on the classroom layout). Students who are less comfortable with engagement will sit toward the outer part of the classroom (1978). Understanding this makes me aware of the likelihood of natural participation. Identifying those less comfortable will allow me to casually help build comfort and confidence.

    Watching other non-verbal cues, including facial expression and body language, help me to gauge understanding and acceptance of learning objectives. This can be a challenge in a Pirate Patch setting with more than a couple of sites. I have become quite successful at “pinning” a particular site to view students in a bigger screen.

    Using an “ice breaker” at the beginning of each class helps to build engagement early on. As a communications instructor, I often incorporate an impromptu topic where students have to build a quick attention getter. One of my favorites is when I ask students to “violate” a non-verbal rule and report its effect on self and others. The rule might be talking to a stranger in an elevator, walking on the wrong side of a busy sidewalk or even interrupting a conversation between two other individuals. This helps students to learn the lesson of non-verbal norms in society.


    ONLINE CLASSROOM: Engaging students in an online environment would require different strategies in order to build rapport and curiosity. I love using scavenger hunts, self-assessments and reflection, as well as team projects to meet the goal of multiple learning styles. I ask group and individual questions, add video (both outside and my own), and use polls (google forms) in discussion areas, which build a collaborative environment.

    Another way that I engage students is to set expectations and consistency within the classroom. In an online setting, I use announcements and emails to review and preview, I also share complimentary material. Setting early expectations shows respect for my students’ time and builds an open line of communication.

    As you can already begin to see, variety is key. It starts within the first five minutes of class. As Hirschy and Wilson suggest, a balance of collaborative and cooperative learning could lead to the best student outcomes. Using a variety of auditory, visual, kinesthetic and reflective learning keeps students engaged and meets the multiple learning styles (2002).

    No matter the platform, connecting lessons to student experience is imperative. The questions that we ask, the resources that we use and the activities that we do are best served if we can connect to previous experience and future use.

    Hirschy, A. & Wilson, Maureen. (2002) The Sociology of the Classroom and Its Influence on Student Learning, Peabody Journal of Education, 77:3, 85-100, DOI: 10.1207/S15327930PJE7703_5

    McCorskey JC and McVetta RW. (1978). Classroom Seating Arrangements: Instructional Communication Theory Versus Student Preferences. Communication Education, 27, 99111.


    Please explain how you might approach leading a Special Interest Group on this topic and how it might innovate teaching and learning at Park.

    I am most interested in continuing to develop strategies to engage students across platforms.

    Having taught across multiple modalities (online, remote, Pirate Patch, blended, traditional classroom), I understand the importance of student engagement and the uniqueness of each teaching platform. As an Academic Director for Park University and trainer for other educational institutions, instructors report their challenges of engaging students for the best classroom interactions and student outcomes. I believe that I have instituted strategies for optimal engagement, and I know that there is even more that we can do to improve. I want to take this baseline and then further research unique ideas to build student engagement, no matter the teaching platform.

    Much research exists regarding the link between feeling connected/comfortable and improved engagement.

    Jorgenson, Parrell, Fudge, and Prichard outline the importance of feeling connected in their study published in the Journal of the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning when they report that “Connectedness and integration are essential elements of student satisfaction, academic success, and retention” (2018). They take this one step further as they study the needs of 256 college students as it relates to engagement and connectedness. While the student population was more traditional in age, extrapolating these results to a broader audience would still apply. Study leaders evaluated several areas, most important for our discussion was the student-to- student and student-to-instructor interactions. Personal support, trust and feedback were key components in both categories. While “advice” was connected to student interactions, feedback was more related to the connection between student and instructor (2018).

    A second important factor in engagement is comfort, yet we do not want them to be so comfortable that they do not stretch themselves a bit.

    J. Mark McFadden, English Instructor at the University of New Haven and contributing writer for Inside Higher Ed writes, “After much trial and error, I have come to the conclusion that engaging my students is best accomplished by making them feel a bit anxious while keeping them in relatively close proximity to their comfort zone” (2017).

    Students have shared an initial discomfort in some of my online courses. Using a balance of comfort and connectedness, I assist students past this initial discomfort. If we can build confidence in how we engage students in each platform, might that barrier be removed? Might engagement go up? If we are more comfortable with each modality, might students be more comfortable? Might enrollments increase as comfort and confidence improves in each modality? Just as students might feel a bit of discomfort with online classrooms or a Pirate Patch set up, I believe that this “fear of the unknown” might also hold really good instructors back from teaching in those less traditional settings.

    When we talk about fear, comfort and connectedness, we have to ensure that we have a strong plan in place on day one. Part of my research has been in the area of non-verbal cues and how they can be assessed within the classroom. While this may seem more relevant in a face-to-face situation, there are many nonverbals that occur in the online classroom. One study revealed that 55% of our communication is considered to be non-verbal while another 38% is considered to be the “way we say it”. This leaves another 7% for the verbal (Mehrabian 1972). Having a better understanding of non-verbal cues and paralinguistics in each platform may help an instructor to quickly connect with students and ensure that they have what they need to be successful.

    How might I approach leading a Special Interest Group? My approach would be similar to my own classroom settings, one that offers multiple learning styles, such as being interactive and combining a bit of lecture with video and activities to help each person find those “pearls” to place in their toolbox. I would also consider some asynchronous options for instructors. One of the main reasons that we offer multiple platforms for student learning is to “reach students where they are.” As such, I believe that it is also important to reach instructors “where they are”. During my tenure as Academic Director, instructors have shared that they would love to attend trainings but are unable, due to scheduling. Offering an asynchronous option for lessons on engaging students would meet the needs of those instructors.


    https://www.insidehighered.com/advice/2017/04/ 25/how-professors-can-improve-engagementstudents-classroom-essay

    Jorgenson, D. A., Farrell, L. C., Fudge, J. L., & Pritchard, A. (n.d.). College Connectedness: The Student Perspective. College Connectedness: The Student Perspective, Vol. 18(No. 1), 75–95. doi: 10.14434/josotl.v18i1.22371

    Mehrabian, A. (1972). Nonverbal Communication. New Brunswick: Aldine Transaction.

    Organizational Culture, Adrian James

    In courses you’ve taught, how have you engaged students in active, collaborative, or innovative learning approaches? Please provide at least one example. (1-2 paragraphs)

    Engagement with the course material and student-to-student interaction are central to my teaching philosophy. I have benefited from a background in adult learning and experiential learning that has allowed me to develop curriculum that requires students to be active with the material. Some methods I use in class include:

    • I have implemented (in multiple terms), a semester long service learning project in which students learn best team practices while navigating interrelated tasks. 
    • I integrated project-based learning and community-based projects last fall (2018) when I acquired information from the Parkville EDC Executive Director for the River City Relics buildings for sale in Parkville. Students in my strategy course used this information along with course concepts to develop short and long-term plans for the buildings. 
    • I also utilize development activities that require students to interact with leaders outside the classroom. For my class this semester it entails things like asking them to fail at something, influencing others (that they do not have formal power over) to do something they would not be likely to do, and asking others that know them well what they think are their strengths. 
    • Students also seem to enjoy and learn from the various active learning strategies that are integrated into a course via role playing activities and article summaries in which they are required to develop 2-4 questions that require their classmates to think critically about the article and how it relates to course concepts. I let students know that they grow in moments they are uncomfortable. In class and in assignments, I provide a safe avenue for theses moments. I am there to encourage their growth and provide equal amounts of challenge and support. Knowledge of the concepts and how they apply outside the classroom provide students with skills needed to succeed.


    Please explain how you might approach leading a Special Interest Group on this topic and how it might innovate teaching and learning at Park.

    The topic I feel most passionate about is how organizational culture can positively impact teaching and learning. Organizational culture is the norms, values, and rules that shape the attitudes and behaviors of employees (Colquitt, LePine, & Wesson, 2017). I would like to facilitate discussions on ways to strengthen the organizational and faculty culture so that teaching and learning are enhanced.
    I have facilitated development workshops for national, international, and local organizations including the Kansas City Chiefs as well as at previous education institutions I have worked to improve workplace dynamics. I would like to facilitate similar workshops with Park University’s faculty to positively influence the organizational culture toward improved teaching. For these workshops, I draw from studies, experience, and a variety of business books. Some of the books I could potentially utilize for my SIGs might include but not limited to the following:
    Brain Rules which is a book that talks about strategies to improve brain power and lower stress. The book is grounded in robust neurological research presented in an easy to understand manner. Too often, people push through and sit at their desk hoping to get it done. However, taking short walks improves brain power and lowers stress levels. I believe many of us know this but do not do it. Because of the way this information in this book was presented with research and stories, I changed my habits and hope to help others do the same. Improving brain power allows individuals to be more innovative.
    Moods are contagious. Formally known as emotional contagion, is a concept proven by research that a person can catch or “be infected by” someone else’s mood (Colquitt, et al., 2017). Concepts from How to Have a Good Day could be delivered to give participants ideas of how they can maintain a positive outlook and fend off toxic individuals or negative environments.
    Great at Work is a book that includes concepts on working smarter not harder. It focuses on strategies to build community and discuss innovative ideas. I think that at Park we could implement some of the strategies in the book to enhance the teaching and learning community (i.e. commit to lunches with our colleagues, and even virtual lunches/meetings with our faculty off campus). The book also discusses redesigning your work so that it adds value.
    How to Have a Good Day also includes diverse concepts that strengthen a positive organizational culture such as setting appropriate goals, building real rapport with individuals, making wise decisions, and utilizing your strengths. In The Power of Habit, the authors assert that you cannot extinguish a bad habit, you can only change it. When you are provided a certain cue that results in a bad habit, you should replace it with a healthy behavior (the same healthy behavior each time) and reward yourself for this.
    The information above briefly outlines a sample of concepts I could explore as part of my SIG, focusing on three or four learning objectives for each SIG. They would build on one another, but also stand alone for those who are not able to attend every SIG. A positive organizational culture is linked to job satisfaction and increased productivity. Ultimately, I would like to contribute to building a faculty culture that supports a more positive learning experience and more positive teaching experience for our instructors.
    Organizational culture is built through small changes and storytelling. I plan to engage attendees in active learning strategies during the SIGs as I do in my classes. I would reinforce the learning objectives so they participants are able to share with others.
    Colquitt, J., LePine, J. A., & Wesson, M. J. (2017). Organizational behavior: Improving performance and commitment in the workplace. 5th ed. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill.