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UConn Advance

Grant helps undergraduate education

The University has been awarded a three-year, $150,000 grant from the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation to support innovation in the general education curriculum for lower-division undergraduates.

Beginning in the fall, the project will involve a team of faculty and graduate students in redesigning a number of high-enrollment survey and skills courses to include research experiences and other forms of active learning. In some cases, large introductory classes will be paired with smaller courses. The new courses, which will be launched in fall 1998, will be evaluated compared to traditional versions of the same courses. In the third year of the grant, the Institute for Teaching and Learning will hold workshops to extend the approach more broadly across the University.

Judith Meyer, interim vice provost for undergraduate education and instruction, said the grant from the Hewlett Foundation will encourage faculty and graduate students to explore alternative ways to provide general education students, and is particularly welcome given the University's tight budget.

"The initiative fits directly with our efforts to enhance the undergraduate experience because it enables us to focus some special attention on those courses that our first-year students in particular take," she said. "We hope engaging them actively in the learning process will enhance their academic experience overall."

The grant also will increase the University's external visibility, Meyer said. "This is a recognition for us that the University is planning to do some interesting things in general education and is one of the innovators," she said.

The Hewlett Foundation is a California-based national foundation that supports scientific, literary and educational activities. The grant to UConn is one of fewer than 10 awarded this year to research universities for improving the general education curriculum.


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