Request For Proposals: Start Small! Mini-grants – Spring 2019 


The Office of the Provost invites faculty to apply for funding to support experimentation with a new pedagogical strategy or tool without attempting a full course redesign. These grants are designed to promote innovative thinking about and approaches to teaching, learning, and student engagement that involve scalable high-impact practices and thoughtful assessment of student learning.  

Faculty who have ideas for course innovation are encouraged to use this Start Small! mini-grant grant to pilot tools and/or pedagogical strategies that could be expanded into a future Hybrid Learning Course Redesign proposal. Successful recipients of the Start Small! mini-grants will be given special consideration for future Provost’s RFP for Hybrid Learning Course Redesign and Delivery funding opportunities.  

Recipients will be expected to spend awarded funds as proposed and to collaborate with Center for Teaching and Learning (CTL) staff. With CTL support, they will identify effective, evidence-based strategies for incorporating the new tool or strategy, assessing its viability, and measuring the impacts on student learning. These funds may be used to fund professional development and/or to purchase equipment or materials that enhance teaching effectiveness and student engagement and that would not otherwise be provided by the faculty member’s home department.   Grant awardees will receive in-kind support from the CTL and funds up to $2,000. Examples of potential grant-funded expenses for the Start Small! mini-grant include:

  • Devices and software to support active learning practices (e.g., screencasting, adaptive learning software, etc.);
  • Software and devices for laboratory and maker projects;
  • Training and supplies for innovative pedagogical methods such as Reacting to the Past, game-based learning, team-based learning, case-based teaching, and peer-led learning;
  • Resources for teaching development or to support faculty development related to a discipline-specific or other instructional innovation, such as books, webinar or conference attendance; and
  • Hardware or software to support innovations aimed at making learning materials more accessible and inclusive (e.g., speech recognition / captioning software, media production software).

All funds must be spent in the academic year following the grant.  

Faculty who are interested in applying for support to redesign an entire course using digital tools or “hybrid” approaches are encouraged to apply for 2019 Provost’s RFP for Hybrid Learning Course Redesign And Delivery.



  • Full-time and part-time faculty
  • Individual faculty, groups of faculty from the same department, and interdisciplinary teams are welcome to apply; however, teams receive one grant.
  • Courses to be offered during either fall 2019, spring 2020 or summer 2020.
  • A prior meeting and consultation with the CTL is strongly recommended to help develop a project plan (see below). Please contact to schedule a meeting.


Proposal Requirements

Selection Criteria   The most competitive proposals will be those that articulate a “small” pedagogical innovation and clear rationale for teaching and learning; demonstrate a clear learning need for the proposed grant-funded activities / items (i.e., funded materials are not available through existing campus resources or through regular professional and/or course development funds in the home department); and seek to advance learner-centered instructional methods grounded in evidence-based research.   In reviewing proposals, we will expect to see:

  • Clear, detailed description of one “small” pedagogical innovation the applicant will try;
  • Strong, compelling rationale for the project including a description of how that “one new thing” is expected to improve one’s existing practice;
  • Clear articulation of how the project aligns with existing theories of and methods in teaching and learning;
  • Demonstration of how the applicant might measure or assess the effects of the proposed experiment / innovation;
  • Awareness of any training and support needs and where the recipient will obtain this support; and
  • Detailed budget and timeline for the project’s expenses. Funding can be used for course preparation, external course content, technology and media development costs, administrative costs and teaching assistants/course assistants, but may not be used to pay faculty stipends. Funds are not available to support future maintenance costs associated with regular wear-and-tear for grant-purchased items.

Application Checklist

 1.  Cover Sheet – Include name of the PI, title of project, title of the course, intended audience and school

 2.  Project Plan

     a. Course Description                

     b. Key learning outcomes for the course                

     c. Rationale for the project                

     d. Articulation of alignment with theories and methods in teaching and learning                

     e. Assessment and evaluation plan      

3.  Description of CTL support needed      

4.  Detailed budget and budget justification      

5.  Letter of support from the applicant’s department chair



Grant awardees will be required to submit a summary report of project success and a description of expenditures to the Office of the Provost. The report should reference assessment and evaluation data and describe insights and conclusions, answering such questions as:

  • How did the innovation support the student learning goals of the course and how did it impact the student experience of the course?
  • How well did the new curricular elements meet the original activity design goals?
  • What could be enhanced to improve student success overall?
  • Should the new curricular elements be maintained or how can they be improved?
  • What do you see as your successes and challenges in the course design process and in achieving overall outcomes?

The report will be important in informing continued strategies to develop hybrid learning approaches and in providing input to the Office of the Provost as it continues to develop initiatives to support teaching and learning. Grant awardees will be invited to present on their projects at CTL events including the annual Celebration for Teaching and Learning Symposium in order to share the lessons learned with the broader Columbia community. Additionally, grant awardees might consider submitting an article for publication, or presenting at a disciplinary or pedagogical conference. Please note: faculty who wish to make student data public as part of this dissemination may need to obtain IRB approval.  


Submission Procedure

Faculty submitting a proposal must complete the proposal application form. Final proposals must be submitted by the Dean’s office of your school (one PDF file for each proposal) via email to with the subject line of “RFP Start Small 2019: [Last Name of Applicant].” An email confirmation that the proposal submission has been received will be sent within 24 hours.



The deadline is Monday, April 22, 2019 at 5:00 P.M.  Future RFPs will cover courses to be offered in 2020 and beyond. We look forward to continuing to support Columbia faculty as they develop new and exciting enhancements of teaching and learning at the University.


Review Process

Proposals will be reviewed by a committee of faculty representing a range of disciplines and schools who will provide a recommended set of grants to the Provost.



Grant awardees will be selected by Friday, May 24, 2019 and announced soon after. Faculty will be notified of the grant amount and will be assigned a CTL contact for the project. The CTL contact, together with a team of staff with appropriate expertise for the specific project, will provide support in instructional design, pedagogy, media and/or technologies, and assessment.


Information Sessions

The CTL will hold a number of sessions to support Start Small! Mini-grant applicants. Find out more about these offerings at

  • Attend the Office of the Provost RFP Town Hall offered on Thursday, January 31, 11:00 AM to learn about the types of grants and the application process.
  • Register for Assessment Tune-Up for RFP Applicants offered on Thursday, March 28, 2019 12:15 PM – 2:00 PM to build or refine the evaluation and assessment section of the proposal.
  • Visit the CTL for RFP-focused office hours on April 5, 12, and 18 from 2:00 PM – 4:00 PM. CTL consultants will be on hand to help select the appropriate grant, to answer questions about the application process, and/or to provide feedback on proposals.
  • Learn more about previous successful projects and interact with grant awardees at the Celebration of Teaching & Learning Symposium to be held on Tuesday, March 12, 2019 in Low Library.

Learn more: Provost’s Teaching and Learning RFPs