Call for Course Development Proposals: Structured, Active, In-class Learning (SAIL) Classes

The Vice Provost for Education and the Center for Teaching and Learning invite faculty to submit proposals for course development grants to support the creation of Structured, Active, In-class Learning (SAIL) classes.

SAIL classes emphasize the active engagement of students in class through structured work, guided by the instructor. They build upon the premise that students benefit from learning by doing and that class time should be used to help students learn to work with material. To that end, class time is built around highly structured activities, in which students work to solve problems, interpret data or evidence, or otherwise engage in real practices in the discipline. This work is frequently done in groups, with instructors circulating and guiding the process. Although a SAIL class may include some mini-lectures or full-class discussion, the exercises that students engage with are at the heart of the class. In preparation for that in-class work, instructors usually provide out-of-class materials or assignments for students to process prior to class.

These grants provide support for faculty interested in transforming an existing course into a SAIL class or developing a new one. SAIL grants will provide faculty with $5,000 for their preparation time or for graduate student assistance in the process of developing in-class exercises, any out-of-class materials, or assignments and assessments. Since a purpose of the SAIL grants is to aid faculty who are interested in successfully replacing lectures with active learning and practice in the discipline, proposals to reimagine courses that are often taught as lecture classes are particularly welcome, as are proposals for introductory level classes.

Proposals must include: the proposed course’s name, number and expected enrollment; faculty’s CV; either a current syllabus annotated with proposed changes or (for new courses) a preliminary syllabus; and department chair’s signature indicating approval. Successful proposals will explain how the course will make use of SAIL techniques, and include the following:

  • Thoughts on why you want to teach this class as a SAIL class;
  • Explanation of the in-class exercises to be developed and used;
  • Discussion of how any other teaching methods – out-of-class materials or assignments, for instance – will contribute to the course aims;
  • Estimate of the amount of class time that will be spent on structured activities and how much time will be devoted to other techniques, such as mini-lectures;
  • Reflection on goals for what students should learn from this course;
  • TA support for the course, both currently and in proposed version;
  • Where the course fits into the curriculum of the department.

Proposals should not exceed three pages (not including CV and syllabus), and will be reviewed by a faculty committee.

Faculty are encouraged to consult with the Center for Teaching and Learning in developing their courses. See Teaching a SAIL Class for more information. Additionally, CTL can provide training for TAs supporting SAIL classes.

Proposals must be submitted by email to CTL at ctl-help@sas.upenn.edu by Fri., Feb. 7, 2014.