Lawrence University has been awarded a $100,000 grant by the New York City-based Teagle Foundation to support an assessment study of its new postdoctoral fellows teaching program.
Lawrence was one of five institutions nationally the Teagle Foundation recognized with a grant through its Working Groups in Liberal Education Program, which supports projects designed to generate fresh thinking about how to strengthen liberal education.
Announced in June, the Lawrence Fellows in the Liberal Arts and Sciences program provides recent Ph.D. recipients with mentoring relationships, teaching opportunities and research collaborations to better prepare them for professorial careers at selective liberal arts colleges.
The program also seeks to enrich student learning, more quickly introduce the newest research techniques being pursued at distinguished graduate programs to the Lawrence curriculum and its student research programs and further enhance Lawrence’s extensive offerings of one-on-one learning experiences for students.
The $100,000 Teagle Grant will support a working group of faculty, staff, students and administrators who, over the course of the next 20 months, will study the fellows program and assess the degree to which it is achieving its intended goals.
The group will analyze data gathered through a variety of methods, including self-assessment of teaching and scholarship, video and in-class observations, course evaluations, surveys and other reports. The results, when compiled, will be widely disseminated through a variety of means, including a webpage dedicated to the project as well as a conference that Lawrence will host.
“The results of this study are expected to provide beneficial information not only on the Lawrence Fellows program, but be helpful to postdoctoral fellowship programs conducted at other institutions as well,” said Bill Skinner, Lawrence’s director of research administration, who will oversee the study. “The impact of postdoctoral programs has rarely been assessed and this study will place Lawrence in a unique position to demonstrate the role liberal arts colleges can play in preparing the future professoriate of higher education.”
Eight fellows were selected as the program’s first appointments and joined the Lawrence faculty in September for the start of the 2005-06 academic year. They were chosen from a pool of more than 240 applicants, who pursued their doctorate or terminal degree at top-ranked research institutions in the United States, as well as Australia, Canada, Germany, Italy, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom.
Lawrence fellows are appointed for two years, during which time they teach courses, offer individualized instruction opportunities to students and continue their professional activities as scholars and or performers. A goal of the program is to have up to 20 fellows on campus in any given year.
“Liberal education should provide students with the intellectual tools they need as they struggle with life’s big questions about themselves, their morals and values and their place in society,” said W. Robert Connor, president of the Teagle Foundation, in announcing the five Working Groups in Liberal Education Program grants. “We hope the ideas that emerge from these projects will help strengthen liberal education not only on these campuses but at other institutions as well, so that all students in the liberal arts get the help they need in answering these big questions.”
The Teagle Foundation ( www.teaglefoundation.org) was established in 1944 by the late Walter C. Teagle, longtime president and later chairman of the board of Standard Oil Company (New Jersey), now the Exxon Mobil Corporation. The foundation supports intellectual and financial resources to ensure that today’s students have access to challenging, wide-ranging and enriching college educations through broad and intellectually stimulating curricula that engage students in active learning, explore questions of deep social and personal significance, set clear goals and systematically measure progress toward them.