|B. Harvesting the Yield: Direct Program Impacts At Grantee Institutions|
Summary of Findings About Impacts on Grantee Institutions
ILI awards revitalize undergraduate education. Equipment acquired with ILI grants enables faculty members to reconfigure, expand, and update existing laboratory courses. In many projects, the equipment is also used as a basis for creating one or more new courses. In a few cases, the equipment provides the impetus for creation of entirely new degree programs or depart-ments. Expanded opportunities for undergraduate research are also reported by many of the PIs.
ILI equipment receives wide usage among students for coursework. An average of 470 undergraduates per project receive direct, hands-on use of ILI equipment in their coursework during the first four years of operation. Student use of equipment for research is far more limited, with an average of 30 students per project using the equipment for that purpose in the first four years.
ILI equipment use among faculty is moderate. On average, five faculty members at the grantee institution use the ILI equipment for teaching during a project's first four years and two faculty members use it for research.
Impacts on underrepresented
groups of students are encouraging. Approximately 46 percent of the
undergraduate users of ILI project equipment are women, and 16 percent
are underrepresented minorities. These figures are consistent with the
percentages of women in the population of undergraduate students enrolled
in the SMET fields served by the ILI program, and slightly above percentages
of minorities in the overall population.
|Grant amount:||Less than $50,000, $50,000 or more|
|Field:||Biological sciences, Chemistry, Computer science, Engineering, General sciences, Interdisciplinary, Mathematics, Psychology, Physics, Social sciences|
|Project level:||Upper division,1 Other|
|Highest SMET degree
offered by institution:
|Doctorate, Master's, Baccalaureate, Associate|
|Department size:2||Small = 21 or less, Medium = 21-99, Large = 100 or more|
|PI tenure status:||Tenured, Tenure track, Not tenure track|
|PI academic rank at
time of proposal:
|Full professor, Associate professor, Assistant professor, Other|
ILI grants stimulate extensive resource leveraging. ILI grants awarded in 1990 averaged $34,200. This seed money typically stimulated several kinds of resource investments over the next five years including faculty curriculum development work, laboratory space, and instructional equipment. On average, these grants generated $140,000 in internal and external financial investments, over four times the original grant amount.12
Institutions receiving multiple awards gain additional benefits. PIs, department chairs, and administrators at six ILI-rich institutions that were selected as case study sites reported that the existence of multiple grants has had a synergistic, campuswide effect that surpasses the impacts of individual projects, because a department that receives several new laboratory items is often able to completely reform its curriculum. In turn, the curricular improvements in the ILI-rich institutions often helped stimulate university-industry partnerships.
More detailed findings about impacts on the students, faculty, and other direct beneficiaries at the grantee institutions of the laboratory experiments, approaches, and materials developed in these projects are reported below.
12Internal investments are those made by the grantee institution; external investments are thos emade by industry, foundations, or other outside (non-federall) agencies.
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Humboldt State University, a master's-granting institution in Arcata, California, has traditionally been known for its strengths in field-oriented biology, evolutionary biology, fisheries biology, and forestry. But prior to the mid- 1980s, its reputation in cell and molecular biology was meager, as were its laboratory facilities for academic study and research in those specialties. Recognizing their rapidly growing importance, Dr. William Allen moved a decade ago to correct the situation. With ILI grants (in 1985 and 1992), he was able to provide the school with its first significant amount of instructional equipment for cell and molecular biology study by undergraduates and, subsequently, oversee the construction of additional labs devoted to those areas.
Today, the Positive impact of the support provided by ILI is
evident in several ways. The school's biology department is now balanced,
with undergraduate offerings in cell biology, genetics, and immunology-plus
a graduate course in biotechnology. Second, there is now a requirement
for a senior thesis in the program, an increasingly necessary requirement
for producing nationally competitive graduates. (According to Dr. Allen,
Humboldt State currently ranks 43rd in the nation in the percentage of
its graduates who go on to graduate or professional schools.) Third, there
has been a doubling of students interested in cellular and molecular biology
over the past few years, an increase, says Dr. Allen, that can be attributed
directly or indirectly to the infusion of ILI-funded laboratory equipment.
Another major effect of the ILI grants: the dramatic progress shown in
the areas of cell and molecular biology research has attracted grants from
The primary stated objective of the ILI program is "to support the development of experiments and laboratory curricula which improve the science, mathematics, engineering, and technology (SMET) education of undergraduate students..."13 Reports from grantees show that this objective is being met and that improvements in both courses and research opportunities result.
Additional uses of ILI equipment and the percentages of PIs employing each type are presented in Table 2.
Differences in usage were found when the data were examined by highest SMET degree awarded by the grantee institution. Perhaps not surprisingly, a smaller percentage of PIs from two-year institutions, as compared with those from four-year institutions, used ILI equipment for undergraduate student research (35 percent vs. 88 percent) and faculty research (30 percent vs. 65 percent). However, the PIs from community colleges and other associate-degree-granting institutions were quite active in several other areas of equipment usage. A greater percentage of PIs from two-year institutions used ILI equipment for
|Strengthening existing undergraduate course(s)||98|
|Expanding undergraduate research opportunities||84|
|Expanding faculty research opportunities||62|
|Conducting outreach activities benefiting local schools/industry/community||54|
|Creating new undergraduate course(s)||44|
|Enhancing graduate student course work or research opportunities||37|
|Fostering interdisciplinary equipment sharing within the host institution||33|
|Augmenting shared-equipment consortia or centers involving multiple institutions||8|
|Creating new undergraduate degree program or new department||7|
SOURCE: 1995 mail survey of
A few notable differences also emerged when comparing equipment usage data across fields. In most fields, approximately half of the PIs (40-54 percent) created a new undergraduate course or several courses around the equipment purchased with their ILI grant. In chemistry, however, a much smaller proportion of PIs (25 percent) used the equipment in this way. The opposite situation occurred in the field of computer science-69 percent of the PIs created new courses around their ILI equipment.
The sharing of project equipment was also strongly influenced by the disciplinary focus of the project. Considerably more PIs overseeing ILI projects with an interdisciplinary focus used their ILI equipment to foster interdisciplinary equipment sharing within the host institution (46 percent vs. 29-33 percent for other fields). And whereas for most fields, very few PIs used their project equipment in shared-equipment consortia involving multiple academic institutions (5-17 percent), a relatively substantial number of PIs working on general science ILI projects did allow other institutions access to their equipment through this mechanism (32 percent).
|Table 3. Numbers of undergraduate student users of ILI project equipment, by time interval, year of award, and type of use: 1990 and 1992 grants|
|Number of undergraduate users for coursework - peak year3||
|Number of undergraduate users for coursework - total-to-date||
|Number of undergraduate users for research - peak year||
|Number of undergraduate users for research - total to date||
Student users may in certain cases be double-counted as both users for
coursework and users for research.
1For this and other cumulative numbers that are averaged across the two program years studied, 1990 (in operation for 5 years) and 1992 (in operation for 3 years), the time frame for the average can be considered to be roughly four years, midway between the two.
2Figures listed in this column represent the total number of undergraduate student users of ILI project equipment for all 1990 and 1992 ILI projects.
3Peak year refers to a project's peak year of operation to date at the time of the grantee survey.
SOURCE: 1995 mail survey of ILI grantees..
For example, the PI of an ILI project in which a computer laboratory was developed to enhance student learning in calculus and other undergraduate mathematics courses reported that the lab is used extensively by students in a half dozen other courses offered by the chemistry, biology, and engineering departments. He believes that his state-of-the-art computer lab can be useful in practically every course on his campus and therefore makes the lab available to any faculty member who expresses an interest in using it. Another PI noted that his computer science laboratory improved the spirit and
morale of the students in his department because it "provided a gathering place, a home for the computer science students," and even inspired them to form a computer science club.
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Reaching Undergraduate Students
This section looks at new types of student opportunities provided through ILI-supported equipment. Data indicating the number of students served by the program and the ways in which these students are impacted are presented. The study examines both overall student impacts and impacts for the target populations of women and underrepresented minorities.14
Overall Impacts. The data show that student usage for coursework is on average high and extends over time (see Table 3). As might be expected, the number of students having hands-on use of ILI equipment is far greater for coursework application than research applications. This difference emerges as early as the project's first year and continues over time. Interestingly, what might be considered to be the shelf life of equipment usage is extensive, as the study shows that students continue to use the equipment well beyond the grant's duration (Exhibit 4).
14No reliable information is available about ILI coverage of people with disabilities.
Getting started. It typically takes about a year to get ILI projects up and going. Overall, across all 1990 and 1992 grantees, average benchmarks from date of grant award were approximately
· 6 months to select, settle prices and funding arrangements for, and actually order most project equipment;
· 8 months to receive most project equipment;
· 10 months to complete installation of most project equipment; and
· 11 months from date of award to begin using project equipment in undergraduate teaching.
Winding down. ILI-supported equipment lasts a surprisingly long time. One consideration in selecting 1990 and 1992 as the program years to be represented in the grantee survey was a belief that many of these projects would already be winding down, and that equipment from any earlier program cycles would often have been long gone and forgotten by the time of the survey. This premise proved to be incorrect. Ninety-nine percent of the grantees from the 1992 program cycle reported that their principal ILI-supported equipment was still being used for undergraduate instruction (three years after grant award), as did 96 percent of 1990 grantees (five years after their grants were awarded). This evaluation cannot answer the question of how long ILI-supported equipment typically remains useful for undergraduate instruction, except to say that the answer is some number of years beyond five.
Table 4. Average Number per ILI project of undergraduate students using the project's equipment, by institutional setting and type of use 1990 and 1992 grants
|Hands-on users for coursework||474||826||314||452||551|
|Hands-on users for research||30||28||24||27||39|
The mean number of students impacted by the ILI program, shown in Table 3, is a crude measure; in fact, the cumulative numbers and kinds of students impacted by ILI projects vary by a number of factors. One important factor is whether or not the project is used primarily in advanced courses and in research for upper division students. Of the nearly 1,100 projects in the grantee survey database, 470 (44 percent) were upper division projects, meaning 75 percent or more of their coursework-impacted undergraduates were reported to be upper division students. The average cumulative number of undergraduate coursework-impacted students was about 200 for such upper division projects. As would be expected, this is substantially lower than the average for projects that are used partly or wholly for lower division introductory or service courses: approximately 700 students.
Institutional setting also matters. As would be expected, projects at two-year institutions focused almost entirely on lower division undergraduate students and, for that reason, had the highest average cumulative number of coursework-impacted students (Table 4). Unexpectedly, projects at two-year schools also had a slightly higher average number of research-impacted undergraduate students than did projects at baccalaureate- and master's-granting institutions, though not doctoral institutions. Nevertheless, the ratio of research-impacted students to coursework-impacted students is still considerably lower than that for four-year institutions.
SMET field is another important factor. ILI mathematics projects (receiving 5 percent of the awards over time) stand out as impacting especially large numbers of undergraduate students for coursework (approximately 1,400 per project, on average). Unfortunately, the underlying reasons for this variation were not addressed by the grantee survey. One possible factor is that mathematics departments are often larger than other those of other fields. Another possible factor, one that is consistent with the data collected during the site visits to exemplary projects, is that mathematics projects more often involve large computer laboratories that can be used in a broad range of courses. Social science and psychology projects (each of which have received approximately 3 percent of the awards over time) were notable for being used for student research by especially large numbers of undergraduates (approximately 180 and 100 per project, respectively).
In addition to number of students using the equipment, PIs were asked in what ways and to what
extent their undergraduate students have been impacted by their ILI projects. As shown in Figure 3, over half reported substantial project impacts in four areas:
|Figure 3. Type
and extent of PI-reported ILI project impacts on undergraduates
at grantee institutions: 1990 and 1992 grants
substantial impacts in the area of increased course enrollments were most often reported for projects at doctorate-granting institutions than at other types of undergraduate institutions (26 percent vs. 15-18 percent).
Impacts on Women and Minority Students. Improving science opportunities for women, underrepresented minorities,15 and people with disabilities and strengthening science programs in the schools they attend rank among the highest priorities of the major groups advocating science education reform. Our analysis in Section A examined the extent to which the program is reaching PIs who are women or from underrepresented minority groups.16 In this section, we look at impacts on students from these groups. The data show this objective has been met to a greater extent with members of traditional underrepresented minority groups than with women.
Survey results indicate that nearly half (46 percent) of the undergraduates impacted to date as hands-on users of ILI equipment have been women. This percentage is comparable to the percentage of baccalaureate degrees earned by women in SMET fields nationwide (44 percent).17 The proportions of women impacted by ILI projects vary considerably by field and, to a lesser extent, by institution type (Table 5). Psychology and the biological and social sciences have the highest representations of women undergraduates, a trend that also occurs in undergraduate population nationwide.18
Table 5. Representation of women and minorities among ILI impacted undergraduates, by field and institution type: 1990 and 1992
The survey also indicated that 16 percent of the hands-on, student users of ILI equipment are underrepresented minorities. This percentage is somewhat higher than the percentage of baccalaureate degrees awarded nationwide in SMET fields (12 percent).19
The percentages of underrepresented minorities impacted by ILI projects vary by institution type. Associate-degree-granting institutions have a higher proportion of minorities (27 percent) than do institutions granting baccalaureate (16 percent), master's (13 percent), and doctorate (13 percent) degrees. This finding is consistent with minority enrollment patterns in the undergraduate population nationwide.20
15Underrepresented minorities refer to African Americans, Alaskan Natives, Hispanics, Native Americans, and Native Pacific Islanders (Program Announcement and Guidelines. Op. cit., p.7)
16No reliable information is available about ILI coverage of undergraduate students with disabilities.
17Women, Minorities, and People with disabilities in Science and Engineering: 1996. National Science Foundation (NSF96-311),p.40
19Ibid p.40. This comparison , although the best available, is imperfect because the ILI data includes students from two-year schools, many of whom do not seek baccalaureate degrees.
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Reported effects on faculty at the grantee institutions were more moderate and somewhat mixed in terms of perceived benefits. On average, approximately five faculty members use the ILI equipment and materials in their undergraduate coursework and approximately two faculty members use the equipment and materials for research. The total number of faculty members at grantee institutions using ILI equipment and materials for the program years 1990 and 1992 is approximately 5,300 for teaching and 2,300 for research.
When benefits were considered, the greatest benefits were reported in three areas:
Type and extent of PI-reported impacts on faculty involved in the ILI project: 1990 and 1992 grants
of rounding, percents may not add to 100.
SOURCE: 1995 mail survey of ILI grantees.
When the data on faculty participation are examined by field, mathematics stands out from the others for having a high number of faculty using the project equipment. PIs of mathematics projects report an average of 12 faculty members at the grantee institution that have used ILI equipment or materials in their teaching. (The average across all fields is five.) As mentioned previously, this discrepancy is possibly due to the larger size of mathematics departments compared to other fields and the greater likelihood of mathematics projects involving large computer laboratories. It may also be due to the fact that in most small and two-year institutions, mathematics faculty rotate their teaching assignments.
Overall, however, the most significant finding is the lack of differences in faculty impacts that emerged for various subgroupings of ILI projects. Most surprising is the lack of differences between projects housed in large and small departments.
on the Faculty Reward System
During the site visits to exemplary ILI projects, college administrators tended to regard ILI as a major plus for the faculty, whereas the PIs themselves gave a more mixed response. Although many PIs agreed that their ILI work was recognized and appreciated by their administration in terms of salary increases and tenure considerations, a greater proportion of the PIs viewed the time commitment required to develop and implement an ILI project, especially in the absence of release time, as an impediment to their career advancement. A much smaller number of the PIs credited their ILI project as being the major catalyst that established their careers and reputations within their chosen fields.
Stimulating Increased Investments
The ILI program is structured to encourage use of ILI funds as seed money to stimulate more extensive facility and curriculum development efforts. The funds for acquiring and installing project instrumentation provided in ILI grants must be at least 100 percent matched by the grantee institution (from any non-federal source), and the institution must also provide (a) appropriate laboratory space to house project equipment, (b) curriculum development labor to create new experiments, laboratory manuals, and other instructional materials needed for effective use of the equipment, and (c) funds to operate and maintain project equipment, including any required technician support. Beyond that, it is hoped that the recognition, prestige, and encouragement bestowed by ILI awards will help draw further attention and support to these promising projects.
The data indicate that substantial leveraging, both in terms of funds and reallocation of resources, is, in fact, occurring. Award amounts for the approximately 530 ILI grants made in 199021 averaged $34,000. On average, in the first five years of operation, these grants generated
21Because considerable financial investments,
particulary equipment operation, maintenance, and repair costs,were found
to take place in the projects's fourth and fifth years of operation, leveraging
data are based exclusively on 1990 program data.
Back in 1990, the entire mathematics department at Bryn Mawr College, a doctorate-granting institution located in suburban Philadelphia, had only two computers-not nearly enough to meet the needs of Dr. Rhonda Hughes, who wanted to launch a new course in 'Dynamical Systems' and also start a summer program relying heavily on computers. An ILI grant allowed her to purchase the equipment necessary for those courses, and a year later, another new course on "Chaos" - was added to the curriculum. Today, the virtue of computers on the campus is abundantly clear, and the ILI project, according to Dr. Hughes, is regarded as having facilitated a campuswide acceptance of them. They are, she says, "central to every mathematics class at the college, with "all math faculty thinking more creatively than they used to." The computer classroom, she adds, is not only used by the mathematics faculty as part of their core instruction, but by instructors of courses in physical chemistry and quantum mechanics.
Furthermore, the model project, which was described to attendees at the 1995 meeting of the American Mathematical Society, has spawned a number of benefits that Dr. Hughes certainly had not foreseen at the time she applied for the ILI grant. For example, the classroom is used for a variety noncurricular purposes, such as helping to attract new mathematics students, and for attracting the attention of foundations and alumnae benefactors. The ILI project, and the math classroom it funded, is regarded as having been instrumental in obtaining several million dollars in donations from such sources as the Pew Charitable Trusts (for a chemistry and mathematics lecture room), the Keck Foundation (for a geology facility similar to the math classroom), and the Hughes Foundation (for the renovation of the school's biology space). In all, the ILI funding has directly or indirectly attracted more than $2 million- some 30 times the amount of Dr. Hughes's original ILI grant.
Is Hard to Get
Administrative respondents from the site visits often pointed out that NSF funds are the only leveraging option available for many undergraduate programs in science, mathematics, engineering, and technology fields. Equipment money in particular was reported to be the hardest to get from any source. Whereas buildings and salaries are high budgetary priorities, equipment needs are not as well supported.
Internal Investments of Funds. The primary source of matching funds is the grantee institution itself. On average, $58,000 was contributed by the grantee institution per award during the first five years of operation (Table 6). Two-thirds of the institutions' contributions, $38,000 per project on average, go toward purchasing and installing ILI project equipment. In addition to the leveraging of these real dollars, substantial contributions were also made by the grantee institutions for the salaries and stipends of paid teaching or research assistants, technicians, or other nonfaculty personnel assigned to the laboratory or project. ILI projects also expended an average of over $9,000 to support nonfaculty personnel. An additional expense involves costs associated with the routine operation, maintenance, and repair of equipment- approximately $7,000 per project on average.
External Sources of Resource
Investments. In-kind vendor contributions or discounts for the acquisition
and installation of project equipment (hardware and software) account for
$9,000 per project of resource leveraging (Table 7). A smaller percentage
of equipment acquisition funds, over $5,000 per project on average, come
from foundations, private grants, and other external sources.
Table 6. Financial and resource investments made by grantee institutions to support
ILI projects: 1990 grants
|Funds for the acquisition and installation of project equipment||$38,371||$20,183,094|
|Salaries and stipends of paid teaching or research assistants, technicians, or other nonfaculty personnel assigned to the labor for project||
|Operating, maintenance, and repair costs||$6,854||$3,605,166|
|Costs of ancillary or replacement equipment and supplies||$3,078||$1,619,049|
Table 7. External sources of financial
and resource investments to support
ILI projects: 1990 grants
|In-kind vendor contributions or discounts for the acquisition and installation of project equipment||
|Funds from foundations, private grants, and other external sources for the acquisition and installation of project equipment (hardware and software)||
Additional Investments. Leveraging often extends beyond the scope of a particular ILI project with equipment upgrades, expansions, or other spinoffs frequently adding to the impact. Nearly half (44 percent) of all 1990 projects attracted new or expanded funding/resources of this type to an institution or program. In those cases where spinoff resource dollars were generated, an average of $145,000 of additional leveraging was obtained per project. In several cases, spinoff projects generated millions of dollars of additional laboratory instrumentation and equipment. Unfortunately, there is no way to tell from the data whether spinoff funds are internally or externally derived.
Resource Reallocations. It is important to note that ILI grants also generate considerable reallocation of resources. Approximately 410 hours of faculty time were spent setting up equipment and developing basic curriculum materials (experiments, lab manuals, software, etc.) for the average ILI project. This figure represents the equivalent of 10 weeks of full-time curriculum development work.
Another in-kind source of support is faculty summer salaries or release time. While relatively few projects provided this type of contribution (Table 8), it appears that such reallocation of resources is associated with greater leveraging and larger student impacts.
Table 8. Comparison of per-project benefits when PIs receive summer salaries or release time: 1990 grants
|Faculty hours on project||413||688||395||787||347|
|Acquisition/installation funds from institution||$38,400||$46,800||$37,800||$55,100||$35,500|
|Acquisition/installation funds from vendors||$9,200||$17,700||$8,600||$11,700||$8,800|
|Expansion/spinoff resource dollars||$68,237||$198,700||$59,600||$116,200||$59,900|
|Cumulative undergraduate users for coursework||531||610||526||681||505|
|SOURCE: 1995 mail survey of ILI grantees.|
One additional area of leveraging relates to laboratory space, although effects were more modest overall. For 30 percent of the ILI projects funded in 1990, additional laboratory space was provided to the PI to house the new laboratory equipment. An average of 990 square feet of additional lab space per project was provided for the 155 projects reporting this type of resource leveraging, though the amount of space received ranged from a minimum of 20 square feet to a maximum of 40,000 square feet.
of Resource Investment Data
Extrapolating from the study findings for 1990 grants, the 4,700 ILI grants totaling $158 million awarded by the program from 1985 to 1994 may have generated
· $250 million for acquiring and installing new instructional equipment;
· $320 million of upgrades, expansions, or spinoff resources directly attributable to ILI projects;
· $90 million for operating and maintaining new instructional equipment;
· 4.6 million square feet of additional laboratory space; and
· 1.9 million hours of faculty time to set up the projects and prepare instructional materials.
| Processing Progress
A project partially funded by ILI has enabled Dr. Frank DiCesare, an engineering professor at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI), a doctorate-granting institution in Troy, NY, to replace a 15-year-old course on the basics of microprocessor systems, which centered around a series of rote experiments, with a new course that helps students interactively design, build, test, and optimize a specific microprocessor control application. The approach, called "studio science," involves the integrated use of several teaching methods and materials, including lectures, a laboratory manual, a computer-based hypermedia teaching and learning environment, and hands-on experiments supervised by laboratory assistants. The course is now part of the core curriculum in engineering required by all engineering students, who make up about two-thirds of RPI's 4,500 graduates.
The initial budget for the project was $300,000, of which $55,000 came from ILI. The rest was supplied by the institution and by contributions of money and equipment from interested commercial firms. One significant spinoff of the project has been the creation of a multimedia software company by Dr. DiCesare and several former students who were involved in the development of the new course, Another byproduct of the project is its value as a device for promoting RPI to educators, industrialists, prospective students, and the public. Says Dr. DiCesare: "This laborator,/ is on the VIP tour of the campus. We show it to hundreds of visitors annually, and all are impressed. This is an innovation in undergraduate education, and it sets an example for others to follow."
Stimulating Broader Scale Investments. The investments in SMET education that often result from an initial ILI seed grant are not limited to resource leveraging that enhances an individual ILI project. In many instances, an ILI project stimulated increased investments on a broader scale that impacts the department or institution as a whole. As shown in Figure 5, more than one-fourth of the PIs report substantial increases in institutional recognition and financial support of other departmental projects as a result of their ILI awards. And one-fifth of the PIs report that their project has attracted substantial external recognition and financial support for the department or institution.
Figure 5. Type and extent of PI-reported ILI project impacts on the department or the institution as a whole: 1990 grants
Effects of Multiple Awards
Six site visits were conducted
to institutions that have received an unusually large total number of awards
(10 or more) over the past decade. (The overall average is four awards
per institution, generally spread across several fields.) Although they
often could not distinguish between ILI awards and other NSF awards, officials
from these institutions estimate that 50 percent or more of the newer and
most important laboratory equipment at their institutions comes from ILI,
or some arm of NSF. These ILI-rich institutions received special attention
during the site visits to ascertain how this cumulative influx of equipment
support has affected the institutions and their instructional programs.
· Rochester Institute of Technology, Rochester, NY, doctorate, 35 awards
· Calvin College, Grand Rapids, MI, baccalaureate, 14 awards
· Hope College, Holland, MI, baccalaureate, 16 awards
· Western Washington University, Bellingham, WA, master's, 20 awards
· California State Polytechnic, Pomona, CA, master's, 17 awards
· University of Florida, Gainesville, FL, doctorate, 16 awards
Factors Contributing to Multiple Awards. One question examined in the site visits was why these institutions have been so unusually active and successful in ILI. The answer seems to be twofold. First, the university administration in all six institutions strongly encourages and supports proposal-writing activities for laboratory equipment. In three of the institutions, exceptionally high acceptance rates, in the 50 percent range, have been achieved through nurturing an institutional culture that supports the ILI process through what one official described as "an informal mentoring and sharing process." In the other three institutions proposal success rates are closer to the norm (approximately 30 percent); however, a greater number of proposals are generated as the result of an infrastructure within the institution that makes the proposal process less intimidating. For example, whereas many institutions are unable or unwilling to provide matching funds and require the PI to seek matching funds from an external source, Western Washington University has a standing policy of providing matching funds for all successful ILI proposals. The university has also established a special unit-the Bureau of Faculty Research-to provide technical and budget support for the preparation of proposals for programs like ILI.
The largest number of proposals (126) was generated by Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT), an institution supporting engineering and technology programs that tend to be highly instrumentation-intensive and involve rapidly changing instrumentation requirements. For their programs to remain viable and competitive, RIT faculty are continually looking for ways to acquire access to instrumentation that is at the cutting edge of the industries they serve, in order to prepare their students to meet emerging needs. RIT has long recognized that the ILI program, with its emphasis on supporting projects to develop innovative ways of teaching emerging technologies, is well matched to its own curricular emphases along these same lines. A common, encouraged practice at RIT is for faculty members to enlist partnership support from equipment manufacturers and/or user industries prior to submitting an ILI proposal. This has many benefits for all involved, but especially for RIT students who gain expanded co-op, work-study, and job opportunities.
The Benefits of Multiple Awards. The other major question addressed in the site visits was how ILI has benefited these institutions, their faculty, and their students, cumulatively, over time, and across projects. In every case the cumulative impacts of multiple awards were reported to be significant and substantial. PIs and department chairs at all six ILI-rich institutions agreed that the existence of multiple grants has had a synergistic, campuswide effect that surpasses the impacts of individual projects because a department that receives several new laboratory items is often able to completely reform its curriculum. For example, a pair of ILI awards in the area of mapping in surveying stimulated the Civil Engineering Department at California Polytechnic Institute-Pomona to move the department from transit and level surveying and traditional pen and paper mapping techniques into the electronic age. The department is now a leader in training not only its own students, but also large numbers of people from industry. Several PIs commented that because ILI allows them to redesign low-enrollment programs and build them up through increased student appreciation of the hands-on opportunities, a "cultural change" takes place throughout the department wherein performance-based coursework with opportunities for undergraduate student research becomes the standard.
The cumulative impacts often transcend departmental boundaries. A PI at Hope College, for example, whose ILI project integrated biochemistry and molecular biology laboratories, said that ILI was the "seed that initiated a climate of proposal-writing collaboration, and led to a new Biochemistry major" on the campus and several additional multi-disciplinary grants. One such ILI grant was entitled "A Microcomputer Laboratory for the Biological and Chemical Sciences." One of the co-PIs commented that "building the ILI-funded computer facility stimulated changes in curriculum and instruction that has affected chemistry, education, religion, and kinesiology programs" as well as the biology and chemistry programs for which it was developed.
The curricular improvements in the ILI-rich institutions have in turn helped stimulate university-industry partnerships. Each institution cited examples of local industries increasing their support of university programs in which state-of-the-art equipment was acquired through an ILI award. College and university administrators were often able to provide the best perspective on the institution-level financial impacts. A dean at Calvin College asserted that "You can't run a credible science department on institutional money alone. You need a seed like ILI to attract matching money, foundations, and industry."
Rarely did a site visit respondent
identify any negative impacts resulting from multiple awards. As reported
in an earlier section of this report,22 many PIs viewed the
extensive time commitment required to develop and implement an ILI project
as an obstacle to career advancement. However, the PIs we met at the ILI-rich
institutions rarely considered their ILI projects to be an obstacle to
career advancement, perhaps because the administrators at these institutions
are more aware of the benefits an ILI project can bring. A few respondents
noted that because ILI restricts its funding to innovative projects, the
program is not helpful in supporting general purpose, "bread-and-butter"
laboratories. It also does not provide help for replacing or upgrading
obsolete or worn-out equipment in existing ILI projects, which can be a
problem at institutions with a large number of projects to maintain. On
the whole, faculty and administrators at the ILI-rich institutions perceive
the ILI emphasis on innovative projects as being a desirable feature that
should be continued. According to one, "This forces us to innovate, which
is a good thing for us."
22Page17: Varying Perceptions of Impacts on the Faculty Reward System.
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