Provost’s SOLER Seed Grants (PSSGs) empower faculty to conduct teaching and learning experiments in their own classrooms. In addition to funding, support services include refining research objectives and designs, adapting assessment tools, navigating IRB approval, analyzing data, and composing external grant proposals, manuscripts, and presentations.

Note: The PSSG program is part of the Office of the Provost Teaching and Learning Grants series. Read about the overall series here.

The PSSG program provides faculty members with funding and in-kind support to empower them to engage in Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL) Research – that is, to lead formal research efforts to better understand and improve teaching and learning in Columbia courses. Projects generally center around measuring the impact of a novel instructional approach; the approach may be high-tech or low-tech, and the research questions may be discipline-specific (i.e., related to discrete learning objectives) or discipline-generic (i.e., related to broader themes about student attitudes and behavior). Strong proposals are grounded in established theories, feature an experimental design, and present or quantitative or mixed-methods designs for measuring student outcomes. The grant also supports variations on SoTL Research that integrate elements of these related fields: (1) Learning Analytics, i.e., extracting insights from academic technology data streams; and (2) Applied Learning Sciences, i.e., bridging the divide between the laboratory and the classroom by connecting researchers who primarily study teaching and learning to Columbia courses. Read more about these fields and SOLER's related work here.  

Eligibility: The PI must be a full-time Columbia faculty member. Postdocs, graduate students, part-time or adjunct faculty, and staff may be included on proposals as Investigators but may not serve as PI. 

Funding: Teams can apply for up to $5,000 for projects up to 12 months in duration. Funding is typically used for these types of expenses: equipment, software licenses, media development, compensation for study participants (typically students), and compensation for research assistants.

Read about the 2023-2024 PSSG proposal requirements here

Application process: Applicants are strongly encouraged to schedule an individual consultation with SOLER prior to submitting the application in order to develop the project plan and define the scope of in-kind support. Please contact [email protected] to schedule a consultation. When ready, submit your application through the Office of Teaching, Learning, and Innovation site.

Deadline: May 1, 2023

Support for awardees: SOLER personnel will assist awardees through ongoing, in-depth collaboration. Core services include assistance with framing research objectives and matching study designs to specific aims; developing or refining methods of assessment or evaluation; devising methods for data analysis and visualization; preparing materials for and navigating the IRB approval process; and composing external grants applications, manuscripts for publication, abstracts for conferences, and posters/presentations.

Awardees’ obligations: By accepting a PSSG, awardees agree to (1) work with a facilitator from SOLER who will serve as a consultant, provide feedback, and monitor progress according to the project timeline provided in the proposal; (2) collaborate on SOLER-led effort to obtain IRB approval for proposed research prior to collecting data; (3) attend a workshop/planning session for all awardees, (4) contribute to the SOLER community by presenting project outcomes at a future information session for prospective applicants, leading a journal club session a relevant topic, and/or participating in the SOLER spotlight video series; (5) submit a final project report within 24 months of receiving funds; and (6) acknowledge receipt of SOLER support in any presentation or publication of work resulting from the grant. Awardees are encouraged to publish their study results in appropriate journals and/or use them as pilot data for grant applications from external agencies. Faculty who apply for such grants or who simply wish to extend the line of inquiry beyond the PSSG duration can apply for continuing SOLER support in the next award cycle.

Review criteria: Funding decisions will result from peer review of proposals in response to this call. Reviews for submitted proposals will be based on the potential impact of the project on student experience; the soundness, creativity, and uniqueness of the proposed scholarship and its potential contribution to the advancement of the Science of Learning; the appropriateness of the budget and project scope, including faculty time commitment; and the sustainability and long-term impact of the project, including the scholars’ potential to serve as resources for others in the community. 

Review process: A panel consisting of SOLER Faculty Committee members and SOLER staff will review proposals after the deadline. 

Other Ways to Get Involved

  • Intrigued but not ready to apply for a PSSG? We offer a “path to proposal” service to support faculty who may apply for a PSSG in the following cycle. Contact [email protected] to start the conversation.  

  • For existing projects of advanced Science of Learning practitioners, SOLER offers informal support with grant writing and manuscript preparation. Contact [email protected] to request support.