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Creative Teaching Award

The 2013-2014 Creative Teaching Award Recepients

Lauren O'Donnell & Michael Perry, Pharmacy
Anna Floerke Scheid & Elisabeth Vasko, Theology
Ana Siquiera, Jay Liebowitz & Naga Sivasubramaniam, Business

Interprofessional Education Faculty Team:
Allison Morgan (Physicians Assistant Program), Leesa Dibartola (Physical Therapy), Elizabeth DeIuliis (Occupational Therapy), Sarah Wallace (Speech Language Pathology), Paula Turocy (Athletic Training), Shirley Cousino (Health Management),
Janet Astle (Pharmacy), Lynn Simko (Nursing), Christine O'Neil (Pharmacy), and
Yvonne Weideman (Nursing)

Past Recipients

2013-2014 Guidelines
Sponsored by Academic Affairs
Duquesne University


The purpose of these awards is to recognize faculty members who have implemented innovative ways of teaching and have assessed the impact on student learning. The innovation may have been used at other institutions or in other fields, but must be newly adapted to Duquesne in your field.


All full-time faculty who have taught one full year at Duquesne are eligible. Faculty are invited to submit collaborative and multi-course projects. Award submissions featuring entire academic programs are not eligible.

Award Benefits

Winners will receive $1000 at the annual spring Celebration of Teaching Excellence.  They will present a poster at the Celebration, and participate in an award winners' panel the next fall.  In addition to receiving public recognition and a strong endorsement of their teaching at Duquesne, many award winners have presented papers at national conferences and published peer reviewed articles featuring their innovation.

Selection Criteria

1. Contribution to Student Learning

An analysis of your innovation's contribution to student learning is critical to winning this award. Evidence of student learning is the most important of the three criteria.

Various ways exist to demonstrate student learning related to your innovation. Learning involves human participants in a real-life context, which, of course, precludes controlling all variables. That said, your analysis of evidence can result in a rigorous claim that your innovation resulted in student learning. In so far as possible, apply the principles of your chosen methodology, be it quantitative, qualitative, or mixed methods.

It is helpful to reviewers if you have some comparison data from past courses (prior to the innovation) or a quasi-control group. These comparisons can include the gaps you identified that motivated you to implement the creative approach in the first place.

Plan how you will collect and analyze student learning data when you are planning the course(s). If you are including more than one innovation, discuss explicitly how the innovations form a coherent whole to meet the three award criteria.

Assessment begins with learning goals. Evidence of student learning needs to be directly tied to each of the learning goals outlined in the submission. Indeed, there needs to be alignment between the goals, teaching/learning methods, and the evidence of learning. Multiple kinds of evidence make the submission stronger. There must be direct evidence of student-learning. Indirect evidence is often useful.

Direct evidence – required

--definition: assessment of actual student performance which demonstrates what students learned and the extent to which students met the learning goals

--examples (not exhaustive list): written assignments, performances, presentations, observations of quality of field work (e.g., clinical, internships), reflection on theory and practice (e.g. service-learning), research and capstone projects, exams, standardized tests, licensure exams, student publications

Indirect evidence – strongly encouraged

--definition: perspectives on teaching and learning that provide insights on the learning process so that you can examine what promotes or hinders learning

--examples (not exhaustive list): student self-appraisals of learning, satisfaction or confidence surveys, peer review by faculty, focus groups (e.g., with students, alumni, community partners, employers of graduates), employer feedback

In short, here are the criteria related to evidence of student learning:

  1. Integrated into the teaching/learning design (alignment of goals - teaching/learning - assessment)
  2. Begins with learning goals
  3. Evidence is tied to each learning goal
  4. Direct evidence is required
  5. Indirect evidence is very useful but is not sufficient
  6. Multiple kinds of evidence strengthen the submission


2. Innovativeness

Innovation comes in many different forms, and rarely if ever means "creating from scratch." These examples of creative teaching are not exhaustive, but may be helpful as applicants describe their projects. The innovation must always be linked to student learning.

  • Adapting teaching/learning methods from other fields and contexts that are useful to your students' learning. Using teaching methods and tools not widely used in your field, or not practiced in your program at Duquesne.
  • Implementing a unique combination of common teaching strategies to solve a learner-related problem (e.g., attrition of students) or address a persistent challenge.
  • Crafting new materials.
  • Devising a way to address a bottleneck in student learning that you have observed over the years.
  • Addressing new competency demands, for example, coming from societal/employment needs, national associations, accrediting bodies, or the Pennsylvania Department of Education.

Innovativeness needs to be described within the context of the applicant's department/school and discipline. Creativity involves both imagination and a sense of realism. Therefore, feasibility, replicability, and potential sustainability of the innovation are valued in this award process.

Please provide evidence to assist the review committee in evaluating the innovativeness of your proposal. Examples of ways to document innovativeness
--the chair and dean letters of support need to address the uniqueness of the teaching/learning strategy within the department and school
--conference papers and journal articles that outline current practices or call for improved teaching and learning strategies in the relevant discipline
--an external colleague letter attesting to the innovativeness within the applicant's field regionally or nationally
--professional disciplinary organization's review of programs across the nation relevant to the innovation
--peer-reviewed conference presentations or publications by the faculty member making the submission (often, however, this step occurs after the person receives the Creative Teaching Award; many previous award recipients have presented their work nationally)

Briefly give credit to those people you know have had an impact on this innovative project in the prose and references.

3. Scope of the Innovation

Innovations that extend throughout a course will be most highly valued. Innovations that are used for a portion of a course are eligible, but will be less competitive. Past awards have been made for multi-course projects. The Creative Teaching Award is not intended for entire programs.

Please note that criterion #1 is, by far, the most important. The Review Committee will be looking for an analysis of student learning evidence relevant to your innovation on student learning.


Application Procedure

1. The following items constitute a complete application for a Duquesne University Creative Teaching Award:

  • Application Cover Sheet (download Word version) with your signature and that of your Dean. If you have a Department Chair or Division Head, that person’s signature is also required.
  • Narrative, no longer than eight (8) double-spaced pages (12-point font) consisting of the six sections outlined below. Past review committee members attest that it is difficult to describe the innovation clearly and thoroughly in fewer pages, but that 8 is sufficient. Please use page numbers.
  • Letter of Support from your Dean. If you have a Department Chair or Division Head, a Letter of Support from that person must also be included. These letters should address the three award criteria outlined above.
  • Appendices. Additional information to support your application. This should be very selective and might consist, for example, of innovative assessments or tables of findings. All information in the Appendices must be summarized in the eight-page narrative, since reviewers may not read the Appendices in detail, but refer to them only for clarification of points made in the proposal narrative.

2. Narrative

You are writing to a group of faculty who don’t know your field. Use common submission formats and explain terms and concepts.

The narrative (8 pages) should include the following sections:

  • Course and Context in Which the Innovation was Introduced
  • Motivation for the Innovation
  • Learning Goals of the Innovation (in terms of what students are expected to know and do)
  • Description of the Innovation (including scope)
  • Evidence of the Innovation's Contribution to Student Learning (directly tied to each learning goal)
  • Degree of Innovation (self-developed, adapted, borrowed)

Sample winning dossiers are available for you to peruse in CTE.


3. An original and ten copies of a complete submission must be received by the Center for Teaching Excellence, 20 Chatham Square (Murphy Building), by Tuesday, January 21, 2014 by 4:00 p.m. In addition, please submit a Word document to cte@duq.edu

Please note that the application should be completed well before the deadline to allow sufficient time for your Dean (and Department Chair, if applicable) to review your application, sign it, and write a thoughtful letter of support.

Consultation and Samples

Faculty interested in submitting an award dossier are invited to attend the fall CTE workshop: a panel discussion of winners from the previous year and a session on how to collect and present evidence of student learning. Individual consultation is also available from CTE.

Samples of Creative Teaching Award Components

Sample Dossier - Jeff Evanseck, Chemistry & Biochemistry

Sample Dossier - Cynthia Walters & Yvonne Weideman, Nursing

Sample Dossier - Susan Goldberg, Psychology

Selection Process & Committee

A faculty committee of school representatives including primarily past Creative Teaching Award winners will be responsible for selecting the award winners. The committee is chaired by the director of the Center for Teaching Excellence; the chair does not vote. During its deliberations, the committee may consult with relevant deans or chairs. Award winners will be notified in March and invited to the Celebration of Teaching Excellence in the Spring, during which the awards will be conferred by the Provost.

2013-2014 Creative Teaching Award Committee

Steven Baicker-McKee, Law
Jeryl Benson, Health Sciences
Laura Crothers, Education
Jeff Evanseck, Natural & Environmental Sciences
Susan Goldberg, Liberal Arts
Pamela Koerner, Pharmacy
Ken Saban, Business
Cynthia Walters, Nursing
Rachel Whitcomb, Music
Laurel Willingham-McLain, CTE, non-voting Chair

Frequently Asked Questions

Do I need a control group? Do I need exact measures of the difference in learning by students who have experienced the innovation and those who have not?

You do not need to do quasi-scientific design (such as treatment and control groups; there are logistical and ethical issues here). That said, reviewers do find comparison data from previous courses or quasi-control groups useful. Sometimes, however, it is hard to compare previous learning with that of the innovation because the learning goals and competencies themselves are new.

Could I use my Student Evaluation Survey (SES) results as evidence for this award?

The standard SES items ask questions about instructors and how well they teach, give students feedback, make themselves available to students, etc. They do not focus on students' learning relevant to the innovation described in one's award submission. Sometimes students will mention in the open-ended comments aspects of the teaching/course that are relevant to the innovation. These comments can provide relevant indirect evidence from the students' point of view. It is not the same as an analysis of actual student performance (direct evidence).

Do I need Institutional Review Board (IRB) approval for using my students as human subjects?

IRB is not necessary for applying for the Creative Teaching Award because it is internal to Duquesne. If, however, you plan to present or publish about the innovation beyond Duquesne University, be sure to allow sufficient time to obtain IRB Approval for using your students’ learning data – prior to collecting it.

Whose signatures do we get if there is more than one department involved?

Get letters supporting your dossier from all the chairs and deans involved.