Creative Teaching Award

Sponsored by Academic Affairs through

the Center for Teaching Excellence

2021 - 2022 Recipients

Bridget Green (Education)

  • "Teachers' Roles in Transition Assessment"

Derek Hook (Psychology)

  • "Formal image analysis as resource for ‘The Psychology of Human Experience'"

Michael Gionfriddo (Pharmacy), Rebecca Schoen (Pharmacy), and Robert Maher (Pharmacy)

  • "Pharmacy Innovator Project"

James Purdy (English, University Writing Center) and Sarah Wright (English)

  • "A Writing Center and Community Confluence: Moving the DU Writing Center into the Community"

All past recipients

Check out the scholarship these award-winning projects (2001-2018) have generated through posters, presentations, & publications.

2021-2022 Guidelines

**Components of these guidelines have been clarified. Please read carefully. Questions can be directed to CTE at 412.396.5177 or **


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


Full-time and part-time faculty. All faculty involved must have taught one year at Duquesne. Faculty are invited to submit collaborative and multi-course projects. Submissions may also address faculty led student-learning initiatives that are not tied to a specific course (e.g., journal clubs, research). Award submissions featuring entire academic programs are not eligible.

Award Benefits

Winning projects will receive $1000 at the annual spring Celebration of Teaching Excellence. Winners 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. This research area is called scholarship of teaching and learning (SOTL).

Selection Criteria (Innovativeness, Student Learning, Scope of Innovation)

1. Innovativeness

Innovation comes in many forms, and rarely if ever means "creating from scratch." Briefly give credit to those people you know have had an impact on this innovative project in the cover sheet, and as appropriate, in the narrative and references.

The following examples of creative teaching are not exhaustive, but may be helpful as you describe your 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 commonly used in your field, or not practiced in your program at Duquesne.
  •  Implementing a unique combination of common teaching strategies to address a learning issue.
  • Crafting new materials to promote student learning.
  • Devising a way to address a bottleneck or gap in student learning that you have observed over the years.
  • Innovatively 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, and if possible, the field
  • reference to 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)

2. Contribution to Student Learning

An analysis of your innovation's contribution to student learning is critical to winning this award. 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 lead to 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 (informal) 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 designing 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 strongly encouraged.

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. community engaged 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, the contribution to student learning will be evaluated based on:

  1. The integration of the innovation in the teaching/learning design: goals, teaching methods, and assessment are aligned
  2. Articulation of learning goals that are learner-centered
  3. Evidence tied to each learning goal
    * Direct evidence (required)
    * Indirect evidence (strongly encouraged but insufficient on its own)
    * Multiple kinds of evidence strengthen the submission

3. Scope of the Innovation

To be competitive, innovations need to have broad scope. This can be demonstrated in a variety of ways. Recent winners have described scope in these ways:

  • A high number of students involved
  • Duration over time (e.g., a project occurring in small classes, but throughout the curriculum, or data collected over several years)
  • The number of faculty and courses involved (sometimes across schools, or schools in collaboration with the library)
  • Involvement of community partners and outside stakeholders

Application Procedure

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

  • Application Cover Sheet (download Word version) with your signature and those of your chair and dean.

  • Narrative, up to eight (8) double-spaced pages (11-point font) consisting of the sections outlined below. Past reviewers attest that it is difficult to describe the innovation clearly and thoroughly in fewer pages, but that 8 is sufficient. Narratives over 8 pages in length will not be reviewed.

    You are writing to a group of faculty who do not know your field. Explain terms and concepts. The narrative (8 pages) should include the following sections with subtitles.  These section page lengths are intended to guide authors in knowing what is most important in the evaluation (they are suggestions).
  1. The Innovation (1/2 page; state what the innovation is) 
  2. Purpose & innovativeness (1 page; what motivated you to do it?  how do you know it's innovative?)
  3. Context and scope (1/2 page; e.g, course, program, level of students; who all did the innovation involve?)
  4. Learning goals (1/2 page; articulate what students are expected to know and do)
  5. Teaching/learning methods (2-3 pages; describe what happened in the teaching and learning so clearly that a reader could replicate it)
  6. Innovation's contribution to student learning (2-3 pages; for each learning goal, summarize assessment methods and the evidence of learning)
  7. References (up to one page, in addition to the 8-page narrative)
  • Appendix A: Letters of support from your dean and department chair or division head. These letters should address the three award criteria outlined above.
  • Appendix B: Relevant course syllabi. Highlight the sections relevant to the innovation. Exclude sections not relevant to the innovation (e.g., semester study guides, supplementary reading guide, course policies, etc.).
  • Appendix C: Analysis of student learning (e.g., data charts, tables of findings).
  • Appendix D: Timeline of the innovation by semester (this helps readers understand the narrative, especially for longitudinal projects that have evolved).
  • Appendix E - optional: Additional information to support your application. This should be very selective (e.g., rubric, innovative assignment).

    Refer directly to appendices B-E in your narrative. Reviewers strongly encourage limiting appendices to about 20 pages so that they can be given full attention.

    Do not include samples of student work or full articles. Consider providing a Web link in the references to articles you have authored relevant to the award. 

    Continuously paginate the entire dossier and save it as one PDF. Please proof your work carefully.

Due date
A PDF of the entire dossier with signed cover sheet must be received by the Center for Teaching Excellence no later than Tuesday, January 18, 2022, by 4:00 p.m to

Please note that the application should be completed well before the deadline to allow sufficient time for your Dean and Department Chair to review your application, sign the cover sheet, and write thoughtful letters of support addressing the three award criteria.

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. 

Sample Cover Sheets and Narratives (appendices not included):

Wilson Meng and Lauren O'Donnell (Pharmacy)
A Data-mining Practicum for Enhancing Pharmacy Students' Understanding of the Impacts of Genes on Medications

Bryan Menk (Business)
Teaching Taxation through Age-Based Scenarios

Waganesh Zeleke (Education)
Using Self-Regulated Learning Strategies to Develop Students' Multicultural Counseling Competencies

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 during which the awards will be conferred by the Provost.

2021-2022 Creative Teaching Award Committee 

Richard Heppner (School of Law)

Patrick Cooper (Bayer School of Natural and Environmental Sciences)

Autumn Stewart-Lynch (School of Pharmacy)

Meghan G. Blaskowitz (Rangos School of Health Sciences)

Pamala Dillon (Palumbo Donahue School of Business)

Rebecca Maatta (McAnulty College and Graduate School of Liberal Arts)

Nicole Vilkner (Mary Pappert School of Music)

Jessica Devido (School of Nursing)

Ara Schmitt (School of Education)

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 use a 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.

Is it helpful to include sample student work?

No. Evaluators don't have the time to read a range of representative student work, and if one project is included, readers often assume that the best project was chosen and may not represent the others. Describe student work clearly in your narrative. It can be helpful to include the instructor's assignment and grading guide to demonstrate, for example, creativity and rigor (Appendix E).