Ten projects receive Miller teaching grants for 2023-24

During the 2023-24 academic year, 10 faculty teams will use Miller Faculty Fellowship grants for teaching-based research projects. The Center for Excellence in Learning and Teaching administers the grant program. The members of its advisory board reviewed proposals in January and made funding recommendations to senior vice president and provost Jonathan Wickert, who gave final approval to the grants.

The 10 projects will share a total of $186,824, with the intent to advance student-centric instruction at the university. Since 1996, and including 2023-24, there have been 232 Miller fellowship projects, totaling $4.2 million in grants to ISU faculty.

Projects for 2023-24 are to be completed by June 30, 2024. The 10 projects are: 


Pedagogy of Belonging for Inclusive Excellence: Interdisciplinary STEAM Challenges

Lead faculty: E.J. Bahng, School of Education; Simon Cordery, history; Erin Bergquist, food science and human nutrition

Collaborating faculty: J. Arbuckle, sociology; Mark Bryden, mechanical engineering and Ames Laboratory; Christina Campbell, food science and human nutrition; Rameshwar Kanwar and Kurt Rosentrater, agricultural and biosystems engineering; Frank Montabon, supply chain management; Kristin-Yvonne Rozier, aerospace engineering; Jonathan Sturm, music and theatre; Andrea Wheeler, architecture

Grant: $25,000

An interdisciplinary STEM and the Arts (STEAM) faculty team of 12, representing all six undergraduate colleges, developed a one-credit Honors seminar course, "The Art and Science of Peace," and have co-taught it annually since 2019. They will re-envision the course structure as a two-credit course using an inclusion lens to apply essential interdisciplinary practices and develop a pedagogy of belonging that can be a process model in classes across many disciplines.


Improving Undergraduate Student Engagement, Achievement and Motivation through Game Design-Based Learning

Lead faculty: Beena Ajmera and Cassandra Rutherford, civil, construction and environmental engineering; Alenka Poplin, community and regional planning; Alyssa Emery, School of Education

Grant: $24,998

This research addresses the need for new methods to engage students while enhancing their knowledge of technical concepts in engineering, professional skills (leadership, teamwork and communication) and attitudes toward learning. Students will create their own games based on technical concepts learned in the classroom. The research will evaluate three components of game development-based learning as an innovative pedagogy in engineering:

  • Impact on student learning outcomes and fundamental engineering knowledge
  • Increases in professional skills
  • Increases in student motivation, class participation and enjoyment of the learning process


Instructing Veterinary Students in the Acquisition of Diagnostic Radiographs Expected Day-One of Large Animal Veterinary Practice Using a Portable X-Ray System

Lead faculty: Jarrod Troy, veterinary clinical sciences

Collaborating faculty: Kevin Kersh, Joan Howard, Beatrice Sponseller, Christine Lopp-Schurter, Marc Kinsley, Jared Janke and Melissa Esser, veterinary clinical sciences; Vengai Mavangira, veterinary diagnostic and production animal medicine

Grant: $15,000

Diagnostic radiograph acquisition is an expected “Day One” skill for large animal veterinarians. Training veterinary students requires portable digital radiograph (DR) equipment on live animals or animal models, but these opportunities can be limited due to the availability of DR equipment. This grant will purchase portable DR equipment primarily designated for teaching veterinary students, providing learning opportunities in the veterinary clinical sciences/veterinary diagnostic and production animal medicine curriculum that focus on small group learning with individualized student feedback. Students will be assessed pre-and post-course to demonstrate instruction efficacy and skill proficiency. They’ll also be given pre-and post-questionnaires regarding their confidence and ability in radiograph acquisition for large animal species.


Streamlining the Curriculum Mapping Process through Artificial Intelligence

Lead faculty: Aliye Karabulut-Ilgu, veterinary pathology

Collaborating faculty: Evgeny Chukharev-Hudilainen, English; Jared Danielson, College of Veterinary Medicine dean’s office and veterinary pathology

Grant: $24,955

Curriculum mapping is an analytical tool for organizing, managing and evaluating curricula, and a common approach to addressing accreditation requirements. The manual process is laborious, time consuming and resource-intensive, and not easily accessible to beneficiaries. This project will use artificial intelligence approaches, including machine learning and text mining, and real classroom data to develop a curriculum mapping tool that streamlines the mapping process. The expected outcome is a prototype that brings a four-year veterinary medicine curriculum to the fingertips of faculty members and students. The team will assess the usability and utility of the tool in identifying curricular gaps and overlaps to enhance the quality of instruction.


Visual Thinking Strategy to Help Engineering Students Acquire and Apply New Knowledge

Lead faculty: Monica Lamm, chemical and biological engineering

Collaborating faculty: Verena Paepcke-Hjeltness, industrial design; Ann Gansemer-Topf, School of Education

Grant: $22,097

Engineering students are exposed to diagrams in textbooks, lectures and lab manuals, and use them to communicate and make meaning of technical content. However, they don't receive instruction on how to construct such visualizations. In a chemical engineering course, the faculty team will instruct students on sketchnoting, a pedagogical method for visual thinking and notetaking, to increase students' ability to communicate complex processes via visuals. The faculty team will use the outcomes to generalize the approach to other engineering disciplines.


Gaseous Contaminant Measurement and Analysis: Carbon Dioxide as a Model

Lead faculty: Joe Charbonnet, civil, construction and environmental engineering

Grant: $5,000

This project will expand the curriculum by introducing gas-phase contaminants to a required sophomore environmental engineering laboratory class, providing practical training for professions that require measuring and modeling gases. Specifically, 25 carbon dioxide meters will be purchased to provide unique opportunities for students to act as citizen scientists by conducting inquiry-based research in their own homes. Carbon dioxide readily moves in and out of students' homes via engineered and natural processes and influences both macroscale and microscale processes, so its measurement will connect students with abstract topics. This curriculum will validate the interests of sophomore students, for whom this is an identity-forming course, and affirm that this program can prepare them to develop technologies to address greenhouse gas emissions.


Promoting Inclusive Teamwork Skills in First-Year Engineering Learning Community

Lead faculty: Kaoru Ikuma, civil, construction and environmental engineering; E.J. Bahng, School of Education

Collaborating faculty: Lauren Schwab, civil, construction and environmental engineering

Grant: $23,013

Students' ability to fully take advantage of the diversity on a project team is critical to achieving high-functioning teams throughout their careers. This project will enhance student learning and training in inclusive teamwork skills targeting first-year learning community courses. Through progressively difficult team activities and associated class discussions and reflections, first-year and transfer students will learn the principles of team science, the importance of diversity and inclusion in teamwork, and effective ways to be an inclusive team member. The module will be implemented in two learning communities during the 2023-24 academic year. Results are expected to highlight the need for more emphasis in inclusive teamwork throughout curricula in engineering and beyond.


Enhance Learning and Skill-Building by Using "The Systems' Hidden Half" Plug-Into-Lecture Lab

Lead faculty: Elnaz Ebrahimi, agronomy

Collaborating faculty: Robert Horton, Marshall McDaniel, Mary Wiedenhoeft and Thomas Kaspar, agronomy

Grant: $16,511

This project addresses the lack of immersive, hands-on, research-based, educational experiences in crop and soil science programs. "The Systems' Hidden Half," an innovative plug-into-lecture laboratory, will be established in Rhizoboxes to help participants learn about plant-soil interactions. The research-based experience can be plugged into any crop and soil course to improve teaching and learning outcomes. Rhizoboxes will help students observe whole-crop growth in response to chemical and biological agricultural products and practice the skills required for developing on-farm research or to refine their own farming practices to be more efficient and profitable.


Clinical Perspectives on Human Nutrition: An Interactive Pre‐Health Professional Seminar Course

Lead faculty: Wendy White, food science and human nutrition

Collaborator: Tracy Kangas, ophthalmologist, McFarland Eye Clinic

Grant: $5,250

The U.S. faces epidemics of diet‐related disease, including obesity, type 2 diabetes and fatty liver disease. This seminar course will educate future health care providers from various disciplines on the role of evidence‐based nutrition interventions in preventing, managing and treating disease. The course will feature interactive case scenarios presented by guest physicians and other health care providers via the videoconferencing technology in the Student Innovation Center. Students will learn from clinicians across the country with authoritative knowledge of the role of nutrition in their specialization.


Evaluation of Utilizing Personal Development Tools in Collegiate Science Curriculum to Enhance Soft Skill Development

Lead faculty: Laura Greiner, animal science

Collaborating faculty: Jodi Sterle, Jennifer Bundy, Cheryl Morris and Stephanie Hansen, animal science; graduate student Caitlyn Wileman, animal science

Grant: $25,000

Post-secondary education in animal science has focused primarily on technical knowledge in scientific disciplines such as genetics, nutrition, physiology and behavior. However, employers are demanding more "soft skills" such as communication and teamwork from recent graduates, skills students might pick up in their extracurricular or high-impact experiences. This team will strategically implement personal development skills throughout the department curriculum and evaluate the progression of soft skills development in animal science undergraduate students to meet the university's new strategic plan.