Nine teaching-based projects selected for Miller fellowships

Nine faculty projects received funding for the 2024-25 academic year in the Center for Excellence in Learning and Teaching's (CELT) annual Miller Fellowship program. Six of the projects relate to "Artificial Intelligence (AI) Across the Curriculum," focused on exploring and integrating generative AI into innovative teaching and learning. The nine teaching-based research projects, with representation from all eight colleges to impact student-centric instruction across the university, will share a total of $385,552 -- the most funding of any year of the program.

Who is Mr. Miller?

The Miller faculty fellowships are named for F. Wendell Miller, a Rockwell City attorney whose estate created the Miller Endowment Trust, with income from the trust divided evenly between Iowa State University and the University of Iowa. Miller was born in Altoona, Illinois, and grew up in Rockwell City. An alum of Grinnell College and Harvard Law School, he practiced law in Des Moines and Chicago before returning to Rockwell City to manage his family's farm holdings. He died in 1995 at age 97. At Iowa State, the annual earnings support faculty development proposals, graduate scholarships and other academic initiatives. The faculty fellowship program is administered by the president's office and CELT.

Since 1996, and including 2024-25, 241 Miller Fellowship projects have received nearly $4.6 million in grant funds. CELT's advisory board reviewed all submissions in January and made funding recommendations to the senior vice president and provost for final approval.


Artificial Intelligence Facilitated Literature Review

Principal investigators: Elena Cotos, Lily Compton, Sarah Huffman and Kristin Terrill, Center for Communication Excellence, Graduate College

Award: $47,689

This project addresses the need to instruct graduate students in effective, efficient and ethical preparation of literature reviews using generative AI (GenAI). The team will design an instructional module, AI-Facilitated Literature Review (AI-FLR), with materials and hands-on activities for generating summaries and critical comparisons of literature based on user-curated sets of publications and leveraging GenAI capabilities through Elicit, an add-on to a citation management tool such as Zotero. The module will offer instructions for using Elicit in the process of preparing an AI-FLR, including principles of research ethics and integrity. Project assessment will focus on instructional effectiveness and on pre/post learning outcomes from pilots in a graduate studies course and in a writing workshop provided by the Center for Communication Excellence. The outcomes will inform wider-scale implementations and additional GenAI-supported scholarly communication modules.


Critical AI in Education Pathways: A Comprehensive Resource for Instructors on Ethical AI Integration

Principal investigator: Evrim Baran, School of Education

Collaborating faculty: Denise Crawford, Kristina Tank, Ben Van Dusen and Ezequiel Aleman, School of Education; Sarah Van Dusen, music and theatre

Award: $50,000

Educators have few opportunities to engage in critical conversations about AI in education (AIed). Addressing this urgent need, this project will create an educational resource, Critical AIed Pathways, that will feature accessible and customizable online modules for instructors to facilitate conversations around the integration of AIed with future teachers based on ethical, technical, pedagogical and practical aspects of AIed. Interactive and modular learning content, along with K-12 in-service teacher video-cases, will foster a reflective approach where instructors will discuss the integration of AI in their teaching contexts. This project contributes to the broader field of education by offering a valuable resource for the School of Education community and beyond.


Fostering Economic Literacy Among Principles of Macroeconomics Students

Principal investigators: Oleksandr (Alex) Zhylyevskyy, Amani Elobeid and Miyoung Oh, economics

Award: $49,984

Economic literacy is the ability to apply economic principles and logic to make informed decisions about economic encounters in daily life. Acquiring it is crucial for undergraduates who will face increasingly complex choices at every stage of adult life, from paying off student loans to saving for retirement. Research shows that undergraduates know surprisingly little about economics, suggesting that “traditional” economics courses miss the opportunity to effect improvement. We will employ novel pedagogical techniques developed by economics education experts to redesign two sections of Principles of Macroeconomics to focus on economic literacy. They will be taught with two traditional course sections in the same semester. We will deploy a standardized, validated test of economic literacy to gather data on pre- and post-course literacy levels in all sections and apply a difference-in-differences econometric method to infer whether literacy targeting has a positive differential effect.


ISUComm Foundation Courses Redesign Institute

Principal investigators: Lesley Bartlett, Amy Walton and Brenna Dixon, English

Award: $49,200

At the ISUComm Foundation Courses Redesign Institute, teams of faculty will collaboratively revise the curriculum for ENGL 150, 250 and 250H in light of current technological advances such as ChatGPT. Informed by writing studies research and scholarship, this project will update the foundation courses curriculum to continue to support all ISU undergraduate students in their development as thinkers and writers.


Large Language Models and Computer Algebra Systems in Calculus Courses

Principal investigators: Claus Kadelka and Heather Bolles, mathematics

Collaborating faculty: Paul Barloon, Joseph Iverson, Elijah Stines, Dane Mayhook and Jue Yan, mathematics; Cris Schwartz, mechanical engineering

Award: $43,984

We will develop curriculum focused on AI platforms that use large language models (e.g. ChatGPT) and computer algebra systems (e.g. WolframAlpha) for deployment in the calculus sequence (MATH 165, 166, 265 and 266/267). The curriculum will introduce students to using these tools to solve computational and narrative oriented problems. Students will explore the capabilities -- and the shortcomings -- of these tools in the context of calculus problems that typically are solved by hand. Our curriculum will build skills in the use of AI tools and enhance learning of calculus concepts through the evaluation of the tools’ output. We will pilot our curriculum in several small-enrollment sections during the fall 2024 semester and deploy it across all sections during the spring 2025 semester.


Paws and Prints: A Groundbreaking Collaboration for Cutting-Edge, 3D-Printed Veterinary Teaching Models

Principal investigator: Anne Jablinski, veterinary diagnostic and production animal medicine

Collaborating faculty: Kim Moss, art and visual culture; Aliye Karabulut-Ilgu and Mandy Fales-Williams, veterinary pathology

Award: $37,940

Hepatic disease, which manifests grossly in many textures, colors and distributions, serves as an excellent body system to teach complex aspects of pathology and the pathogenesis of disease. To enhance the understanding and learning of hepatic disease among veterinary students with both visual and tactile tools, we will use 3D printing to create models that mimic hepatic tissue in both the normal and diseased state. The expected outcome is:

  • Biomedical illustration students will learn the best materials to create lifelike models of hepatic tissue.
  • Veterinary students in first through third year will increase competency surrounding hepatic disease through interaction with 3D models.

This project will serve as a framework for further educational work using lifelike 3D models from multiple body systems.


STEM Learning Enhancement and Development through Artificial Intelligence for Undergraduate Students in Introductory Biology Courses

Principal investigators: E.J. Bahng, School of Education; Clark Coffman, genetics, development and cell biology; Stephen Gilbert, industrial and manufacturing systems engineering; Mack Shelley, political science

Collaborating faculty: Clyde Campbell and Jelena Kraft, genetics, development and cell biology; Robert Wallace, ecology, evolution and organismal biology

Award: $50,000

An interdisciplinary faculty team, representing four colleges, will develop STEM learning enhancement and development through AI for non-STEM majors in introductory biology courses (BIOL 101). An innovative AI-empowered self-assessment feedback tool will:

  • Enhance the understanding of core biology concepts (Goal 1: Enhanced content knowledge).
  • Develop critical thinking skills through a retrieval practice of repeated self-testing (Goal 2: Improved metacognitive monitoring).
  • Improve confidence to engage in a growing number of socio-scientific issues such as pandemics, climate change, emerging novel technologies and advances in genomic medicine (Goal 3: Engaged science-literate citizens, science literacy).

Our team, formed last summer, proposes to explore AI in Education (AIED) potentials and offer an innovative AIED curriculum intervention.


Tailored AI Tutoring for Improved Student Outcomes in Animal Science and Engineering Disciplines

Principal investigator: Karl Kerns, animal science

Collaborating faculty: Thomas Brumm, agriculture and biosystems engineering

Award: $50,000

This project introduces tailored AI tutoring for improved student outcomes in animal science and engineering disciplines, initially focusing on Domestic Animal Anatomy and Physiology lab (ANS 214L) and Fundamentals of Technology (TSM 210). The AI tutoring system will provide personalized learning experiences, and the models will be trained with course content from the two courses to formulate questions and provide feedback to students when they don't answer correctly. Recognizing diverse academic needs among students, the system also will support students in the prerequisite knowledge essential for student success, such biology, calculus and physics. During the first year, we'll develop and validate the AI tutor in these initial courses. Success in this phase will allow expansion in year two into other courses in these departments, followed by implementation across the college and university.


Using "Friday Night in the ER" to Teach System Thinking in Healthcare Management Classes

Principal investigator: Natallia Gray, management and entrepreneurship

Collaborating faculty: John Meyer, Manjot Bhussar and Robert Olinger, management and entrepreneurship

Award: $6,755

We propose integrating "Friday Night in the ER," an experiential learning game, into an existing healthcare management course in the department of management and entrepreneurship to teach system thinking. The tabletop game offers a practical approach to teaching system thinking by challenging the participants to play the role of a hospital department manager during a simulated 24-hour period, compressed into one hour. Participants will apply core principles of systems thinking to achieve excellent system-wide performance, measured by quality of care, cost and efficiency. To facilitate this learning activity, we will purchase 12 game kits to accommodate 48 players and train two faculty who will guide and enhance the educational experience for students.