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Testimonials from Grant Winners

Teaching Enhancement Grant Testimonials

students standing next to opus press in politics and prose while their book is printed

Credit: Jeff Watts - University Marketing & Communications Picture of the students from my Race, Ethnic and Community Reporting class with the Opus book printing machine.

This past Fall semester, I was struggling with how best to create a learning experience in my Journalism class, Race, Ethnic and Community Reporting, that would adequately capture the emotions and magnitude of the Black Lives Matter movement and the racially charged deaths that sparked it. As I was experimenting with an exercise that asked students to write letters to randomly drawn names such as Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown, Sandra Bland, Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu (the assassinated NYPD officers), Ricardo Diaz Referino, Paul Castaway and Allen Locke (Brown and Native Lives Matter), I got an email reminding me that CTRL Small Grant applications were due the next day. On a whim, I sent a proposal to gather the letters into a book and have the book published by Politics & Prose's Opus machine, knowing to do so would cost more than the $100. When I got the grant, I approached John Watson, my division director in SOC, told him I had gotten the CTRL grant, and asked him for a "matching grant" to help pay for the printing costs. He more than double-matched my grant. When students learned they were producing a book, they started asking to write more letters -- to other people who had died, to family members, even a letter to Dylann Roof. They took on the roles of publishers, editors, page and cover designers, and the project took on a life of its own. I casually mentioned it Assistant Vice President of Campus Life Fanta Aw, and she offered me sponsorship to print more books and hold a reading event and launch in early Spring semester so students could share their work. Even after our class ended, students came to the bookstore to watch our book come off the presses, and spent time editing and rehearsing their letters to read them to an audience. The event was moving, beyond anything I could have imagined when I first came up with the idea. A $100 grant doesn't sound like a lot sometimes, but $100 at the right time with the right intent can catalyze a very positive chain reaction. 

SOC Story on the book project

Angie Chuang
School of Communication


"Thanks to the support of CTRL and the teaching enhancement fund, my class Buddhist Arts of Asia was able to learn about the Japanese tea ceremony. Students (including some other majors who sat in with the class) listened to a lecture on the connections between Buddhism and the tea ceremony, watched a performance, and then were able to ritually drink the tea. Thank you for the support!"

Namiko Kunimoto
Department of Art, CAS 


Students in KSB 252 - Washington Initiative joined two project teams, and participated in community-based learning projects with Thrive DC and the Homeless Children.The students working with Thrive DC helped the organization connect with local businesses in Columbia Heights and Adams Morgan to participate in Thrive's annual coat drive. They found the most effective means of getting businesses to partner with Thrive was to visit personally and talk about Thrive's services to homeless and at-risk individuals in their neighborhood, ask each business to hang a flyer or set up a coat collection box. So far the project has collected 250 coats to distribute to needy individuals. The students working with the Homeless Children's Playtime Project went to local homeless shelters to interview many of Playtime's 260 volunteers to help the organization determine the best way to attract, retain, and motivate these critical helpers. Because the student teams were often traveling to homeless shelters at night to conduct the interviews, the grant helped allow them to safely travel to and from the sites.

Caty Poulin
Washington Initiative - Kogod School of Business


"With the Teaching Enhancement Grant, I was able to order a set of DVDs and a book related to a traditional Chinese Kunqu opera….Together they showed students the long history of traditional Chinese opera and the recent attempts to reinvigorate the traditional form of Chinese opera through the world."

Xiaoquan Raphael Zhang
World Languages and Cultures, CAS

"Thanks to the CTRL Teaching Enhancement Grant, my students in COMM-100 received a hand-counter for two days to keep track of all advertisements they were exposed to…. We calculated the average clicks and discussed the prevalence of media in our lives. Students stated that it was an interesting project which engaged them both in and outside the classroom. Thank you for giving us the opportunity to conduct that activity."

Joseph Erba
Public Communication, SOC

"Thank you so much for authorizing the reimbursement of "IQChinese - Mandarin Basics" – a revolutionary new learning system created specifically for the North American Chinese language student. It brings the Chinese language learning experience into a new era by combining the latest computer technology and a multi-media interactive curriculum into simple insert-and-play CD ROMs."

Svetlana Xu
Department of Language and Foreign Studies, CAS

"Thanks very much on behalf of myself, our students, and our program. We purchased a flip cam and it is serving our students well, especially our first year students. Their weekly 6-minute presentations on leadership lessons in current events are recorded and posted on our blackboard. The students who presented then view the recording along with their classmates' peer evaluations and write a reflection on what they did well … and what they hope to improve upon in their next presentation."

Margaret Marr

Ideas Incubator Grant

"I wanted to teach Tools of Scientific Computing with a uniform platform and software so that there were no costs to the students. i.e., using 'freeware'.

I realized that what I needed … was a computer using the Ubuntu operating system (which is freeware) that had a Python compiler (which is also freeware). The perfect computer was a Lenovo laptop. I would like to thank Ideas Incubator evaluation committee for approving my grant application and giving me part of the resources to teach the class."

Stephen Casey
Department of Math & Statistics, CAS

"The grant from CTRL allowed me to purchase a professional … simulation called “AWAKA"... It provided a superb experiential learning experience for the students, allowing them to link the abstract theories and studies of the class with the actual experience of two contrasting cultures encountering one another for the first time. The students just loved it. In fact, they did not want it to end! The Ideas Incubator award allowed me to ... share with colleagues both the power of simulations in our classrooms and the placement of the simulation in the course curriculum. Thank you to CTRL!!!"

Nanette Levinson

"I have used the Ideas Incubator grant to purchase a custom-made map of the Caucasus and Moldova that includes information on the break-away republics/conflict areas in these regions. The map serves as one of the main visual sources of information and references in the class. It includes information on ethnic composition, borders of conflict zones, transportation routes, oil/gas pipelines, areas of fighting and many more. I have posted the map file on the Blackboard for students to use outside of the classroom. It is an incredibly practical visual resource. Its interactive format helps engage students more in class and outside the class and helps them understand the complexity of the conflict situations in the post-Soviet space. I greatly appreciate the grant and an opportunity to purchase this map."

Ekaterina Romanova
International Peace and Conflict Resolution Program, SIS