Background

The University of California is undertaking a multi-year project to increase access to the university. UC President Janet Napolitano requested that campuses provide “information on how additional funding could … achieve the goals of growing 200,000 more degrees by 2030, ensuring the California dream is for everyone by increasing six-year freshman and four-year transfer graduation rates to 90 percent and eliminating graduation gaps, and investing in the next generation of faculty and research.”

Although UCLA meets the stated 90 percent goal for six-year freshman and four-year transfer graduation rates, there is urgency on two fronts:

  • To close disparities in time-to-degree between different demographic groups, e.g., Pell Grant recipients or under-represented groups.
  • To increase access to UCLA by significantly increasing four-year freshman and two-year transfer graduation rates. Increasing the pace of degree completion will allow more Californians access to UCLA while keeping class sizes stable.

This grant program is one of a variety of proposed strategies to meet the above stated goals. This inaugural call for proposals is intended to provide funding to departments or divisions/schools to identify and alleviate barriers to timely degree completion and to close disparities for their undergraduate majors.

The Center for the Advancement of Teaching (CAT, formerly the Office of Instructional Development) is managing the grant process. The proposal development process will be consultative and data will be provided to units concerning time-to-degree for the unit’s majors, disparities in time-to-degree, and courses that may be barriers to timely completion. Furthermore, during the execution of awarded grants, CAT can provide ongoing consultation, guidance, and services, as described further below.

Grant Program

Two types of grants will be awarded:

  • Planning Grants to (1) identify the causes of time-to-degree greater than four years (or greater than two years for transfers) or disparities in time-to-degree, and (2) once causes are known, explore feasible solutions.
  • Get It Done Quick (GIDQ) Grants to alleviate known barriers that require only modest funding and a short timeline.

Barriers to be identified or alleviated could include bottleneck courses with insufficient capacity to meet demand, curricular complexity leading to students being delayed in obtaining courses in a sequence, transfer students arriving on campus without required prerequisites for junior-level courses, the existence of required courses with high failure rates or significant disparities in performance between different demographic groups, etc.

For both types of grants, funds can be used for such things as course releases, graduate student support, equipment to be used in courses, meeting facilitation, focus group facilitation, survey development, etc. This is not an exhaustive list; all funding requests will be considered in light of their necessity for conducting the proposed work. In addition, in-kind support can be requested from CAT (and, via CAT, from other campus units) for assistance with pedagogy, literature review, educational technology, video production, and assessment of the success of the intervention.

In this inaugural year, the grant funding levels will be on the order of $5,000-$20,000; planning grants are expected to have lower costs than GIDQ grants. In future years, it is anticipated that funding for larger grants will be available to follow up on the planning grants and support interventions that are costlier to implement.

Planning Grants

Planning grant proposals would typically begin with the observation that a significant percentage of majors are not graduating within four years or that there are notable disparities in time-to-degree. The proposal would describe how the causes of these problems will be identified, if not already known, and/or how potential solutions will be explored. Mechanisms could include, but are not limited to:

Identifying causes:

  • Acquiring specific data from Academic Planning and Budget, the Registrar, or other campus entities.
  • Surveying students or convening focus groups.

Exploring solutions:

  • Researching the literature on effective solutions to similar challenges.
  • Consulting with experts on campus or at other universities.
  • Convening faculty working groups to develop solutions.
  • Working with other relevant campus units that may be able to contribute to solutions, e.g., Summer Sessions, Academic Counseling, or CEILS.
Get It Done Quick Grants

Get It Done Quick grant proposals would begin with a clear understanding of the causes of time-to-degree or disparity problems and would include a proposed solution and a statement of metrics that would be used to evaluate success. Solutions could encompass myriad interventions at the department or division/school level. These include, but are not limited to:

  • Pedagogical innovations to improve student success and eliminate disparities in key courses.
  • Implementation of peer learning support systems in key courses.
  • More frequent offerings of key courses.
  • Producing online courses in order to increase offerings or enhance scheduling flexibility.
  • Revising course sequences to ameliorate difficulty with timely scheduling.
  • Modular course elements (online or face-to-face) that enable transfer students to quickly catch up on prerequisites.

Proposal Development Phase

Successful proposals will be grounded in data that identify the potential to improve time-to-degree or reduce disparities. As noted earlier, a variety of data can be provided to the proposing unit during the proposal development phase. Units that may be interested in submitting a proposal should request initial data from CAT by sending an email to [email protected] by April 26th.

It is anticipated that prior to submitting a proposal there will be significant discussion between the proposing unit, CAT, and potentially other campus units, with the goal of developing a proposal that can lead to substantial improvements. The initial contact for these consultations is CAT; proposers should contact [email protected] to set up a consultation by early May to allow sufficient time to develop a strong proposal.

Considerations for Successful Proposals

Proposals should:

  • be submitted by a team of faculty on behalf of a department, division, school, or other unit that is either responsible for an undergraduate degree program or for providing courses taken by a large number of undergraduate students.
  • have the potential to lead to significantly increased graduation rates or decreased disparities. An estimate should be given of the number of students potentially affected and the reduction in time-to-degree or disparities if the project is successful. (For planning grants, the potential may be realized at some future time when the causes and possible solutions have been identified.)
  • have clearly defined objectives and timeline for completion. • have a mechanism for determining success.
  • involve multiple faculty, including ladder faculty.
  • make effective use of existing campus resources and expertise.
  • be sustainable in the future.
  • include statements of support from department or program chairs and the unit dean.
  • explain the necessity of the requested funding.

Grant Submission Instructions

Deadline for initial data request: April 26, 2019

Final proposal deadline: 5:00 PM on July 12, 2019

Please apply by filling out the Application Form. The main element of the proposal is a narrative that should explain the project to be undertaken and the impact that can be realized if the project is successful. A detailed budget request with supporting explanation should be included in the proposal narrative.

Please note that the copyright to any material, including, but not limited to, technology, software, games, video clips, etc. developed with these funds will reside with the Regents of the University of California.