12:53 PM

CHSS Professors Awarded High Impact Practices Grant


By Paige Caldwell

Pictures of UHD Professors

Four UHD educators in the College of Humanities & Social Sciences have been awarded the Center for Teaching and Learning Excellence’s High Impact Practices (HIPs) grant.

The mission of UHD's Center for Teaching and Learning Excellence (CTLE) is to promote student success by providing faculty support through evidence-based instructional strategies with a goal to cultivate an innovative and collaborative learning environment.

Each academic year, the HIPs Subcommittee of CTLE welcomes applications from faculty to integrate HIPs into courses for UHD students. HIPs promote student engagement and deep learning in the context of a coherent, academically challenging curriculum while heightening student achievement in meeting academic and professional outcomes.

Last fall, Dr. Sandra Dahlberg, professor of English and principle investigator for the grant, took students to the Harry Ransom Center at The University of Texas at Austin to visit historical archives as a part of her "Literature and Culture of America Before 1800" course. The students were able to examine original materials they had studied throughout the semester as well as a collection of letters by Elizabeth I, a letter written by John Donne, and first printings of Chaucer. With the HIPs grant in mind, the trip also served as a way to gauge student interest in archival research.

“The trip to the Ransom Center was one of the highlights of my college career. I still talk about it and its value to this day.”
Jessica Villalpando, UHD Student

Confident that visiting archives would be highly effective for students, Dahlberg collaborated with professor of English Dr. Jane Creighton; associate professor of English Dr. Chuck Jackson; and assistant professor of English Daniel Peña to participate in the grant for the 2018-2019 school year.

Through their planned archive visits, students participating in their courses will have the opportunity to simultaneously discover the relevance of knowledge gained in the classroom while applying, integrating and synthesizing information within the context of real-world applications and new situations.

“I think it is good for English majors to be exposed to research and archives.” Jackson said. “Students do a lot of reading, writing and working with library databases; however, the archives provide students with an opportunity to perform hands-on work and understand how collections of information are held and what their value.”

Dahlberg is excited that the grant will afford her the opportunity to revisit the Ransom Center with a new cohort next spring.

“I want to continue to introduce students to other ways of obtaining knowledge and how accessible these places are,” Dalhberg noted. “A lot of times our students feel like these materials are beyond what they are supposed to see, touch and feel. This prepares students for being more comfortable conducting research after graduation.”

This fall, Peña’s "Literary Production" class, which produces the student-run Bayou Review, will also visit the Ransom Center where these students will have the opportunity to work with drafts and manuscripts of novels, short stories and poems by authors, such as Gabriel Garcia Márquez, Sam Shephard, Walt Whitman, and Edgar Allan Poe.

Creighton’s spring 2019 "Workshop in Creative Nonfiction" class will visit the Special Collections in the M.D. Anderson Library at the University of Houston, where their focus will be Houston and Texas history as well as Houston's Hip-Hop history. The students will interact with archival materials in the form of papers, photographs, maps, and records.

Finally, Jackson’s "Introduction to Film Studies" class will visit collections at the Texas Heart® Institute to view historical utilitarian films that were used to teach open heart surgery. The will screen the films, learn how the film was restored and preserved as well as what went into making the film.

“I think this trip is exciting because it is going to encourage students to look at film study differently,” said Jackson. “It will get them to see what the study of film can be in the job market.”

About the University of Houston-Downtown

The University of Houston-Downtown (UHD) is the second-largest university in Houston and has served the educational needs of the nation’s fourth-largest city since 1974. As one of four distinct public universities in the University of Houston System, UHD is a comprehensive, four-year university led by President Loren J. Blanchard. Annually, UHD educates approximately 14,000 students, boasts more than 66,000 alumni, and offers 45 bachelor’s degrees, 12 master’s degrees, and 19 online programs within four colleges: Marilyn Davies College of Business, College of Humanities and Social Sciences, College of Public Service, and College of Sciences and Technology. UHD has one of the lowest tuition rates in Texas.

U.S. News and World Report ranked UHD among the nation’s Best Online Bachelor’s Programs for Applied Administration and Best Online Master’s Programs in Criminal Justice, as well as a Top Performer in Social Mobility. The Wall Street Journal/College Pulse ranked UHD one of the best colleges in the U.S. for its 2024 rankings, with notable distinctions: No. 1 for diversity (tied) and No. 3 for student experience. The University is designated as a Hispanic-Serving Institution, a Minority-Serving Institution, and a Military Friendly School. For more information on the University of Houston-Downtown, visit uhd.edu.