Proposal Tips

Choose a Good Idea

Ensure that your research project either hasn’t been done or needs to be replicated, and that it can be done. You should also understand its importance to the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning.

Carefully Review (and Follow) the Application Criteria

The people who will review your application wrote these criteria; make sure your application addresses those areas.

Ground your proposal in the SoTL Literature

  • General SoTL literature on your topic
  • Relevant literature in your discipline and, if relevant, the concepts, methods, and theories from your discipline
  • SoTL literature on your topic but not in your discipline. For example, problem-based learning was pioneered in medical schools, so if that’s your topic, you should explore that tradition

Your literature review should lay the foundation to answer the question: what will the reader know from your study that he/she would not have known from reading the literature?

Clearly Lay Out Your Research Question

Make it stand out, and make sure anyone from any discipline can understand it. Describe the relevant contributions to your campus, IU, your discipline, and/or the SoTL agenda. (No single project is expected to do everything, but understand what contributions it can make.) Be very clear about what the “deliverables” are—such as papers, publications, presentations, reports, or pilot data for a larger project/grant proposal.

Describe your dissemination plans

Be specific about where, when, and in what venues. And make sure you can deliver what you promise.

Provide Adequate Detail on Methods and Analysis

These details are what help the reviewers know that the project is doable and that you are the one to do it. This is traditionally where most proposals are unclear. Often, collecting data prior to becoming a Fellow precludes highly beneficial modifications to the research design. Therefore, no data should be collected prior to becoming a Fellow and attending the first FACET retreat. Of course, projects that use existing data (such as institutional records) in a new way to address questions of significance to SoTL are also welcome. The selection committee is quite mindful; however, that this is an area that has the potential to be improved via the feedback that a potential Mack Fellow will receive via the fellowship. 

Include a Discussion of Human Subjects Issues and Protections

You do not have to seek approval from Indiana University’s Institutional Review Board (IRB) until you become a Mack Fellow and attend your first FACET retreat, but your proposal should discuss the major human subjects issues. The IU Office of Research Administration’s Human Subjects Office has more information about the steps for obtaining IRB approval once you become a Mack Fellow and receive feedback at the FACET Retreat. You can also contact Beth Kern, the Associate FACET Director for the Mack Center at (317) 274-6909 or to discuss any issues.

Help Your Letter Writers

Your letters of reference should explain:

      • That you can complete the project
      • Where this project fits into your career agenda, your department’s agenda, or your campus’s agenda
      • Why this is an important SoTL project

Consider having different letter writers focus on different points, depending on their qualifications (e.g., a department chair or another SoTL scholar). The letter shouldn’t generically praise you and your abilities— we really want to know about your project and about you in relation to the project.

Consider the Scope of the Project

Mack Fellows’ projects can stand alone, be part of a larger project, or be a takeoff from another project, but keep this is mind: the Mack Fellowship is small. So consider the scope of your project in light of the available resources.

Review sample proposals

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