Sidney Verba '53, associate dean of the Faculty, hopes to distribute grants this year totalling nearly $50,000 to support professors who devise "any kind of innovation in undergraduate teaching."
In a letter he will send to all department chairmen this week, Verba, a professor of Government, urges professors to come to him with proposals for any such projects. "I'm particularly interested in innovations that tend to increase the amount and improve the quality of small-group instruction," he said yesterday.
Verba's memorandum does not offer any specific suggestions for innovations, but he said that professors have used similar grants in the past to develop self-paced sections, to include the opportunity for doing field work in courses, to hire outside speakers, and to use audio-visual materials.
The innovations Verba is seeking are "little things," he said, explaining that because of the limited funding available for the grants, "if somebody wanted $45,000 for a machine for physics, that wouldn't do it."
The funding for the grants represents income from funds given some years ago to the University earmarked to improve undergraduate education.
Giving professors funding for innovations is consistent with the concern President Bok has expressed over the quality of undergraduate education, Verba said, adding that in offering grants, he is "trying to jog (professors') memories. There's nothing like a little money that might jog someone's imagination."