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Campus Initiatives - Faculty Incentive Grants

The Maine Center for Research in STEM Education (RiSE Center) and the Faculty course modification Incentive Grant – Maine Learning Assistant (FIG-MLA) Program are pleased to announce the 2017-2018 FIG-MLA Awardees:

Farahad Dastoor for BIO 200 Biology of Organisms
Paula Drewniany for MAT 127 Calculus II
Brett Ellis for MET 320 Six Sigma
Joshua Kelley for BMB 322 Biochemistry
Jean MacRae for CIE 331 Fundamentals of Environmental Engineering
Amanda Olsen for ERS 102 Environmental Geology
Jennifer Tyne for MAT 116 Introduction to Calculus
Todd Zoroya for MAT 122 Pre-Calculus, with revised curriculum

The FIG-MLA program aims to strengthen instruction and learning outcomes in undergraduate science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) courses.  STEM instructors submit grant proposals for modifying a course to include more evidence-based and student-centered teaching strategies, including the use of undergraduate Maine Learning Assistants (MLAs) in the class. MLAs serve as peer instructors, facilitating group work and assisting faculty as they transform their course to incorporate more interactive-engagement and student-centered instruction.  MLAs learn to use innovative, research-based instructional strategies, develop relevant pedagogical skills, deepen their content understanding, and have the opportunity to explore their interest in STEM teaching, while participating in a vibrant community of peers and faculty.

The purpose of the FIG-MLA program is to help faculty transform high-enrollment STEM courses in order to achieve these aims:

  • To improve the quality of math and science education for all undergraduates.
  • To encourage research-based teaching as a legitimate endeavor for ourselves and for our students.
  • To prepare talented math and science majors for careers in teaching.
  • To promote institutional change in the way STEM courses are taught.

The program began at the University of Maine in 2012 and has seen tremendous growth and success over the years. The FIG-MLA program has included 38 instructors with 37 courses in 14 departments. To date, we have had 236 individual undergraduate students serve as Maine Learning Assistants in STEM classes at UMaine.

The FIG-MLA program is modeled after the highly successful program developed at the University of Colorado Boulder.

For the full FIG-MLA Request for Proposals information, outlining the benefits and requirements of instructors with FIG-MLA grants:

FIG_CourseModificationProposalInformation (Word Document)

FIG_CourseModificationProposalInformation (PDF)


Faculty who are awarded the grant will receive the following:

  • $2500 during each summer that the grant is awarded (up to two years).
  • Assistance from two or more Maine Learning Assistants (undergraduate teaching assistants who are majoring in a STEM discipline and who have performed well in the course being modified).
  • Assistance from an education research graduate student who can help plan assessment and data collection strategies.
  • Guidance and support from RiSE Center faculty and staff.
  • Contact with other UMaine faculty who are engaged in the same endeavor.

Faculty grantees are expected to:

  • Submit annual reports about the progress of their course modification goals and findings.
  • Utilize MLAs in classes, recitations, tutorials, workshops or labs to facilitate small group discussions or support individual students in learning the material.
  • Meet weekly with MLAs to review the content or plan instruction or data collection.
  • Complete free online IRB Training

This past slideshow from an information session describes the program: FIG Info Session (PDF).

The following file lists examples of course modifications and implementation of MLAs used by other FIG faculty:

For more information or any questions, please contact Erin Vinson –

Current and Previous FIG Faculty and Courses

David Batuski
AST 109
George Bernhardt
PHY 121/122
Professor Ian Bricknell headshotIan Bricknell
SMS 422 
Professor Alice Bruce HeadshotAlice Bruce
CHY 121/122
David ClarkDavid Clark
PHY 121/122
Farahad DastoorFarahad Dastoor
BIO 100

Professor Bill DeSisto headshot William DeSisto
CHB 112

Professor Paula Drewniany headshotPaula Drewniany
MAT 126

Nuri EmanetogluNuri Emanetoglu
ECE 343

Brian Frederick
CHY 472

Professor Torsten Hahmann headshotTorsten Hahmann
COS 250

Heather HamlinHeather Hamlin
SMS 422

Professor Keith Hutchison headshotKeith Hutchison

gerbiChristopher Gerbi
ERS 151

Professor Billy Jackson headshot Billy Jackson

Picture of Professor Jon Kreps holding a vial of liquidJonathan Kreps
CHY 121/122

Karl Kreutz Karl Kreutz
ERS 201

Sara Lindsay
SMS 201
Natalie Machamer
CHY 251

Professor Sally Molloy HeadshotSally Dixon Molloy

Balunkeswar Nayak
FSN 330

Sarah Nelson
EES 100

PelletreauKaren Pelletreau
BIO 100

RawsonPaul Rawson
SMS 300

Professor Michelle Smith headshotMichelle Smith
BIO 350

MacKenzie Stetzer MacKenzie Stetzer
PHY 121/122
PHY 441
Mindi Summers
BIO 465
Kristy Townsend
BIO 307
BIO 480/483
Jennifer Tyne
MAT 126
MAT 103

Professor Peter vanWlasum headshotPeter van Walsum
CHE 386

SWalton-300x203Sara Walton
CHB 350
Todd Zoroya headshotTodd Zoroya
MAT 122



























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