Case #7: Teaching and Learning Enhancement Grants: Cultivating Educational Leadership


DISCIPLINE: Educational Development,Teaching Innovation, Higher Education
RESEARCH AREAS: Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL)


Mount Royal University has a long tradition of supporting teaching excellence through the services and programming of its Academic Development Centre (ADC). More recently, the Provost’s Office has become more directly engaged in providing additional funding for innovations and risk-taking in teaching, a form of educational leadership.


In 2013/14, The Provost’s Office created (and funded) Teaching and Learning Innovation Grants (TLIG), renamed in 2016/17 as the Teaching and Learning Enhancement Grants (TLEG). Faculty are invited to apply for grants up to $5,000 per annum to support the enhanced use of technology and/or other innovations in their teaching. Applications from faculty are adjudicated by a team from the ADC, together with the Vice-Provost & Associate Vice-President Teaching and Learning. The ADC assigns a partner with specific expertise to the faculty member as they design and execute their project. Faculty are encouraged to disseminate their project findings through appropriate mechanisms, including our annual Celebrate! Teaching and Learning event.

“… there is some agreement that distributed models of leadership might be useful in understanding various aspects of educational leadership that exist outside the traditional hierarchical structures or positions. Our Teaching and Learning Enhancement Grant (TLEG) program offers a powerful example of distributed leadership in action.”


Educational leadership takes many forms, not all of which are related to position or title or authority (decision-making rights). As discussed by Fields, Kenny, and Mueller (2019, p.2), the concept may be contested but there is some agreement that distributed models of leadership might be useful in understanding various aspects of educational leadership that exist outside the traditional hierarchical structures or positions. Our Teaching and Learning Enhancement Grant (TLEG) program offers a powerful example of distributed leadership in action. By providing funding (from the Provost’s Office) and expert supports (from the ADC) to faculty whose innovative proposals have been accepted, we are investing in educational leadership through the faculty members proposing their exploration of teaching innovations.

The purpose and outcomes of our TLEG program strongly align with the Five-Pillar Model for conceptualizing educational leadership (Fields, Kenney, & Mueller 2019). Faculty members applying for TLEGs, by definition, are opening themselves to facilitative partnerships in which their willingness to listen is matched by their vulnerability as they explore new teaching territories (affective qualities). With its emphasis on teaching innovations, TLEG focusses faculty attention on action-orientation and more broadly on teaching excellence. There is also recognition that advancement in teaching and learning will emerge from risk-taking and learning from the outcomes of new practice and/or technological innovation. The partnerships between ADC experts and faculty members exemplify the mentoring and empowering relationships between colleagues and are an important example of distributed leadership. In terms of research and scholarship, some faculty members with TLEGs are exploring the impact of their innovations through the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SOTL), although this is not a requirement of the program. The TLEG program’s main purpose it to advance teaching excellence and innovation, and scholarly activities and products that arise from it are valuable contributions that are not part of its underlying mission.


A range of criteria have been used to assess the impact of the TLEG program. One measure is the number of projects supported since its inception. To date, thirty-four projects have been supported since 2013/14 (notably, none were supported in 2014/15), which represents an average of six annually. Total financial support from the Provost’s Office to date has been ~$130K, an average of $3.75K per project. It is notable that although the maximum grant available is $5K to seed an innovative project, many applications have been under that level. Although an assessment or impact schema was not set up at the beginning of this program, we have seen several faculty members take their initial projects and develop them further in later applications for TLEGs, and we are now implementing an impact reporting system for faculty members who have benefited from multiple TLEG project grants.


Jacqueline Fields, Natasha Ann Kenney & Robin Alison Mueller (2019): Conceptualizing educational leadership in an academic development program, International Journal for Academic Development, DOI: 10.1080/1360144X.2019.1570211


Headshot of Miriam Carey

Professor Miriam Carey was tenured in the Department of Policy Studies in 2005 and was seconded into Mount Royal University’s Academic Development Centre from 2011-15. Her teaching experience began in Political Science and Policy Studies, extended into General Education foundational courses, and culminated in her role as a Faculty Development Consultant. She is engaged in the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning and has published four articles on her research to date. Miriam is interested in empowering and supporting students and colleagues, and she delivers a leadership course which has a decidedly ontological outcome (rather than epistemological outcomes) – leaving participants being leaders rather than knowing a whole lot about leaders.


Dr. Carey is currently the Interim Academic Director of the Academic Development Centre (ADC) at Mount Royal University, Canada. She works with a team of 18 staff professionals and faculty members, providing educational development opportunities to faculty members across the university. In this role, she coordinates the activities of the Centre and contributes to a wide variety of pan-university Committees responsible for teaching and learning and the effective use of educational technologies. On behalf of the entire ADC Team, Miriam is pleased to submit this mini-case study. Additionally, Dr. Carey is the Speaker of our Chairs’ Assembly.



Educational Developers’ Caucus of Canada (EDC)
International Society for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (ISSoTL)
The Professional and Organizational Development Network in Higher Education (POD)
Society for Teaching and Learning in Higher Education (STLHE)