The Grand Challenges Core: Transforming UF’s General Education Program

The UF Office of the Provost is inviting undergraduate-degree-granting colleges to submit proposals for general education courses in the natural and social sciences areas for the Grand Challenges Core.

The Preeminence Bill SB 1076 allows UF to require 9 – 12 credits of general education undergraduate coursework that is unique to UF and cannot be replaced by any accelerated mechanism or from courses from other postsecondary institutions. In response to this bill, UF is developing a distinctive General Education Program (GEP) with a core set of courses focusing on multidisciplinary “Grand Challenges.” This Grand Challenges Core will transform UF’s GEP into one of the highest quality, reflecting the institutional focus on research and creative works, knowledge creation, and the mission of educating people from diverse backgrounds to address the grand challenges of the world’s societies.

President Machen will make the awards by late April 2014 and colleges are expected to develop the courses during Summer 2014. The courses must be piloted in small sections in the 2014-15 academic year. Experience gained from the pilot program should be used to improve the courses to make them suitable for offering in 2015-16.

The College of Education

The COE is currently collaborating with numerous colleges across campus, including CALS, CFA, CHHP, CJC, and CLAS, to develop proposals for the Grand Challenges Core.

COE Internal Deadlines:

Please submit draft proposals by email to Thomasenia Adams at

Draft 1 is due Monday, March 10, 2014. We will provide helpful context and editorial feedback and submit this feedback to the course development team.

Draft 2 is due Monday, March 24, 2014. We will give another careful review to each proposal, communicate with the point person as needed, and finalize each proposal for submission by the March 31, 2014 deadline.

Complete information is available at

Grant Writing Workshop: Writing Successful Grants

The UF Office of Research recently hosted a two-day grant writing workshop presented by Dr. Robert Porter of GrantWinners Seminars. This article summarizes the topic of “Writing Successful Grants.”

Most grant reviewers make a decision about a proposal after reading the first page. In general, the writing style of a successful grant consists of about 80% academic (i.e., formal expository writing) and 20% grant writing style (i.e., persuasive writing). Grant writing style focuses on the sponsor and the service you plan to provide. The language is accessible to a broad audience and sells the reader. You want to emphasize what is interesting to the grant reviewer and what the sponsor wants to accomplish.

Specifically, reviewers are looking for the following:

  • Significance
  • Creativity (uniqueness)
  • Clearly delineated project
  • Research plan (methodology)
  • Outcomes (evaluation)
  • Clear, concise writing

Writing successful grants is a 12-step program. First admit you could use some help. Then follow the strategies provided below.

Here are some common pitfalls and strategies to avoid them:

1. Poor Fit

  • Develop your funding search skills.
  • Study program goals and eligibility.
  • Make contact with the program officer before starting the proposal.

2. Poor Organization

  • Always follow the guidelines and requirements provided by the sponsor.
  • Be sure your proposal is in the specified format.

3. Weak Argument

  • Prove the importance of your project.
  • State your purpose and case for need up front.
  • Build a compelling argument.
  • Cite authoritative sources.
  • Start with the pitch.
  • Layout the problem and solution.
  • Create a vision.

4. Gyrating Jargon

  • Assume an uninformed but intelligent reader.
  • Use clear, accessible language.
  • Stick with direct statements and active voice.
  • Avoid insider jargon and undefined acronyms.

5. Murky Goals and Objectives

  • Provide a goal statement (i.e., a general statement of the project’s overall purpose).
  • Formulate specific measurable objectives (i.e., a specific, measurable outcome or milepost).

6. Unclear Project Description and Work Plan

  • Visualize the overall project with a drawing (e.g., logic model).
  • Specify major tasks and timelines (e.g., Gantt charts, flow charts, calendars).

7. Deviating from Guidelines

  • Follow the application instructions exactly.
  • Submit before the deadline.
  • Be sure you meet the required page limits.
  • Follow all formatting requirements (i.e., fonts, margins, spacing)
  • Check that you have included all required sections.
  • Be sure you have the required signatures.

8. Ignoring the Review Criteria

  • Pay attention to all review criteria.
  • Read the evaluation standards carefully. Then reference them in the project narrative.
  • Touch all the bases—not just the ones you are comfortable with.
  • Remember reviewers will use the criteria to “score” your proposal.

9. Weak Abstract

  • Polish the abstract.
  • Write the abstract last.
  • The abstract must
    1. be intriguing;
    2. reflect the entire scope of the project;
    3. be concise and complete;
    4. summarize the project purpose and method;
    5. convey (a) what you intend to do, (b) why it is important, (c) what are the expected outcomes, (d) how the work will be accomplished.
  • The abstract may be the only narrative that some reviewers will read.

10. Writing Solo

  • Ask seasoned colleagues for comments and suggestions.
  • They should be qualified to critique proposal content.
  • Check your ego at the door.
  • Allow time for rewrites.

11. Document Errors

  • Find an eagle-eyed perfectionist.
  • Proofreaders read for form not content.
  • Must be someone who has no stake in the project.
  • Learn to love what he or she will do for you.
  • Zero tolerance—no error is too small to correct.
  • Root out inconsistencies in format as well as typos, misspellings, and grammar.

12. Insufficient Editing

  • Write, rewrite, and rewrite.
  • Most winning proposals have been polished repeatedly.
  • Let it rest in between; sleep on every rewrite.
  • Fight the evil pride of authorship.
  • Must allow sufficient time.

And finally, here are some additional tips for success:

  • Fit research and grant writing into your job.
  • Find a mentor(s).
  • Read successful grants and attend workshops.
  • Find collaborators; network.
  • Serve on a review panel.
  • Sign up for funding alerts; conduct your own searches regularly.
  • Think big, think small, think different.
  • Submit, revise, and resubmit.

Please look for additional summaries of workshop topics in upcoming issues of the Research Bulletin.

Session recordings are available online. Those who require copies of the handouts for any/all sessions may request them by emailing Jenn Hubbs at with their name, on-campus PO Box, and session(s) of interest.

Submitted Projects for February 2014

College of Education – Submitted Projects – February 2014
Principal Investigator: Kevin Jones – Materials Science and Engineering
Co-PI: M. David Miller – SHDOSE, Mirka Koro-Ljungberg – SHDOSE
Funding Agency: National Science Foundation
Proposal Title: Increasing the Social and Technical Literacy of Freshman through an Integrated Course on the Impact of Materials on Society
Requested Amount: $25,848
Principal Investigator: Richard Lind – Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering
Co-PI: Pavlo Antonenko – STL
Funding Agency: National Science Foundation
Proposal Title: STRATEGIES: Augmenting Hands-On STEM Education with Model-Based Approaches for Predictive Design of Systems
Requested Amount: $231,556
Principal Investigator: Kent Crippen – STL
Co-PI: Margaret Kamman – SESPECS
Funding Agency: National Science Foundation
Proposal Title: Collaborative Research: Strategies: AGILE: Accessing Game-based Inquiry Science through Leveraging WISE Elements
Requested Amount: $599,568
Principal Investigator: Albert Ritzhaupt – STL
Co-PI: Kara Dawson – STL, Lisa Anthony – Computer and Information Science and Engineering
Funding Agency: National Science Foundation
Proposal Title: Strategies: Florida Computing Camp for Kids: An Informal Computing Learning Curriculum for Summer Camps for Upper Elementary Students
Requested Amount: $1,057,074
Principal Investigator: Pavlo Antonenko – STL
Co-PI: Kent Crippen – STL, Lynda Hayes – P.K. Yonge, Gregory Kiker – Agricultural and Biological Engineering
Funding Agency: National Science Foundation
Proposal Title: STRATEGIES: Arguing to Learn with Technology (ALT): An Innovative Strategy to Stimulate Interest in Water Sustainability Practices and Careers
Requested Amount: $996,231
Principal Investigator: Mary Brownell – SESPECS
Co-PI: Paul Sindelar – SESPECS, Erica McCray – SESPECS
Funding Agency: US Department of Education/OSEP
Proposal Title: Project STEEP: Studying Teacher Effectiveness, Education, and Policy
Requested Amount: $1,250,000
Principal Investigator: Cynthia Griffin – SESPECS
Co-PI: Joseph Gagnon – SESPECS, Kara Dawson – STL, Albert Ritzhaupt – STL
Funding Agency: US Department of Education/OSEP
Proposal Title: Project SEMTECH: Special Education, Mathematics Instruction, and Educational Technology
Requested Amount: $1,241,808
Principal Investigator: Diana Joyce – SESPECS
Co-PI: Nancy Waldron – SESPECS
Funding Agency: US Department of Education/OSEP
Proposal Title: Project PRIME: Preparing Researchers in Intensive Interventions and Multi-tiered Educational Systems
Requested Amount: $1,250,000
Principal Investigator: Holly Lane – SESPECS
Co-PI: Nicholas Gage – SESPECS
Funding Agency: US Department of Education/OSEP
Proposal Title: Project ExSELERaTE: Exceptional Special Education Leaders in Experimental Research and Teacher Education
Requested Amount: $1,248,895
Principal Investigator: Diane Ryndak – SESPECS
Co-PI: Hazel Jones – SESPECS, Kristen Kemple – SESPECS, Tina Smith-Bonahue – SESPECS
Funding Agency: US Department of Education/OSEP
Proposal Title: Project PIECE: Prevention and Intervention in Early Childhood Environments
Requested Amount: $1,249,479
Principal Investigator: Thomasenia Lott Adams – OER
Co-PI: Carolyn E. Mitten – STL
Funding Agency: Mathematical Association of America
Proposal Title: Preparing School Counselors to Encourage Young Women in Mathematics
Requested Amount: $6,000
Principal Investigator: Philip Poekert – Lastinger Center for Learning
Co-PI: N/A
Funding Agency: Early Learning Coalition of Miami-Dade/Monroe, Inc.
Proposal Title: Professional Services Agreement PSA 13-126
Requested Amount: $31,000
Principal Investigator: Donald Pemberton – Lastinger Center for Learning
Co-PI: N/A
Funding Agency: Alachua County School Board
Proposal Title: Alachua County Professional Development
Requested Amount: $65,000