Teaching and Learning Scholarship (TLS) Grants

Teaching and Learning Scholarship (TLS) goes by many different names, including the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL), discipline-based education research (DBER), action research, pedagogical research, teaching as research, and more; but at its core this research is about the systematic assessment of teaching and learning practices in university classrooms.

Our Teaching and Learning Scholarship (TLS) grant program is intended to advance scholarly conversations around teaching and learning scholarship in higher education. Exemplary projects should underscore Penn State’s role as a leading teaching and research university.

Funds Available

Grants are typically made in the range of $500–$1,500, although higher amounts may be considered for projects with larger impact or higher potential for innovation.

TLS Grant funds are typically used for the following expenses:

  • Conference travel for project team members
  • Purchase of research-related tools or materials (e.g. assessment instruments)
  • Wages for student co-researchers (we regret that we are unable to fund graduate assistantships)

We provide TLS research support services, including data analysis, IRB development, literature reviews, student researcher training, and other related services free of charge to all Penn State faculty.

TLS grant funds are intended to directly support the conduct of research. Those seeking funds to purchase educational materials in support of teaching are encouraged to consider our Teaching Transformation & Innovation Grants.

For a more detailed list of expenses not eligible for SITE/TLS grant funding, visit our Grants page.

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TLS Grant ProcessTLS Grant Process

To successfully apply for a TLS grant, you should complete the following steps:

  • Meet with a SITE TLS faculty consultant for a pre-proposal session or attend SITE’s TLS Institute. This is your chance to brainstorm, ask questions, and generally develop your project into a competitive proposal.
  • Write your proposal. Proposal guidelines below. Your SITE consultant can give you feedback on your draft upon request.
  • Submit your proposal by email to Laura Cruz in advance of the posted deadlines. Deadlines will be announced through the SITE listserv and posted on the SITE webpage.
  • Your proposal will be reviewed by the TLS Grant committee. Please note that funds are limited and the process is competitive.
  • If your proposal is successful, you will be expected to expend your funds during the same fiscal year; funds not expended during the fiscal year might not be available in the subsequent year.
  • TLS grants are awarded with the expectation that you will submit your work for publication to an accepted academic journal or equivalent venue within one academic year.

Proposal GuidelinesProposal Guidelines

Your TLS Grant proposal should consist of the following elements:

  • Title – Please provide a tentative title for the project that clearly indicates its scope and purpose.
  • Brief description – Please provide a one or two sentence summary of your TLS project (150 words maximum)
  • Project Team – Please list all members of the project team, including name, title, role on project team, and contact information (email and phone).
  • Rationale – Please provide a rationale for your project (500 word maximum). This is your opportunity to make a persuasive case by articulating how your project advances larger scholarly conversations about teaching and learning. You are encouraged to situate your project within relevant literature (see Step 7 below for a directory of teaching and learning journals).
  • Research Design – Please provide a brief description of your proposed research design, including any data analysis (qualitative, quantitative, or other). (250 word maximum)
  • TLS grants are given with the understanding that you will submit your work for publication to an accepted academic journal or equivalent venue within one academic year.
  • Schedule – Please provide a brief timeline of the major aspects of the project schedule. Your schedule should include submission of IRB materials and proposed date for manuscript submission. (150 words maximum)
  • Publication Outlets – Please provide at least one potential publication outlet for your finished project, including a very brief (e.g. one sentence) description of why you selected this particular outlet. If you have not selected a publication outlet yet, we recommend consulting this searchable directory of teaching and learning journals: https://cetl.kennesaw.edu/teaching-journals-directory.
  • Budget – Please provide a brief description and itemized cost estimation for how you would like to expend the funds once granted. Please review the funding restrictions on our Grants page.

Style GuidelinesStyle Guidelines

  • Full proposal (including references) should be 1200 words or less
  • 12 pt. standard font (e.g. Times New Roman)
  • Double-spaced, 1” margins
  • Please add page numbers to the upper right corner
  • APA style is preferred; but others formats accepted.

TLS Grant CriteriaTLS Grant Criteria

Successful proposals will:

  • Advance larger conversations about teaching and learning. We value projects that represent meaningful and substantive contributions to the field.
  • Articulate a clear research design and methodology. We value projects that are well-designed and reflect the highest methodological standards.
  • Contribute to the development of Penn State’s teaching and learning community. We value projects that have sustained influence on others; including students, faculty, and staff.
  • Provide a clear and appropriate justification for funds to be expended.


  • Full-time Penn State faculty member
  • Primary Investigator must be full-time faculty member; though the project team may consist of others, including students (undergraduate or graduate), part-time faculty, post-docs and professional staff
  • Applicants are encouraged to include undergraduate students as co-researchers, wherever appropriate
  • Applicants are limited to one TLS, TTI, or Assessment grant every three years.

Grant Deadline

July 1, 2021

Quote from Lee Shulman, “An act of intelligence or of artistic creation becomes scholarship when it possesses at least three attributes: it becomes public; becomes an object of critical review & evaluation by members of one’s community; members of one’s community begin to use,build upon, and develop those acts of mind and creation. Quoted from article, Taking Learning Seriously, in Change: The Magazine of Higher Learning.