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Identification and Pursuit of Instructional Grants to Support the Development of Undergraduate Equine Courses Carissa Wickens and Tanya Gressley Department of Animal and Food Sciences, University of Delaware College of Agriculture and Natural Resources. Materials and Methods

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Identification and Pursuit of Instructional Grants to Support the Development of Undergraduate Equine Courses

Carissa Wickens and Tanya Gressley

Department of Animal and Food Sciences, University of Delaware

College of Agriculture and Natural Resources

  • Materials and Methods

  • Call for proposals

  • During the fall 2009 semester, the Center for Educational Effectiveness at UD announced a call for proposals for Instructional Grants for Capstone Courses with a maximum award of $10,000 for development of a new capstone course.

    • Dr. Carissa Wickens, the recently appointed Assistant Professor in Equine Science, submitted a proposal to develop a 400 level equine management capstone course.

    • Existing ANFS capstone courses focus on other production animal species. This proposal stressed the importance of including an equine capstone course in the ANFS curriculum to help prepare students for careers in the equine industry.

    • The purpose of this proposal was to incorporate learning goals, assessment tools, and activities from the existing capstone courses into the new course in order to provide ANFS students with a more unified capstone experience and to foster collaboration between the new equine science faculty member and the more senior ANFS faculty.

    • Consideration for funding was dependent upon the proposal’s explanation of how the new capstone course would be embedded in programmatic and university student learning goals and program curriculum.

  • Learning goals

  • The goal of the ANFS Department is to foster social, educational, and professional development of all ANFS majors.

    • Graduates of ANFS must have excellent communication skills and be able to comprehend complex subject matter in order to disseminate scientific information to peers and the public. Graduates must also be prepared to address emerging issues in animal agriculture.

  • The equine capstone course will incorporate four specific student learning goals which support the Department’s aims and possess key elements of UD’s general undergraduate education goals.

    • Students will demonstrate, integrate, and apply knowledge of the major core concepts of Animal and Food Sciences (Content Goal)

    • Students will use critical thinking and reasoning, skeptical inquiry and scientific approach to solve problems (Critical Thinking Goal)

    • Students will demonstrate writing and oral communication skills important for communicating scientific ideas (Communications Goal)

    • Students will demonstrate reflective thinking (Integration Goal)

  • Assignments and assessment of learning goals

  • Learning activities will include lab journals, student discussions, reflective essays, and scientific paper critiques.

  • Laboratory sessions will require students to work in small groups to accomplish specific farm management tasks or to solve particular problems.

    • For example, each group will conduct a nutritional case-study on an assigned teaching horse. Group members will be expected to integrate and apply knowledge from their coursework in animal science to critically evaluate the horse’s nutritional program and will communicate their results to their peers.

  • The culminating project will consist of an equine facilities proposal in which each student will be required to design an equine enterprise of their choosing. Final reports will include details related to horse housing, fencing, pasture and manure management, and herd health, with some discussion of estimated expenditures and expected income.



  • Objective

  • To obtain funding to support the development and implementation of a new 400 level capstone course in equine management for undergraduate students in the Animal and Food Sciences and Pre-veterinary and Animal Biosciences programs.

  • Success of the Proposal

  • In mid December, 2009, the equine capstone course was selected for funding and received the full award of $10,000 to support the development and implementation of the course for the fall 2010 semester. The course is being offered in its inaugural semester as ANFS 467 Equine Management.

  • Grant funding is being allocated to the purchase of equine computer software (e.g. equine diet formulation software), reference materials such as horse management and training books and DVDs, and anatomical models including a complete equine skeleton (Figure 4). Remaining funds will be used to help cover any additional in-class or laboratory expenses.

The current economic climate within higher education requires vigilance to potential funding sources to support the growth and sustainability of equine focused course offerings. Providing undergraduate students with a capstone experience during the later part of their academic program has become a priority for many colleges and universities. For example, all Animal Science students at the University of Delaware (UD) must compete a capstone course in order to graduate. Development of an equine capstone course requires substantial financial inputs for the purchase of supplies and reference materials necessary to facilitate hands-on student learning activities and to enable the culminating project. Many institutions of higher education have Centers for Teaching and Learning which offer funding opportunities for faculty seeking to develop new courses or to improve existing courses. Instructional grants vary in award amounts and also may differ with respect to proposal guidelines and the types of projects considered for funding. However, teaching-centered funding sources present an avenue through which equine studies programs and animal science departments may be able to secure financial support to enhance their equine curriculum. This poster describes the pursuit of funding for the development of an equine capstone course at UD, and provides suggestions for where faculty at other institutions may seek financial support for teaching projects.

Figure 4.

Example of full mounted equine skeleton being purchased for teaching.

Equine Teaching and Extension at UD

The Department of Animal and Food Sciences (ANFS) at UD has one faculty member responsible for teaching undergraduate courses in equine science. This faculty member was recently hired to teach one existing course, ANFS 220 Introduction to Equine Science, and to develop new courses including the equine capstone course. Future courses may include Equine Behavior and Welfare, Equine Nutrition, and Issues in the Equine Industry. The equine teaching facilities include a new, six-stall barn (Figure 1), a 60’ x 80’ indoor arena (Figure 2), and designated horse pastures. At present, the farm is home to 10 horses (Arabians, Quarter Horses, and one Haflinger) used to support teaching, research, and extension activities (Figure 3). The equine faculty member and UD Cooperative Extension are working to expand educational programs and resources for equine constituents (both adult and youth) in the state of Delaware. Efforts are underway to administer an educational needs assessment survey and to create an online information resource for equine owners.

  • Additional Benefits of Instructional Grants

  • Fosters mentoring of new faculty and training in teaching effectiveness.

    • Faculty with funded proposals participate in regular course development meetings to facilitate construction of course goals, syllabus design, and alignment of assignments with course goals.

  • Gives new faculty an opportunity to be recognized and to engage in scholarly activity.

Figure 1.

Equine teaching barn built in 2007 with the help of a $400,000 Unidel Grant.

Examples of Institutional Funding Opportunities

Michigan State University, Office of Faculty & Organizational Development

Lilly Teaching Fellows Program

Penn State University, Schreyer Institute for Teaching Excellence

Teaching Support Grants

Sul Ross State University, Teaching Council

Faculty Development and Enrichment Application

University of Georgia, Center for Teaching and Learning

Learning Technologies Grants

Lilly Teaching Fellows Program

Senior Teaching Fellows Program

University of Maryland, Center for Teaching Excellence

Improvement of Instruction Grants Proposals

University of Wyoming, The Ellbogen Center for Teaching and Learning

Course Redesign Grants

Figure 2.

Indoor arena used for teaching. The ceiling and arena surface were renovated during the spring 2010 semester with support from the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources.

Figure 3.

Three Arabian horses joined the teaching herd in December, 2009. The horses are pictured grazing a primarily Bermudagrass pasture recently established by UD Cooperative Extension Agronomy Specialist, Richard Taylor.