Priority Areas for Learning and Teaching Research (PALAT) Grant

MacPherson Institute is pleased to announce a request for proposals (RFP) for teaching and learning research projects in our six stated priority areas:

  • Community-engaged education
  • Interdisciplinary teaching and learning
  • Social justice, inclusion, and critical pedagogy in higher education
  • Student engagement, retention, and success
  • Technology-enhanced education
  • Undergraduate research and inquiry

Successful grants, which will be awarded up to $5,000 each, must demonstrate a clear connection to one or more of the priority research areas listed above.

Applicant Eligibility

  • Anyone in an educational role at McMaster University can submit a proposal to this RFP (e.g., faculty, instructional assistants, librarians).
  • McMaster University students are welcome to apply as partners on applications; however, the Project Supervisor must be a university faculty or staff member.
  • Sessional and contract faculty are eligible to apply for funding provided they will be working at McMaster for the duration of the grant.

Project Eligibility

  • The focus of this funding opportunity is to support work that empirically or systematically explores issues related to MacPherson Institute’s priority research areas as they relate to teaching and learning, and/or the student experience, at the undergraduate or graduate level.
  • Proposals must demonstrate a clear alignment with one or more of MacPherson Institute’s priority research areas. In spring 2015, several Research Working Groups comprised of staff, faculty and students from across campus worked together to identify particular research questions and issues that would be important to explore within each of these areas. Proposals are not limited to these topics, but connections could be made to the topics to acknowledge the foundational work that was conducted within each of the priority areas. Click the expansion buttons below to reveal some research areas you may wish to consider.
    • Community-engaged education
      • Development of reciprocity and trust between faculty, staff, students and community partners in community engaged (CE) education
      • Supporting CE education
      • Reflection in CE education
  • Interdisciplinary teaching and learning
  • Barriers to and facilitators of interdisciplinary teaching and learning
  • Interdisciplinary graduate studies
    • Social justice, inclusion, and critical pedagogy
      • Indigenous Education and Pedagogies
      • Universal Design for Learning
      • Mental Wellness, Madness and Social Justice in Teaching and Learning
      • Critical Pedagogy, Social Justice and Inclusion in Technology Enhanced Learning
    • Student engagement, retention, and success
      • Definitions of success and engagement
      • Success and engagement in level one courses
    • Technology-enhanced education
      • Blended or online learning
      • Barriers to technology integration
      • Assessing quality in online courses
    • Undergraduate research and inquiry
      • Professional development for faculty and staff leading undergraduate research and inquiry (URI) experiences
      • Barriers to and facilitators of URI
      • Long-term impacts of URI
    • Funding will not be awarded to projects involving instructional tasks expected to fall within normal teaching responsibilities of a course, department, or Faculty (e.g., updating course content, preparing reading lists, developing and assessing course intended learning outcomes, etc.).


  • A multi-disciplinary peer-review committee facilitated by MacPherson Institute staff will adjudicate proposals. The committee will normally consist of three faculty or instructional staff external to the MacPherson Institute and two MacPherson Institute members. The MacPherson Institute members sit on the committee in a facilitative capacity only and do not vote in the adjudication process.
  • Please avoid using specialized disciplinary language (i.e., jargon).
  • The review committee will use a standardized evaluation form to rank the proposals. The evaluation will be based directly on the guidelines outlined in the ‘Proposal Format’ section below. All elements of the ‘Proposal Format’ section should be included, preferably using the sub-headings we have suggested.
  • Proposals that are missing one or more of these elements may not be considered for funding.

Submission Requirements

  • Applications will be accepted April 2018.
  • It is the responsibility of the applicant to ensure the proposal is complete and all conditions are met (e.g., requisite comments and signatures are included). Normally, applications will consist of the application form, the written proposal, and any literature references and necessary appendices. Incomplete applications will not be considered. All communications regarding these grants can directed to
  • Late submissions will not be accepted under any circumstances. Only complete application forms will be forwarded to the review committee. Signatures from the appropriate individuals must be included on the application form to be considered complete.
  • Proposals should be submitted in digital form, as a single pdf, emailed to with the subject ‘PALAT Grant– SURNAME’, where SURNAME is the last name of the Project Supervisor.

Instructions for Submitting Grants Electronically

  • The Project Supervisor (i.e., applicant) should complete the electronic form with name, title, brief description of project, and amount requested. No physical signature is required. The Project Supervisor should save the partially completed form and email the application form and the written proposal to their chair/director.
  • The chair/director should read the written proposal. No physical signature is required. The chair/director should email the application form to back to the applicant.
  • The applicant compiles the entire application (including application form, written application, and any necessary appendices) in one PDF document, and emails the file to by the PALAT Grant deadline. In order for the application to be complete, the email message must be cc’d to the chair/director. If applicable, listed collaborators on the project team must be cc’d on the email.

How to Apply for a Grant

Proposal Format
  • Applicants for PALAT Grants should prepare a written proposal (single spaced in 12 point Times New Roman font, with 1 inch margins) to be submitted with the application form.
  • The maximum length for the written proposal is six pages, not including the application form, references, or appendices.
  • The written proposal should include the following eight clearly identified sections:
  1. Introduction—Briefly, what do you plan to do, and why do you plan to do it?
    1. Include a clearly stated research question you will be addressing in your project
    2. Introduce the connections to the relevant research priority area(s)
    3. Succinctly introduce how you plan to contribute to teaching and learning and/or the student experience at McMaster University
  1. Rationale and Project Goals—What are the reasons you chose this project, and what do you hope to accomplish?
    1. Provide a rationale for the work that you intend to complete. Describe what has led you to this project (for example, there could be inferences or observations made while on campus or while teaching)
    2. Outline the objectives/outcomes as they relate to the research question
  1. Alignment with Research Priority Area(s) – How will this project lead to a better institutional understanding of one or more of the research priority areas?
    1. Identify which of the six research priority areas this proposal is connected to (could be one or several)
    2. Demonstrate the importance of conducting this research in the McMaster context
    3. Discuss how your proposal will improve the contextual understanding of the research priority area(s), and how this might improve teaching and learning and/or the student experience at McMaster.
  1. Literature Review —What is already reported in the field about this project? Or in other fields?
    1. Demonstrate you have consulted scholarly literature to determine if similar research questions have been asked and/or answered at other institutions
    2. Develop an argument to support your particular project proposal
  1. Methods and Timeline—When and how do you plan to accomplish your project objectives?
    1. Outline the processes for the project, including methods of collecting data or evaluating the efficacy of your proposed solution
    2. Provide a timeline for the completion of each stage of the project
    3. Ensure that the project deals with the research in a realistic way, so that it stands a reasonable chance of being completed and evaluated
    4. Applicants are encouraged to partner with students as research partners wherever possible
  1. Evaluation and Dissemination—How will you evaluate whether your project was successful? How will others find out about your results?
    1. State how the results will be analyzed, and how outcomes will be assessed
    2. Demonstrate a plan for how others will find out about your project and its results, considering the departmental, institutional, and national/international levels (note that we highly encourage conference presentations and/or publication through peer-reviewed processes)
  1. Budget—How do you anticipate your funding will be spent?
    1. Present the budget (up to $5,000) required to support the project and provide justification (refer to ‘Additional Budget Information’ below for budget guidelines, personnel costs, and other fundable expenses)
    2. If applicable, estimate the continuing operating and capital costs of the project. Describe how the costs will be covered.
  1. Impact—How will teaching and learning and/or the student experience be impacted? How will this initiative be sustained?
    1. Indicate how many students, faculty/staff, and/or teaching assistants will be impacted by this research project
    2. Indicate the potential application of the project to other courses, departments and Faculties
    3. If applicable, discuss how this project will be extended beyond the one-year funding

Ethical Considerations

  • Any proposal where there is research involving human participants must be approved by the appropriate ethics board: McMaster Research Ethics Board (MREB) or Hamilton Integrated Research Ethics Board (HiREB). Ethics Board approval is normally sought once the project has been successfully funded.

Additional Budget Information

  • Each proposal must be accompanied by an itemized budget. Ensure you provide sufficient justification of your budget items so the reviewers can understand the need.
  • The grant is intended to provide one-time funding, not to support ongoing expenses.
  • When using project funds to hire personnel, McMaster University will be the employer; therefore Project Supervisors must pay appropriate wages and benefits at established rates. Please see the suggested pay guidelines. When hiring students as research assistants, consider securing supplementary funding through, for example, the McMaster Work Programs (Ontario Work Study Program, McWork, or International Student Work).
  • As part of the dissemination process, we encourage grant recipients to consider presenting their findings at local, national, or international conferences or symposia. Conference registration fees, travel, and accommodation may be included in the budget, to a maximum of 25% of the overall budget.
  • Incentives (financial or rewards, such as gift cards) are often used to encourage participation in a study. MacPherson Institute will normally support financial rewards up to $10 per participant, to a maximum of 15% of the budget. Draws for larger prizes (such as iPads, cash, gift cards) are acceptable as long as the value of the prize does not exceed $10 per participant on average or 15% of the total budget.
  • Budget guidelines can be found in the tables below. In-kind support from departments or Faculties for budget items such as photocopies, administrative support, technical support, etc. is strongly encouraged and appreciated.
  • In most cases, applications where the majority of the budget is allocated to equipment purchase will not be funded. Some modest equipment purchases may be included in the budget, provided they are necessary for the research. MacPherson Institute owns some equipment that may be borrowed to reduce expenses (e.g., voice recorders, video cameras).
  • Other ineligible expenses include:
    • reimbursement to faculty members;
    • journal subscriptions;
    • professional memberships;
    • off-campus commercial services*;
    • purchase of alcohol for focus groups or similar meetings; and,
    • monies to support normal instructional tasks, such as updating course content or preparing bibliographies.

For clarification, please contact

* On campus services should be used if available.

Budget Guidelines (Last Updated: Spring 2016)
  • Hiring Personnel (Undergraduate students, Graduate students, non-students)
    • See the following chart for acceptable wages for undergraduate students
Undergraduate Student Assistant Level I $11.25 / hour
Level II $11.75 / hour
Level III $12.25 / hour
Level IV $12.75 / hour
  • If you intend to hire employees other than undergraduate students as part of your proposal (such as research assistants, graduate students), please consult the McMaster Temporary and Casual Pay Guide for the current appropriate wages.
  • Benefits for Temporary or Casual Employees
    • Benefits (e.g., CPP, EI, vacation pay) for temporary or casual employees must be included in the submitted budget. The current rate is approximately 14.5%.
  • Other Frequently Encountered Costs
Fundable Item Typical Costs
Poster Printing (McMaster Media Production Services) Up to $150 per poster
Transcriptionist $30 per hour, or $1 per 100 transcribed words in an interview; $1.50 per 100 words transcribed in a focus group (no benefits required)
Photocopying (McMaster PrintSmart) 4.5¢ per page (b&w)

17¢ per page (colour)

Optical Mark Reader Scan Sheets 15¢ per page (for purchase in multiples of 500)
Refreshments for focus groups or similar meetings $10 per person


Reports and Dissemination

  • Successful applicants are expected to complete a short report upon completion of their project (details of the summary and report will be distributed to successful applicants). We encourage you to publicly disseminate your work. A potential opportunity to disseminate your work across the university is the annual Research in Teaching & Learning conference (held in December) and/or the annual Learning Technologies Symposium (held in November).

Project Time Period

  • Normally, the project timeline will not exceed 12 months. If your project will not be completed in that time frame you must provide an explanation in your application. If your project plan changes after funds are made available and you will not complete your activities within the twelve-month period you must seek an extension from MacPherson Institute.

Useful Resources

  • For general assistance in the preparation of your application, consider consulting with a MacPherson Institute Research Coordinator or Postdoctoral Fellow. Contact to book an appointment.
  • Applicants may find the Research on Teaching & Learning Guidebook published by the MacPherson Institute helpful in preparing their proposal.
  • MacPherson Institute offers high quality digital media services (animation, website creation, online demonstrations, online tutorials, etc.) for the purpose of improving instruction at McMaster University. It is expected you will use these services for projects involving the creation of digital media products. Please contact prior to the submission of your PATAL proposal if you plan to employ the digital media services.

Application Forms

Application Form