Growing Great Ideas in Education and Research
4-VA — a unique state-funded partnership connecting Mason and seven other Virginia Universities – is celebrating 10 years of success by improving efficiencies in higher education design and promoting collaborations that leverage the strengths of each partner university. 4-VA supports faculty throughout the system with the financial resources necessary to develop programs and pedagogies to advance educational design and research.
Over the past decade, 4VA@Mason has awarded more than 100 grants, providing rich research opportunities for faculty and students resulting in fruitful and concrete benefits for Virginia and its citizens; dozens of courses were redesigned creating more engaging and targeted learning materials and also saving students hundreds of thousands of dollars; dozens of other courses were shared amongst campuses in the 4-VA system, increasing access to classes for students and saving partner schools the cost of new course creation; and the pathway to degree completion was lit for thousands of students.
Launched in 2010 at the four founding schools — Mason, James Madison University, Virginia Tech, and the University of Virginia — 4-VA was created upon the recommendation of the Governor’s Higher Education Commission and the Governor’s Commission on Economic Development and Job Creation. Today, 4-VA has grown to include the College of William and Mary, Old Dominion University, Virginia Commonwealth University, and Virginia Military Institute.
4-VA grants are offered in four broad areas:
- Collaborative Research – Boosts research competitiveness at Mason and partner schools by providing funding for faculty to engage in pilot research focused on 4-VA goal areas which could be used as a springboard for subsequent, major federal grants. Collaboration with a researcher at 4-VA partner institutions and providing research opportunities for students is strongly encouraged.
- Course Redesign – Encourages the development of innovative course redesign integrating Open Educational Resources (OER) into the curriculum. The goal of this effort is to provide lively, current, digital resources which can reduce or eliminate textbook costs for students, improve teaching and learning outcomes, and build faculty community as teams work together to create dynamic course material.
- Course Sharing – Utilizes interactive video conferencing technologies throughout the 4-VA system to provide course sharing among the campuses. This program opens up a wide range of classes for students at each campus without the expenses associated with launching a new course at each school.
- Degree Completion – Funds programs which guide students to their degree; assists traditionally underserved populations including veterans, adult learners, and first-generation college attendees; supports community college to four-year degree transfer students; and builds partnerships with area business, industry, and government leaders to identify potential jobs of the future and develops and integrates corresponding skill sets into the curriculum.