September 25, 2018

4-VA at Mason Grants Highlighted at ITL Conference

The recent 10th Annual Innovations in Teaching and Learning Conference at George Mason University featured a wide array of presentations, as faculty shared successful teaching tools and techniques with attendees.  The sharing continued into the poster session — where two Mason professors presented the results of their successful projects developed though 4-VA at Mason grants.

Associate Professor Kelly Schrum highlighted the fruitful results of her team’s 4-VA Collaborative Research Grant “ReSounding the Archives: Bringing music into learning,” and Associate Professor Catherine Saunders developed a poster detailing the redesign of English 302, thanks to a 4-VA Open Educational Resources grant.

“ReSounding the Archives” was the result of a collaboration of archivists, librarians, faculty, and students from Mason, and two other 4-VA institutions — University of Virginia and Virginia Tech — to delightfully bring the music of World War I to life and open the door to the power of the message behind America’s most popular songs of the time. Through research and recordings of WWI era sheet music, including cover art, musical notations and lyrics, the group dissected the scores, performed 18 different popular songs, and produced a website to share the entertaining results with the world. Visit

English 302 at George Mason University is a required, discipline-focused composition course that teaches undergraduates about the rhetorical conventions of research and writing in their academic disciplines — rare among American universities. As part of the Mason Core, it is also a required course.

This unique distinction of English 302, however, means that it is nearly impossible to find a suitable and/or affordable textbook. When Dr. Saunders learned about the 4-VA grant for course redesign using Open Educational Resources, she and her team of nine experienced 302 instructors applied for and received a 4-VA grant.  Saunders’ poster detailed the approach and results of the year-long effort.

“We’re delighted that Kelly and Cathy were able to illustrate how the 4-VA grants have made a difference for our students and our faculty here at Mason,” noted Janette Kenner Muir, 4-VA Campus Coordinator and Associate Provost for Academic Initiatives and Services, “4-VA gives us the opportunity to identify a valuable project and bring it to life.  We were pleased to be the launching pad for these and all of our 4-VA projects.”