Course Readiness Criteria - Example 2
Are decisions about curriculum in this department, program or school made collectively—in other words , beyond the individual faculty member level?
Decisions to engage in large-scale course redesign cannot be left to an individual faculty member. He or she may leave the institution, grow tired of the innovation, change his or her mind, and so on. A collective commitment is a key factor for sustainability of redesign project.
Are the faculty ready to collaborate? Have they engaged in joint conversations about the need for change? Does the course redesign idea have departmental as well as institutional support and ownership?
Here are some examples of the ways various institutions responded to this criterion.
While many courses are controlled by individual faculty members, both of these courses are in the position of benefiting from collective decision-making. This is a direct result of an acknowledgment that these are high impact courses on our campus. Thus, this proposal has faculty, departmental, and institutional support and ownership.
In Sociology, members of the "R100, Introduction to Sociology" have agreed work together on this project. This committee was created in the Fall of 1997. Its membership is all full-time faculty members in Sociology who regularly teach R100. The R100 Committee members, collectively and with the support of the Chair of the Sociology Department, have agreed to pursue this project.
The English Department already has a well-developed writing program, that uses technology to enhance student learning. This program has been developed collectively by those who teach the course. Sociology faculty have consulted with the Chair of the English Department and the Director of the Writing Program, who support the course redesign model.
A subset of statistics faculty have been meeting regularly for several years to discuss ways to improve instruction. Two years ago this group adopted the name "TAPS", which stands for Teachers at Penn State. Although some of the faculty already met informally for years, the new TAPS group gave the group a university-wide identity. The group now meets weekly to share ideas about teaching statistical concepts and to discuss different approaches to teaching undergraduate statistics courses. Although the department also has an Undergraduate Service Course Committee to formally address course revisions, the TAPS group provides a forum by which instructors can discuss the costs and benefits of curriculum revisions.
In short, decisions about curriculum revisions are made collectively by the department’s faculty. The TAPS group presented the proposed redesigned Stat 200 course to the department’s faculty on March 23, 1999. At this meeting, the faculty unanimously approved the concept of the redesigned course.
Decisions about this curriculum are made by a committee of faculty course developers. This committee meets regularly to discuss and implement changes in the curriculum design. The committee and the institution support the idea of course redesign for the math classes.
Yes, and this also is a primary reason for our decision to focus on the redesign of College Algebra. A common department course syllabus is already in use. It includes uniform objectives for all sections of the course. The department has a high degree of cohesiveness, and decisions regarding course content and standards are reached by departmental consensus rather than individual preferences.
The CSE 101 course team consists of faculty who have been involved in the design and teaching of the course. Decisions about the curriculum, textbooks, software and lab set-ups are made by the course team. When the course becomes a required general education course, the course ownership will move outside of the department and decisions about updating and modifying it will be made by a Computer Literacy Committee comprising the course team members as well as computer literate faculty from around the university.
The CSE 101 course redesign was discussed and unanimously approved by the CSE department. The redesign also has the support of the cognizant deans (of the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences and of the College of Arts & Sciences), and has been endorsed by the Senior Vice Provost for Educational Technology and the Office of the Provost as the centerpiece of the Pew proposal.
The APS Department views the Introductory Astronomy courses as its "bread and butter" commitment to provide an opportunity for science literacy for undergraduates, and we take teaching very seriously. Faculty cooperate in many ways to develop this course: by developing a common library of demonstrations, computer resources, test banks, etc., that are accessible to all faculty. The Department occasionally gives a faculty member release time from regular teaching duties to develop shared resources for the courses. Several faculty who are involved in teaching these courses will be part of this proposal.
The bylaws of the Speech Communication Department state clearly that the governance of the public speaking course rests with the tenured, full-time faculty in the Speech Communication Department rather than with an individual professor. Since the course is staffed by more than a dozen different instructors, the redesign of the course does not hinge on any single faculty member’s interest or participation.
Difficulties with meeting enrollment demands for the course have convinced the full-time and part-time faculty that changes must be made. Moreover, it is clear that changes in information technology necessitate a change in the existing instructional format.