Spring 2017 PIG

In Spring 2017, the Teaching and Learning Center awarded five (5) Program Improvement Grants of up to $2500 for faculty to “close the loop” on their outcomes assessment findings in order to strengthen student learning. Program Improvement Grants were solicited to improve aspects of the following:

  • an undergraduate major
  • one or a set of general education courses at the 300-level
  • a graduate program

Suggested uses of the grants were to revise curriculum, develop assignments within the curriculum that better support program outcomes, and/or engage in faculty development in ways that directly contribute to student learning.  Proposals that scaffolded student skills in written communications, quantitative reasoning, critical thinking, and information literacy were encouraged.

The descriptions below summarize the original proposals and the reports submitted of work accomplished to date.

International Crime and Justice MA

Click here to view final report.

P.I.s: Jana Arsovska, Rosemary Barberet, Katarzyna Celinska, Mangai Natarajan

Work to be done: To form a Curriculum Redesign Taskforce that will: (1) Develop a comprehensive research methods course that could incorporate a variety of analytical methods appropriate for the study of international and transnational crime and justice. (2) Potentially develop a new course on International Investigations and Policing with some assistance from the United Nations Office of Internal Oversight, which specializes in international investigations; and (3) Revisit the existing track options (thesis, internship, comprehensive exam) to replace the Comprehensive Exam track with a better alternative that is more beneficial to our students. This will also help to meet the needs of our new online IC&J MA program.

Budget: $2,400

Findings of the final report November 2017: Revisited track options and low-enrolled internship and comprehensive examination review courses. Committee agreed to create an online prep course for the comprehensive exam instead or to ask students to take two additional electives in lieu of the comprehensive exam. Agreed on changes needed to research methods course, and to add a course on international ICJ organizations. Members of the curricular task force have now taken responsibility for these three areas of reform and have created a timeline for accomplishments; two of these courses were revised and have either passed or are in governance.  All program changes will be effective Fall 2018.

300-Level Justice Core in the Gen Ed

Click here to view final report.

P.I.s: James DeLorenzi, Crystal Endsley, Amy Green, Melinda Powers, Raymond Patton

Work to be done: The goal of this working group is to improve student learning of key common skills such as writing, critical thinking, and information literacy in 300 level justice core courses across the disciplines. This project will examine the location of the 300 level justice core within the curriculum and consider how it can serve as a scaffold from sophomore level coursework to the capstone level in tandem with learning in the major program of study. It will revisit course learning outcomes and expectations to ensure that the necessary skills are adequately identified and described. It will review and implement best practices for incorporating these skills into course design and develop model assignments for courses in each participant’s discipline. It will devise a plan for disseminating these resources to faculty across the departments that contribute to the 300 level justice core.

Budget: $2,472.40

Findings of final report November 2017: The group found a mismatch between 300-level performance expectations for the course and the needs/abilities of students taking it.  As a result, they revised the learning outcomes and rubric for the 300-level Gen Ed courses to bring students up to speed on key skills such as critical thinking, reading, writing, and information literacy. The revised 300 justice core learning outcomes will go through college governance for approval, after which faculty development around these revised outcomes will commence.

Gender Studies B.A.

Click here to view final report.

P.I.s: Katie Gentile, Brett Stoudt, Tara Pauliny, Crystal Jackson, Carmen Kynard

Work to be done: Fund 4-5 Gender Studies students – majors and minors, to conduct focus groups and interviews with other Gender Studies students to assess their needs as students in the program. The students will create the instruments to interview other students to talk about ways the curriculum can be improved. The goals are to develop a component of a feminist process program evaluation and review. This participatory approach of engaging students reflects the mission and ideals of the National Women’s Studies Association, to reach beyond the traditional neoliberal assessment instruments.

Budget: $2,350

Findings of final report November 2017: Shifted plan and hired a recent graduate of the program to mentor and organize students. Alumnus and three current students conducted focus groups and analyzed focus group recordings.  Together with the five faculty members of the GS governance committee they created a survey for students that is being administered this fall. They will present the entirety of the findings at a reception for Gender Studies students and faculty at the end of the semester. Thus far they have learned that they need to help students understand how their GS degree shapes their professional development. They also learned of micro- and macro-aggressions that occur in courses across the college and as a program have reached out to the departments where this is a chronic issue.

Public Administration B.S.

Click here to view final report.

P.I.s: Judy-Lynne Peters, David Shapiro, Elizabeth Nisbet, William Palmer, Maria D’Agostino, Denise Thompson

Work to be done: Re-examine the curriculum map of the major in accordance with research about the profession, align syllabi and goals; work with TLC to run workshops for adjuncts teaching in the major to increase understanding of assessment processes and teaching toward learning goals.

Budget: $1,419.60

Findings of final report November 2017: Hired adjunct to assess all syllabi of introductory course to the major (PAD 140) and mapped them to learning outcomes.  Learned that although all syllabi have department learning outcomes, assignments do not relate to them.  Additionally, the syllabi do not meet WAC standards.  Have determined as next steps to assure curriculum updated to include more assessable assignments, more low stakes activities, and more scaffolding of skills in the course.  Additionally, faculty teaching PAD 140 will participate in workshops in the TLC to raise awareness about designing assignments and assessment.

Honors Program

Click here to view final report.

P.I.: Nathan Lents

Work to be done: The goal is to scaffold the honors curriculum more carefully to prepare students for their capstone projects.  The grant will support assessment of the 200- and 300-level curriculum and faculty development around key learning goals and assignments in common.

Budget: up to $2,000

Findings of the final report November 2017: Four Honors Capstone Instructors met several times in spring 2017 to discuss strengths and weaknesses of student capstones, particularly with regard to tangible skills that could be developed throughout the program. Conclusions from this group centered on three areas in which improvements were needed and also were obtainable through straightforward curricular tweaks (as opposed to course or program revisions). The first was a need for common language in all honors courses so that students realize that instructors are “saying the same thing” in regards to coaching of their writing skills. The second was standardizing academic writing style, for which they chose the “claim, evidence, warrant” rhetorical style. The third was a series of library and literature research skills that are focused on the writing outcome of defending a thesis statement or other academic argument. In order to implement these three reforms, the Honors Program and Teaching and Learning Center held a faculty development event in which the capstone team took all honors faculty through these goals and the strategies to obtain them. 15 honors faculty attended this event, at which they were coached in how to revise their syllabi and their assignments in light of these three priorities and provided example exercises that showed how they might do this. The reform initiative was well-received, and implementation of these new strategies began in fall 2017.