by Gretchen Ritter - August 1, 2012
As we think forward to the next round of work in the CTP program, I've begun to talk to CTP instructors and department chairs about how to carry this work to the next stage - by engaging more faculty in departments where courses are being transformed, and providing the right incentives and reward structures for departments. As Cathy Stacy said at the Bay View Alliance meeting last month, we need to think about this work as transforming not just courses but faculty as well.
To give you a taste of what I am hearing, here are some astute observations from Ruth Burkirk on behalf of the CTP Biology team (Ruth would want me to note that these were quickly jotted down):
"-We feel the first step for building a student-oriented course is to adopt/adapt student learning outcomes (assessable) for a course.
-Instructors need to have access to teaching resources for active learning and to see examples of best practices (maybe video clips) but are encouraged to adapt for their own class
-Instructors (ALL of us) need to see data about the effects of transformed class on student learning (How measured?)
-Instructors need to be aware of the costs (in class time, loss of "control") and benefits (uncover misconceptions, increased student retention of the concepts)
-Ask novice instructors - how do you want to change your course? What are 1-2 things to try first? How can we help?
-We will have two faculty workshops in August to demonstrate some aspects of transformed class (including resources, assessment)"
In the context of thinking about the contribution this work can make to our goals of improving student success and increasing the four year graduation rate, the registrar's office ran some numbers for me and came up with the following, based on 2011-2012 data:
We have 13 courses with an annual enrollment of over 2000, and 48 courses with an annual enrollment of over 1000. Further, there are 16 large enrollment courses with DFQW rates of over 20%. Of course, there are many reasons for high DFQW rates - students may be on the wrong academic track, or have insufficient academic preparation, or be unengaged, overwhelmed, or unmotivated. But I believe - and the CTP classes have shown - that doing a better job with transforming courses to make them more student centered can have a strong positive effect on student success, especially for students from underprepared backgrounds.
One further thought - statistics about enrollment and DFQW rates only tell part of the story. What really excites me (and most of you, I think), is seeing the lightbulb go off - when a student gets electrified about an idea and wants to go deeper. What we care about most is how much our students learn and how well prepared they are to make a contribution once they leave here.