Committees & DTFs

Intro: Value of Retreat Discussions and where we go next

Two sets of tasks follow from this assumption:

  1. Strategies to support curricular models
  2. Based on our own discussion and what we heard at the faculty retreat, we will develop each of the ideas listed in this section more completely during the next two months. (see page 2)

  3. Curricular Models for increasing student access.

This work also began at the faculty retreat. Several hybrid models began to take shape. Our intent is to bring a limited number of curriculum models to the faculty on January 17 set in the context of the student learning expectations and supporting strategies. The DTF has prepared 4 models so far and included them with this handout. We will prepare others and invite you to do the same during the next two months.

Last, we want to continue this discussion between now and January 17. To that end, this document and a Series of Questions are available here and on a Web Crossing Discussion Page where faculty and student comments can be shared during the next two months.

  1. Strategies to support curricular models
  • To approach our response to Gen Ed as a 5-year experiment and to appoint a committee of faculty, staff and students charged with submitting an annual evaluation/progress to the faculty. This could include design of a checklist of learning expectations met in each student's transcript.
  • A Faculty Covenant in which faculty commit to help provide students with access to the expectations.
  • A Student Covenant in which students commit to fulfill the expectations by graduation.
  • A Student Portfolio/Academic Plan
  • Sustained Faculty Development (Summer Institutes, paid planning time, etc.)
  • A description of the implications for faculty hiring
  • An expanded Role for the Learning Resource Center


  1. Curricular Models for increasing student access

The DTF is working with various combinations of "structural options" discussed at the Faculty Retreat. We are attempting to develop distinctive rationale for each model proposed. Four models are described on the pages that follow. We ask that you bear these questions in mind while reviewing the models:

How well will each model increase student access to quantitative reasoning, the Arts and the Sciences?

What interesting teaching possibilities does each model suggest to you?

What strengths of the current curriculum should we be sure are continued in any model?


Model 1: "The Comprehensive Proposal"

Rationale:

1. In order to attract the energy and commitment of the faculty and staff, and the continued loyalty of our student body, any proposal will have to dovetail substantially with the fundamental commitments/aspirations of this institution and be implementable without adding to the already extraordinary workload.

2. The most important (though far from the only) criterion of a useful proposal will be its capacity to improve access for students to areas of study to which they are currently underexposed. Also important will be the proposal's capacity to address basic-skills deficiencies in our student-body ,and to provide more visible and available assistance in assuming responsibility for one's education (or finding one's voice) and negotiating in a short time a personally meaningful path in an extremely complex institution whose resources are frequently undiscovered.

3. Since general-ed and breath-acquisition cannot (because of our dependence on transfer students) be conceived solely as Core-level programming, the major fork in the road faced by the DTF is this: either to expect every or most programs and every or most faculty to include significant breadth-exposure opportunities or to localize breadth-exposure in cross-divisional programming accessible and attractive to all levels of students. In this proposal, The DTF, believing itself to be reflecting strong faculty sentiment, chooses the latter option.

4. The DTF remains committed to full-time (i.e.) 16-credit Coordinated Studies programs as the primary vehicle of curriculum-delivery for its full-time students. Full-time Year-long Coordinated Studies programs, however, have always been a hard-sell, especially at the entry-level. The DTF judges that our students would be better served (and likely better retained) were we to move on an experimental basis to less lengthy Coordinated Studies programs in some parts of the curriculum.

To graduate from Evergreen, a student must accumulate 180 quarter-hours of credit which should be distributed in the fashion that best enables you to achieve both your goals and the expectations of the College (described elsewhere). Your instructors and advisors will at least annually review your cumulative portfolio with you to assist you in evaluating your progress.

The curriculum is made up of basically three components: repeating all-level quarterlies, yearlong interdisciplinary programs, and more or less embedded four-credit modules. The all-level quarterlies will be almost always characterized by cross-divisional BREADTH. The yearlong programs, almost as a function of length alone, will almost always be characterized by DEPTH and concentration. The spring quarters of both all-level programs and concentrated-studies programs are offered on a 12-4 schedule. Normally, the four credits beyond twelve will be earned in writing a cumulative self-evaluation that includes a review of one's progress to date relative to personal and College expectations, one's plans for the following year at TESC or elsewhere, and a writing/research component focused on the issues/themes of most concern to the student at that time. For the graduating senior, the normal focus would be on an expanded Summative Self-Evaluation. At The student's seminar leader will review the portfolio and meet with the student.

The all-level cross-divisional quarterlies would replace more or less altogether current Core programming. In order to make this transition (and the other transitions of this proposal) manageable from a workload point of view, faculty who wish to do so might repeat their quarterly program in each quarter of the academic year (thus greatly reducing planning and preparation time). Groups of faculty (say, ten-to-fifteen?) who configure around a common cross-divisional theme of crucial import to the institution's breadth-needs (e.g. "Science and Society," "Computers and Society" "Environmental Ethics" "Sustainability and Justice," "Environmental Art, " "Art and Social Change" "Latin America:" its History, Ecology and Art") would in exchange for a multi-year commitment to offering curriculum in these all-level cross-divisional areas would be supported in Summer Institutes or Centers for Research and Teaching. Start-up time would include a sustained institutional effort (such as Retreats and paid Summer Planning-time and a reissue of the "Research and Artistry" profiles of the TESC faculty) to assist the faculty in forming the most attractive and potentially productive Centers. In time, as experience suggested and registration patterns warranted, these all-level cross-divisional quarterlies might evolve a few two-quarter long versions or eight-credit versions (team taught with our current part-time faculty?) or even a few intra-area programs to serve as a pathway into more concentrated studies. (All such movements, however, would have to be measured against the primary criterion of student-access to fields of study being made more available by the one-quarter, no prerequisite packaging.)

The current Planning Units would offer advanced-level work in mostly yearlong and two-quarter-long interdisciplinary (but not usually interdivisional) programs. The usual (but not exclusive) clientele for these programs would be junior-level and senior-level students. The faculty of each Planning Unit (as often happens now) would advise all students in their programs relative to personal and career goals, internship and community-service possibilities, glaring deficiencies, College expectations and what they must take if they project going to graduate study in this field. (Specialists from the current or augmented Advising Office might work within the Planning Units for one or two afternoons per week.) The programs of the Planning Units might follow, more or less the Russ Fox vision of yearlong programs, becoming at the very least a responsive "home" for the students for the entire year, aware of their needs and responding more and more flexibly as the year progresses to the emerging aspirations of the students. Phrased differently, the Planning Units, vis-à-vis their students and their planning might envisage themselves as "mini-schools" or expanded versions of the Tacoma campus.

To assure the faculty of adequate assistance with the teaching of basic skills, writing, and quantitative reasoning, the Learning Resources Center will be significantly expanded. The DTF, though not unanimous on this point, would like to see specialists at both the basic and advanced levels for writing and quantitative reasoning, who will work with three or four teams per quarter and themselves rotate into a quarter-long program as resources permit.


Model 2: Spring Festival

Rationale: In 1998-1999, 40% of Core Students who were enrolled in the fall had switched programs by spring quarter; 17% had left the college. This builds a convincing argument that a two-quarter program is an exciting option for many students. Additionally, programs of shorter duration are more likely to be a match for the developmental level of most first-year (and many second-year) students who come from a 50-minute-hour model.

Curriculum changes: Each year 50% of the faculty will teach two-quarter programs during fall and winter. Spring Quarter will become a "Festival of Learning" which increases student access to science, art and quantitative reasoning.

Possible options for faculty include:

  1. Centers or clusters for learning which offer cross-divisional programs every spring.
  1. Ten to 12 faculty get together and develop a center for cross-divisional research and learning.
  2. Five or more of these centers could offer general education clusters, upper division clusters and senior capstone experiences and fulfill the 50% criterion we are looking for.
  3. Faculty affiliate with a center for 3-5 springs in a row in exchange for summer subsidization and a colloquium series of visiting speakers.
  4. These centers would guarantee the college that certain programs would be offered every spring. For example:
    1. Math Anxiety (we could have the BEST math anxiety center in the country)
    2. Statistics for Everyday Use
    3. Mathematical theory, Philosophy and Music
    4. Artistry in Nature...
  5. Spring ideas may turn into full-year, cross divisional programs.
B. Multiple options where faculty could
  1. Teach in a 16-credit cross-divisional program that begins in the spring.
  2. Teach a 12-credit cross-divisional program and an additional four-credit module.
  3. Teach a 12-credit cross-divisional program and participate in a lecture series. The lecture series brings in one great mind per week for a large lecture and then breaks into seminars.
  4. Teach a 12-credit cross-divisional program and accept contracts.
  5. Teach two sections of the same module for eight credits each e.g. Technology and Social Change or Mexican Dancing.
  6. Create some skeletally-defined cross-divisional programs that meet our desire for breadth in the curriculum and are offered on a yearly basis. For example: Technology, Values and Society. These could be taught by different faculty members each spring and could be pre-requisites for upper division programs.
  7. Work with seniors on senior capstone experiences, or other students on community service projects.


Model 3: The all-inclusive model

Rationale: We would like to keep the essence of what is Evergreen: student-driven learning in the context of coordinated studies and cross-divisional programs. That said, we need to be more intentional about providing access to breadth for students. In addition to one, two, or three quarter long cross-divisional programs, this model allows for 4 credit modules or 8 and 12 credit programs which the Expressive Arts planning unit is currently using to the benefit of the college.

Implications for students

  • Students sign a covenant stating that they will fulfill the expectations by graduation.
  • Students maintain a portfolio/academic plan and a 'checklist' of expectations. The idea of an academic plan needs further development by a subcommittee.
  • The expectations checklist appears in their transcript upon graduation.
  • Each spring students undergo a guided reflection process to create and/or revise their academic plan. A student's academic plan will reflect on how well she has addressed each of the expectations and will provide a concrete plan for reaching each of the expectations. This could generate 2 credits in an 18 credit hour quarter, or the college could not teach one day while faculty meet with their advisees. There are lots of creative ways to go about this and an Academic Plan/Portfolio subcommittee should make these recommendations..

Curricular Structures increasing access to the Arts, Sciences, and Quantitative Reasoning

Every other year, each faculty member must teach for at least one quarter in either:

  • A cross-divisional program (this could include All-Level Programs as well as LARGE programs)
  • 4, 8, or 12 credit modules without any pre-requisites. These modules could include, but are not limited to: lecture series, group contracts, senior capstone projects, community service projects, or repeatable programs

**This approach would allow access to breadth for 50% of our students each year.

** The planning units in conjunction with the deans would be responsible for enforcement.

Implications for faculty

  • Faculty sign a covenant saying that they will help provide students with access to the expectations by teaching every other year in at least one quarter of:
  • A cross-divisional program
  • 4, 8, or 12 credit modules without any pre-requisites.
  • Each faculty member's commitment to this covenant will be evaluated in their review conferences.
  • Faculty will be involved in the advising process as recommended by the Academic Plan/Portfolio Committee.
  • In checklist form, faculty will clearly state the expectations their program addresses both in the catalog and the final program description.

Advising

  • Faculty will serve as advisors and will guide their students in creating an academic plan as recommended by the Academic Plan/Portfolio subcommittee. A student's academic plan will reflect on how well she has addressed each of the expectations thus far in her college education and will provide a concrete plan for reaching each of the expectations.
  • The advising center will help create and implement workshops to guide students through the process of writing academic plans.

Faculty Development

  • A faculty center that fosters inter-area planning and provides concrete support to the faculty in the form of literature, teaching and learning forums, publications similar to "Research in Artistry," informal brown bag lunches where faculty can present their work. The Center can also archive program information to facilitate planning and encourage repetition of successful ideas. Academic history can also be preserved here.
  • Summer institutes to foster inter-area planning and help faculty develop skills in teaching writing, art, and quantitative reasoning.
  • Redesign governance to allow for more organic connections among faculty. Morning governance time on Wednesdays followed by a weekly faculty lunch. Why not make all of Wednesday a governance day and allow Mondays to be a full day (would sure help labs and field trips and decrease pressure on lots of rooms and labs that are so full on Tuesdays and Thursdays)?

Assessment

  • This is a 5-year study. If at that time 90% of students are not fulfilling all of the expectations upon graduation, requirements would take the place of expectations.

New Resources

  • Faculty center with a staff person. Perhaps this is connected somehow to the Washington Center and to Summer Institutes.
  • Money for summer institutes/paid planning time
  • Hiring--needs to be further explored.


Model 4: The A + B Model of Gen Ed

Rationale: This proposal is built on the assumption that a focused approach will be most successful. It also assumes that we should focus on core and the planning units. The planning unit focus is needed since the great majority of our students are transfer students. While quite a few of these could be "signed off" in terms of coming with gen ed completed, some will need to do gen ed in their final two years at TESC.

Proposal:

A. Core: do a focused five year experiment in Core. Encourage a diverse, interdivisional group of 25 faculty to take this on as a two or three year responsibility. The agreement would be that they would develop a variety of core programs that are inter-divisional, writing intensive, and either build opportunities for all the core students to meet all of the expectations within a single program or provide a model, such as 12/4, that allows students to get that exposure outside the program. The emphasis in this five year experiment would also be to provide curriculum in a variety of shorter formats -- 2 quarter programs, one quarter programs, intensive formats. The College would support this experiment through focused faculty development via summer institutes so that there was an ongoing conversation about the expectations in the context of live on-going experiments. At the end of five years, students would have had much broader access to the arts, sciences, and various literacies, and a substantial number of Evergreen faculty would have had deep conversations about what these mean and should mean here.

B. Planning Units would assume responsibility for providing ways for students, especially transfer students, to
get access to some or all of the expectations. The areas could do this through a combination of different models. The planning units would be asked to decide how to do this.

We already know that areas have somewhat different strengths and weaknesses in terms of providing access to the expectations in terms of their current offerings and their current structure. In some cases, for example, writing, we have fairly good coverage across the curriculum, but some areas would probably want to do more than they currently do. This might be accomplished through 1) deciding to make that a bigger area priority and 2) doing focused faculty discussion and faculty development around that expectation. In other cases, for example, quantitative reasoning, a specific area might decide they couldn't provide systematic exposure to that expectation but they would agree to provide ways for the students to get it elsewhere through 12/4 programs etc. A key aspect of this approach, though, would be that the areas would take leadership to do a self analysis and take on certain commitments with regard to the expectations.

Maybe they'd fill in the chart below as a way to get started in the discussion. After doing this area diagnosis, discussion could turn to how best to change the situation. Obviously the number of dimensions in terms of the expectations could be fewer or more than outlined below.

Hypothetical Area Analysis of Presence of Expectations in Areas and Preferences for Future (only partially filled in to show how this might happen)

Area

QR

Writing

Info Lit

Science

Art

Tacoma

Present

Present

Present

Present

?

Part Time

CTL

Present

Ex Arts

Want it available outside area. 12/4 model allows this

Present

Env Studies

Social Science

Present

Scientific Inquiry

Present

Present but needs more focus/fac dev

Present

Current 12/4 model allows students to obtain outside area

** The planning units in conjunction with the deans would be responsible for enforcement.