New Brunswick Strategic Planning Proposal. Primary Strategic Priority/Foundational Element/Integrating Theme Addressed (Select one)

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1 New Brunswick Strategic Planning Proposal Proposal Title: Advisory Team for Undergraduate Course Redesign Proposal Initiator: Jennifer Silvia Muller Primary Contact Name and Phone Number: Jennifer Silvia Muller Primary Contact Address: Primary Strategic Priority/Foundational Element/Integrating Theme Addressed (Select one) _X_ Envision Tomorrow s University Build Faculty Excellence Transform the Student Experience Enhance Our Public Prominence Strong Core of Sciences and Humanities Inclusive, Diverse, and Cohesive Culture Effective and Efficient Infrastructure and Staff Financial Resources Sufficient to Fund Our Aspirations Robust Shared Governance, Academic Freedom, and Effective Communication Cultures, Diversity, and Inequality Local and Global Improving the Health and Wellness of Individuals and Populations Creating a Sustainable World through Innovation, Engineering, and Technology Educating Involved Citizens and Effective Leaders for a Dynamic World Creative Expression and the Human Experience Measuring Progress and Defining Success Proposal Abstract (brief summary of the proposal 250-word limit): This proposal is to establish an advisory team of Rutgers University staff members from units that concentrate on supporting instruction to focus on the ongoing redesign of undergraduate courses and programs. This team can also provide a basis for sharing information about best practices associated with this critical component of Rutgers mission. Units such as the Office of Academic Affairs, CTAAR, OIRT, COHLIT, Rutgers University Libraries, Digital Classroom Support, and Scheduling all have important information and expertise to share with regards to possible strategies for creating innovative and sustainable course redesigns. However, many of these units are approached individually by faculty and departments interested in creating a better way to manage different aspects of their courses. Discovering all the information needed to make a successful redesign, inherently an interdisciplinary task, is much more difficult than it needs to be under this pattern of interaction. Creating a team by redeploying some portion of individual staff members time from the various units to target this important goal would provide a greater opportunity for success. It could also lay the ground work for future successful redesigns by providing an official framework for defining a methodology for approaching course redevelopment at Rutgers as well as situating the requisite knowledge in an entity that could more readily cross institutional borders.

2 Full Proposal Description (5-page limit) What is being proposed? This proposal is to establish an advisory team of Rutgers University staff members from units that concentrate on supporting instruction to focus on the ongoing redesign of undergraduate courses and programs. This would provide a basis for sharing information about best practices associated with this critical component of Rutgers mission: the improvement of undergraduate education and preparing the university to educate new generations of learners. Creating an advisory team to provide faculty and departments with easier access to the tools, information, and specialized expertise to improve the design and delivery of undergraduate courses would address several of the themes, priorities, and elements from the University Strategic Plan. Most units with any relationship to either individual academic departments or the Office of Academic Affairs already work together to some extent, whether to assist with undergraduate course design or delivery. However if Rutgers could integrate the knowledge of how to do this kind of course redesign into an advisory team that would be available to work with departments on course or program redesigns Rutgers could be far more effective at improving student retention and achievement in the critical first years of their higher education experience. Universities around the country are rethinking many different aspects of traditional undergraduate course and program formats. The NCAT process (National Center for Academic Transformation) is just one example of a redesign methodology used widely in the United States that has produced results. Working with dozens of different universities and colleges, their process has been used to create over 250 redesigned courses with a historic average of ~33% cost savings per student and better than 80% improved learning outcomes for courses redesigned using their process. While NCAT is not the only course redesign methodology, their focus on both learning improvements as well as sustainability through cost savings makes them particularly appropriate as a reference model for Rutgers efforts on an institutional basis. How does this initiative align with the University Strategic Plan? Supporting the improvement of undergraduate education should be a cornerstone of any contemporary university s strategic plan. One way that Rutgers could do a better job at this would be to reorganize some of the support units around the goal of redesigning many of the large undergraduate courses which characterize students initial experiences of the University. If improved instructional, technological, and administrative support processes could help generate better chances for successful course designs, this could create not only improved outcomes for undergraduate students, but also improved student retention rates, cost reductions for individuals and units, and improved public perceptions of the University s teaching mission. Focus on this area is demonstrably needed: one of the strongest outcomes in the Strategic Planning Survey administered to undergraduate students at Rutgers in was the discrepancy between the students perceived importance of Rutgers teaching mission and their relative lack of satisfaction with Rutgers performance in this area (average rating of importance was ~6.5 on a 7 point scale compared to an average rating of ~5.1 with regards to performance).

3 Over the past fifteen years, as new instructional possibilities such as online course materials and tutorials, lecture capture, flipped classrooms, clicker systems and the like have become available, individual faculty, departments, and programs have considered redesigning their introductory courses to improve student outcomes, reduce overall costs, or simply to experiment with new formats. Large enrollment undergraduate courses are attractive targets for redevelopment as they have the greatest impact on the largest number of students, and their scale makes cost reductions achieved in the redesign help to sustain the innovative practices. That being said, many of these efforts remain isolated examples. While individual departmental efforts have yielded some positive benefits, overall, improving undergraduate curricula remains a challenge at universities with complex structures such as Rutgers. Many units involved with providing support to academic functions such as the various instructional technology support teams, CTAAR, and the Rutgers University Libraries are approached individually for help in rethinking some or all of a course s materials and delivery format. Additionally, for many courses during the rethinking of course materials and interactions there is a need to address classroom space use, accessibility concerns, policy interpretation, academic advising and registration issues, among others. There is a lot of expertise related to new ways of thinking about undergraduate education in all of these units, but the cross fertilization of ideas is sporadic and lacks much official support. Units perform their work individually: Without employing any particular methodology for course improvement. Without the ability to make accurate assessments of the improvement s sustainability. Without the ability to provide a more accurate picture of the redesign process s costs, benefits, and timeline. Without the ability to easily reference other internal resources for information on what has been tried successfully and unsuccessfully at Rutgers. Furthermore, focusing a portion of these support resources on an established university-wide goal and creating the conditions for knowledge sharing between support units could build a pattern of cooperation between disparate entities. What other themes, priorities, and elements from the Strategic Plan does this initiative address? Creating an advisory team to provide faculty and departments with easier access to the tools, information, and specialized expertise to improve the design and delivery of undergraduate courses would address several of the themes, priorities, and elements from the University Strategic Plan. The quest to provide better support for instructional activities and the improved outcomes for students appears under Build Faculty Excellence, Transform the Student Experience, as well as Strong Core of Sciences and Humanities. An advisory team providing an easier pathway to collaboration on the improvement of undergraduate education at Rutgers would be a useful resource for the different academic units to consult. Taking into account that the faculty members and their departments seeking to improve their courses and teaching are among the end-users for most of the units being solicited to staff the advisory team, providing a model of inter-unit cooperation to lower the level of frustration and the amount of time it takes to interact with the various parties would address the element of Effective and Efficient Infrastructure and Staff as well.

4 Who will be involved? Involving staff members from the Office of Academic Affairs, COHLIT, OIRT, CTAAR, Scheduling, Rutgers Libraries, Digital Classroom Support, as well as Academic Advising and the Office of Disability Services, would be a good list of units to start with. Specific discipline knowledge would remain the domain of the individual academic units and it would be expected that several faculty members from any department working on a course redesign would be involved directly in the advisory team s work, which would constitute a shifting of their time as well. One of the first phases of any course redesign project would be a stakeholder analysis to try to determine if there are additional resources or facilities which need to be added or consulted for that particular project. What are the desired outcomes? The advisory team could initially begin by collecting information about ongoing redesign efforts at Rutgers University, researching existing national models for redeveloping courses, such as NCAT s, and working out a plan for moving some of the applicable projects from the contributing units responsibilities to the new team. Initial phase (approximately 6 months) desired deliverables include: A definition of the new reporting relationships of the constituent members and their home units. The creation of a document specifying a process and model workflow for improving undergraduate courses and programs at Rutgers University incorporating input and checkpoints with the contributing units. A plan for reaching out to the deans of units with larger numbers of undergraduate students to give them information about the new advisory team, their associated expertise and the capacity to work on redesign projects. A definition of the kinds of assessment information along with the requisite tools needed to capture the current course s learning outcomes, student satisfaction rates, and faculty concerns to be able to measure improvements of learning outcomes. A tool with a list of potential factors and methods of capturing information for determining the current cost per student for running the course to enable to measure cost savings. The development of a meeting topic outline and expected outcomes/deliverables schedule for departments considering undertaking this kind of redesign. The production of a review of best practices to be used for guidance on redesign process. Goals for each project: The advisory team should be able to engage in some projects rapidly, with redeveloped courses (possibly incremental improvements) going in front of students within an academic year. Targets should include a significant improvement in learning outcomes. While the metrics for different design priorities will probably vary depending on the course and the department offering it, an expected improvement in student achievement after the redesign process should be targeted to at least 15% over the existing course s established metrics - as well as cost savings large enough to sustain the new practices.

5 On an ongoing basis after the startup phase the advisory team should: Serve as continual support for academic units who choose to evaluate existing courses and programs. Provide counsel for academic units considering undertaking a redesign. Align with existing higher education research at Rutgers Graduate School of Education for possible collaboration on research initiatives. Work to expand the outreach throughout the university and the state of New Jersey of effective practices in undergraduate course redesign. Improve the effectiveness of the contributing units staff expertise and time to the advisory committee as hopefully this will open up more channels for cross communication. What anticipated resources would be needed for this initiative? At the beginning existing staff lines from units with responsibility for the issues related to this work could be partially redeployed to work on course redesign consultations and projects. To prevent the advisory team from becoming a separate unit unto themselves it would be desirable to keep the lines of communication and information open between the staff members and the contributing units. No staff lines would be wholly devoted to the advisory team for this reason. Half of one staff member s time might be a good starting metric, with adjustments over time depending on the amount of work needed and the success of the advisory team s anticipated outcomes. If a small percentage of the cost savings could be passed back to the advisory team this could be used to defray the staff line costs. This would also provide incentive for the advisory team to focus on the courses with the greatest numbers of undergraduates. It is important to acknowledge that all of the contributing units already perform this kind of redesign work to a greater or lesser extent. What is suggested is not a large expansion of resources in this area, but a reorganization of existing resources already deployed to address these concerns, but less effectively than they might be. Conclusion No course design can make a class immune from student failure, but tighter alignment between a course s learning objectives, class activities, and assessments can result in markedly better outcomes. It costs the university money (albeit indirectly) and an institution s reputation suffers over the long term for each student that performs poorly in a poorly designed introductory course. Rutgers is resilient enough to be able to put into place the changes that will help it weather the disruptive forces assailing its dominance in undergraduate education in New Jersey. Proposed Measures to Mark Progress or Determine Success In addition to the listing of desired outcomes above, the measures of success to be looked at for this project would fall into three categories. The team should provide, in various formats, documentation of the processes and best practices associated with course redesign and available resources for Rutgers faculty and departments engaged in this process. The team should assist the faculty and departments in producing the course materials and activities in alignment with these

6 processes and best practices. Also the team should work to reduce the amount of redundancy of institutional efforts in the areas associated with the improvement of undergraduate education. Please save your proposal as a Word document and submit it as an attachment to by April 15, 2014.

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