Advice for Future Implementations
Part of the InTeGrate California State University - Chico Program Model
Consideration of context:
Faculty at CSU, Chico have high teaching loads (4 courses per semester) and most GE Pathway courses (e.g. those involved in this project) have enrollments of 50 students. Courses are considered service courses rather than those contributing to development of students in one's discipline as a major. Student attitudes towards courses range widely, from enthusiasm for the course themes to disdain for being required to take a course outside their major or even area of interest. As such, teaching Pathway courses is seen by some faculty as a required element of their teaching load, but others (all members of this program team!) take great pride and interest in engaging students in course topics.CSU, Chico has a strong interest in the student success in the GE Pathways, but few pathways have a close-knit faculty team who collaborate together on the materials students encounter across the pathway. The mechanism for supporting such faculty networks has not been widely available, making Chico's program a welcome anomaly.
Things that worked well that we would do againAs noted in the Key Aspects of the Program section, things that worked well that we would do again include our data collection plan and implementation and the commitment of our team to the project.
Strategies for overcoming challenges
Prior to funding through the Program Model, two current team members had met to try to develop what has become our team. Challenges we encountered at that time included trying to convince faculty to participate in a collaborative effort of this scale in light of busy teaching schedules and the time outside of teaching that the project planning, course revisions, and collaborative effort would require. Fortunately, with the funded project, we were able to dedicate a large amount of time during summer 2015 and 2016 on the project and compensate faculty for their time. This reduced (although did not eliminate) the time required during academic terms when faculty could implement new curriculum and collect data. Now that team members have had 3 (going on four) semesters to use the curriculum and building our faculty learning community, we are comfortable continuing with use of existing InTeGrate materials and adapting new materials to provide more student-centered learning experiences for our students.
Things to think about before you start this type of project
Careful planning and organization of this type of project is critical to its success. From selecting courses that are best suited to incorporate InTeGrate materials to developing the faculty team, early planning will lead to greater success. Busy faculty should be selected based on their genuine interest and dedication to student learning. While funding for the Chico program team provided additional motivation for team members, all faculty participated in the proposal development, which indicated their willingness to contribute to the project even before financial gain was viable.
Selection of courses and faculty were also facilitated by our familiarity with InTeGrate materials. Two members of the team had previously used InTeGrate curriculum in Sustainability Pathway courses or in courses with similar class sizes and student populations. With this background knowledge, other team members had confidence that materials would work in their courses with similar constraints.Strong organization also played a key role in data collection, from the development of student surveys, IRB approval to the collection of data from faculty and compilation of that data in useful formats for analysis and interpretation.