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The New Curriculum Part II: The Next Steps

Quantifying the success of the new curriculum is “the next step forward,” said Associate Dean Viswanathan. As part of the Middle States Commission on Higher Education’s YC assessment, committees have formed to create “sustainable, systematic learning assessments,” said Dr. Lee, who is heading the steering committee for the Middle States evaluation.

This committee mandated by the Office of the Provost will create rubrics to quantify the educational advancement of students within the curricula. According to Dean Eichler, this new “outcomes-based assessment” will center around two central questions: “How does this affect faculty members?” and “Are students reflecting the curricular goals set out by the faculty?”

Another team was formed to assess the curriculum internally. “I am gathering hard data right now,” said Dr. Rachel Mesch, the chair of both the languages department and the “New Curriculum Oversight Committee.” Her committee hopes to use faculty and student feedback to streamline administrative procedures, create resources for faculty, and generate transparent dialogue between the eight categories of the new curriculum. “There were so many passionate discussions among the faculty,” Dr. Mesch told The Commentator. “We need to make sure we continue that discussion.”

Dr. Mesch’s taskforce has already conducted discussions with faculty members who have taught in the new curriculum to see where improvements can be made. She is also coordinating with the office of institutional research to assess student opinion. “This curriculum was never designed to be implemented and then never questioned for the next 90 years,” she said. “We expected issues to arise that we would have to work out along the way.”

The most pressing issue on the committee’s agenda is working to reduce class sizes. A number of courses are filled to capacity at 30 students, draining professors and taxing students. “There are classes that are enormous. We are starting to work with those numbers and seeming how many section will be needed to bring those numbers down,” Dr. Mesch said assuring.

By the end of the summer, the New Curriculum Oversight Committee hopes to place documents, course syllabi, and procedural questions online in a new website dedicated to the new curriculum. “Data will help all of us—faculty and students—plan for the future.” In the next year, the committee headed by Dr. Lee will roll out more concrete assessments of student progress. President Joel told The Commentator that tangible progress within the curriculum “will take a long time to be fully integrated, but we are already seeing positive outcomes.”

The New Curriculum Part III: Toward An Interdisciplinary Campus