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Improvement by Design

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JMU Learning Improvement: Request for Proposals*

*RFP published for viewing purposes.

Please Contact Keston Fulcher (fulchekh@jmu.edu) and Cara Meixner (meixnecx@jmu.edu) for more information. 
Download a print version of this RFP. 

Submit Application to Keston Fulcher (fulchekh@jmu.edu) and Cara Meixner (meixnecx@jmu.edu).

APPLICATION PROCESS
 Interested programs are strongly encouraged to send a brief interest statement and schedule a short informational meeting with LID Project leaders, Keston and Cara prior to submitting this RFP.

Part One: Project Background

The purpose of the Learning Improvement by Design (LID) Project is to increase program-level learning improvement at JMU.

We strive to achieve:

  • Demonstrable impacts on student learning in academic degree programs.
  • Demonstrable impact on faculty (development as teacher-scholars, sense of belonging to the institutional community, motivation and efficacy, etc.).
  • Recognition of JMU as a leader in cultivating assessment-affirmed high-impact practices.

Part Two: Proposal Requirements

1. Program Overview

A)  Program Name

B)  Number of program graduates per year

C)  Number of faculty members involved in teaching courses required for the program

D)  Briefly describe the purpose of your program (200 word limit)

2. Identify Targeted Student Learning Objective

Provide an overview of the learning objective targeted by this project.

A)  Include the specific learning objective that will be targeted. Each objective listed must be a formal program objective that is included or will be included in assessment reporting.

B)  Indicate why the targeted objective is important for your program/field, linking to long-term benefits (e.g., graduate school, job preparedness, civic engagement, lifelong learning).

C)  What data suggest the targeted objective needs improvement?  Programs are encouraged to reference direct measures, indirect measures (e.g., self-report surveys), disciplinary trends, or program review recommendations.

D)  To demonstrate student learning improvement, programs must assess student performance before changing curriculum and pedagogy, and after. Therefore, assessment is critical to the process.  Some LID initiatives have begun with strong assessment at the outset.  Other have not. Comment on the strength of the program’s current assessment methodology (i.e., instrument, data collection) relative to the targeted student learning objective.

3. Faculty Team

Document faculty commitment to the project.

A)  The vast majority of faculty who teach in courses targeted by the learning initiative must be willing and enthusiastic participants. This includes instructors on the tenure-track as well as on part-time or full-time renewable term contracts. Other faculty are welcome and encouraged to collaborate as well.  Please complete Appendix A- Team Member Form.

B)  Characteristics of successful teams include a commitment to improving the learning environment; a collaborative spirit; and a critical, yet constructive disposition. Provide evidence of how your program faculty has worked together effectively to address program-wide issues.

C)  Describe the culture of your program.  The following are some questions that may help frame how you think about your program. 

1. What are the dynamics within the culture? 

2. What is the typical communication flow among members of the program?

3. Who makes decisions about programmatic changes, pedagogy choices, and assessment? Are these change-agents supportive of this proposal?

D)  Consider the courses targeted by the learning initiative and a typical semester.  The following are some questions that may be helpful to consider. 

1. How many of the instructors of these courses are tenure-track, full-time renewable term instructors, and part-time instructors?

2. What is the turn-over in who teaches these courses from semester to semester. Are the core group of faculty members ones you anticipate remaining within the program for the next three years? 

3. Identify the project leader(s).  Ideal characteristics for leaders are that they have experience within the program, are respected by all program members, have a voice within the program, have the time to commit to the project, and are able to enact change via collaboration with other program/faculty members.

E)  Consider departmental support for team members.  Some areas to consider include the following.

1. Is there departmental support for the team members’ involvement, such as course release or release from other service activities? 

2. Is this service rewarded in the faculty members’ promotion and/or tenure process?

3. Does the core group of faculty have the time to commit to this project? 

4. Are the core faculty aware of and willing to commit to jmUDESIGN during the summer? 

F)  The Academic Unit Head must support this process. Provide a letter of support from the AUH. Please see Appendix B- Academic Unit Head Letter of Support.

G)  Describe any other situational factors that may enhance or hinder this process (e.g., new hires, retirements, program going through APR or Accreditation, grants to improve program). What, if any, barriers do you foresee? 

4. Investigate Current Efforts

Document what your program is currently doing to help students reach the targeted learning objective. 

A)  Provide a curriculum map illustrating which courses address the targeted objective. Discuss the extent to which this map accurately represents courses that meaningfully address the targeted objective.

B)   Provide an overview of the in-course strategies, pedagogies, and assignments currently used to address the targeted objective. Do not reference particular faculty names.

C)  Provide an explanation/hypothesis about why the current approaches in these courses are not supporting student learning to the degree desired by faculty.

5. Propose Tentative Learning Modifications

Briefly describe any proposed learning modifications (i.e., interventions, curricular or pedagogical changes.)

A)  Briefly outline proposed interventions (i.e., curricular or pedagogical changes) the program intends to make to enhance the learning environment with regard to the targeted learning objective.

B)  Why does the core faculty team think these interventions will be powerful enough to make a substantial change in student learning?

6. Propose Improvement Timetable

Provide a specific timeline showing when the changes will be implemented in the curriculum and when they will be assessed.  Indicate the:

A)  Timing of the pre-assessment

B)  Timing of deployment of curricula changes (i.e. intervention) to a subset of students (i.e. cohort)

C)  Timing of the post-assessment

Also, the program must provide evidence that the selected assessment measures and data collection design will provide valid evidence of learning improvement if such improvement occurs.

Part Three: Project Support

The scope and level of project support will align with the learning improvement initiative.

FACULTY TEAM SIGNATURES

We approve the prospective project as described above and commit to proceed if selected.

Name

Signature

Date

APPENDIX A - TEAM MEMBER FORM

In the table below, please list all faculty members who regularly teach courses related directly to this learning initiative. Map each faculty member to the courses targeted for learning improvement. As necessary, create additional columns for each course and rows for each additional faculty member. Please place an asterisk (*) beside the names of faculty members serving on the core faculty team. 

Faculty Members

Targeted Course Name
(e.g., POP 100)

Targeted Course Name
(e.g. POP 100)

Targeted Course

Lynard*

X (~Number of students)

Mariah*

X (~Number of students)

Gene

X (~Number of students)

X (~Number of students)

Madonna*

X (~Number of students)

Freddie*

X (~Number of students)

Additional Team Members

Name

Courses Taught

 

  

APPENDIX B- ACADEMIC UNIT HEAD LETTER OF SUPPORT

The Academic Unit Head is to submit a brief letter acknowledging support of this initiative.