November 2016 Newsletter: SJSU Faculty Eligible for Grant to Redesign Courses

Course RedesignThe California State University Chancellor’s Office will be offering grants to faculty members who are interested in redesigning bottleneck courses with proposals due Feb. 15. Formerly known as the Proven Course Redesign and Promising Practices Grant, the grant has been renamed to Course Redesign 2025.

CSU Chancellor’s Office team members Kathy Fernandes, director for Learning Design and Technologies in Academic Technology Services, and Jean-Pierre Bayard, director of Systemwide Learning Technologies and Services, hosted an informational session at SJSU on Nov. 3 for faculty members interested in applying for a grant.

“We are focused on student success and graduation, and we are teaching 21st-century learners,” Fernandes said. “Student surveys say the option to have a learning community is important, but the pedagogy needs to drive the curriculum redesign.”

The grant is open to lecturers, tenure-track or tenured faculty who can apply for up to $15,000. Those who receive awards will participate in a summer institute that brings together faculty from throughout the CSU system and will participate in regular online meetings with their discipline cohort throughout the year. At the end of the grant year, professors have the option to create an e-portfolio to showcase their practices so that other faculty can adopt proven techniques.

“We are hiring a lot of new faculty so it’s a perfect time to transform teaching and learning,” Bayard noted.

Katherine Chilton, a lecturer in the College of Social Sciences Department of History, worked with colleagues Laura Guardino and Rob Cirivillieri in her department to redesign a general education course, “Essentials of U.S. History.” During the informational session, she shared their experience and e-portfolio with colleagues.

“We realized we were not just part of a department, but part of a campus,” she said. “We came together to learn – to see what works and what doesn’t.”

The professors focused on incorporating active learning while emphasizing skills such as reading, writing and analysis in teaching content to students. The courses incorporated active learning, online textbooks, iPads and in-class polling.

“It’s not just a matter of memorizing facts, but the curriculum is more relevant to student’s personal identity,” Chilton said. “We used the same techniques as we would in an upper division seminar, but found ways to do it in lower division (courses.)”

In spring 2016, the team saw an increase in the number of students with passing grades between the redesigned and non-redesigned courses, with 77 percent of students receiving an A or B grade in the redesigned course, compared to 64 percent in the non-redesigned course.

May 2016 Newsletter: Grant Fosters STEM Course Redesign

SJSU professors are redesigning lower division math and physics classes that are requirements for science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) majors.

SJSU professors are redesigning lower division math and physics classes that are requirements for science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) majors.

For the next four years, several faculty members in the Charles W. Davidson College of Engineering and the College of Science will be working to transform gateway science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) courses with a $3 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education. San Jose State University is one of 18 colleges and universities in the nation to receive a 2015 First in the World grant.

SJSU faculty members will work with CSU Los Angeles and Cal Poly Pomona representatives on creating flipped classroom materials that will be piloted at all three campuses. At San Jose State, Provost Andy Feinstein and Associate Professor Laura Sullivan-Green, from civil and environmental engineering, are co-directors on the grant. The first courses that will be updated are Math 30 (calculus I) and Phys 50 (physics I). The classes are a requirement for many STEM majors and a prerequisite for upper division work. The SJSU team plans to implement the flipped classroom model in fall 2016. Flipped courses often include richer and more readily accessible online supplemental study materials; more elaborate and interactive homework and self-check instructional materials; and more engaging in-class teaching strategies.

“We all know that innovation can take many forms and as a key part of the Administration’s goal to promote college access and affordability, the First in the World program aims to support a wide range of innovation to improve student success,” said U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, in a press release. “We are pleased to support these educational leaders who are driving exciting innovations to achieve those goals.”

As part of SJSU’s Four Pillars of Student Success, university leaders are focused on clearing course bottlenecks. Surveys of students revealed that a major challenge to success is course bottlenecks – impasses where they cannot enroll in a course they need to make progress toward their degrees, or when they cannot successfully complete a course and move forward. The university will offer up to 500 additional course sections in 2016-17 to clear bottlenecks. The CSU Chancellor’s Office Proven Course Redesign and Promising Practices grants along with the First in the World grant are targeted at improving successful completion of general education courses that are needed for students to move on to upper division work.

“We are hosting faculty and campus coordinators from our two partner campuses the first weekend in June to facilitate community-building and course material development,” said Sullivan-Green, noting that 30 faculty members and administrators are involved between the three campuses in the First in the World Grant.