The University of California, Merced (UC Merced) project builds on the structure of the Center for Research on Teaching Excellence to include a Graduate Certificate in Undergraduate Learning Outcomes and Assessment that is grounded in the professional disciplinary literatures and that explicitly addresses and cultivates course, program and relevant institutional goals for student learning.
Project Plan and Activities:
1. Extend the Center for Research on Teaching Excellence’s future faculty certificate program.
UC Merced will create a multi-disciplinary learning community which will prepare future faculty to use assessment as a teaching tool to tailor instruction, curriculum, and teaching behaviors to support desired student learning outcomes. The program will be offered each semester, to include pre-semester workshops and biweekly meetings. The learning community will include a) Faculty Assessment Organizers from the graduate students’ disciplines, b) lead instructors from the courses in which graduate participants are teaching, c) the school-based, disciplinary-knowledgeable assessment specialists that support the assessment efforts of academic programs, and d) expertise in instruction and general learning assessment through the Center Faculty Development Coordinator, the campus’ Coordinator for Institutional Assessment, and the Merritt Writing Program Co-Director (for general education).
2. Provide participating future faculty with a course-embedded assessment experience.
Each participant will:
a. Develop an administer a needs assessment at the beginning of the semester
b. Create a series of outcomes-based classroom teaching plans and instructional materials that include an explicit assessment component.
c. A mid-semester course evaluation
d. Administer and grade a signature assignment using program-aligned rubrics.
e. Summarize their project in an annotated syllabus with supporting curriculum.
f. Maintain weekly logs and write a final reflective essay.
3. Generate curriculum to support improved instructional practices for teaching assistants in key gateway courses in the STEM, social sciences, and humanities disciplines.
Graduate students will apply with a summary of project goals, and faculty may apply with a specific course or program-based need in mind. Within STEM programs, graduate student projects will focus on introductory or gateway courses that, with high-failure rates nationally and locally, discourage successful completion of STEM degrees, particularly among underrepresented minorities.
4. Engage Faculty Assessment Organizers, course instructors, and assessment specialists as project mentors.
Project assessment will consist of the following:
A. Surveys and Interviews to evaluate graduate student and faculty perceptions of learning and identify areas for improvement.
B. Assessment of graduate student project materials, including essays, syllabi, and curriculum.
C. Departmental Assessment Findings will be collected with the goal that participating programs receive a “Highly Developed” rating.
D. Graduate participants satisfaction, success, and employment will be documented. Further, participant employment will be tracked for three years after project completion.