Curriculum improvement should be a continuous process and is key to providing an excellent educational experience for USC students. To accomplish curriculum improvement in a strategic manner, faculty in an academic unit must work together with a good understanding of what evidence-based best practices are for their majors. Applications for this award will clearly articulate what an excellent undergraduate curriculum entails and allow faculty and staff in academic units to work together to accomplish improvement in their undergraduate curriculum.
Recognizing that different academic programs currently have different strengths and areas for improvement, the award will be based on multiple criteria with the knowledge that academic programs will need to focus on their areas of greatest weakness. An analysis of strengths and weaknesses of the targeted academic program, based on evidence-based best practices, and a clear rationale of the curriculum improvement method used will be part of the proposal. There should be a plan to assess the impact of the curriculum modifications with evidence of its implementation.
Call for Applications for the Curriculum Improvement Award (Due April 8, 2024)
Applications from academic units are requested for the Provost Curriculum Improvement Award. Curriculum improvements should be for one major and be documented over the period starting in Fall 2022 through the end of the Spring 2024 semester. Note this award is for improvements shown over two years and is not an award for the best curriculum overall. The improvements must impact undergraduate students who are in the major. Only one award of $50,000 will be given to a single academic unit and the award funds are expected to be used for professional development of the professional-track and tenure-track faculty and staff involved in the curriculum improvement process. The intent is for this award to be an annual award with academic units eligible to apply every three years.
Possible ideas for curriculum improvement might include (but are not limited to) one or more of the following areas:
- A reduction of curriculum complexity based on curriculum analytics;
- An accurate Degree Works degree audit;
- A clear pathway to a 4-year degree for all students including transfer students;
- Outreach programs to students to complete their degree.
- Intentional incorporation of student engagement early in the curriculum leading to continued engagement in experiential learning;
- Ensuring the experiential learning opportunities meet the criteria for high impact including reflection and time on task;
- Ensuring that all students have access to and are required to engage in experiential learning.
- Courses and/or learning outcomes reflect career readiness elements;
- Mentoring programs linked to curriculum from faculty, senior peers, professional staff, alumni, etc.
- Professional- and Tenure-track faculty participate at high rates in professional development related to pedagogy and curriculum development;
- Temporary faculty, adjunct faculty, and/or graduate student instructors of record are mentored and trained in best practices for teaching.
- Online courses meet USC’s Quality Standards for Online Courses;
- Face-to-face classes are modified to meet the principles of good practice in undergraduate education and/or other evidence-based best practices;
- Courses, especially high DFW courses, are taught using best practices to facilitate students’ success;
- Syllabi for courses are modified to reflect best practices, available resources, and opportunities for student success;
- Assessment of the quality of courses that goes beyond student evaluations and/or peer evaluations linked to positive student outcomes.
- Sustainable plans to have ongoing and intentional efforts geared toward curriculum and course excellence over years;
- The academic unit incorporates new reward structures to support curriculum and courses excellence.
Applications will be limited to twenty pages (not including a cover page, table of contents, references, and appendices) (1 in margins, minimum 12-point font). Applications are due April 8, 2024, and submitted to firstname.lastname@example.org. Curriculum improvements should be documented over the period starting in Fall 2022 through Spring 2024. Questions about the award or application should be directed to Charlie Pierce (email@example.com) and Claire Robinson (firstname.lastname@example.org). All applications should include the following sections:
- Cover page and table of contents
- Current curriculum strengths and weakness (supported by data)
- Rationale for curriculum and course changes
- Research-based methods adopted;
- Impact on students (numbers, majors, etc.)
- Academic unit engagement and process
- Changes accomplished
- Actual or anticipated results;
- Unintended consequences;
- Metrics and/or assessment data gathered and plans for assessment and metrics in the future
Where to get help at USC?
Resources for academic units interested in improving their curriculum and overall quality of teaching:
- University Advising Center (Claire Robinson, Director, and Assistant Dean, email@example.com)
- Center for Integrative and Experiential Learning (Charlie Pierce, Director, firstname.lastname@example.org)
- Center for Teaching Excellence (Nate Carnes, Director, email@example.com)
- Student Success Center (Dana Talbert, Director, jablonskK@email.sc.edu)
- Career Center (Helen Powers, Director, firstname.lastname@example.org)
Links to Readings about Curriculum Improvement
- Is your Degree Program Too Complicated? Poor design and needless bloat are derailing students.
- Does Curricular Complexity imply program quality? Curricular complexity is inversely related to program quality and student success.
- “The simplest curriculum (in terms of complexity) that allows students to attain a program’s learning outcomes yields the best student success outcomes and therefore the highest quality program.”
- UERU Curricular Analytics project
- Defining curricular analytics: Curriculum Analytics assesses the structural complexity of an academic program/major/degree (not instructional complexity).
- Identifies courses in a curriculum that may delay a student due to preventing them from moving on in a sequence of courses that leads to graduation.
- Boyer 2030 Report on Undergraduate Education at Research Universities
- Facilitating Clear Degree Pathways (pp. 40-43)
- Supporting student success in the classroom