Archive for the ‘rigor’ Category

rigor-cientc3adfico1Several years ago the Provost at our university asked all department heads to report on what we were doing to ensure academic rigor in our programs.   After several rounds of discussion with department faculty, I drafted a memo for the Provost.  Following is that memo – I hope that you find it instructive.

TO: Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs
FROM: Dr. Percy Trappe,  Department Head
RE: Memo on Academic Rigor
DATE: April 2012

The faculty members in our department believe that the following five core principles form the foundation of academic rigor:

Principle #1 – Rigor is a Commitment that should be Articulated in a Program’s Mission & Values
Our faculty have collectively developed a Mission and Values statement that clearly articulates a commitment to an active, experiential learning environment that prepares students to apply their knowledge.  The department emphasizes the high value placed on continuous improvement, collaboration, the promotion of individual strengths, and stakeholder relationships.

Principle #2 – Rigor is Defined within a Program’s Learning Outcomes
Program-level learning outcomes that traverse individual courses promote a culture of academic rigor.  Integrated coursework where prerequisite courses enable higher level learning in subsequent courses promotes faculty collaboration and the development of consistent, systematic and measurable standards.   Courses in our department contribute to two different sets of Program Learning Outcomes: (1) College Core, and (2) our degree programs.   The accreditation of our program provides external validation of these learning outcomes.

Principle #3 – Rigor is Refined through Continuous Improvement and Assessment
Faculty members utilize feedback from systematic assessment in order to continuously improve the curriculum content and meet the needs of our stakeholders.   Employers, alumni and the department’s advisory board are actively engaged in a formal process of feedback and improvement.

Principle #4 – Rigor is a Collective Faculty Value
Ultimately individual faculty members are responsible for the rigor within their classroom.   In our department each course has a faculty leader.  This faculty member is responsible for working with other faculty members to ensure that learning objectives are met and a reasonable level of consistency in academic rigor exists across sections.

Principle #5 – Rigor is Refined through Faculty Evaluation
As part of the faculty evaluation process, the department head and members of the faculty advisory committee give faculty members feedback regarding how well they are meeting expectations of academic rigor and, if needed, offer suggestions on how to increase academic rigor in their classroom.

from the pen of Dr. Percy Trappe


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