Summary of Teaching and Learning Ideas Submitted via the Strategic Planning Process — Fall 2011
Suggestions: Restore quality of students, improve morale at all levels by making shifts in Grinnell College’s culture and structures, and enhance the learning environment by giving faculty more time and better resources. These recommendations come primarily from the survey of faculty, staff, and students.
Ambitions for Grinnell visibility
- Maintain and grow perception of Grinnell’s focus on academic and intellectual rigor, commitment to civility and inclusion, self-governance, innovation, leadership, and social justice.
- Be a sought-after elite private school that routinely ranks in U.S. News and World Report’s top 10 and is recognized as having identifiable, justifiable, proven areas of excellence.
Sources of pride
- We can be proud of our values, mission, history of social justice, academic excellence, ethics, quality, endowment, student opportunities, alumni, staff and students.
- Transform and restructure the faculty-administration relationship. Create a more positive environment by valuing all members of faculty, staff, and administrators equally; foster a culture in which all ideas, personal accountability, civility, diversity, and mutual respect are valued, recognized, and rewarded.
- Nurture a student culture that values healthy living behaviors.
- Eliminate excessive bureaucracy and uncompromising workloads.
- Improve morale by appreciating and responding to individual needs and stresses.
- Create a more positive College administration attitude toward student opinions and concerns.
- Make committee minutes accessible to all.
- Reduce silos; improve communication across departments and through all levels.
- Be more transparent.
- Hire a consultant to assess current curricula; prepare new approaches to teaching.
- Provide more degrees and concentrations to better position students to enter the work force or graduate-level studies.
- Provide more one-on-one opportunities for students to engage directly with faculty.
- Incorporate — and encourage (in spirit and process) students to engage in — more real-world educational. opportunities (such as volunteering, internship, service-learning, off-campus study, MAPs, independent study).
- Expand student mentoring program.
- Reduce class size.
- Provide better (larger) teaching spaces.
- Fund new technology and data-driven, inquiry-based learning.
- Extend programs to include visiting professors and graduate-level programs.
- Lift departmental boundaries and enhance the College’s interdisciplinary approach to education; create an Interdisciplinary Studies Advisory Board.
- Build a new library and computer tech center.
- Better maintain current facilities.
- Provide better (larger) teaching spaces.
- Equip ITS to respond faster and better to campus needs.
- Develop a skunk-works lab devoted to creating the future of a liberal arts education.
- Invest! Embrace technology and grow our culture online, in social media, remotely, and in ways that respond to our current economy and culture in flexible, resource-responsible ways.
- Partner with leading sources of innovation in higher education (e.g., Stanford, ImagineK12, 2Tor, Inkling, SoFi, Fidelis College, Piaza, ClassOwl) and test new innovations.
- Create an innovation fund to support piloting and implementing ideas.
- Empower centers to coordinate and publicize interdisciplinary research.
Philanthropy and service
- Promote philanthropy.
- Create an outlet for international volunteering opportunities.
Staff, faculty, and administration
- Improve morale by eliminating internal politics and beginning to value/appreciate/recognize contributions being made at all levels.
- Apply same standards of performance and conduct to all levels, and implement greater equality in recognition of accomplishment, monetary compensation, and other benefits.
- Transform/restructure the faculty-administration relationship. Move away from silos that hamper collaboration, civility, and progress; promote a more trusting, cooperative, collaborative, and team spirit.
- Provide more staff development opportunities and real potential for career growth.
- Consider ways to provide more time and resources to faculty and staff alike (reduce committee work and other non-job-specific responsibilities) to improve overall job performance.
- Enforce greater job accountability without prejudice.
- Clarify reporting structures and job expectations.
- Examine the effectiveness of certain offices (dean’s office, human resources) and make changes.
- Reduce bureaucracy, empower individuals, restructure faculty governance.
- Reexamine policies regarding MAPs, recognition, leaves, work-family balance, etc.
In the classroom
- Enhance effectiveness by implementing new technology, data and tools. Make ITS support more accessible. Reduce class size. Reduce faculty course load to 2/2. Eliminate excessive bureaucracy and rules. Provide greater career development and growth opportunities. Appreciate individual family demands and values.
- Provide student help for grading papers.
- Improve the quality of students.
- Enhance education for faculty, staff, and students regarding ecosystems.
- Work toward carbon neutrality; all new buildings should be “net zero.”