Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Zero to sixty

In just an hour this afternoon, my schedule for the rest of the year filled up. I exaggerate, a little. It was the first meeting of the Chairs & Directors for the new academic year. We learned that, on top of what we already do (monitoring ongoing classes, scheduling new ones, hiring and mentoring and reviewing faculty, shepherding majors and nonmajors, etc.), we're introducing a number of time-consuming procedures to codify and make explicit the learning goals of all programs and courses - including aligning current courses to new standards of student workload (reading, writing, etc.), variegated by course-level and contact-hours - and to find ways of determining that these outcomes are achieved. This is the way the wind's been blowing in higher education for a while (I remember a Theater of the Oppressed skit at ATHE in 2008 where people were haunted and hounded by the phrase quantifiable learning outcomes!). Perhaps it was just a matter of time before we were infected... But now we get to do it all at once, in preparation for the incoming new university president (who is said to loves "data") and for the Middle States accreditation review coming up in three years. And most of it, it seems, this semester, the same one in which we put together the 2011-2012 curriculum! On top of that, it's my turn to be on the reviews and promotion committee. With all the codifying, tabulating, reviewing going on, it's a wonder any teaching gets done at all any more! (Fear not students, I'm here for you.)

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