Syracuse University Libraries is adding two ‘MindSpa’ wellness rooms, designed similarly to the Barnes Center at The Arch Crowley Family MindSpa, on Sunday, Oct. 1, in Bird Library. The Bird Library MindSpa consists of two rooms – a Massage Chair…
Additional Online Course Tagging Working Sessions Planned
Five online working sessions will be held between early October and mid-December for faculty members to obtain guidance on integrating the University’s Shared Competencies into their curriculum and to have support completing the course tagging process.
The one-hour Zoom working sessions, hosted by the Senate Ad Hoc Committee on Shared Competencies, are scheduled for the following dates:
- Thursday, Oct. 6, at 1 p.m.
- Wednesday, Oct. 26, at 11 a.m.
- Tuesday, Nov. 8, at 3:30 p.m.
- Friday, Dec. 2, at 2 p.m.
- Friday, Dec.16, at noon
The Shared Competencies initiative is a Universitywide, collaborative initiative having four main purposes: helping all undergraduate students no matter what their major is to communicate the value of their degree to prospective employers and graduate schools; providing pathways for all students to explore connections between their major field of study, liberal art requirements and co-curricular or other experiences; enabling all undergraduate academic programs to integrate the University’s learning goals into the curriculum; and meeting the University’s accreditation requirements for Middles States Commission on Higher Education. An essential aspect of the initiative is course tagging. Course tagging ensures that the curriculum is transparent to students and allows them to make connections between their course assignments, projects, and experiences and the University’s learning goals.
Faculty can register via the Shared Competencies website. Those attending should bring copies of the course syllabus, assignment prompts/instructions and feedback tools for reference. A question/answer page on the Shared Competencies, a course tagging toolkit and an instructional video explaining course tagging in five steps can also be found on the Shared Competencies site. Examples of successfully tagged courses are posted for additional guidance.
Group Sessions Available
Anne Mosher, provost’s faculty fellow for the Shared Competencies and an associate professor of geography and the environment, says the team can also provide school/college-level or program-level working sessions where colleagues can tag courses together in a community setting.
The working sessions have proven beneficial and efficient for the course tagging process, says Mosher. She reports that the Senate Ad Hoc Committee on Shared Competencies’ reviews are indicating that faculty who participate in a working session or engage the course tagging toolkit and other materials have a high rate of success for tag approval on the first try. The efforts being made to complete course tagging are greatly appreciated, Mosher says. “Associate Provost for Academic Affairs Chris Johnson, the Senate Ad Hoc Committee on Competencies, the IEA staff and I are really pleased and impressed by the work done in undergraduate programs and by individual faculty,” Mosher says. “While there is still more to be done before the second-year deadline of May 31, 2023 to get every required and requirement-satisfying undergraduate course tagged, together we have made a solid start about which the campus can be proud.”
Glenn Peers, professor and director of undergraduate studies in art and music histories, says the working sessions are proving useful. “The tagging session was extremely helpful in gathering my department to discuss important issues not only regarding this initiative, but also about pedagogical issues we hadn’t discussed previously,” Peers says. “It was a productive and efficient process due to the input and guidance from the session facilitator.”
Kelly Chandler-Olcott, interim dean of the School of Education and Laura J. and L. Douglas Meredith Professor for Teaching Excellence, agrees. “Our school-specific sessions—one in person, one online—were invaluable. Amanda Johnson Sanguiliano, associate director of IEA, and Anne modeled the different components of the form then provided on-the-spot coaching as participants worked through the answers in the context of their own courses,” Chandler-Olcott says. “Being together in shared space to do the work made it less daunting and allowed questions that surfaced for one person to be addressed for others to whom they applied, building common understandings across our unit.”
Overall, there has been serious reflection by faculty on linking the Shared Competencies to their courses, says Joyce Zadzilka, professor of accounting practice in the Whitman School of Management and a member of the Senate Ad Hoc Committee on Shared Competencies team that is responsible for reviewing tags. She believes the committee’s work has been objective and supportive of faculty members’ rationale for their choice of tags and she says having a second reviewer has been efficient to the process.
“Even though we have questions, the intent is to ensure the validity of a course tag so students can trust any decisions they make based on the Shared Competencies. It is definitely helpful to have a second set of eyes on the tag requests for validation,” says Zadzilka “Any divergence in the team’s scores is easily resolved through discussion and there is usually a give and take on items where one team member had a strong opinion on a particular score.”
Much progress was made in the first year of the two-year course tagging initiative, with 1,326 discrete tags having been placed across 740 courses as of mid-September. That number represents about 50 percent of the total number of courses that need to be tagged, Johnson Sanguiliano says. A snapshot of the progress made regarding the six competencies is shown on the Shared Competencies site.