In 2006, after a two-and-a-half year comprehensive review of the undergraduate curriculum, the MIT Task Force on the Undergraduate Educational Commons made transformative recommendations to improve the quality and clarity of the educational experience. While the Task Force report affirmed that MIT’s core curriculum has successfully prepared graduates for a lifetime of learning and leadership, it also recognized that changes in the world and students today require some very important changes to the curriculum. Their recommendations focused on:
- incorporating more flexibility into the General Institute Requirements (GIRs):
- creating more opportunities for global education;
- providing a more cohesive and engaging first-year experience;
- promoting educational innovation and assessment;
- encouraging collaborative learning;
- recognizing the value of a diverse student body;
- enhancing undergraduate advising; and
- improving educational infrastructure, including classrooms and systems.
Through the work of Curriculum & Faculty Support (CFS), DUE is leading the refinement and implementation of the Task Force's recommendations. While some recommendations were ready for implementation, others needed additional discussion and refinement by the faculty. DUE supported and collaborated with the Committee on the Undergraduate Program (CUP) and the Educational Commons Subcommittee (ECS) as the recommendations were discussed, revised, and voted on by the faculty.
Experimentation extends beyond the recommendations of the Task Force and ECS. The CUP and its subcommittees on the Communication Requirement (SOCR) and the HASS Requirement license experiments supported by DUE. DUE also provides funding, as well as assessment and technical expertise, in support of curricular initiatives by individual faculty or teams of faculty.
DUE's Commitment to Curriculum Innovation at MIT
Curriculum innovation can take many forms; consequently, DUE is actively engaged in supporting a broad range of efforts from across the Institute, including the examples outlined below.
Supporting faculty committees considering and experimenting with curricular change
creating a Study Group on Algorithmic and Computational Thinking for MIT Undergraduates, to complete an in-depth study on the possibility of incorporating algorithmic reasoning and computational thinking into the education of undergraduates across all five of MIT's schools;
considering the proposed First-Year Focus program, designed to engage freshmen in active learning around a question or problem of perennial human concern; and
- licensing three one-year experiments with Project-Based Communication-Intensive subjects.
Collaborating with the faculty to implement approved curricular changes
adding an optional double-major to support the multidisciplinary interests of students;
implementing a revised HASS requirement to provide more flexibility, transparency, and choice to students; and
promoting educational innovation via distribution of the Reimagining Undergraduate Education at MIT grants, d’Arbeloff Grants for Excellence in Education. and Alumni Class Funds to faculty members wishing to innovate in various areas such as: project-based learning and design subjects, interdisciplinary and cross-disciplinary offerings, team teaching, and First-Year Focus subjects. Some examples of successful subjects include CityScope; Fundamentals of Engineering Design: Explore Earth, Sea, Space; Learning from the Past: Drama, Science, Performance; and The Art of the Probable.
Developing a support structure to foster curricular innovation
implementing a central online subject evaluation system to improve collection of teaching data and improve assessment of teaching and learning; and
- renovating classrooms to support ongoing educational and technological innovation.
Assessing First-Year Focus subjects to determine if these subjects are leading to desired learning outcomes