Forward Motion on the Task Force Recommendations

Daniel Hastings, Dean for Undergraduate Education

The Task Force on the Undergraduate Education Commons presented its recommendations to the President in October. Since then, there have been four MIT faculty meetings completely or largely devoted to discussion of the recommendations. With the exception of the last faculty meeting, much of the debate has centered around the proposed changes to the Science and Math core (one of the proposed changes is to make it into a Science, Mathematics and Engineering (SME) core). The intensity of the debate shows how much the MIT faculty is committed to undergraduate education. The February special issue of the Faculty Newsletter provides a glimpse into the discussion around the Task Force recommendations.

In addition to the four faculty meetings, there has been input based on a request to all members of the School of Engineering, visits by DUE members to Departments and Schools, visits by the Chair of the faculty to Schools and the special faculty newsletter. The faculty, acting through the Committee on the Undergraduate Program (CUP), will now take all the input and prepare detailed proposals for the changes to the General Institute Requirements. The Office of Faculty Support (OFS) will play a key role in supporting these deliberations.

While there is much in the recommendations that requires faculty discussion and approval, some actions have already been approved or do not require a vote of the faculty for action. With regard to some of these, DUE offices have been moving forward or getting ready for action. The activities are occurring through both the DUE offices and the DUE Strategic Themes

Here are some of the activities that are underway:

Campaign for Students

  • Marilee Jones is leading the DUE effort to articulate the needs of the Task Force and undergraduate education to Resource Development.

Student Information System (SIS)

  • Mary Callahan is leading the effort, through the DUE IT theme, to create a new SIS. This is a key part of the SIS Vision project.

  • Peggy Enders, through the Catalyze the UG Commons theme, is working closely with IS&T (Jerry Grochow, Mark Damian) to ensure that IS&T is prepared to support the Commons. They are developing several user scenarios.

Collection of Input

  • Peggy Enders, through the Catalyze the UG Commons theme, has been supporting the ad-hoc faculty group meeting on how to move the Task Force recommendations forward. She has also been responsible for building and maintaining the matrix of all DUE responsibilities for the Task Force.

SME and HASS Proposals

  • Diana Henderson is supporting new experimental courses for the SME requirements as well as new HASS freshman experience courses. This is being done through D’Arbeloff and Alumni Funds run from the Office of Faculty Support.

  • Diana Henderson has created faculty mixers to catalyze courses and other educational interactions that cut between the Schools. This is run from the Office of Faculty Support.

  • Peggy Enders, through the UG Commons theme, has brought together the project based learning faculty as a discussion group. The assessment will be done by a team led by Elizabeth Cooper.

  • Lori Breslow, through The Teaching and Learning Lab (TLL), will lead in helping faculty develop learning objectives and assess the first-year HASS experiments.

Global Educational Opportunities

  • Kim Vandiver has convened the global theme team and will build a response to the GEOMIT recommendations. This will involve MITCO, SFS, D-Lab, MISTI and others. A subgroup of the global theme is developing a list of funding opportunities to be included in the Campaign for Students.

  • Diana Henderson, through the Office of Faculty Support, is running a workshop on policies and practices that we can learn from Cambridge-MIT Exchange. It will be in conjunction with MITCO.

Improving the Infrastructure

  • Julie Norman will convene a committee to look at the Residence Based Advising aspects of orientation. This is through UAAP.

  • With input from Julie Norman, Kim Vandiver and Diana Henderson, I have has put together a set of draft proposals on improving advising and mentoring. These will be presented to the Dean’s Group of the Academic Council.

  • Mary Callahan is working with OFS and Committee on the Undergraduate Program (CUP) on how to move from double degrees to double majors. This is through the Registrar.

  • Lori Breslow, through TLL and the Teaching for Learning Network with Cambridge, has initiated work with Concourse in Office of Experiential Learning, Mechanical Engineering, and HASS on improving pedagogy.

  • Diana Henderson, through OFS and working in conjunction with TLL and Office of Educational Innovation and Technology (OEIT), has initiated action on moving to an online subject evaluation system.

  • Finally, Julie Norman with the holistic theme team and several DUE offices, are collaborating with the Dean for Student Life and DSL staff to improve mentoring, leadership development, the residential experience and other aspects of student life and learning which will allow the curriculum to be succeed.