On Monday, March 26th, 2012 ALTA presented to the Princeton Council of the Princeton University Community.

ALTA Presenting at the March 26 CPUC Meeting. Photo courtesy of The Daily Princetonian.

Here is the presentation (build-by-build):

Below are the suggestions presented:

Suggestion Benefits
Beginning of the Semester
Registrar and Committee on Course of Study permit faculty to publish additional information about classes on Course Offerings nearer to the start of the semester, and professors to make syllabi available to students on Blackboard before the semester begins. Faculty can more easily reach interested students, and students gain access to more reliable and more complete information about classes and professors. Decreases need to shop classes (which is disruptive for students and faculty).
Registrar make official course evaluations more accessible by adding direct search functionality (search by course number and by professor). Better meet student needs so they do not rely on less reliable, unofficial resources outside of the University’s purview.
Dean of the College establish and facilitate a university-wide common deadline for selective classes’ applications. Reduce confusion among students about application deadlines for selective classes.  Create potential for efficiency.
Professors of 3-hour seminars coordinate a universal 10-minute break time of 2:50 p.m. during shopping period. Give students shopping courses an appropriate opportunity to come or go from lengthy seminars without disrupting.
During the Semester
Professors giving exams limit new material covered immediately before the exam, and professors not giving exams limit assignments, if possible, during the common “midterm exam” period in week 6. Reduce factors that lead to “cramming.”  Give students time to take advantage of review resources (e.g. office hours) and re-engage with past material.
Professors give students specific goals for reading and control the amount of assigned reading to maximize completion. Goals or guidance that give a purpose for reading help students focus and engage with the material.  More students will be prepared for class and precept.  Reduces “cramming” of unread material later.
Departments take corrective and proactive measures to reduce variability in precepts of the same course. Create a more equitable experience across precepts, which improves student satisfaction.
Instructors design precepts to focus on current materials more than on learning new material. Students indicate that they prefer this use of precept time, so adjusting the focus can help increase student engagement and satisfaction.
Professors allow collaboration on assignments where possible. Increase student engagement with material by teaching to or learning from peers. Expand opportunities for students to discuss material outside classes or precepts.
Professors make collaboration policies explicit (e.g. on syllabus). Avoid confusion which may lead to violations of professors’ expectations or students not making use of peer resources.
McGraw facilitate pairing of students into study groups. So students do not need to have friends in the course to take advantage of the benefits of collaborative learning.
Departments provide more preparation for students conducting research for independent work. Students indicated in the survey that they wanted more help learning how to conduct research while conducting independent work, so this will meet a demonstrated student need.
Departments help students select their advisers for independent work. Students indicated in the survey that they wanted more help learning about professors to select an adviser for independent work, so this will meet a demonstrated student need.
McGraw, Writing Center, and Residential College Tutoring use our data to improve and add services to meet student needs. Meet student needs that were revealed or explained by this project.
End of the Semester
USG create web application to relay student feedback to professors and instructors early in the semester. Formally connect students and faculty during the semester so instructors have better information about their students.
Registrar and Dean of the College expand the parameters evaluated by the official course evaluations. Discourage students from using outside resources the University does not control. Make official course evaluations more helpful for students who rely on it to select courses.  Improve response rate.
Registrar prominently inform students how course evaluations will be used. Let students better tailor their reviews to the intended audiences.  Improve response rate.
Faculty design curriculum to distribute evaluation (e.g. exams, papers) more evenly throughout semester and decrease weight of final exams. Less incentive for students to “cram” for midterm and final exams or papers, meaning more student engagement throughout the semester.  Improve student learning and retention.
Dean of the College revise final exam overcrowding policy so students with multiple exams in 24 hours are also eligible to reschedule. Reduce the problem of overcrowded exam schedules by making use of existing mechanisms.
Faculty and Dean of College change Pass/D/Fail policy so students can see their final grades and choose to rescind the P/D/F status to keep grades they earned. Give students more feedback on P/D/F classes.  Provide more incentive to earn top marks in classes students P/D/F.  Increase student engagement in classes.
Faculty provide feedback to students without citing grading policies as justification for grades given. Provide more helpful feedback so students can improve in the future. Avoid stoking anxiety about the grading policy among students.
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