November 9, 2021
Teaching Innovation and a Focus on Student Retention
Dear CASL Faculty -
There has been a good deal coming at you these last few years with regard to teaching, including: 
  • efforts to enliven the curriculum and to reduce high D,E,W courses
  • online course development
  • CASL’s Practice-Based Learning (PBL) Initiative
  • an increased emphasis on student retention, and
  • the Four-Credit Transition Initiative 
And, with much of this occurring amidst a pandemic! At times it may seem as if you are being asked to spin plates while riding a unicycle, with more and more plates being added. Recently, I had a conversation with the HUB director, Carla Vecchiola, about faculty feeling overworked and the Dean's Office's concern regarding faculty fatigue. 
As part of that conversation, Carla and I discussed how the above efforts are interconnected, particularly if we focus on student learning. Each of these initiatives has the potential to promote student learning and retention - online course development (increased student accessibility to our courses), PBL (student engagement, linking curriculum to career), and 4 credit courses (fewer courses for students to manage). When these efforts are considered as different paths to the same goal -  serving our students more effectively -  they may seem more manageable, cohesive, and perhaps even motivating. 
Carla and I also discussed the link between developing quality online courses and untethering oneself from the classroom; that credit hours need not be tied to time in the classroom, but instead to student time on task, what is being learned, faculty guidance, and the breadth and depth of assignments and projects. For those considering converting courses from 3 to 4 credits, it may be effective to free yourself from the notion that an additional credit hour must equal an additional hour in the classroom. 
The good news is that we have resources to help you balance some of this work with the many other demands on your time. 

Here are some ways that you can contribute to the efforts outlined above:
Find a buddy from a different discipline or program and apply to team-teach the 4 credit CPBL Major/Career Exploration Course.
Complete the application form as soon as possible so that we can review your materials and get the course into the fall 2022 or winter 2023 schedule. Senior leadership has provided $60,000 to fund team teaching of the CPBL courses. Each faculty team member will receive full credit for the course. Here are working definitions of each theme
Volunteer to serve on the CASL PBL Faculty Advisory Committee.
This group will help guide decisions regarding PBL. Senior leadership has provided $20,000 to develop a PBL Faculty Community of Practice and $10,000 to work with Enrollment Management to market PBL. This faculty advisory group will help determine how to most effectively use these funds.To volunteer, please email Associate Dean Marie Waung at
Become a Program Lead (with the approval of your department chair) and examine the potential to convert courses to 4 credits within your program, while ensuring that online courses are being included in the conversion.
CASL has online course development money that can be used to support a course release or stipend for program leads. Alternatively, a stipend might be split across several program co-leads. Program leads will collaborate with program faculty to consider different models and plans for the conversion to 4 credits, while working to maintain a strong selection of online courses. The Dean’s Office is working with department chairs to determine the most effective way to provide this resource to departments. 
Note: For faculty who believe that their program’s courses cannot be converted to 4 credits, please still consider choosing a program lead and developing a plan. Be sure to include obstacles to the plan, as well as resources required.

Thank you for all that you do for our students, our programs, and for CASL. It is so very appreciated!
Marie Waung
CASL Associate Dean

Practice Based Learning Web Page
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