ARE YOU KIDDING ME
We are all familiar with wanting to introduce an exciting idea to a group of faculty…the usual refrain, although not necessarily expressed transparently is, “are you really going to ask me to do something else right now”? This was the context that I was thinking through after having been a part of John’s RSD Workshop this past July. Our Human Development and Family Studies department was primed for the introduction of the RSD since my colleague and I had been charged by our department to explore how to assess research developmentally across our curriculum this past summer and report back in the fall. How perfect given that the RSD is developmental, building on student skills; however, my enthusiasm may not be met in kind. I decided, along with my colleague, Robin Muza, to approach this from faculty buy-in; how could we create stakeholders but not have it be seen as just “extra work”.
PREPARATION TO INTRODUCE TO THE FACULTY
- Yes, we did decide to invest some time to “get ahead” of the anticipated process; a time-saver in the long run. Robin and I decided to create a matrix of all our departmental core courses and then review all the syllabi, identifying what we perceived to be the “research course objective” and corresponding “research assignment” (see the attached matrix).
- We then prepared a document that summarized what we had been charged to do and our experience of the July workshop an benefit to ourselves and our students of using the RSD (attached).
- We also created examples using one of our courses of the various ways to use the RSD.
- We then determined which department meeting we would be introducing the RSD and sent all of these items via email a week before to “desensitize” our colleagues before the meeting.
THE DEPARTMENT MEETING
Overall, there was an openness to the RSD and the materials sent before the meeting were helpful. Issues that came up for discussion:
- Did the objective-linked assignment need to be a “hard” research assignment? We talked alot about the concept of assignments that are “research-informed”. For instance, if a faculty is having a debate in his Health Care Dilemmas class, the debate is “research-informed” given that the students need to come prepared with research supported arguments.
- Faculty asked if every course needs to have research or a research assignment? After some discussion, it was clear that some faculty do not “think” of their course through the lens of research; however, all of them are heavily “research informed”.
- We asked if faculty could review their courses against the matrix and fill in the “best” research objective and linked assignment if different from what we identified.
- We then would plan the next department meeting to finalize the matrix.
- Other issues that emerged to discuss at the next meeting included revisiting our department definition of research, add the Student Autonomy Level to each of the assignments on the Matrix, and to identify a list of developmental research skills in order to developmentally scaffold the skills in each of our courses.
WHERE WE ARE NOW
- We are planning on moving forward on these “next steps” at our next meeting this week.
The one most important thing to communicate to an already overworked faculty (self included) is that “you are already doing it”…point out what your faculty is already doing and think in terms of “research-informed” assignments which has a broad and creative scope.