Faculty discuss innovative curriculum

Suzi Starheim

Faculty attended the first Innovative Curriculum Summit last week, which aims to make curriculum more beneficial for all students.

The summit, held Feb. 22, began with Senior Associate Provost Tim Chandler stating his goals for the summit. “When you plan your curriculum, you need to think about how to help your students document their journey from novice to relative expert,” Chandler said.

Questions asked at the summit

1. How do you define curriculum?

2. What are students experiencing in you curriculum that you would think of as innovative?

3. When student complete a KSU degree, what are they able to do? Think? Value?

4. What is in your curriculum that is easily connected to the KSU Philosophy of an Undergraduate Education Statement?

5. Without any boundaries, what would you want your students to experience in your curriculum?

6. What questions will you take back to continue these curricular conversations within your programs?

Source: Associate Provost Stephane Booth.

He also added that he wants professors to think about what they can “do to help students develop appropriate artifacts for their portfolios,” and develop “more nuanced ways of talking about teaching.”

“Awarding a degree is not necessarily the same as creating value through providing an excellent education, and we have to be moving in this direction so that our students don’t say ‘I got my degree from Kent State’ they say ‘I got my education from Kent State’,” Chandler said.

One student who said her education has benefitted from professors who alter their curriculum is freshman exploratory major Lauren Hennessy.

“Some of them genuinely adopt their mission to have their class understand,” Hennessey said. “If they see that we are struggling, they slow down or change their method.”

Hennessey said she gains the most valuable information from professors who structure their classes in this way, and doesn’t find rushing through material to be beneficial.

“Some professors stick to the book and don’t stop the pace no matter what,” she added.

Beginning the summit

Associate provost Stephane Booth said the idea of the summit came about after previous curriculum discussions. “We have felt for the past two years now that we have had a lot of conversation surrounding curriculum, and we want to get that conversation continuing,” Booth said. “What we want to provide is opportunity for faculty to begin to talk about that amongst themselves.”

Booth, who was the main coordinator of the summit, said the overall purpose was to ask faculty “to look at their curriculums, given that we want our students when they leave here to be critical thinkers.”

“The ultimate goal is that the faculty really take hold of this idea of looking at a curriculum from the 21st century perspective and changing it if indeed they felt that it needed changing,” Booth said.

To get faculty to attend, each department chair was asked to invite five members from their department, who sat at 32 different tables with members from other departments.

In addition to Booth, two other women facilitated the conversation during the summit.

Alicia Crowe, associate professor in the department of teaching, learning and curriculum studies, and Elizabeth Smith-Pryor, associate professor of history, asked all the questions at the summit.

Smith-Pryor said this summit was very successful overall, “particularly when you get people from different departments, different units, many of whom had never met each other, never talked to someone else from other parts of the university.”

Crowe agreed, “Any sort of curriculum conversation is an ongoing process, so a goal from this would be first just to have everyone going back and having conversations with their colleagues.”


One faculty member invited to the summit was Patricia Grutzmacher, associate professor of music.

“I very much enjoyed sitting at a table with colleagues from other disciplines and hearing the way in which they are approaching their curriculum and curricular reform,” she said.

Grutzmacher said her favorite part of the summit was seeing the similarities between herself and other colleagues.

“I felt that we all had very similar opinions and ideas, it’s just that they were realized differently in the different disciplines,” she said. “What I took away most about this is the importance of all of our colleagues working together on this and using ideas from other disciplines because it makes us look at things in different ways.” Grutzmacher said the summit “takes us out of our comfort zone and makes us think out of the box, and that’s what we need to do.”

Contact academics reporter Suzi Starheim at [email protected].