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Enhance Teaching and Learning

The IU School of Social Work seeks to Enhance teaching and learning for its students, faculty, staff and alumni.

Three specific focal areas will guide our work in this strategic area:

Strengthening curriculum and assessment, supporting and enhancing academic quality, engaging and supporting quality students

Focus Area 1. Strengthening Curriculum and Assessment #

The Strengthening Curriculum and Assessment subtheme focuses on supporting curriculum and course development using best practices for teaching and learning, ensuring students have relevant curriculum for their interests while meeting community needs and enhancing the assessment activities of the IUSSW to ensure we are achieving desired goals with our curriculum.

One strategic goal will guide our work in focus area # #

  1. Promote consistency, quality, and relevance of curriculum.

This goal builds on items identified as priorities during data collection. The IUSSW aims to implement a curriculum focused on developing effective social work practitioners employing evidence-based practices to meet pressing needs of client vulnerability and community justice. Another critical area of need is coordinating all of the School’s online courses. Online or hybrid courses across all campuses and programs must reflect a consistent scope of content and quality. An intentional coordinated effort will track them, help to standardize the courses with a consistent look and interface, and ensure they meet online course quality standards.

High-impact pedagogical practices and required course structures will be identified and integrated within curricular design, both for enactment in the classroom and through consistency in the online learning management system. The School will provide faculty responsible for developing or updating these courses with resources (e.g., e-learning, instructional design, time) to do so in ways that honor both face-to-face and online educational methods. It is important that the infrastructure for curriculum development and maintenance remains amenable to regular updates and flexibility for faculty influence.

Doing these things effectively requires clearly articulating the attitudes, knowledge, and skills students are required to master at educationally appropriate levels. It also requires ensuring curricular content builds on itself in a way that honors effective pedagogy and the needs of diverse learners and the social work profession. We will explore program enhancements for students to further improve their developing social work practice, skills, values, and knowledge in ways that simulate real life through relevant facilities, spaces, and course-embedded experiences. The IUSSW will improve mechanisms to manage syllabi, ensure core curriculum consistency, and effectively use our learning management system to maximize students’ learning. For example, identified lead faculty experts will develop and continually revise model syllabi and Canvas sites to ensure consistency in course content, provide support to faculty teaching the course, and ensure consistency of required course components while also allowing for individual faculty personalization.

With this goal, educational assessment activities of the IUSSW will also be enhanced to ensure we are maintaining a quality curriculum that results in desired outcomes for our students. To support expanded and integrated data-driven assessment activities, the Office of Educational Assessment will undertake some reconceptualization, beginning with the development of a permanent, inclusive, cross-curriculum and cross-campus Assessment Advisory Committee. In conjunction with the School’s Associate Dean for Academic Affairs and curriculum committees, the Assessment Advisory Committee will conduct an initial review of all current assessment activities and generate a report with recommendations to strengthen and coordinate the School’s assessment processes and procedures to meet the needs of the university, the goals of our School, and the requirements of CSWE accreditation.

Focus Area 2. Supporting and Enhancing Academic Quality #

The central focus of these efforts is to maintain a culture of teaching and learning among faculty and to assist them with further developing their teaching skills and knowledge of best practices. Regular programming and opportunities for faculty to come together around issues related to teaching will provide synergies for innovation and shared learning. Faculty will be supported in the improvement of both their online and in-person teaching skills.

One strategic goal will guide our work in focus area # #

  1. Enhance academic quality by supporting faculty development and strengthening teaching skills.

Faculty may choose to set annual individual goals and provide evidence of their related professional development, and these efforts will be guided by the School’s Director of Faculty Development. The School is fortunate to have three Faculty Academy on Excellence in Teaching (FACET) members who can also assist with planning teaching-related workshops and supportive services.

All efforts will intentionally include part-time faculty as well as full-time faculty of the School to ensure that all faculty are able to improve and develop their teaching-related knowledge and skills. Moreover, recognition and support will be provided for our field instructors (many of whom are our alumni), who, in partnership with our faculty, are responsible for Social Work’s signature pedagogy. Such efforts will honor their commitment to the profession and to advancing the learning of our students.

Focus Area 3. Engaging and Supporting Quality Students #

McNair et al. (2016) identified that 51% of college students are first generation students – 51% identify as being in the low to moderate income levels, 26% are working full-time, and 42% are from communities of color. The World Health Organization (2018) surveyed nearly 14,000 first-year college students and discovered that 35% of surveyed students struggled with mental health issues. We know that 21st century students face complex barriers and have complex needs while working on their college education. The IUSSW, along with higher education institutions in general, is looking at ways to support and incentivize students to degree completion.

One strategic goal will guide our work in focus area # #

  1. Increase opportunities, resources, and supports to enhance student learning, achievement, and success.

To ensure equal opportunities for IUSSW students, across programs and campuses, and to increase student retention, completion, and successful attainment of their goals, the IUSSW seeks to examine potential disparities in demographic groups of students and explore the need for additional supportive services. For example, we will explore the potential need for campus collaborations, community collaborations, mentorship programs, incentives and/or scholarships, student services programs, and or mental health services and supports. We will rely on alumni as a resource and voice on the ground to help identify potential avenues of engagement. Likewise, we will focus more intentionally on development efforts that support the educational advancement of our students and offer innovative opportunities.
We also seek to create additional opportunities for students to further increase their practice knowledge and skill sets as well as their overall academic performance. These opportunities aim to better prepare students for academic success in our programs as well as success in both field and post-graduation practice.