Give undergraduates the ‘gift’ of adaptive learning

At Thursday’s senate meeting, faculty had their first opportunity to ask questions about the final report of the Study of Undergraduate Education at Stanford (SUES) following a presentation by the co-chairs of the committee that produced the 128-page document.

Professors Susan McConnell, Jennifer Summit, Sarah Billington, Chris Edwards, Jonathan Berger, Rob Reich and James Campbell field questions after the SUES report at the Faculty Senate meeting.

The report recommends replacing the yearlong Introduction to the Humanities sequence with a quarter-long “Thinking Matters” course, and requiring freshmen to take Introductory Seminars, which would give them the opportunity to know and work closely with a professor.

The report also recommends expanding the September Studies Program, by piloting additional courses aimed at students in their junior year, and “creat[ing] a culture of expectation” that students will do a capstone project during their senior year.

During the Q&A that followed their presentations, co-chairs James T. Campbell, history, and Susan McConnell, biology, were joined at the front of the chamber by the chairs of five of the SUES committee’s seven subcommittees. They fielded a variety of questions:

“SUES is recommending that Stanford faculty see themselves more and more robustly as teachers in diverse ways: Did the committee think about what the implications are for the understanding of a research university, particularly in terms of the criteria that we use in hiring, rewarding and promoting colleagues?”

“How are you going to know if you’re successful? Five years from now, how will you know whether this report accomplished what you hope?”

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