The Provost’s Commission on the Undergraduate Experience (CUE) released its second Progress Report on March 10, 2017. Since the last Progress Report in October last year, CUE has revised its “Goals for the Undergraduate Experience” draft, formed five Thinking Groups and an Undergraduate Advisory Group and continued to gather and analyze data from various sources.
CUE was launched by Provost William A. Baeslack to evaluate and improve the undergraduate experience, including academic and residential college experience. CUE builds on the goals of Case Western Reserve University’s most recent Strategic Plan, “Think Beyond the Possible.”
Since its formation, the central CUE group, consisting of faculty members and two student representatives, has been working on various tasks such as identifying goals and developing CWRU’s undergraduate philosophy, while the recently created Thinking Groups are assessing specific proposals and providing suggestions. According to Prince Ghosh, one of the two student representatives in the main group, the commission is currently acting “more as a facilitation and advisory group for the Thinking Groups rather than a research group itself. ”
The five Thinking Groups, which were formed in January, include: the GER (General Education Requirements) Thinking Group, the Pedagogy Thinking Group, the Undergraduate Advising & Mentoring Thinking Group, the Experiential Learning Thinking Group and the Campus Culture & Environment Thinking Group. According to Kimberly Emmons, CUE’s chair, the Thinking Groups work with their individual timelines and some have subgroups to address their specific tasks.
Students are members of the central commission and three of the five Thinking Groups, while Students aren’t part of the GER and Pedagogy teams which are reaching out to students for their perspectives as well. According to Emmons, USG is presenting its recommendations to GER group on March 21.
Nishant Uppal, the other student representative on the central commission, thinks that these measures show that CUE values student input.
“During meetings, the students in the room don’t have an empty presence,” said Uppal. “We’re not just there to say ‘students are involved in the process.’ They do care about what students think.”
More specifically, Uppal said that he and Ghosh infused the idea of “expanding learning outside the classroom” in CUE. He explained that CUE is now more open to giving credit hours for experiential learning.
“Now there is the Experiential Learning Thinking Group,” said Uppal, “I don’t know if we would have anticipated that group existing six or eight months ago.”
Gathering student input, however, has not always been easy for CUE. Uppal mentioned that students are not very interested in coming to open forums.
“The open forums and the emails and the online feedback forms are,” said Uppal, “I think, the only means to get student feedback right now, and I’m not sure how many students respond to that, but I’d imagine that’s not a huge number yet.”
According to Uppal, the lack of student interest might be due to the fact that CUE so far has been proposing general ideas; the drafts of the specific changes will be released in a few months.
“I think once there’s an actual plan of what’s going to be changed, it will be a lot easier to get student feedback on that plan,” said Uppal.
The CUE Undergraduate Advisory Group, added in the revised version of the Progress Report on March 14, is a Google Discussion List created to gain more student involvement and is open to all undergraduate students. It is facilitated by Emmons who posts questions relevant to CUE every week. Emmons also encourages students to start conversations themselves.
Lillian Trambley, a member of the Advisory Group, joined the group after receiving its advertisement via email. Trambley thinks the questions posted are relevant to student life.
“I think these questions were a good way to find out what the biggest problem students feel they face on campus is, as well as something that the university would be, in a sense, doing well with,” she said.
Emmons provided three prompts in the Advisory Group. The first question received five responses while the second and third still await responses. Trambley believes that the lack of responses is due to the bad timing.
“It was sent out during midterms,” Trambley explained.
Emmons thinks all the groups are working hard and having effective discussions.
“I continue to be deeply impressed by the commitment of CWRU’s students, staff and faculty,” she said. “As evidence of this commitment, I point to the speed with which the Thinking Groups have begun to meet and generate ideas; the creativity of the responses I have received from students, staff and faculty; and the general campus community’s commitment to making this already great institution even better.”
Students who are interested in joining or subscribing to the discussion could can visit Emmons’ faculty page.