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Develop an undergraduate curriculum that provides flexibility in degree requirements, increases access to essential courses, and maximizes the use of technology and inquiry-based methodologies.

 

LEAD: Dr. David Vanden Bout, Associate Dean for Undergraduate Education


ACCOMPLISHMENTS

Natural Sciences has become a campus leader in developing flexible undergraduate curriculum. Our new Bachelor of Science and Arts (BSA) degree defines a core science experience for each major that students can supplement with a minor or certificate in nearly any field of interest. The response has been overwhelmingly positive: 75% of freshmen biology majors, for example, elect the BSA degree.  By the 2016-18 catalog, majors will have access to newly streamlined BS degrees that offer a modernized science foundation with more elective hours. Creation of certificate programs that both support the BSA and provide non-majors with a way to pursue highly-sought after paths of study, such as premedical studies, have improved access to high-demand courses. More rigorous transfer policies have strengthened the College’s ability to manage student enrollment and time to degree. Efforts to synchronize the College’s work in innovative teaching methodologies are ongoing in collaboration with the UT Campus Conversations and the creative work happening within The Texas Institute for Discovery Science.

In 2015-16, the College focused on curriculum revision, improving course management strategies, and finishing classroom renovations. The requirements of BSA and BS degrees were aligned across the first two years, and waitlist numbers for CNS courses were decreased by 10%. Both the BS Biology and BS Mathematics degrees underwent major revision. Renovations of the Painter Hall lecture hall and the new classrooms in the Welch 29 wing will add much needed capacity for lectures and anatomy and physiology labs in Fall 2016.

A major accomplishment in 2015-16 was the 21st Century Education Task Force Report. The report offers recommendations for moving the College forward toward degree modernization and educational excellence over the next five years. Faculty will have an opportunity to discuss the plan with members of the task force team at the Fall 2016 Town Hall. Implementation groups will begin work this fall.


BENCHMARKS FOR IMPLEMENTATION

  • Advising offices will help students effectively differentiate between the BSA and BS degrees and select the one that is optimal for students’ personal and academic goals.

  • Students will have access to a sufficient variety of certificates that interest them and be able to secure seats in courses needed to meet their certificate requirements.

  • Students who successfully complete a degree in the College will be able to do so in a timely manner and secure employment or post-graduate placement upon graduation.


OUR METRICS FOR CONTINUOUS IMPROVEMENT

The College will:

  • track number of BSA and BS degrees awarded
  • track number of students in each certificate program and certificate completion rates
  • track time-to-degree for all majors
  • assess quality of advising and interest in certificate options through student surveys
  • track majors’ post-graduation plans and outcomes through our graduation survey


NEXT STEPS FOR 2016-17 and BEYOND

  • Implementation task forces will work with College constituents to propose how the goals of the 21st Century Report can be achieved in CNS.
  • We will generate 4-year-plans for each degree in the College to guide student course selection and facilitate their four-year planning.