Faculty, staff teams prepare for the CLAS Voyage in curriculum session

May 14, 2024 (Volume 47, Number 18)
Article by Peg West

Preparation for the 2025 launch of the Voyage in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences is taking next steps with the CLAS Voyage Summer Institute, where faculty and staff teams are working on curriculum and course revision to incorporate high-impact practices.

The CLAS Voyage is a program embedding multiple hands-on, career-connected educational experiences, from internships to intensive research projects, into the learning of every student studying a CLAS major.

The Summer Institute kicked off recently with gatherings at the DeVos Center for Interprofessional Health, where participants listened to speakers and panel discussions and attended breakout sessions.

"CLAS departments are working hard on the Voyage this summer with a focus on expanding course-based experiential learning opportunities. The goal is to create barrier-free access for students by embedding high-impact activities into at least two required courses in every CLAS program," said CLAS Dean Jennifer Drake. "Thanks to our close collaboration with the offices and colleagues across campus that support undergraduate research, study abroad, internships and community-based learning, we will be piloting some of these experiences in 2024-2025. 

"We are also initiating several first-year learning communities. I am also working closely with University Development to fundraise for the new CLAS Experiential Learning Endowment, which will ensure that students and faculty have the resources they need to embark on the Voyage."

In a Summer Institute breakout session about course-based undergraduate research, Susan Mendoza, director of the Center for Undergraduate Scholar Engagement, and Anna Hammersmith, associate professor of sociology and a faculty fellow in that office, led a discussion on best practices and challenges to overcome.

Mendoza noted that a key consideration for faculty members is matching the depth of research with the level of the course to ensure it is meaningful for students.

Faculty members shared ideas on how they have incorporated research experience into their courses. They also discussed some strategies for enhancing learning, from potential mentorships between upper-level students and newer students to the ways on-campus partners are also valuable as research clients, allowing students to reflect, report out and receive feedback.

Many faculty members are already doing the high-impact practices in courses, so much of the work now is to integrate learning objectives and scale it up as well as ensuring those courses become required as part of the major, said Rachel Campbell, associate professor of sociology and the CLAS Voyage curriculum director.

Campbell had multiple goals for this particular breakout session, notably connecting faculty members with Mendoza and her team as a resource.

"Another part is hearing where people are running into stumbling blocks. I want to know what their challenges are," Campbell said.

Having that information allows Campbell and other CLAS Voyage colleagues to work with the CLAS Center for Experiential Learning and other options to provide support and resources that enrich students' learning experiences.


Across Campus CLAS

This article was last edited on May 16, 2024 at 3:30 p.m.

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