Information to Include in a Dossier for the Teaching Award in Curriculum Development

By Patti Dyjur and Natasha Kenny, Taylor Institute for Teaching and Learning

In some ways, the dossier for the Curriculum Development Award of the University of Calgary Teaching Awards program looks quite different from dossiers for individual teaching awards. Evidence of a robust and effective curriculum can also be a bit different from evidence that is included in other dossiers. While each submission will look different, here are some suggestions for what you might include in a curriculum dossier:

  1. Program information

Include an overview of the program with details such as the number of students in it, how long it has been offered, how it is situated in the field of study, and strengths of the program. Much of this section may already be written – for example, it could be in a unit review report – so you could revise previous documentation and put it in your dossier.

  1. Curriculum philosophy statement: what do you value?

Just as you would talk about a teaching philosophy in an individual teaching award dossier, you might want to articulate the philosophy of the program’s curriculum. In this section, you could express what the instructors and students of the program collectively value about it and the student learning experiences that reflect the values of the program and discipline.

Questions to prompt your thinking include: how would you describe the program? What terms or phrases would you use to describe its most important features regarding student learning? How is this enacted in the program’s learning experiences and student assessments? What is special about the program that distinguishes it from similar programs? What difference does this program make, to learners, to the community, to society and/or the profession? For example, you might identify undergraduate research as essential to the program. In your curriculum philosophy statement you would then clarify what undergraduate research looks like in the discipline, specify learning activities that build student knowledge of undergraduate research in the program, and talk about assignments and assessments of their learning. Include brief descriptions of examples as the dossier also needs to outline 3-4 examples of how students are actively engaged in learning, as well as formative and summative assessments that provide evidence of their learning and success.

  1. Program-level Learning Outcomes (PLOs)

List the program-level learning outcomes for the program. You may also include information related to how and when they were developed. For example, how were students and colleagues involved in the process?  For professional programs, you may also briefly discuss how these outcomes link to any accreditation requirements. If none currently exist, this is an excellent opportunity for a group of instructors and possibly students to write them collaboratively. For more information on program-level learning outcomes and how to write them, refer to our manual.

  1. Curriculum maps and charts

A variety of curriculum maps and charts can be used to provide evidence of a thoughtful, integrated curriculum. This information can be used as evidence to help to demonstrate the alignment of learning outcomes, teaching and learning strategies, and assessment methods across courses in a program. You might include just one in your dossier, or several different charts that illustrate different information about the program. Possibilities include the following:

  • A course progression map, also known as a program sequence chart, shows the typical pathway that students take through the program. The Werklund School of Education has a program sequence chart on their website for a Bachelor of Education 2-year after degree here (click on ‘Program Sequence).
  • A chart showing the emphasis of program-level learning outcomes across courses in the program. You can see a simplified chart here. This example demonstrates the alignment between course outcomes and PLOs.
  • Frequency of teaching and learning methods across a program (attach an example). You could include a simple bar chart showing the frequency of various teaching and learning activities across the program. This shows the variety of learning experiences being used across courses. Alternatively, you could do a chart that demonstrates high-impact practices or focus in on a particular strength of the program, such as collaborative learning.
  1. Examples

Include 3-4 examples that demonstrate how the program is designed to: a) foster student engagement, b) incorporate formative and summative assessments, and c) integrate technology. You might combine the examples with curriculum maps to show alignment of learning outcomes, learning experiences, and assessments across courses or throughout a program. This section should highlight specific strategies and actions that have been implemented to strengthen the program or that highlight the unique qualities or strengths of a new program (e.g. what has been implemented as a result of curriculum data and what evidence has been collected through the review and/or development process?).

  1. Engagement of colleagues and students

Include a description of how colleagues and/or students have been engaged in the curriculum development or revitalization process, and how different viewpoints and perspectives have been included in decision-making. For example, what strategies have been used to foster engagement and collaboration in the development or revision of the program and course outcomes, in analyzing curriculum data, and/or developing strategies and actions for improvement? What impact has this engagement had on the curriculum development or revitalization process? What have you learned through the engagement process?

  1. Evidence from Students

Include a summary of any other data from students that provide evidence of student success and learning in the program (e.g. student satisfaction surveys, exit surveys, focus groups), especially as it relates to the program’s strengths, unique features or philosophy. Be sure to put this data in context by briefly describing how the data were collected and analyzed. You may also have access to information provided by the Office of Institutional Analysis that provide evidence of student success in the program.

The National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE) is a student survey implemented across the university that measures student engagement according to ten indicators. Depending on your nomination, it may be helpful to include some of your departments and/or faculty’s NSSE data. Since it is an undergraduate survey with results aggregated at the faculty level, you may not have any NSSE results to include in your dossier. If you do, though, you could include an excerpt from your snapshot or pull out some of the results for discussion in your dossier.

  1. Letters of support from students and instructors

As with all dossiers, the letters of support provide critical evidence of the program’s effectiveness and are essential to a solid dossier. Follow the award guidelines and include 1-2 signed letters of support from former students, and 1-2 from colleagues. Since the dossier cannot exceed 20 pages in length, one or more of the support letters may be co-written.

  1. Reflection

Being reflective about a program involves thought or conscious attention to what is working well in terms of student learning, what could be working better, and how to move a program in a certain direction. You might want to include a reflective statement or paragraph in each section of the dossier. Some prompts to get you started are:

  • What do the data tell you about the program?
  • What does this mean in the context of the program? How do these data relate back to the program philosophy?
  • What are the program’s strengths? Why? How do these strengths contribute to student learning and success? How do you know?
  • Identify one or two things for further discussion and improvement. What strategies or actions have you implemented to continually review and improve the program? How will student and colleagues continue to be involved?
  • What are some things you are currently doing to enhance the program?
  • What has resulted from efforts to improve the program?
  • What have you and/or your colleagues learned through these data or this process? How has this strengthened or impacted your own teaching practice?
  • How will the program continue to grow and improve?

Please refer to the award description for more detailed information on the award criteria and nomination dossier, and contact us if you have any questions while you are creating your dossier (tiawards@ucalgary.ca).

Curriculum Review: Program-level Learning Outcomes

Curriculum Map Listing All Courses in a Program and Depth of PLO

Curriculum Map Showing Teaching and Learning Activities across a Program

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