Council recommendations aim to sustain top student experience

A council charged with ensuring that Iowa State's high-quality student experience remains high, even as enrollment surges, presented its initial recommendations to President Steven Leath in June.

The president subsequently endorsed the Student Experience Enhancement Council's  recommendations to address high-priority, near-term issues.

The council, appointed last fall by Leath and led by senior policy adviser Tahira Hira, tackled urgent needs first, focusing its early recommendations on accommodating swelling numbers of students in student orientation, student housing and on CyRide.

The council also is asking students about their experiences in and out of class. In an online survey this month, some 6,600 undergraduates will be asked to rate such things as quality of instruction, classroom facilities, student organizations, recreational activities, technological amenities and more.

During FY14, the council, co-chaired by Hira and dean of Liberal Arts and Sciences Beate Schmittmann, will update Leath on implementation of action items. The council also will identify medium- and longer-term issues and recommend action items to address them.

Action plans

Following are action items that were recommended by the committee. For additional information, see the president's office website.

  • Implement short- and long-term laboratory solutions for basic science laboratories
  • Identify existing computer classrooms that could be converted to online testing centers
  • Provide one-time grants to faculty members who develop high-quality flipped classrooms* or other innovative approaches that reduce demand for large classrooms
  • Expand the Writing and Media Center to meet growing demand
  • Incorporate academic enrichment activities in Position Responsibility Statements and consider these activities in promotion and tenure.  Provide mentoring opportunities for new faculty members to become involved with student academic enrichment experiences.
  • Within colleges, increase staff positions for academic enrichment activities, such as academic advising and career services.  Also, increase staff positions for enrichment activities in the Graduate College and such programs as the Honors Program, and Program for Women in Science and Engineering.
  • Secure additional support for CyRide to reduce crowded buses and consider other alternatives that might positively impact traffic on campus. (This fall, CyRide added 10 extra hours of service weekly and hired 30 new drivers.)
  • Use the results of the university-wide diversity asset inventory and audit to support and promote diversity on campus
  • Upgrade the capacity and coverage of the campus wireless network
  • Enhance classroom learning technologies to support increased use of blended and online learning
  • Complete a classroom improvement assessment to identify classroom needs, prioritize future remodeling projects and, subsequently, develop a multi-year funding plan
  • Support growth in campus visits and summer orientation by identifying space and developing university-wide priorities for hosting summer events on campus


* "Flipped classroom" refers to a teaching model that flips the traditional routine of lecture in the classroom followed by homework at home. In the flipped classroom model, students view online lectures and materials at home, before class. Class time is used for exercises, projects, discussions and further explanation of materials.