Process opens to review U.S. diversity courses

The Faculty Senate created a U.S. Diversity Course Requirement Committee during the 2021-22 academic year to ensure diversity courses meet new learning outcomes. The committee is ready to review all courses -- new, modified and unchanged -- to ensure they meet three of the four learning outcomes and can be included in the 2023-24 course catalog.

One hundred thirty-four courses fulfill the current diversity course requirement -- which every student must complete -- and the committee has a streamlined review process.

"I really want to emphasize to the faculty to submit their courses as early as they can, especially if they feel like they don't have to change much," said U.S. diversity committee chair Kelly Reddy-Best. "It will give us time to review all of the courses."

Students enrolled on the 2022-23 course catalog or earlier can fulfill the commitment through U.S. diversity courses in their current format, but there was a need to update the process because the courses were approved by college curriculum committees.

"Not all committees had the expertise to analyze whether or not the course met the learning outcomes at that time," Reddy-Best said. "Now it is centralized at the university level, and the people on the committee have been identified as having expertise in this area. Courses are being looked at with an informed and critical eye."

The committee held its first meeting on March 25 and will meet 15 times between September and May. The 11-person committee has representatives from the colleges, student body and other groups.

It developed a rubric – a scoring guide – to review courses and determine if at least 70% of course content meets the learning outcomes. That includes course learning outcomes and objectives, course materials, learning activities, assessments, course framework and pedagogical approaches.

"We decided since this could be a student's only experience with the requirement, we wanted to make sure the course had a significant portion of content that met at least three of the four learning outcomes," Reddy-Best said. "It is a high threshold, but these are the values we think are important."

A survey sent to 137 instructors who taught a diversity course during spring 2020 or fall 2021 semesters found that if 50% of the content in a course needed to meet three of the four learning outcomes, the faculty of 65 courses perceived their course would qualify. Faculty perceived 28 courses would qualify if 100% was the threshold.

 How to submit courses for review

Instructors submit course proposals for committee review online through a public Canvas page. The first step is to email Reddy-Best to be enrolled in the submission portal before downloading the form. Once complete, each instructor submits three pieces of information:

  • A proposal form
  • The most recent course syllabus
  • A quiz, chapter, assignment, or other item from the course

Instructors will receive confirmation their submission was received.

"We are not reviewing every piece of the course because we are putting our trust in the faculty," Reddy-Best said.

Review process

Each course goes through a multistep review that begins with two committee members examining the proposal and determining one of three outcomes:

  • Meets three of the four learning outcomes in at least 70% of the course
  • Committee needs more information to determine if it meets the standards
  • Does not meet three of the four learning outcomes

The reviewers use the same standards on each proposal, and the committee chair reviews their recommendation. Next, the full committee discusses the recommendation and votes to accept or reject the proposal. The instructor is informed of the decision or may be asked to submit more information.