In an effort to assure consistent syllabus messaging across campus and save instructors time, staff in the Center for Excellence in Learning and Teaching (CELT) worked with its vendor this summer to introduce a new feature in Canvas called syllabus statements.
Much like the ISU course template, the feature supports instructors and aids in content organization and design.
Iowa State's required and recommended syllabus statements are now organized in one place within Canvas courses, which helps communicate a consistent message about the institutional policies, processes and resources to students. Faculty are able to add their own course-specific statements.
Instructors who have questions about the syllabus statements in Canvas can email CELT. Instructors who need technical assistance with syllabus statements can use the built-in form that populates when clicking on the question mark that appears in the upper right-hand corner in the editing mode. They also can visit CELT's webpage about syllabus statements in Canvas for step-by-step instructions.
CELT director and Morrill Professor Sara Marcketti sees it as a way for instructors and students to focus on their content.
"The syllabus statements on the course navigation, as well as the use of the ISU course template, helps provide consistency for students and allows instructors time to work on their course-specific objective, policies and procedures,” Marcketti said.
With the state Board of Regents’ directive last fall to publish the Freedom of Expression policy and associated university policies in a prominent place and the start of a new academic year, it was "the perfect time to integrate the required and recommended statements more completely within the Canvas environment," Marcketti said.
The Committee on the Advancement of Student Technology for Learning Enhancement funded the implementation fee and the first year's product cost to have syllabus statements ready for fall.
- Academic dishonesty
- Accessibility statement
- Contact information for academic issues
- Discrimination and harassment
- Prep week
- Religious accommodation
For the 2021-22 academic year, one more recommended statement encourages students to wear face masks, get vaccinated and promote physical distancing for unvaccinated individuals.
Ensuring the statements are on syllabi at the start of fall semester is necessary to meet requirements set by state Board of Regents.
CELT staff posted the syllabus statements in Canvas Aug. 16. They appear by default in all new course shells. If not visible or for syllabi built prior to Aug. 16, the option can be enabled from inside the course-specific settings.
The syllabus statements language is uniform for all courses. Instructors have the option to add course-specific or instructor-written statements below the required and recommended syllabus statements. This language can be printed by both instructors and students.
Instructors can reuse their added statements without having to retype them in each course.
"This allows instructors to direct students' attention to what is important, and make sure the syllabus statements are in a prominent place inside the course," said CELT instructional technology specialist Lesya Hassall.
Instructors can see how many students enrolled in their course have viewed the syllabus statements through a status bar on the top of the page.
The fall semester begins Aug. 23 with the vast majority of students, faculty and staff returning to campus. Catch up on happenings on campus from the summer:
- Monic Behnken, associate dean for diversity, equity and inclusion, five-year term effective July 1
- Connie Hargrave, associate dean for equity and engagement in the College of Engineering, effective July 1
- Carolyn Lawrence-Dill, associate dean for research and discovery in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, effective Aug. 16
- Ruth McDonald, associate dean for personnel and finance in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, effective July 1
- Hilary Seo, dean of library services, effective May 10
- Sri Srithanran, assistant dean for research in the College of Engineering, effective July 1
- Joseph Ballard II, inaugural director of diversity, equity and inclusion for the campus life unit in the student affairs division, effective Nov. 9, 2020, but on campus as of July 1
- Adriana Gonzalez-Elliott, director of student accessibility services, dean of students office, effective May 14
- Patrick Klepcyk, director of the office of innovation commercialization and president of the ISU Research Foundation, effective June 28
- Kris Kilibarda, director of the Women in Science and Engineering progam, effective June 1
- Melea Reicks Licht, senior director of communications for the alumni association, effective June 28
- Arnold Woods, director of the multicultural student success in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, effective July 19
- Chris Cornelius, inaugural holder of the Dr. Thomas D. McGee and Dr. Ick-Jhin Rick Yoon Department Chair in Materials Science and Engineering
- Brad Dell, chair of music and theatre, effective July 1
- Stephen Dinsmore, chair of natural resource ecology and management, effective June 1
- Dr. Jodi McGill, the John G. Salsbury Endowed Chair in Veterinary Medicine
- Dr. Cathy Miller, chair of veterinary microbiology and preventive medicine
- Catherine DeLong, water quality program manager for ISU Extension and Outreach, effective June 14
- Lynn Clark, interim chair of ecology, evolution and organismal biology, effective June 16
- Stephen Dinsmore, interim director of the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture, effective July 1
- Margo Foreman, interim vice president for diversity, equity and inclusion, effective July 17
- Lorraine Lanningham-Foster, interim chair of the department of food science and human nutrition, effective July 1
- Faculty, professional and scientific staff, postdocs and contract employees with satisfactory performance reviews received a 2.1% pay increase in July.
- The state Board of Regents unanimously approved a 3.5% tuition increase for the 2021-22 academic year for ISU's resident undergraduates and a 3.9% increase for all others.
- Iowa State's fiscal year 2022 operating budget includes $21.9 million in additional revenue over last year's budget.
- Unexpected enrollment and benefit changes help offset some projected budget losses.
- Senior leaders encourage employees and students to get vaccinated and wear face masks indoors when around others regardless of vaccination status.
- An Aug. 5 update to the FAQ on Iowa's new law relating to racism and sexism training provides additional guidance from university counsel and the provost's office on how Iowa State training and teaching may be affected.
- A new policy establishes expectations for hosting visiting scholars at Iowa State, including an approval and registration process.
- Affordable child care options continue to grow on campus and in Ames.
- A new flexible work plan is still on track to be finalized in October.
- Faculty and staff who volunteer to donate blood have a new option to take paid time off during work hours.
- The pandemic prompted virtual graduation ceremonies in May and December 2020, but a special in-person ceremony is set for October to honor those graduates.
- Comments on a proposed digital accessibility policy are being accepted through Oct. 29.
- Work is underway to review the naming of Catt Hall.
- Central finance assignments were adjusted for greater synergy.
- Get caught up on completed, ongoing and new construction projects across campus.
Helpful to know
- With some people returning to campus for the first time since the pandemic forced many away in March 2020, there are things to consider about technology needs and everyone's well-being.
- A new system allows all faculty and staff to submit online requests to facilities planning and management and environmental health and safety.
- ISU's online department directory will be discontinued at the end of 2021.
- Don't wait to get a passport.
The software platform that students use to connect with academic advisors and student services staff has shifted to a mobile app starting this fall, making it even easier for students to seek out resources that help them succeed. The move coincides with renaming the system and adding several new features.
"It's really a revitalization of the platform," said Peter Cruz, student success and retention specialist in the provost's office.
Need help navigating Navigate?
A new name
Called ISU Appointments in recent years and EAB Campus before that, the platform is being rebranded as Navigate as it moves to a mobile-first environment. The system is beginning its seventh year on campus, and while its usage has expanded over that span, naming it ISU Appointments narrowed the perception of the platform's focus, said Cruz, who oversees Navigate. For student users, the main purpose of the system up to this point has been requesting and arranging meetings. But it's much more than a scheduling tool for faculty and staff.
Advisors and other student affairs professionals connected to the platform can access reports detailing students’ contact with other support units, launch targeted data-driven outreach campaigns and monitor analytics that predict which students will need academic help. The goal is to build a coordinated care network, improving student support by simplifying access to resources, sharing information and leveraging data.
"Students didn't really grasp that it was this campuswide system where we can all connect and make sure they don't fall through the cracks," Cruz said.
The app students can use to access the system also will introduce new features beyond scheduling. Navigate Student will be available to students via AccessPlus as the platform was in the past, but making an appointment with the mobile app takes fewer clicks and is likely far more convenient, said Mason Babcock, assistant director of student services for the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.
"That's where our students tend to live. It's vitally important to be in that space," said Babcock, who sat on a committee for the app's development.
Students will receive push notifications for crucial to-dos such as registering for classes, resolving holds and preparing for graduation. Babcock suspects smartphone alerts will be noticed more than other communication methods.
"Students get a lot of emails. It's too easy for the important ones not to get read," he said.
Another app feature gives students the opportunity to seek out study partners in the courses they’re taking, which makes it easier to form useful study groups quickly, Babcock said.
Starting in the spring semester, students will have access to an academic planning tool on the app that models potential degree program changes, which makes for better-informed students and a reduced workload for advisors, Cruz said.
"They can take on more ownership," he said. "And if they want to do it at midnight in their dorm room, they can."
Changes for staff
While the platform's staff interface remains much the same, accessible via Okta and AccessPlus, the transition from ISU Appointments to Navigate will bring some changes advisors and other support staff will notice, Cruz said.
One of the more significant changes is an adjustment to the predictive analytics model, which was revamped to flag a static 11% of students who have the highest chance of not returning to Iowa State based on numerous factors, including academic performance. Another 25% will be flagged as having a moderate need for support. Cruz said that means more students will be identified for intervention, which addresses feedback from advisors who said the previous model was too conservative in recommending assistance.
"That connects students to resources faster, and we know that leads to student success," Babcock said. "We have great people, but we need to get students connected as fast as we can."
Departments and colleges determine how to intervene when students are flagged, though requiring additional contact with an advisor or other support staff is common. When students are referred to their advisor or another support unit, the staff member making the referral can send an alert to notify the support staff the student has been asked to contact them.
The provost's office is sponsoring some incentives to encourage use of Navigate Student, including raffle prizes to students who download the app and log in and a prize for the advisor in each college who has the highest percentage of their students use the app this fall, Cruz said.
But getting more student affairs units to use Navigate also is an important way to expand use of the platform. Cruz said privacy concerns have been the main reason some units haven't opted in. The "care unit" feature of Navigate launching this fall should address some of those hesitations. It creates groups of similar student services, with varying levels of access to records showing what other services students have used.
"It's better for the students when more units across campus are using this," he said.
Cruz also is aiming to make it easier for faculty to participate in the platform's progress reports feature. In more than 40 of the university's most difficult courses, grade and attendance reports submitted to Navigate beginning in the fifth week of the semester are used to identify struggling students early. For courses with grades recorded in Canvas, Cruz will import the data to Navigate so instructors don't have to take that extra step.
And to help contact students identified by progress reports for intervention, Cruz has two student workers who will be personally following up, even if it means reaching out to nonresponsive students via their Instagram accounts.
"We're trying to take it to the next level," he said.
The Professional and Scientific Council has proposed five big-picture goals for the upcoming year, based on the strategic initiatives it discussed at its Aug. 12 meeting.
The council sets strategic initiatives annually, developing them in July committee meetings. The proposed 2021-22 initiatives include several topics the council has identified in prior years, including improved supervisor training, consistent salary increases and recognizing the value of P&S staff.
Council committees and executives are charged with developing ways to accomplish the initiatives, but president Chris Johnsen reminded council members -- many of them attending their first in-person meeting, as the council met virtually from April 2020 through July 2021 -- that it's important to manage expectations. The initiatives often cover repeated themes because the issues are complex and take years to address.
"It doesn’t have to get done this year. There is no pass-fail. A lot of these take a lot of time," Johnsen said.
The full text of the strategic initiatives:
- Expanding efforts with university leadership to improve employee engagement, retention, and satisfaction through meaningful supervisor training with a focus on the fundamentals of being a supervisor at Iowa State, addressing basics such as supervisory processes in hiring and onboarding practices, recruiting diverse candidates, robust employee evaluations, and standardizing compensation practices across departments and divisions.
- Advocating for a revised university budget model that prioritizes annual performance-based increases for P&S employees with a satisfactory performance review, ensuring that competitive, market-driven salary increases are a recurring, budgeted expense through secured funding, without sacrificing or reducing existing leave policies, benefits, and services.
- Continuing to build and cultivate the P&S employee experience to create a work environment where P&S employees are safe and feel welcomed, supported, included and valued by the university and each other.
- Expanding efforts to highlight the value of P&S employees and the advantages of including P&S employees in shared governance, including increasing P&S employee participation in large-scale university committees and helping to connect employees with resources that highlight the value of P&S staff, such as university awards.
- Aiding in addressing recruitment and retention inequities through active engagement in the discussion and decision-making process during the development of the 2022-2027 ISU strategic plan, ensuring that the interests of all professional and scientific employees are represented.
The council will vote to approve the strategic initiatives at its Sept. 9 meeting.
Service satisfaction rising
The leaders of the human resources and finance service delivery teams -- associate vice president for central finance and finance delivery Heather Paris and associate vice president for HR service and strategy Dwaine Heppler -- presented a summary of service team performance in fiscal year 2021, using statistics drawn from the second annual report by the service delivery advisory committee.
Based on post-transaction surveys, ISU employees were more satisfied with the service they received from finance and HR specialists in FY21 than they were in the prior year. The portion of respondents who were satisfied or very satisfied with their interaction with a finance specialist increased to 93%, up from 88%. Respondents were satisfied after 86% of HR interactions, up from 80%.
Leading by example
With cases rising due to the more contagious delta variant, vaccinations remain the most effective tool in protecting against COVID-19, but setting a mask-wearing example also will be important this year, senior vice president and provost Jonathan Wickert told the council.
Last week, senior leaders announced an adjustment in the university's face mask guidelines. Face coverings were required indoors throughout the 2020-21 academic year, but the mandate was dropped in May, though people who weren't vaccinated were encouraged to continue to wear a face mask around others. The current guidance encourages everyone, regardless of vaccine status, to wear a face mask around others indoors, though it remains a choice.
Wickert said he chooses to wear a face mask in group settings, for instance. And when he has visitors in his office, he offers to don a mask. He encouraged council members to consider wearing a face mask, too.
"I’m optimistic, personally, that with some encouragement and modeling of behaviors, we’ll see a lot of people falling back in the groove of wearing a mask," he said.
The 28 members of the 2021-22 Emerging Leaders Academy (ELA) class will begin their work next week during a half-day session Thursday, Aug. 26, and a full-day session on Friday.
Since 2009-10, the office of the senior vice president and provost has sponsored the leadership training program for faculty and professional and scientific staff -- both those currently in leader roles and those aspiring to them. ELA operated virtually last year due to the pandemic.
The group meets monthly during the academic year to learn about aspects of leadership theory and practice, including communication, budgeting, performance management, presentations, ethics and building an environment/culture. It's led by Rod Bagley, professor of veterinary clinical sciences, and Katharine Hensley, faculty success coordinator in the provost's office. Topical experts from on and off campus lead some of the sessions. As part of the ELA learning experience, small teams also complete capstone projects that address campus needs.
The members of this year's ELA class are:
- Sarah Bennett-George, associate teaching professor in apparel, events and hospitality management
- Eric Bentzinger, senior director of development, ISU Foundation
- Darren Berger, associate professor (dermatology) in veterinary clinical sciences
- Jan Boyles, associate professor and director of graduate education, Greenlee School
- Jordan Brooks, director of equity and inclusion and multicultural student success, College of Design
- Tina Coffelt, associate professor of English
- Amanda DeGraff, associate director of institutional research
- Terry Fernando, director of undergraduate teaching laboratories, chemistry department
- Greg Forbes, director of enrollment research and analytics, enrollment management
- Brad Freihoefer, director of the Center for LGBTQIA+ Student Success
- Amanda Knief, director of the lectures program
- John Lawson, director of finance, Ames Laboratory
- Michelle Lenkaitis, senior manager of custodial services, facilities planning and management
- Bernard Lidicky, associate professor of mathematics
- Ana Luz, associate teaching professor in industrial design
- Gustavo MacIntosh, professor of biology, biophysics and molecular biology
- Dan Nettleton, Distinguished Professor and department chair, statistics
- Debbie Nistler, director of education extension in 4-H youth development
- Jon Perkins, associate professor of accounting and Faculty Senate president-elect
- Jamie Sass, director of the communications center, Ivy College of Business
- Jeanne Serb, associate professor and director of the office of biotechnology
- Jennifer Shane, associate professor of civil, construction and environmental engineering
- Anupam Sharma, associate professor and director of undergraduate education, aerospace engineering
- Lisa Smith, senior manager of library information technology
- Jeff Sorensen, manager of web development services, IT services
- Brad Steward, finance and budget specialist, operations and finance division
- Pak Tavanapong, professor of computer science
- Katie Whipple, director of the Academic Success Center
Recruiting for next year's cohort will begin in February 2022.