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The Tulane "Big Idea". Quality Enhancement Plan suggestions March 19, 2009. Why Look for “Big Ideas?”.

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the tulane big idea

The Tulane "Big Idea"

Quality Enhancement Plan suggestions

March 19, 2009

why look for big ideas
Why Look for “Big Ideas?”
  • For affirmation of reaccreditation, SACS requires institutions to engage in a broad-based self-study and discovery process to identify and invest in a “big idea” that will enhance student learning at the institution
    • A welcomed opportunity to engage in self-study and reflection upon what we do best for students and how we can improve upon it
    • Identifying our strengths and weaknesses in student learning and what we can enhance within that realm
The Quality Enhancement Plan Task Force (chaired by Classical Studies Professor Dennis Kehoe) has been busy at work soliciting your “Big Ideas” for enhancing student learning since last fall

Hard to miss the QEP’s efforts this past semester…

The Process


big idea day
Big Idea Day

January 28, 2009; Nalty Commons , LBC

Big Idea T-Shirts and Faculty Reception

big idea day1
Big Idea Day

January 28, 2009; 1934 Club, LBC

Big Idea Faculty Reception

world s largest king cake big
World’s Largest King Cake: “Big”

January 18, 2009; LBC and Quad

An “Only in New Orleans” (and only during Mardi Gras) way to solicit “BIG” Ideas. It was big….

preliminary results
Preliminary Results
  • The QEP Task Force has reviewed close to 200 “ideas,” big and small
  • Identified a significant number of suggestions (big and small) clustering around a common theme:


why purposeful engagement in learning
Why Purposeful Engagement in Learning?
  • Engagement: Participation in educationally effective practices, both inside and outside the classroom, which leads to a range of measurable outcomes (Kuh, Kinzie, Buckley, Bridges and Hayek, 2007)
  • Learning: A comprehensive, holistic, transformative activity that integrates academic learning and student development (Keeling, Learning Reconsidered, 2004)

Students learn more when they are engaged at reasonably high levels in a variety of educationally purposeful activities, inside and outside of the classroom.

(Astin, 1984; Kuh, Douglas, Lund & Ramin-Gyurnek, 1994; Kuh,Schuh, Whitt & Associates, 1991; Pascarella & Terenzini, 1991; Tinto,1987)

why engagement
Why Engagement?
  • Especially post-Katrina, Tulane’s raison d'être is keyed to engagement
    • Students with high expectations of the institution, the community and themselves
      • Public Service graduation requirement
    • The Center for Public Service
    • Urban Build and the City Center
    • The Cowen Institute
    • Community Health Clinics
    • Clinton Global Initiatives-U
    • Environmental and Domestic Violence Law Clinics
    • Levy Rosenblum Institute
engagement redux
Engagement Redux
  • The time, effort and energy students put into their studies and other educationally purposeful activities


  • How the institution deploys its resources and organizes the curriculum, other learning opportunities and support services to induce students to participate in activities that lead to desired outcomes such as persistence, satisfaction, and scholarly excellence and achievement.

(Kuh, Kinzie, Buckley, Bridges and Hayek, 2007)

tulane engaged learning possible initiatives
Tulane Engaged Learning: Possible Initiatives
  • Interdisciplinarity: Engaging across Curricular Boundaries
  • The Teaching Learning Center (T.L.C.): Engaging Teaching & Learning
  • Total Advising: Engaged Mentorship & Support
  • Experiential/Participatory Learning & Mentorship: Engaging the World
  • Undergraduate Research: Engaging with Faculty in Discovery

Engaging across Curricular Boundaries

inter disciplinarity

The world and New Orleans face multifaceted problems, among them, the economy, health and education. All demand interdisciplinary approaches and are interrelated.

  • While post-Katrina Tulane is strong, we cannot do everything. We will be stronger if we work together in sensible ways on focused sensible issues.
  • Our students will be better prepared if they have some experience with interdisciplinary programs, learning with experts with broad expertise.
  • We will benefit by connecting alumni (and friends of Tulane) from different fields with different expertise and outlooks using Web 2.0 technology creatively.

Overcoming disciplinary boundaries to address difficult, multifaceted problems and look at the “big picture”

a sampling of interdisciplinarity at tulane
A Sampling of Interdisciplinarity at Tulane
  • Team-taught courses by faculty from different departments and schools (Honors Colloquia).
  • Music Professor Tae Hong Park, trained as an electrical engineer, is pursuing joint initiatives with SSE.
  • Medicine, SSE and Business are encouraging joint programs. Undergraduate research could be included.
  • Provost Michael Bernstein, an economic historian, lectured on the history of the atomic bomb to a physics class in fall 2008.
  • The Tulane Computational Center is funded by cross-disciplinary grants.
  • Interdisciplinary and Coordinate majors (such as Political Economy and Social and Public Policy).
examples of big ideas
Examples of “Big Ideas”
  • A major centered on leadership, tied into different departments.
  • Increasing the interaction between Schools: increase the number of classes taught jointly by faculty of different Schools, offering students broader perspectives.
  • Create a program to partner students with a range of experienced professionals in the work place or graduate students in their particular field of study.
  • Create programs to promote undergraduate research and scholarly engagement for a broader spectrum of the undergraduate population.
  • Create classes with an “issue-cause-solution-implementation” model including students with different majors in order to demonstrate concrete plans for real change.
the teaching learning center
The Teaching-Learning Center

Engaged Teaching and Learning

t l c

Unlike our peer institutions, we do not have a campus-wide clearinghouse for information and resources relevant to teaching, learning, pedagogy, and instructional issues.

  • Assist faculty and graduate TAs in developing and incorporating new teaching techniques and skills.
  • Ensure that faculty champion critical thinking and information literacy skills as essential outcomes of a Tulane undergraduate education.

The Teaching-Learning Center

t l c1

Not your “typical” Center for Teaching:

  • TLC will host a shared space or setting conducive to peer support and interdisciplinary collaboration and include/offer
    • A library of teaching resources (including technology)
    • Seminars, workshops, charrettes, with a focus on innovation
  • Principal focus: Pedagogical innovation: How to teach Web 2.0- generation students?
  • Support for day-to day teaching issues: evaluation and grading guidelines, and rubric development
  • Grant programs for innovative learning proposals
  • Interdisciplinary focus and support

Engaged teaching and learning is at the core of TLC’s mission, based on a broad understanding of engagement as:







tulane s total advising
Tulane’s Total Advising

Engaged Mentorship and Support

tulane s total advising1
Each student will have:
  • A staff academic advisor
  • An upper class peer mentor
  • A faculty mentor
  • A career coach
  • A Tulane alum as a mentor

“a team behind you”

Tulane’s Total Advising
advising matrix
Advising Matrix

Peer mentors would meet at least twice over lunch with their cohort at critical times in the semester. During the add period and during pre registration.

Alum Mentoring would start in junior/senior year and would complement career advising.

career development plan
Career Development Plan

First Year

  • Explore the Hire Tulane website: What can I do with this major?
  • Take Strengthquest and other interest and ability assessments
  • Develop academic and career goals
  • Explore majors of interest
  • Explore careers
  • Identify campus organizations and activities and get involved.
  • Start a resume
  • Meet with your career coach at least once a semester

Second Year

  • Choose a major consistent with your interests, abilities and goals
  • Continue to explore careers
  • Get involved in career related activities
  • Ask your career coach to critique your resume
  • Look for an internship or summer job related to your field of interest
  • Attend Internship 101 workshop
  • Join a professional organization related to your major
career development plan continued
Career Development Plan (continued)

Third Year

  • Update your resume and post it online
  • Attend career fairs, meet with recruiters
  • Conduct informational interviews
  • Establish a list of references
  • Participate in practice interviews
  • Start thinking about plans after graduation and develop a plan
  • Meet with your career coach at least twice a semester

Fourth Year

  • Implement your “after college” plan
  • Finalize/Update your resume
  • Take graduate of professional school exams
  • Meet with your career coach at least twice a semester
  • Participate in job fairs and seek interviews with employers
  • Attend Networking 101 workshop
  • Prepare for life after college
experiential learning and mentoring

Learning is Enhanced if Course Concepts are Applied

  • Complements Existing Undergraduate Public Service Requirement
  • Extend Hands-on Learning to all Fields of Study
  • Study and Volunteer Abroad Programs
  • Engaged Teaching and Research
Experiential Learning and Mentoring

Current Graduate Students Mentor Undergraduates Contemplating Graduate/Professional School

  • Mentoring through Internships
    • Improve chances of retaining Tulane talent in New Orleans
    • Match students with career opportunities
  • Academic Counseling with Upperclassmen
    • Utilize the existing Big/ Little programs
    • Alleviate pressure on Academic Advising Center
  • Mentoring with Community Leaders & Alumni
undergraduate research
Undergraduate Research

Engaging with faculty in discovery

research engagement information skills

Developing research skills is vital to students’ future academic and professional endeavors.

  • Research can take many forms, from traditional research papers in the humanities and social sciences, to lab work in the sciences and engineering, to epidemiological studies in public health, to developing business plans.
  • We want to help our students become more engaged in their academic work by creating opportunities for them to pursue research topics.
    • Help them become more active learners and offer them the opportunity to participate in the central mission of a university: to create and disseminate knowledge.
Research Engagement & Information Skills
research engagement information skills1

Research experiences are dependent on helping students become skilled and critical users of information resources.

    • This means learning about the relevant literature in a field, and to learn about and to use critically information technology.
  • This plan will involve greater emphasis on student research in undergraduate courses, increased opportunities for undergraduate research grants, and more attention to training students to use Tulane’s libraries and information technology.
  • It will build on Tulane’s academic strengths in traditional disciplines, as well as our commitment to community service and engaged learning.
Research Engagement & Information Skills

An overarching principle in guiding our selection of a QEP topic is to stay true to our mission as a university: to help our students academically and enhance their learning while at Tulane.

your thoughts
Your thoughts?

Contact the QEP Task Force: