Enhance student learning

Student Learning report

The group’s scope includes:

  • Curricular and educational structure
  • Advising structure and resources
  • Academic support resources
  • Connections between the curricular and co-curricular
  • Winter Study and summer opportunities

Group Members

Matt Carter, Department of Biology
Adam S. Jones ’21, Student
Aria Mason ’21, Student
Karen Merrill, Department of History
Laura Muller, Academic Resources
Marlene Sandstrom, Office of the Dean of the College and Department of Psychology

Working Group charge (draft)

Williams College is dedicated to providing an education that is both broad and deep, offering students a strong foundation for principled leadership, citizenship, and adaptability in an evolving world. Our curriculum is designed to foster strong writing, speaking and quantitative skills, the ability to analyze and synthesize information across a wide range of disciplines, and the capacity to consume and produce knowledge. Our intimacy of scale allows students to create highly personalized academic pathways through our liberal arts curriculum.

This working group is charged with examining Williams’ curricular goals, strategies, and programs, and providing recommendations that will strengthen the links between our mission and curriculum, including:

  • Organizational structure
  • Curriculum/pedagogy
  • Academic support resources
  • 12-month learning
  • Links with co-curriculum
  • Assessment

This working group should consider the following questions:

  • What skills/competencies do we hope all Williams graduates will develop/strengthen during their time here?
  • Is our curriculum sufficiently flexible, fresh, innovative, and powerful in ways that allow us to embody our educational goals? How do we balance the transmission of content-specific knowledge with ways of learning and knowing?
  • Are the various structures and policies that govern our curriculum (e.g., departments, programs, majors, divisions, academic calendar and schedule, academic credit) the right ones?
  • How can we expand on the ways we support student success in learning and faculty success in teaching?
  • How might we encourage deep and frequent self-reflection about the connections across courses, and how can we make sure students’ whole academic program adds up to a sum greater than its parts?  
  • How might we improve the ways we currently support students during Winter Study and summers to optimize and extend learning?
  • How do co-curricular experiences complement our curricular goals? How might they challenge or change them?
  • Do we have the right structures and processes for assessing if and how we are achieving our goals for students’ learning?

Each working group will collaborate with the Office of the President on a list of resources needed for its work, including internal data sets and models from peer institutions. In addition, each working group is charged with:

  • Developing an open and inclusive process for gathering input from all sectors of the campus;
  • Developing a communications strategy throughout the fall and early spring of 2019-20;
  • Coordinating with other relevant working groups and the Coordinating Committee as necessary;
  • Recognizing that resources are limited and thinking carefully about ways to achieve programmatic change without necessarily increasing total spending;
  • Operating with the understanding that new initiatives may replace existing ones and thus an inventory of possible reductions/eliminations should be developed.