The Ten Initiatives: Learning-Centered Environment

Learning-Centered Environment
Point Person:
Lisa MacFarlane, senior vice provost for Academic Affairs, professor of English and American studies

The education our future demands depends on intellectual experiences that are enriched and augmented by travel, research, engagement, professional experience, and integrating general education with areas of specialization. We commit to extending our support for this integration and those opportunities: through interdisciplinary classes, large and small, from the first-year through graduate studies; through enhancing collaborations amongst academic units and student affairs; through faculty and staff development and training; through increased funding for student research, travel, and curricular opportunities.

Relevant working group reports

Group 3 - Teaching and Learning: Modalities, Technology, and Contexts in the 21st Century
Group 6 - Student Experiences:  UNH as a Student-Centered Institution

Download all reports. (pdf)

What's happened in the last year

The Office of the Provost announced an initiative in teaching and learning as part of the New Ventures Fund: Promoting Wonder and Innovation in Learning. Grants will be made to groups of faculty (not individuals), within and/or across departments and colleges for large-scale and comprehensive curriculum redesign and reform. $200,000 of these funds will be specifically for courses or curricular innovations that address Discovery requirements and the goals of the Discovery Program; the other $200,000 will be for curriculum at any level.

Orientation staff successfully registered all members of the class of 2014 for the first year of the new Discovery Program for general education. Inquiry 444 classes and Living Learning Communities were popular choices for the almost 2900 first year students. This year’s University Dialogue explores “TMI: Decision Making in the Age of Information Overload”; hundreds of students are participating in a range of events over the course of this year. And we have developed a series of workshops for teaching assistants in Inquiry-based pedagogy; this brings an added dimension to the Graduate School’s innovative Preparing Future Faculty program and its Certificate in College Teaching.

This year, the January term featured several study abroad opportunities as well as increased options for distance and hybrid learning. Academic Technology and the Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning have paired up to offer a series of workshops for faculty interested in adapting courses to new technologies designed to serve students when they are away from campus.

The provost’s office and the Faculty Senate will continue piloting the Collegiate Learning Assessment pilot through 2013. 

The Faculty Senate approved a change to the academic calendar for 2009–2013, thus enabling a January term in Durham to complement the pilot offered at UNH Manchester, and providing the time for face-to-face, distance, and hybrid learning opportunities, and Study Away and service learning programs. 

New multidisciplinary certificates and degree programs have been established in, for example, ecogastronomy; integrated applied math; sustainable microenterprise and development; and sustainable politics and policy.

The University Dialogue, now in its fifth year, hosts many events involving hundreds students each year.

The Parker Media Lab works with students, faculty and staff across campus on rich media projects that enable students to learn the latest digital techniques for researching, analyzing, and presenting information.

What's happening now and plans for the future

Faculty, departments, and all academic programs applied for grants from the curriculum initiative in the New Ventures Fund.  The approval of the Confucius Institute solidifies our ability to offer a full academic program in Chinese language and culture, and anchors our Asian Studies Program.  And we look forward to the report of the upcoming President’s Panel on Internationalizing UNH, which will help us to improve international opportunities for all students and faculty. 

As the Discovery Program evolves, we anticipate innovative introductory level courses and laboratories, multi-disciplinary clusters of Discovery courses; new ways of bringing faculty research expertise into the classroom; innovative capstone experiences; increased international opportunities for students; and faculty community and development opportunities.

We will work with colleges and departments to pilot new course structures that make different use of the current semester system. Examples could include block scheduling, co-enrollment of linked courses, teaching classes in nonpeak times, and enhanced use of hybrid courses and other technologies.

The provost’s office is working with center directors and faculty to create a Collaborative for the Art and Science of Teaching, which will have some of the features of initiatives described in the full reports of the Strategic Plan’s working groups. The Collaborative will provide a Web portal for all resources, initiatives, research, and application involved with pedagogy, teaching, and learning.

We will assess the January term so as to more effectively meet student learning needs and allocate the necessary resources; and we piloted Study Away courses in January 2011.

The provost’s office is working with research faculty across campus to provide more opportunities for both graduate students and undergraduates, in classrooms, laboratories, and field projects. Of particular interest are enhancing opportunities for graduate students and developing Discovery courses that showcase UNH research for lower-division students.