Developing a Set of Effective Strategies for Course and Curriculum Innovation (ETL)

Project Lead: Tanya Uden-Holman

Funding Approved: Fiscal Year 23
Project Status: In-Progress
Funded amount: $477,960 over two years

Building off the success of the Hawkeye Introductory Course project, this project centralizes efforts to improve student outcomes and narrow equity gaps in key introductory STEM courses and course sequences, with the long-term goal of improving student retention and graduation rates. 

Additionally, the project is facilitating critical institutional change around student academic success and serves as a catalyst for emerging institutional strategic priorities relating to excellence in teaching and learning. 

Activities to date: 

  • Creation of a Hawkeye Introductory Course Toolkit, which includes tested interventions on implementing changes in courses and resources for development and improvement  
    • Faculty presented these innovative interventions at national conferences 
    • A postdoc assessed the program, focusing on departmental readiness and barriers to implementing curriculum innovations
  • Partnered with other institutions to serve as a host site for the American Talent Initiative Summer Equity Institute, allowing faculty and graduate students to engage in conversations about best practices related to equity and course improvement
  • Hosted monthly professional development meetings for faculty and graduate students that were beneficial and well-received  
  • Implemented targeted development for graduate students through the Teaching Assistant Leaders Program, which included monthly professional development meetings and course improvement initiatives. As part of these meetings, the Head Teaching Assistant program was launched in fall 2023
  • Successfully launched the TA Mentor Program in three departments, expanding TA support
  • Launched a Students as Partners pilot program in three departments. 
  • Worked with Departmental Executive Officers (DEOs) to increase engagement and leadership in the ETL program. Created an ETL DEO Action Group that can provide feedback and help pilot recommendations 
  • Hosted an ETL Showcase on Thursday, April 18 to highlight the work faculty and staff have been doing to improve student outcomes at Iowa

Next Steps: 

The many supports, strategies, and initiatives developed by the ETL team are now being adopted by departments and colleges across the university. The team aims to continue working with campus partners to integrate these efforts. 

In the News

Students in a Human Anatomy class

Redesigning introductory courses to improve student learning

Students are benefiting from a highly collaborative project that is improving student experiences in STEM courses.

As part of the P3-funded Excellence in Teaching and Learning project, faculty in six departments have redesigned their large-enrollment introductory STEM courses, taken primarily by first- and second-year students, to improve student experiences and learning outcomes. 

Chemistry class

Learning assistants help change classroom dynamic

Chemistry professors are using the ETL project to increase peer support in large-enrollment courses.

In the UI Department of Chemistry, learning assistants are helping facilitate discussion and encouraging students to speak up and ask questions. The addition of learning assistants began in the spring of 2022 and is helping bridge the gap between instructor and student — particularly from the student perspective.


Using Introductory Courses as a Gateway to Student Success

ETL P3 project supports course and curriculum innovation at UI

A P3 initiative is reshaping the educational experience in key courses taken by the majority of undergraduate students at Iowa. The Excellence in Teaching and Learning (ETL) project, which is an expansion of the previously funded Hawkeye Introductory Courses project, is implementing strategies to improve academic success for all students. 

Students as Partners poster presentation

Students as Partners' impactful year

The UI's program was recognized both on campus and nationally

The University of Iowa Students as Partners program completed a very successful first-year, cultivating inclusive, student-centered learning experiences across campus and beyond.