Published: Feb. 8, 2021

The university has started work to address recent recommendations for creating a common learning experience and a common set of learning outcomes for CU Boulder undergraduates. These recommendations, included in the 2018 report (PDF) of the Academic Futures Committee and the 2020 report (PDF) of the Higher Learning Commission, CU Boulder’s accrediting body, have been endorsed by Chancellor Philip P. DiStefano.

The development of a common curriculum is rooted in the Academic Futures Committee’s proposal to establish common educational touchpoints for undergraduates across all CU Boulder majors and in the 2019 Interdisciplinary Working Group’s call (PDF) to develop a range of disciplinary and interdisciplinary educational experiences for students. 

Senior Vice Provost for Academic Planning and Assessment Katherine Eggert will lead the university’s effort for developing a common curriculum. Throughout the spring 2021 semester, Eggert and Professor of Musicology Robert Shay, who is a former dean of the College of Music, will meet with academic departments and programs in a listening tour as a first step in understanding the hopes and concerns of faculty and staff who work to advance CU Boulder’s undergraduate programs. Five public forums for the campus community are scheduled in March. 

“Our purpose for these meetings is to gather thoughts and ideas from faculty, staff and students around the concept of a shared community of learning and to spark strategic thinking on how to plan a common curriculum and what it would look like,” said Eggert.

The listening tour and public forums will be followed in academic year 2021–22 by the work of a common curriculum steering committee, whose draft recommendations will be available for campus review and comment before they are finalized.

Also this spring, Eggert will lead an academic assessment steering committee composed of CU Boulder faculty and staff members, chosen for their experience as academic assessment and student data practitioners, to study what it will take to establish a campuswide culture of assessing CU Boulder’s academic offerings and student academic achievement. The committee will look at current campus assessment practices and resources, with a focus on asking how CU Boulder can build on successful efforts already underway. The group will also study academic assessment practices at peer institutions to understand what additional support might be required to extend the benefits of outcomes assessments to every academic program. 

During CU Boulder’s accreditation process in academic year 2019–20, both the university and the Higher Learning Commission identified the regular collection and use of student outcomes assessment data to improve learning as an unmet priority across many of the university’s academic programs. They noted that consistent, cross-campus assessment efforts are essential to improving student academic success. 

“Instituting a campuswide academic assessment culture will help us have a better understanding of where our current efforts are aiding student success and where more remains to be done,” said Eggert. “We look forward to this process and welcome campus input at every step.”