Understanding our strategic plan: Goal 2, Objective 1

Credit: Penn StateCreative Commons

Throughout this academic year, I will be using this Initiatives column to share parts of the college’s strategic plan. My goal is to help you understand the goals and how we aim to reach them, and to help you see yourself in the plan as someone who can not only help to implement it, but also can benefit from it.

This week’s initiatives column will focus on goal 2 (transforming educational professionals), objective 1 (curricular and instructional assessment) in our strategic plan for 2021-25. You can read the full plan on our website.

The overarching theme of this goal is our desire to develop educational professionals who are active change-agents and ensure they have the necessary knowledge, skills and dispositions for improving and transforming education for all learners with respect to essential literacies, inclusive instruction, social justice, anti-racism and inclusivity, as well as mental health and well-being.

The first objective in this goal is to assess how well our programs prepare educational professionals through instruction, curriculum and experiential participation to act as change-agents focused on a more just and equitable future of the educational system while being mindful of the past.

This objective includes one action item: to conduct a thorough set of formative reviews on existing program curricula and instruction. The associated implementation tasks are:

  • Assemble a diverse team of faculty, students and community members to facilitate the review of curricula and instruction across the College of Education and Commonwealth Campuses to ensure courses and programs include and address effective and inclusive instruction, appropriate learning objectives, essential literacies, and mental health and well-being.
  • Establish a stakeholder group to understand how our programs address education’s role in developing an equitable society, including the curriculum and instruction employed by programs.
  • Conduct an equity audit of each program to ascertain how we may be implicitly complicit in perpetuating cycles of systemic inequities through the design and implementation of our curricula and instruction.
  • Conduct gap and market analyses between our programs and the demands of the education labor market as well as societal needs.
  • Develop tools to support continuous revision and development of college programs, including the curricula and instructional approaches employed by programs
  • Identify facilitator(s) to work within departments to develop and enact continuous cycles of review of program curricula and instruction.

This important work involves a lot of heavy lifting, and it already has begun. We established an equity-minded curriculum task force, a collaboration between members of the college’s Equity Team and the Curricular Affairs Committee. This group was charged with providing resources to support and encourage equity-minded perspectives, content and pedagogical practices in courses in the college.

As part of their ongoing work, members of the task force are working to create a course syllabus template and guide that centers equity-minded, antiracist teaching and learning. The template also will include less typical syllabus components that communicate novel ways for instructors to bring equity perspectives into practice with their students.

Their work also is informed by key literature on the topic, including some written by faculty in the college, and also by Penn State policies and resources. We also created an equity fund to support innovative and collaborative curriculum or programming across and within departments and program areas. We are looking to fund projects that address a need or gap in the college as it relates to diversity, equity and inclusion and should extend equity-based outcomes beyond traditional expectations of service to the college community. It’s our hope that this will have a substantive impact on curriculum, programs (existing or proposed), professional development, policies and processes.

Coming up

The next Initiatives column will include a look at the strategic plan goal 2, objective 2.

Last Updated October 22, 2021