The University of Texas at Austin to Host Course Transformation Summit

Representatives from The University of Texas at Austin will present their first-year results of their pilot project to transform lower-division courses at an international higher education summit on Wednesday, June 20.

The Bay View Alliance, an international network of top-tier research universities, is meeting at The University of Texas at Austin to discuss "Sustainability: From Innovation to Lasting Impact in Undergraduate Educational Reform." This is the first of a series of meetings to explore the challenges of scaling these classroom reforms to meet the needs of large research institutions.

"These research institutions in the Bay View Alliance are on the leading edge of developing higher education for the future," said Gretchen Ritter, vice provost for undergraduate education and faculty governance and director of the Course Transformation Program. "Our selection to host this forum shows the world-changing significance of our homegrown programs, developed by our own faculty."

The Bay View Alliance is affiliated with the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching and the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. This meeting will include participants from the University of British Columbia, the University of California-Davis, the University of Indiana-Bloomington, the University of Kansas, the University of Saskatchewan, the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Queens University, and representatives from the Carnegie and Sloan foundations.

Many universities have experimented in recent years with such efforts to promote undergraduate educational reform and innovation. Often these programs start with great energy and fanfare, but when it comes time to move beyond the original faculty pioneers who began these programs, they have a tendency to wither away.

The University of Texas at Austin initiative is a central element in President Bill Powers' campaign to reinvent higher education for the 21st century. The five-year effort aims to redesign large enrollment, lower-division classes to improve student learning and advance educational excellence.

Last year the team instituted changes in large, lecture-style classes for chemistry, biology and statistics that have resulted in improved student performance and a narrowing of the achievement gap for students from backgrounds of traditionally low college attendance. In the fall, the project will expand to pilot classes in English, sociology and economics.

Members of the faculty and media have been invited to the morning presentations at the ATandT Executive Education and Conference Center, Ballroom Salons A and B, 1900 University Ave. The public portion, from 8 to 11 a.m., will include a welcome address by Dean of Undergraduate Studies Paul Woodruff and a presentation by Ritter and faculty members David Vanden Bout, Ruth Buskirk and Cathy Stacy.