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Endeavor Foundation Center for Faculty Development

Signature Assignment & Course Working Groups

The Endeavor Center, through a broader Andrew W. Mellon Foundation grant for Rollins College's general education curriculum, will support working groups focused on developing or revising specific assignments or entire courses in the Rollins general education program. To bring different perspectives and areas of expertise to the work, faculty are strongly encouraged to include relevant members of the campus community (staff and/or students) as full partners in all of the working group's activities. 

This portion of the Mellon grant is intended to support the growth of "signature assignments," so working groups should plan on integrating the following characteristics--which are structural and thus can support any content--into their assignments and/or courses:
  • authenticity
  • inclusivity
  • scaffolding
  • alignment
  • transparency

Click the tabs below for the required activities, time frame, eligible members, compensation, and application form, as well as explanations of these signature characteristics.

Working groups focused on the following are especially encouraged to apply:
  • integrative thinking as the way of knowing of the liberal arts
  • rFLA competencies
  • inclusive pedagogies
  • integrating "the pursuit of meaningful lives and productive careers" into disciplinary course content
  • introductory practice in community engagement (not yet ready for full CE course designation)
  • courses with high DFW rates

[ These groups are separate from the annual Course (Re)Design Institute. ]

Working Group Activities

Working groups will
  1. meet at least 3 times (assignment-level groups) or 5 times (course-level groups),
  2. read some relevant material provided by the Director of the Endeavor Center (e.g., specific issues in student learning, disciplinary pedagogical considerations),
  3. share resulting assignment/course materials with relevant campus colleagues through a workshop, roundtable, or panel, and
  4. share reflections on the group project more broadly through an Endeavor Center blog post. 

Working groups may meet during the semester and/or over the summer.  Upon completion of the four required activities listed above, each fully participating member of working groups will receive a stipend of $500 for assignment development or redesign, or $1,000 for course development or redesign. For information about eligible working group members, click the next tab.

Download the application form here.

Working Group Members

Made up of 4 to 7 fully participating members, working groups will be led by full-time faculty who are encouraged to be diverse and collaborative, as appropriate.

They are strongly encouraged to include relevant members of the campus community as full partners in all of the working group's activities. Examples include a student from a previous class, a faculty member from another department, a librarian specializing in relevant subject matter, an adjunct faculty member teaching the course, a member of the Instructional Design Team, a colleague from Career and Life Planning or the Center for Leadership and Community Engagement, and so on.

Working Groups are also encouraged to consult with the Director of the Endeavor Center as necessary and to include her in at least the first of the Group meetings.

Upon completion of the four requirements listed under the "Working Group Activities" tab, each fully participating member (faculty, staff, and students) of working groups will receive a stipend of $500 for assignment development or redesign, or $1,000 for course development or redesign.

Download the application form here.

Signature Characteristics

Signature assignments are about any content but are also characterized by authenticity, inclusivity, scaffolding, alignment, and transparency, all of which are largely structural characteristics. See below for definitions of these characteristics, as well as links to additional readings: 
  • Learning activities are considered authentic when they "have 'real-world relevance,' set problems for students that are 'ill-defined' and complex, provide opportunities for students to examine and address the task from multiple perspectives, and give students ample opportunities to collaborate, reflect on their learning, and integrate their knowledge in various ways" (Bass & Elmendorf, 2011).
  • Learning activities are inclusive when they are designed to be responsive to and supportive of "all the students in your classroom, not just those who are already engaged, already participating, and perhaps already know the [subject matter] being taught" (Tanner, 2013, p. 322Rose et al., 2006; Tobin & Behling, 2018).
  • Scaffolding is “the process by which instructors give students instructional supports early in their learning, and then gradually remove these supports as students develop greater mastery and sophistication. One way to apply scaffolding to a more complex assignment is to ask students to first practice working on discrete phases of the task and, later, ask students to practice integrating them” (Ambrose, et al., 2010, p. 146-7).
  • Assignments and courses are aligned when the teaching and learning activities, assignments, and their assessments are all designed to support the learning goals (Biggs, 1996).
  • Transparency occurs when instructors explicitly and clearly communicate to students the purpose, value, and expectations for their pedagogical choices, including assignments and assessments (Winkelmes, et al., 2016).

Download the application form here.

Past Working Groups

WCMP Transfer Working Group (Course Development/Revision)

This working group will define the recently revised ENGW 140 outcomes in more detail and develop assignments and materials to meet them. The goal is to provide all instructors with the adequate information, materials, and tools to successfully develop new syllabi and assignments to teach to the new outcomes.  Members of the group are Matthew Forsythe (leader), Martha Cheng, Anne Zimmerman, Jim Driggers, Lucy Littler, Ryan Winet, and Victoria Brown.

See their blog post on teaching reflection as a metacognitive act of analysis, not simply about feelings.

Physical Sciences Notebooking Working Group (Course Development/ Revision)

Given the central importance of the lab notebook for students to learn to record our divisional "ways of knowing," we will design scaffolded 100- and 300-level notebooking assignments. Our goal is to create a framework that can be adapted for any chemistry course, from general education (rFLA) through our 400-level course, because lab notebooking ultimately has the same purpose in any context. Members of this group are Kasandra Riley (leader), James Patrone, Brian Mosby, Ashley Cannaday, and student partner(s) TBD.

Statistics and Data Analysis for Social Science Redesign Working Group (Course Development/Revision)

This working group will redesign this course that fulfills the Math Competency in the general education curriculum to give students authentic and engaging experience in using quantitative data about social problems. The revised course will incorporate a semester-long process of lab reports on a single theme related to a social issue (to be determined by data availability and consensus from this working group), and will be scaffolded in both the complexity of the methods and levels of professionalism in laboratory reports.  It will  culminate in a final paper and presentation that resembles a research paper that might be used in industry. This working group foregrounds partnership with students by inviting two students who've taken this course and who have long terms goals of doing quantitative social science research and/or working in higher education in social science. Members of this group are Amy Armenia (leader), Emily Curran, and Alex Hill. 

See their blog post about this experience of students as partners in course redesign.

Scaffolding the Gateways to a Major and Minor Working Group (Course Development/Revision)

This working group will look at the Sociology Department's four rFLA courses that are parallel offerings of its 100-level introductory electives in the major/minor curriculum.  Partnering three faculty members with three three sociology majors who serve as “Sociology Student Fellows,” this group will align and scaffold these courses more effectively toward the major while also incorporating more experiential opportunities for students.  Half of the seven working group meetings will involve the whole group, and the other three will take place between a Student Fellow and one of the faculty members to focus on collaborative redesign for their rFLA course.  Members of this group are Amy Armenia (leader), Amy McClure, Stephanie Gonzalez Guittar, Matt Nichter, and three students TBD.

Alternatives to the Annotated Bibliography Working Group (Assignment Development/Revision)

This working group will develop alternatives to the annotated bibliography, the assignment of choice in many rFLA courses because it combines written communication and information literacy and a preferred assignment in many subsequent courses to demonstrate student learning in these areas. This group will develop an assignment (or more) that gives students an authentic way to document their research processes and products, while also alleviating potential assignment fatigue. Members of this group are Susan Montgomery (leader), Amy Parziale, Anne Stone, Rachel Walton, Maridath Wilson, and Layne Gordon.

See their blog post explaining their process and sharing three alternatives to the annotated bibliography.