CALS to receive support for 16 Madison Initiative-funded TA positions

I am pleased to report that CALS has been awarded funding for our Madison Initiative for Undergraduates project to Increase Teaching Assistant Resources in CALS. The MIU will provide funds for sixteen (16) 50%-time TAs, including tuition remission. These funds will be available starting for the Fall 2010 semester, which means that we have a short turn-around time to make these assistantships available.

Proposals for MIU-funded TAs for the 2010-2011 academic year are due to me by NOON on MONDAY, MAY 10th. Requests should be NO MORE THAN ONE PAGE and should clearly indicate how the TA would serve the priorities indicated in the proposal and the priorities of the MIU project more broadly. Please note that the timeline and process for allocating these TAs may be revised in future years. Requests may be for one or two semesters of support, but at this stage, no multi-year commitments of support will be made.

The proposal requesting these TA-ships highlighted the need for assistantships to serve two broad categories of courses:

  1. high-demand service courses which meet biology breadth requirements for students across campus, and
  2. large-enrollment courses that are required for students in specific programs and [that] create bottlenecks for students attempting to complete their degree.

The proposal further indicated that these TAs would be allocated in order to best:

  1. improve course access for students across campus (allow more students into courses),
  2. enhance the learning environment (more small group attention through discussion or lab sections, increased instructor access),
  3. release bottleneck courses for majors,
  4. foster better learning outcomes (enhanced learning, student satisfaction/engagement),
  5. enhance course challenge.

As noted by the Chancellor and Provost, “funded projects will be required toaddress the following questions annually, and as appropriate, in order to illustrate how their project contributes to the overall MIU goals:

A. How has your department or unit documented increased access for undergraduates in bottleneck areas?
B. How has your department or unit increased its capacity to offer more high‐demand opportunities or experiences to undergraduates?
C. How has your department or unit increased its capacity to offer more high‐impact practices and/or innovative curricula? (Please refer to‐impact‐educationalpractices‐u w‐madison for a description of high‐impact practices, and for a description of student learning outcomes for UW-Madison students.)
D. How are you demonstrating increased student learning and teaching excellence?
E. Are more tenured and tenure‐track faculty teaching more undergraduate courses?
F. How have you decreased achievement gaps among students based on race, gender, socio‐economic status, or other factors related to underachievement?
G. If you made new hires, how have you increased the diversity of your unit/department’s faculty and staff?
H. If your proposal identified specific goals in addition to those listed here, what progress have you made, and what impact has that had, on the quality of the undergraduate experience?
I. Have you observed unintended benefits to undergraduates, graduates, faculty and staff as a consequence of your MIU project?”

I wish to point out that questions A-I are intended by the Chancellor and Provost to be addressed by providing evidence that the department or unit, not just the specific MIU project, is making net progress to achieve its specific project goals and the overall MIU goals of enhancing instructional support and expanding best practices in teaching and learning.

I look forward to proposals that will have broad and meaningful impacts on the education of our undergraduates.

Dan Schaefer
Interim Associate Dean for Instruction

P.S. The funded MIU proposal was prepared by Dr. Bob Ray.