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Research and Scholarship

The Instructional Grant Program of the Summer Session: A Vehicle for Curricular Variety and Innovation?

Authors:

Carol J. Drake ,

Silvie Kilworth

Abstract

The Instructional Grant Program (IGP) at the University of Colorado Boulder has been established to diversify curriculum in Summer Session. The IGP provides funding for courses defined as “new” to Summer Session: (1) courses that are part of regular curriculum but have never been offered in Summer Session or have been offered in summer for less than three years, (2) established courses featuring new pedagogy, and (3) innovative or brand new courses. The purpose of this study was to investigate the role of the IGP and its impact upon curriculum, participating faculty, and departments. The study examined whether the IGP resulted in greater curricular innovation and variety in Summer Session and whether it served as a course incubator. The results of the study indicated that the IGP had been successful in providing courses that would have not otherwise been offered in Summer Session, therefore expanding the variety of Summer  Session offerings. The study also found that the IGP currently falls short in meeting its goal of fostering greater curricular innovation because the vast majority of IGP courses were part of regular curriculum and only a few were incubated in Summer Session.

Summer Session programming is a vital part of many higher education institution offerings. No longer remedial in nature, summer sessions offer class work to benefit both degree and nondegree students. As Bailey Dev pointed out, summer session “offers higher education institutions an opportunity to take advantage of their strengths and resources to generate revenue and further their mission” (2005, p. 56). The mission of Summer Session at the University of Colorado Boulder (CU-Boulder) is to provide high-quality, innovative courses and programs to a diverse student population. Summer Session is an integral part of campus academic planning, and every school and college participates. The Summer Session mission is aligned with the guiding principle of the Association of University Summer Sessions: “to provide a setting for curricular experimentation, innovation and change” (1995).

Summer Session at CU-Boulder began in 1904 as an outgrowth of the Chautauqua movement, which provided general-interest classes and events near the campus. Over the last more than 100 years, CU’s summer program has grown to serve about 8,000 students each year. As is the case at many institutions, Summer Session at CU-Boulder serves primarily degree students, with 65% of classes taught by tenured or tenure-track faculty. The standard of high-quality classes that reflect the scholarly and creative interests and academic standards of the faculty informs all class selections. The goal of enhancing the quality of the summer session experience is to meet students’ needs, expand student and faculty participation, and increase revenues for the campus. CU-Boulder uses a revenue-sharing model that returns Summer Session profits to the schools and colleges. Curriculum enhancements and financial incentives have resulted in growing awareness of the importance of Summer Session to the campus generally.

Curriculum enrichment efforts have included the establishment of Maymester (2000); the FIRST (Faculty-in-Residence Summer Term) program, which brings nationally and internationally recognized scholars to teach on campus (2002); and the offering of online courses featuring tenured or tenure-track faculty (2009). The longest-standing summer curricular enhancement program is the Instructional Grant Program (IGP), which was established in 1997 to provide additional classroom opportunities as well as innovative or new classes. The IGP is designed to expand and diversify course offerings, to encourage curricular innovation, and to incubate new courses for the summer and regular curricula. It also provides an additional opportunity for tenured or tenure-track faculty to teach in summer. The IGP provides funding for courses defined as “new” to Summer Session: (1) courses that are part of regular curriculum but have never been offered in summer session or have been offered in summer for less than three years, (2) established courses featuring new pedagogy, and (3) innovative or brand new courses.

The purpose of this study is to investigate the role of the IGP and its impact upon curriculum, participating faculty, and departments. The study examined whether the IGP resulted in greater curricular innovation and variety in summer session and whether it served as a course incubator.

 

How to Cite: Drake, C. J., & Kilworth, S. (2013). The Instructional Grant Program of the Summer Session: A Vehicle for Curricular Variety and Innovation?. Summer Academe: A Journal of Higher Education, 7, None. DOI: http://doi.org/10.5203/sa.v7i0.502
Published on 07 May 2013.

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