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Comments Jun 27, 2018 11:14 am

I would encourage the group(s) looking at undergraduate student success to consider the impact of the cost of the University of Illinois not only for attendance but also for full engagement. I see stewardship of resources in another report but this is such a major barrier for many of our undergraduates.

Reply to at 11:14 am Jun 12, 2018 1:55 pm

I want to comment on the importance of strengthen and expand the university’s work on promoting research among our undergraduate students. Specifically, looking into participation of individuals from underrepresented groups (e.g. first-generation college students, minority) can be really impactful at individual and institutional levels. Illinois hosts programs aimed at promoting research in undergraduate students for underserved populations, graduate school preparation, and summer/semester-long terms (e.g. SROP, SURE, REU). In addition to summer award programs, Illinois promotes research mentorship programs for students to be involved with throughout their undergraduate years, e.g. The McNair Scholars program, REU Beckman Institute program, and the Illinois Scholars Undergraduate Research Program (ISUR), among others. While these research mentorship programs on campus exists, the reality is that many underserved undergraduate students graduate with no research experience. A campus-wide approach that supports faculty/Labs and students interactions, could be beneficial.  

Reply to at 1:55 pm Jun 4, 2018 8:39 am

There is a reference to a non-measurable and learning-irrelevant construct "learning styles" on p. 7 of the report. Empirical scholars of teaching and learning are all agreed that how students self-perceive how they learn best is extremely inaccurate whereas objective measures (e.g., of spatial skills) do correlate with learning. Please see, among other publucations, the following:

Pashler, H., McDaniel, M., Rohrer, D., & Bjork, R. (2008). Learning styles: Concepts and evidence. Psychological science in the public interest9(3), 105-119.

Husmann, P. R., & O'Loughlin, V. D. (2018). Another nail in the coffin for learning styles? Disparities among undergraduate anatomy students’ study strategies, class performance, and reported VARK learning styles. Anatomical sciences education.

Willingham, D. T., Hughes, E. M., & Dobolyi, D. G. (2015). The scientific status of learning styles theories. Teaching of Psychology42(3), 266-271.

Kirschner, P. A., & van Merriënboer, J. J. (2013). Do learners really know best? Urban legends in education. Educational psychologist48(3), 169-183.

Howard-Jones, P. A. (2014). Neuroscience and education: myths and messages. Nature Reviews Neuroscience15(12), 817.

Reply to at 8:39 am Jun 3, 2018 8:37 am

Dear committee members:

Congratulations on a well written and comprehensive report. I have three observations: 1). It has been my experience at Illinois, which now spans over twenty years, that many students prefer to be anonymous in a classroom. Although I use a number of different "active-learning" techniques, not all students respond to them. This may be a fault of mine, but I wonder whether your stated goal of enhancing the presence of computers in the classroom (which are not only a source of distraction but also a source of social withdrawal) does not contradict your other goals? 2). The mental health of the students in my classes has always been a priority for me. But I do not think that the mental health of the teachers who teach the students at Illinois is a priority for the administration. Academic bullying is condoned on the UIUC campus, as is age discrimination. I could go on. How can you promote the mental health of students without promoting the mental health of their teachers? 3). You want to enhance the experience of international students on the UIUC campus. As a specialist in Chinese art history, I applaud your recognition there exists a problem in this area. Shall we start by reopening the Asia Gallery that Kathleen Harleman, former director, closed at the Krannert Art Museum? Interim Dean Peter Mortenson did not respond to my inquiries about the closure nor did he adequately address the concerns that were sent to him by Chinese students in the Arts. Shall we start by supporting faculty who teach courses in languages and cultures of places outside Europe and the United States? In the twenty-odd years I have spent at UIUC, I have not seen a worse or more embittered environment for international students, especially those coming to study here from China. I dare to allude as well to a recent case of sexual misconduct that involved Chinese students who were compelled to seek assistance outside the campus to support their #MeToo movement. I find this very distressing.


Yours sincerely,

Anne Burkus-Chasson

Reply to at 8:37 am Jun 1, 2018 8:30 am

It is probably late and I really should have come to this realization earlier, but a key component that is missing from the strategic plan is some recognition of the role that loyal employees play in the success or failure of the institution.  As a 15-year member of the Council of Academic Professionals before my recent resignation, I have seen highs and lows in evident appreciation for the work of staff.  I am concerned that employees are often referred to as "our most important asset," yet there is no mention of them in the plan. 

With all due respect, there needs to be a strong strategic plan element recognizing the importance of making the university an "employer of choice" positioned to recruit not only the best and brightest students and faculty, but the best and brightest of the entire employee pool.  With the obvious challenges involving pensions, constraints on salary competitiveness, reclassification of Academic Professionals, insurance issues for some employees this year, lack of clearly defined advancement tracks for some, the assumption of additional duties with no associated adjustments to compensation during the partial hiiring freezes,  the diminution of some employee honors programs, etc., I submit that employee recruitment, retention, and recognition is deserving of its own section in any comprehensive strategic plan.

Reply to at 8:30 am