Seven Design Teams have been formed formed to think through specific aspects of our plans for Fall 2020 and to make recommendations to existing faculty committees, as well as other key representative and leadership groups. 

Each team is using a design protocol that guides them to generate and test ideas quickly. The first week of this work focused on understanding and developing empathy for the diverse needs of our community. The team leaders are also meeting weekly to share insights and discuss how their work is overlapping. Below is a brief description of what each team will focus on.

Academic Calendar

The team is examining six options for the academic calendar and will work to narrow those options soon. The team surveyed students about their calendar preferences. They received 758 student responses in five days and the responses were roughly split between the “4 courses throughout the semester” and “2 courses per module, 2 modules per semester” options. Regardless of preference, students often expressed concerns about course workload in a remote environment. This team is working on an accelerated timeline, as other teams will benefit from knowing which calendar options are most promising.

First Year Experience

This team is beginning to think through how existing curricular programs for first-year students, such as the Writing Program and Humanities Program, might be leveraged and expanded. They are also considering a balance between curricular and co-curricular experiences that starts inviting first-year students to the campus community earlier, with the possibility of a credit-bearing option.

The Well-Examined Life

The team is generating ideas for a common learning experience related to living in these extraordinary times, perhaps for first-year students, but perhaps for any student that would like to participate. The team is discussing options for the timing of the experiences and whether it could possibly carry course credit.

Digital Learning Advisory Team

This team is thinking through guiding questions about the type of support students, faculty, and staff will need to continue teaching and learning in a remote environment. Their thinking includes questions about technology, but they are intentionally expanding the definition of resources that may be needed. For example, the team is thinking about what expertise we have and what expertise is needed to continue remote learning in the fall. Another example focuses on what resources would help students who are learning remotely in difficult home environments. 

High Impact Experiential Learning

The team is generating ideas for high-impact and experiential educational practices that could work in a remote environment. They are also working to expand the definition of these practices to include ideas beyond Davidson’s traditional offerings. The team is also mindful of experiences that have been lost with the transition to remote learning as well as summer opportunities, and how various designs might address them. 

Student Support Services

This team is thinking through what orientation all students would require to succeed in the fall, regardless of the circumstances. Technology has been a major focus thus far, thinking about how T&I will need to work with students, first year students in particular, to make sure they are equipped for coursework. The team is also thinking through a peer mentoring program, perhaps structured around common interests.

Building Student Community

This team is thinking about the need to build and sustain community for multiple groups, including students, faculty, and staff, and have devoted special attention to first year students. They have generated many ideas and will start to narrow their focus soon, making decisions based upon feasibility and our capacity to implement. Centralized and frequent communication is one theme that has emerged, but the group is also cautious not to overwhelm the community with too many options or an expectation that everyone needs to engage constantly.

Design Team Guiding Values

Access & Equity: We value an experience that is accessible and equitable to students during challenging economic circumstances.

Community & Connection: We value the deep community and connection that a residential liberal-arts experience affords, and will foster these wherever possible.

Continuity: We value the continuity that ensures students from all years can keep pace with their academic goals.

Flexibility: We value the ability to deliver high quality educational experiences in any modality (in person; online; hybrid), creating the ability to bring students to campus or send them home w/ minimal disruption at multiple points in the Fall.

Quality: We value rigor, deep learning, and meaningful feedback regardless of modality.

Intentionality and Transparency: We value communication that assures the college community of the intent to achieve our driving goal and explains emerging decisions supported by public health experts in a timely manner. Where possible and responsible, we will share information related to this process with the community.

Feasibility: We value a process that works within our constraints while acknowledging possibilities beyond the status quo.