The Shared Governance Week of Action, a series of events and discussions organized by a committee of Associated Students of Madison, continued into its third day Wednesday with a forum addressing issues of educational innovation.
Designed to glean efficient student feedback, the event was made up of a panel of speakers, who, after brief introductions, answered student questions and input regarding educational innovation on the University of Wisconsin campus.
Wren Singer, panel member and director of undergraduate advising, outlined her ongoing efforts to improve access to advisers across campus. She noted 25 new advisers have been hired this year in efforts to make advising a more personal experience.
Additionally, seeking to improve adviser training, Singer said she hopes to consequently foster better relationships between students and advisers.
Undergraduate advising was the most debated issue at the event. Students expressed concern over accessibility to advisers, an issue Singer said she is hoping to address in her process of renovating the advising department.
Shared Governance Committee Chair Samuel Seering also voiced his concern regarding the “siloing” of advising.
To break down these barriers across advising departments, Singer said she has made “community-building” efforts by organizing advising events that encourage advisers to meet one another and exchange ideas. She said she has also been working to foster more cooperation among advisers at Student Orientation, Advising and Registration.
Singer said she enjoys the “philosophy of having more students advised in a general way,” especially for incoming freshmen, she added.
Students at the forum also suggested tailoring advising sessions to be more of a two-way conversation, a strategy Singer said she hopes to instill in future advising training.
The evolution of courses and grading policies was another contested topic at the meeting. Students voiced concern over congruency between learning methods and grading methods.
“Grades are, at best, an indirect measure of what you’ve learned,” said panel member Christopher Olsen, vice provost for teaching and learning.
Olsen said grading is necessary, especially at such a large university. He outlined ways to make grades more meaningful and cited learning objectives and assessments and teaching in a relevant manner as examples.
Third panel member and Assistant Dean for Academic Planning Elaine Klein noted this importance as well.
“[It is important] that we find the most effective way to teach each topic that we teach, because one size doesn’t fit all,” Klein said. “We want more tools in our toolbox. We want everybody to have access to the best types of tools to help them learn most effectively.”
Students also raised concern over the evolution of online courses for off-campus students and the creation of sustainable change on campus through student organizations.
To address this, Klein said if students want change, she would assure them there is a way to do it.
Assistant Press Office Director for ASM Grace Bolt said she found the forum to be constructive, as it covered issues students are concerned about.
As a student, Bolt said she would stress the personal importance of making educated decisions and the role effective advising has in that process. Overall, she said student input is important, and this event provided an opportunity for student voices to be directly addressed by faculty.