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About the Project

Capstone experiences and independent studies have long been features of university curricula. Providing opportunities for all students to experience the thrill of investigation and discovery in a wide array of courses at various stages in their academic careers has proved a greater challenge.

Transformation of undergraduate education demands greater attention be directed toward developing students' abilities to thrive in a research-based learning environment. Institutional support is needed to position and develop these skills in meaningful ways within the curriculum. A grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation provided the Berkeley campus community with the opportunity to meet this challenge by redesigning courses across disciplines, re-energizing large enrollment courses, and enabling students to develop information and critical thinking skills.

Berkeley's approach to transforming the undergraduate curriculum included:

  • providing research experiences at various stages of students' academic careers;
  • initiating conversations with deans and department chairs to identify key courses that could serve as models and instructors who could serve as change agents;
  • embedding research-based learning in an array of courses;
  • creating an environment that enables instructors to redesign courses in a supportive peer environment, informed by expertise from academic support units;
  • ensuring librarians are engaged in curriculum and research assignment development, and support for student learning;
  • enhancing coordination among campus staff with expertise in teaching, library collections, information literacy, educational technology, and assessment in support of instructors and instruction; and
  • creating an incentive structure that rewards innovative and effective teaching.

In fall 2007 Berkeley's Vice-Provost for Undergraduate Education and the Academic Senate launched the Undergraduate Student Learning Initiative (USLI), an outgrowth of the Mellon Library/Faculty Fellowship for Undergraduate Research. USLI is designed to support departments in establishing learning goals and evaluation procedures for all undergraduate programs. It represents an unprecedented opportunity to work with departments across campus to support curricular change that permits Berkeley to achieve common goals for undergraduate learning. One of the most important of these, and a linchpin of the Mellon Library/Faculty Fellowship, is to equip undergraduates with research skills that will prepare them to undertake successful capstone research projects. 

Project Manager: Pat Davitt Maughan | Project Director: Elizabeth Dupuis

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