NAGT > Professional Development > Traveling Workshops Program > Building Stronger Departments > Example Programs

Example Programs

The programs below are modified from actual traveling workshops at geoscience departments. They are shown here to give departments and workshop leaders a starting place for conversations about what to include in their specific traveling workshop program. While every workshop includes some sessions focusing on the specific topics of interest to the department, there are also many optional possibilities: opportunities for the workshop leaders to meet with administrators or students, informal events such as meals or field trips, and more.

Jump Down To: Sample 2-Day Program

Sample 1-Day Program

(The one-day agenda assumes that the Foundation Session is not needed.)

Homework for department members: the "ideal student" exercise; Introduction to the Characteristics of Strong Departments

Opening Session: Envisioning Your Program

8:00-9:00 AM -
Geoscientists are good at prediction from the past history. In 2024 our graduates will be 31, the average temperature will be XX, the population will be XX, the fracking boom will be over but metals will still be important, phosphorous will limit the food supply. . , virtual communication will be robust, plane tickets will be expensive, students will have XX in high school, jobs will be dominated by consulting and are not imaginable, and the US population will be minority majority.
  • What skills/role must our graduates have between now and then?
  • How will your department be contributing to this world?
  • You receive $25M if you can design a program that will assist the US in being ready for this world.

  • Individuals should take 5 minutes to reflect and gather their thoughts. Then, in groups, discuss what this thought exercise implies about strategic foci for your department in the next 5 years. Record your most important ideas for presentation to the group.
  • Convene as a whole group and present key ideas using a round robin format. Each small group presents one idea from its list that has not been presented by a previous group.
  • Once all ideas are on the table, the whole group produces a consensus list of key ideas or strategic foci that are touchstones for the rest of the two days.
9:00-10:00 AM - Planning for Change:The facilitators will lead the group through a Strengths-Weaknesses-Opportunities-Threats (SWOT) analysis in the context of current challenges and the future envisioned in the previous activity.

10:00-11:30 AM - Strategic Foci for Action Planning: A primary outcome of the workshop will be an action plan for the program developed by the group through the workshop activities. The first section of this plan presents the strategic foci for the plan. Reflect on the opening envisioning activities as well as the reasons for requesting this workshop, then convert the list of key ideas into a final list of strategic foci for departmental action and record in the first section of the Action Plan.

11:30 AM -12:30 PM - Lunch

12:30-1:30 PM - Facilitators meet with students from the department.

1:30-2:30 PM - Facilitators meet with the Dean/Provost

Closing Session: Action Planning and Departmental Management

2:30-3:30 PM - Complete Action Plan: prioritize action items, assign a point person or team, and determine a schedule for completion.

3:30-3:45 PM - Reflect on process and its outcomes: What lessons have you learned for working as a departmental team?
  • Individual reflection on process and its outcomes: What did you learn?
  • Voluntary sharing and discussion
3:45-4:00 PM - Discuss of management strategies: how to self monitor and motivate progress; role/modification of action plan as actions unfold
  • Maintaining enthusiasm and momentum
  • Carving time for action priorities out of busy schedules
  • Case study

4:00-4:30 PM - Workshop Wrap-Up

Evening activities


Sample 2-Day Program

Homework for department: Faculty review the "ideal student" exercise; Department has used the program curriculum and other programmatic elements to complete the "x axis" of the Program Matrix and this is recorded in Blank Matrix Template (Excel 51kB Sep4 14); Compile the demographics at university and enrollments in intro and upper level courses, if information is available as well as the demographics of graduates in different majors (for the Increasing Diversity session).

Day 1

Opening Session: Envisioning Your Program

8:00-9:00 AM - Introduction to the Characteristics of Strong Departments with a discussion of what the department thinks it does well.

9:00-10:00 AM - Planning for Change:The facilitators will lead the group through a Strengths-Weaknesses-Opportunities-Threats (SWOT) analysis in the context of current challenges and the future envisioned in the previous activity.

10:00-11:00 AM - Strategic Foci for Action Planning: A primary outcome of the workshop will be an action plan for the program developed by the group through the workshop activities. The first section of this plan presents the strategic foci for the plan. Reflect on the opening envisioning activities as well as the reasons for requesting this workshop, then convert the list of key ideas into a final list of strategic foci for departmental action and record in the first section of the Action Plan.

Foundation Session: Program Design

11:00 AM -12:30 PM - Identifying Skills, Experiences, Content, and Values: What do you want your students to be able to do? Participants will develop a list of goals for their students, first individually and then collectively. The session will produce a set of measurable and assessable program-level learning outcomes.

  • Activity: Participants spend 5-10 minutes individually writing out goals for their students on individual post-it notes. What should they be able to do when they graduate? Then everyone puts their notes onto a board and the group organizes the whole set into clumps. Synthesizing what these clumps have in common point the way to "goal-like objects" (GLOs).
  • Activity: Discuss the suite of GLOs in the context of the Envisioning and SWOT activities from the Opening Session.
    • Do they reflect the departments context and strategic foci?
    • Do they collectively serve the range of students that you serve today and into the future?
    • Are you happy with these GLOs or is additional work or discussion needed?
  • Return to the Action Plan and record any future actions that are needed.

12:30-1:30 PM Lunch

1:30-2:30 PM - Program Matrices: How do students meet the program goals? Building a program matrix can help the department visualize where students are or could be building their knowledge, skills, and values.

  • Introduce an example: Matrix Approaches to Program and Curriculum Design
  • Activity: Starting with the Blank Matrix Template (Excel 51kB Sep4 14), the new list of GLOs, and the list of curricular and co-curricular activities generated as homework, participants construct the X and Y axes of their Program Matrix. Then they pick at least one of their GLOs and complete, at minimum, one row of the Matrix, isolating where and to what degree different program elements present students with the opportunity to gain mastery as well as where and how their progress is assessed. Upload file to the Session Work Page.
  • Discussion: Record notes on the Session Work Page
    • How does the program use both curricular and co-curricular opportunities to address the goal?
    • What type of things make sense on the x axis (e.g. electives?)
    • What is the right granularity and number of GLOs?
    • How do we use the Matrix approach to reach the goals that we've set for the program?

2:30-4:00 PM - Using the Matrix: The program matrix is a powerful tool for asking questions about where students are getting the important experiences we want for them as well as for hypothesis testing when student outcomes are not what we anticipate. This process is analogous to what scientists do all the time - generate a hypothesis, test it, and then using that information to feed back into the next round of hypothesis generation.

  • Activity: Generating Hypotheses About Student Learning
    Small Group Work: In small groups, use the matrix that you have developed so far to consider for one GLO -
    • Reflecting on the variety of ways in which students move through the program, do the offerings give appropriate scaffolding to the development of knowledge, skills and values that support mastery of the goal?
    • What mentoring, advising or other supports are needed to ensure that all students can access the learning opportunities?
    • How would you know if the program was succeeding in supporting students to meet the GLO?
    • What evidence do you currently have that students are meeting all or some of this goal?
    • Do you have hypotheses as to why some or all students fail to meet the GLO?
    • What would you recommend the department do to strengthen the program in this area? This could include
      • revising or sharpening the GLO
      • changing the program
      • changing the support structure
      • Keep in mind that you would like to maximize work, do things that can be accomplished, minimize work, and promote significant synergistic effects
    • Report and Discussion: Return to the whole group and present 1 strategic recommendation per group. Discuss lessons learned through this process. Return to the action plan and record any needed actions that follow from this exercise.

4:00-5:30 PM - Assessment and Closing the Loop: Making the leap from a "goal-like-object" to an assessable program outcome.

  • Discussion: Open a discussion of program assessment and the needs of the program – both internal needs for formative feedback and institutional needs for accreditation or reporting.
  • Activity:
    • Develop an example of a program level assessment that will help your department understand and improve its ability to address a strategic priority.
    • Use the matrix to identify the assessment points for that goal, using it to find mismatches between outcomes and that goal.
    • discuss appropriate assessment ideas and introduce resources on assessment
    • develop an appropriate assessment
    • discuss potential results from the assessment and what actions they would prompt

Reflect on discussion: What further action is needed regarding assessment, evaluation and closing the loop to meet your strategic priorities. Record action items in the action plan.

Closing thoughts: Reflect on the program design session as a whole. What have you learned about the process? about your program? Are there additional ideas that need to be recorded? Actions for the action plan?

Evening activities

Day 2

Elective Session: Increasing the Diversity of your Majors

Recap of Day 1 and plan for Day 2

8:00-9:00 - Diagnosing the challenges: What did you learn from these data? Where and how are your students struggling? Create a list of student challenges. What are your pipelines for attracting majors: introductory courses?, transfer students?, students "captured" from other science (physics, biology, etc.) and non-science (geography, environmental studies, etc.) programs?, etc.

  • Discussion of enrollment data: Go around the room and describe the top thing these data seem to show.
  • Show Oregon State: Writing Across Borders videos. Read descriptions of student identified barriers to success. As a group, go around the room and share the top thing that stood out from these resources as they related to the local situation.
  • Can we make connections between themes and course loss data? Result: list of student challenges.

BREAK - 10 Min.

9:10-9:55 - Mapping Out Solutions: List program as a whole using the program matrix and map places in the matrix where barriers can be addressed. Evaluate what doesn't map into matrix and recommend possible additions to be made.

9:55-10:40 - Action Plan: Isolate pieces of matrix that fit into an action plan and produce action plan.

10:40-11:00 - Additional Resources: Point to resources that are available to help with action plan.

  • Brainstorm resources that are available for the Department to draw on
  • Assessment resources and closing the loop

11:00 AM -12:00 PM Facilitators meet with students from the department.

12:00-1:00 PM - Lunch

1:00-2:00 PM - Facilitators meet with the Dean/Provost

Closing Session: Action Planning and Departmental Management

2:00-3:00 PM - Complete Action Plan: prioritize action items, assign a point person or team, and determine a schedule for completion.

3:00-3:15 PM - Reflect on process and its outcomes: What lessons have you learned for working as a departmental team?
  • Individual reflection on process and its outcomes: What did you learn?
  • Voluntary sharing and discussion
3:15-3:30 PM - Discuss of management strategies: how to self monitor and motivate progress; role/modification of action plan as actions unfold
  • Maintaining enthusiasm and momentum
  • Carving time for action priorities out of busy schedules
  • Case study

3:30-4:00 PM - Workshop Wrap-Up




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