UTSA has created the 21st Century Learning Environment task group that is charged with providing recommendations to improve the learning environment at UTSA to Dr. Kimberly Andrews Espy, provost and vice president for academic affairs.
“The task group will consider what is needed to create a learning environment that encourages critical thinking, communication, collaboration and creativity and acknowledges the social and cultural changes that have occurred from the 20th to 21st century and the readiness of faculty and students to negotiate adapting to these changes,” Heather Shipley, senior vice provost for academic affairs, said.
Espy put Shipley in charge of leading the task group as a result of the investigation into Anita Moss, a human anatomy and physiology professor, and her classroom management. The task group plans on holding their first meeting this semester.
“The provost established a ‘Tiger Team’ at the start of the Spring semester to discuss and create open dialogue among faculty, students and staff about the classroom environment at UTSA,” Shipley said. “This team ended at the end of March; however, many of these people will be a part of the task group that has been formed to continue the conversation and develop expectations in the classroom environment.”
The task group consists of Myron Anderson, vice president of inclusive excellence; LT Robinson, interim dean of students; Emily Bonner, chair faculty senate and associate professor of interdisciplinary learning; Dean Hendrix, dean of libraries; Suzanne Partick, director of Equal Opportunity Services; Thomas Calucci, captain of UTSA police; and Rosanne McSweeney, behavioral intervention specialist.
Professors from various departments and students, including former Student Government President Brittany Garcia, are also in the task group. The task group is still in the process of recruiting additional students.
“I hope to be an honest voice in the room, one that will speak based off of the student concerns I have received and the many things I have witnessed during my four years as an undergraduate here at UTSA,” Garcia said. “Being a part of Tiger Team, I was able to understand different points of view and to learn that faculty and staff also believe our school needs to change; it’s a team effort and I hope to remind the committee of that every step of the way.”
Garcia believes that having classroom management trainings should be an ongoing requirement.
“Personally, I believe UTSA needs a stricter policy on trainings for both faculty and staff when it comes to classroom management. There are so many resources that I recently learned we have, however, there is not, to my knowledge, a way to force our faculty to stay up to date with trainings dealing with classroom management,” Garcia said.
The 21st Century Learning Environment task group has not set a date for their first meeting yet, but they are expected to work on developing their recommendations throughout the remainder of the Spring 2019 semester and into the Fall 2019 semester.