GSAF 2018 Cohort & Projects

Spring is always an exciting time as we kick-off the Graduate Student Assessment Fellows Program with talented graduate students interested in assessment and curriculum development in higher education. This year, these students will be supporting nine curriculum assessment projects across campus: American Cultures Center, Center for New Media, Certificate in Design Innovation, College of Natural Resources, Division of Undergraduate Education, German, Journalism, Law, and Public Health. Project activities range from investigating disciplinary variations in student learning in interdisciplinary courses to clarifying the topical threads and learning progression across courses. Below are this year's project descriptions, faculty and staff project mentors, and gradaute student fellows. If you would like to know more about the program or the assessment support opportunity, please contact Yukiko Watanabe (  

1. Victoria Robinson (Director, The American Cultures Engaged Scholarship (ACES) Program) and Andrea Wise (AC Center and Public Service Center)
GSAF: Desiree Valadares (PhD student in Architecture)

The development of the ACES curriculum has been opportunistic in that it responds to individual faculty interests, rather than designed by intentional curriculum planning at the department or college level. The project is to determine if the ACES courses in a selection of individual departments map to the departments' curriculum goals, and if so, in what ways. The tasks will include interviewing department chairs, reviewing syllabi and assignments. There are also past interviews with ACES faculty that could potentially support the required data needs. 

2. Lara Wolfe (Berkeley Center for New Media)
GSAF: Ryan Ikeda (PhD student in Rhetoric, DE in New Media)

The Center for New Media is putting an effort to clarify the mission of the Center (education, research, and outreach). The project entails stakeholder engagement in identifying what the educational goal of the set of courses the Center offers, and identifying the relationship of those courses. The fellow will conduct interviews with faculty and survey students enrolled in CNM courses. 

3. Sara Beckman, Renee Chow, Kristen Whissel, Eric Paulos (a faculty committee for a new cross-disciplinary Certificate in Design Innovation)
GSAF: Danielle Poreh (PhD student in Mechanical Engineering)

A new cross-disciplinary Certificate in Design Innovation launched in Spring 2017 and we would now like to take a step back to more deeply understand how students best learn about design and innovation to guide our choices about directions in which we might take the certificate going forward. It is our goal to better understand how students of different disciplines are applying the knowledge gained from classes in the BCDI curriculum. We would also like to know how students are integrating their learning about design and applying it. How are students learning various framing and solving approaches and how are they integrating them, or selectively applying them in their classes?  

4. Rebecca Sablo (CNR Undergrad Advising, Assistant Dean of Instruction & Student Affairs) and Lynn Huntsinger (CNR Undergrad Advising, Associate Dean of Instruction & Student Affairs)
GSAF: Ignacio Escalante Meza (PhD student in ESPM)

This year, virtual Golden Bear Advising replaced the CNR’s in-person academic orientation and one-on-one advising previously offered through CalSo. CNR developed the bCourse learning modules using the same materials previously delivered in-person at CalSo via group and individual advising sessions. What we have found through student survey assessment is a need to improve in the areas of information sharing, skill building, and student cognitive development by articulating the activities in Golden Bear Advising and Golden Bear Orientation to student learning outcomes. The challenges CNR experienced in the transition to an online advising platform were common to many campus units. The project will support CNR’s centralized undergraduate advising office to revamp its online advising curriculum and activities to ensure CNR’s 600+ new students have the knowledge, skills and ability to support their first semester schedule planning and transition to Cal. Questions we have for the evaluation project: How much information is ideal to share at each advising touchpoint? How can advisors supplement the online advising platform to support the student experience? Once students arrive on campus, what GBO events will reinforce student learning outcomes?  

5. Amber Machamer (OPA), Audrey Thomas (OPA), Leslie Rae Harlson (VCUE), and Yukiko Watanabe (CTL)  
GSAF: David Bratt (East Asian Languages and Literature) & Enrique Valencia Lopez (Graduate School of Education)

By 2020, the campus is aiming at “all” undergraduate students to have an experience that challenges students to question, design, implement, and iterate toward a thoughtful and creative culminating product. Toward that goal, we need to find out what is being done in departments that supports students’ “Discovery Experience.”  We seek to identify gaps as well as identify and share best practices. A curriculum inventory survey will be launched in January in an effort to (a) define campus-level discovery learning outcomes, (b) identify how different types of discovery learning is integrated across curriculum, and (c) estimate students' current level of discovery learning engagement across campus.  

6. Deniz Gokturk (German, Associate Professor and Chair)
GSAF: Landon Reitz (PhD student in German)

Conduct a thorough cross-course analysis resulting in better articulation of the program-level learning goals that will factor into our strategic planning. The Fellow will identify vertical and horizontal curricular alignment with attention to the integration of our lower-level language curriculum with upper-level literature and culture course offerings. 

7. Roia Ferrazares (School of Journalism, Assistant Dean), 
GSAF: Padmini Parthasarathy (Master’s student in Journalism)

The School of Journalism will follow up on the previous learning outcomes articulation project (program level outcomes) of the Master's in Journalism, and map and verify the linkages between course- and program-level outcomes. For the Journalism minor program, we would like to develop assessment tools to be rolled out for the 2018 summer cohort.

8. Molly Van Houweling (Law School, Associate Dean for JD Curriculum and Teaching)
GSAF: Matty Lichtenstein (PhD student in Sociology)

Create a JD curriculum map to identify where in our curriculum each of our varied learning outcomes is being taught and assessed. Gather curriculum map and career planning guides from peer institutions, survey faculty, alumni, and/or students, to learn more about what skills and knowledge Berkeley Law students need in order to successfully launch a variety of law-related careers. 

9. Deborah Barnett (School of Public Health, Director of Online Pedagogy) GSAF: Taiji Wang (MPH student in Public Health)

The School of Public Health has made a few OOMPH (online) courses available for residential MPH students. The project aims to better inform residential students with information for deciding and choosing an online course over a residential course, streamline registration process,  and inform the stakeholders including EPCC, FAC, and SARG Committees with  registration answer the following: How do we identify synergies between and across graduate courses?  How can we streamline course offerings moving forward? The Fellow would work with SPH course scheduler and the EPCC committee to focus specifically on assessing current curricular offerings and competencies to clarify and simplify course curriculum assessments, utility and efficacy with respect to broader accreditation requirements for the MPH program.  

10. Abby Dernburg (Molecular & Cell Biology) GSAF: Justine Chia & Mark Stepaniak (MCB PhD students) 

The Department of Molecular & Cell Biology are taking a holistic look at the required courses in CDB and GGD majors. We will determine whether the course content and expectations are consistent from semester to semester; identify gaps and redundancies in our curriculum; and determine whether the progression of courses introduces topics in a reasonable sequence and promotes mastery of important skills and concepts. We will examine and formulate our overall goals for undergraduate education and analyze how our courses align with these goals.