DAT Call for Proposals

The OTL has selected the inaugural cohort of Departmental Action Teams (DATs) or DATs@DU.

 Please congratulate our 2022 DAT Cohort:

  • University Writing Program, led by Sheila Carter-Tod
  • First Year Language Program, Center for World Languages and Cultures, led by Emily Sposeto
  • Teaching and Learning Sciences, Morgridge College of Education, led by Norma Hafenstein

This project supports the work of the Teaching Excellence Task Force and guides departments through a change process known as “Department Action Teams” (DATs). Participating departments/programs will determine ways to apply the Teaching Quality Framework and ensure three voices (self, student, peer) are reflected in teaching evaluation for annual and consequential review. CU Boulder has been successfully running DATs for the last three years to engage in meaningful teaching evaluation change. DATs as a change model was developed as part of an NSF-sponsored Improving Undergraduate STEM Education (IUSE) project between CU and Colorado State University.

We will be seeking the second cohort of DATs in Winter 2023. To learn more about DATs as a change model, expectations, and the submission process, read on. For questions, contact Leslie Alvarez at otl@du.edu.

Department Action Team Deliverables:

  1. Create new tools or adapt existing tools to assess teaching quality that include the self voice, student voice, and peer voice
  2. Create a proposal that articulates processes for how these tools will be implemented
  3. Be prepared to implement teaching evaluation tools and processes in the department/program

What is the Department Action Team model? A Departmental Action Team (hereafter DAT) is an externally facilitated working group of about 3 to 5 faculty, staff, and/or students (depending on the size of the department/program) that is created by a department to achieve two goals:

  • to create sustainable change around a broad-scale issue related to teaching evaluation in the department/program by shifting departmental structures and culture and
  • to help DAT participants become change agents through developing facilitation and leadership skills.

Thus, DATs support their participants not only in making meaningful, positive change in their department, but also in developing their own capacity to continue leading change in the future. To meet these goals, the DAT is supported by facilitators who are external to the department and have expertise in teaching evaluation practices, facilitation, organizational culture, and education research. The DAT structure as a change model was developed as part of an NSF-sponsored Improving Undergraduate STEM Education (IUSE) project between CU and Colorado State University.

DAT Structure: A DAT consists of a self-selected group, ideally drawn from all constituencies within the department. DATs will meet regularly for sixty to ninety minutes approximately every month, during the spring and fall terms. Between meetings, participants can assign their own “homework” and schedule additional meetings as necessary. The OTL will schedule “Super DAT” meetings in which all active DATs will have the opportunity to learn from one another and, at times, invited experts in the field.

Incentives for DAT Members: For faculty and staff, department/program chairs may agree to count participation in the DAT towards service credit for faculty and as part of performance reviews for staff. Additionally, the OTL will provide $1,000 stipends for participation upon the submission of DAT deliverables.

External Facilitation: External facilitators play critical roles in the DAT. These facilitators are internal to DU but external to the department, bringing expertise in educational research, institutional change, and supporting collaborative groups. Their primary goal is to create an environment in which DAT participants are likely to achieve success. In practice, this includes keeping the group organized, helping the group create a shared vision and set concrete outcomes, seeking evidence to guide decision-making, attending to interpersonal tensions, and introducing conversational tools and collaborative norms to help the group function effectively. To support departments’ long-term success, facilitators introduce DAT participants to new skills and tools that they can use in other contexts in their department, thus increasing the department’s overall capacity for creating sustainable change in the future.

The Proposal

Anyone can apply for their department. Only one submission is allowed per department, so team submissions are encouraged. 

Be prepared to answer a series of open- and closed-ended questions about potential team members, department readiness, departmental communication and culture, bandwidth and resources needed for change, and leadership support.

Review Criteria:

Successful applications will demonstrate:

  1. Readiness within the department for change and likelihood of sustainability.
  2. That there are multiple participants (faculty—representing varying series and rank, staff, and/or students) willing to engage in the two components of DAT model: enacting department-level change and developing individual capacity as change agents.
  3. That there are adequate resources for the DAT to be successful (e.g., support from the department chair and/or college administrators, mechanisms for good communication between the DAT and the greater department).

What to expect after submitting a proposal: We expect that the application review process will take about a month and departments being considered may be contacted for additional information in February. Selected departments will be formally announced and begin work in March.

Expectations of DAT Departments:

  1. Listening Tour: The DAT facilitator(s) will conduct a “listening tour” among department members, which may consist of a series of interviews about departmental history, climate, and attitudes towards teaching evaluation. This listening tour helps facilitators understand the department prior to starting the DAT.
  2. Evaluation measures: The DAT project is a research project. As such, the OTL team will distribute online pre and post surveys to departmental faculty and staff. External evaluators may conduct interviews or focus groups with DAT members, the department chair, and relevant college administrators.
  3. Ownership of Project Work: DAT members are expected to be active, invested participants. This includes working outside of DAT meeting times, contributing to documentation of their work, and being supportive colleagues to fellow DAT members.
  4. Share expertise: DAT members are expected to engage with colleagues within their department in support of the DAT’s work. Additionally, DATs are expected to send representatives to campus-wide DAT events where they can share their work with and learn from other DATs. DAT members will also have the opportunity to attend other campus-wide events including, panels, external experts, and workshops relevant to their projects.