Department Action Teams (DATs)

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 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

To help DAT participants become change agents by developing facilitation and leadership skills

Thus, DATs support their participants in making meaningful, positive changes in their department and developing their capacity to continue leading change. To meet these goals, external facilitators to the department support the DAT by providing expertise in teaching evaluation practices, facilitation, organizational culture, and education research. The DAT structure as a change model is part of an NSF-sponsored Improving Undergraduate STEM Education (IUSE) project between CU and Colorado State University.

DAT Structure & Timeline 

1.5 day retreat in the Denver metro area

All-Cohort Workshops

Monthly Team Meeting

Capstone Celebration

A DAT consists of a self-selected group, ideally drawn from all constituencies within the department. During the spring and fall terms, DATs will meet regularly for sixty to ninety minutes approximately every month. Participants can assign their own “homework” between meetings and schedule additional meetings as necessary. The OTL will schedule “Super DAT” meetings in which all active DATs can learn from one another and, at times, invite 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 R1 Our Way program will provide $1,000 stipends for participation upon submitting 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 where DAT participants will likely succeed. 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.

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

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 at the end of the year. Selected departments will be formally announced and begin work at the beginning of the next calendar year.

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.

Applications are Now Closed

Thank you for all your DAT Cohort 3 Proposal submissions. We are not accepting further applications at this time