Departmental Structures

Tuesday, June 26, 2001


Facilitator: Bob Barr

Recorder: Amy Persell


Purpose of this Session: Create a new architectural form that continuously improves student learning.


Problem: If you could create, with no restrictions, an entirely new architecture for designing and providing learning environments and experiences, what would it look like?


Design Process







Purpose of this institutional structure (subsystem): Design and provide, conveniently, ever more powerful learning experiences and environments that enable every student to learn specified outcomes. Organize learning environments and experiences for student success.


Some Possible Principles:

         Every student can learn deeply and succeed greatly.

         Learning requires the right feedback at the right time.

         Get the maximum value from the talents and time of your staff.

         What works for learning is always an open question.

         Learning environments need not involve traditional courses or classrooms.

         Staff collaboration is necessary for the best design efforts.

         Students learn at different rates at different times in different subjects.

         The subsystem must be designed such that it can be responsible for the whole of its results.

         The design should allow self-organization aligned with the purpose.

         Technology can be an important tool.

         Design for organizational learning, not just problem solving.


Organizational Types: What is the difference?

Problem Solving Learning

-reactive -proactive

-in-the-box thinking -out-of-the-box thinking

-linear -open, circular, non-linear,

-single-loop problem solving dynamic

-double-loop thinking


Organizational Form/Structure: What constitutes architecture?

Org chart

Reward system

Communication channels


Roles and responsibilities


Plus many more.


Peter Senge (one set of dimensions for thinking about organization)








7 Dimensions of change (another set of dimensions for thinking about organization, often used in the private sector, not in any particular order)









None of these concepts can be dealt with in isolation. Many believe that you need to look at the larger whole before being able to organize the institution. In order to understand the organization you must first understand the processes that the organization is to create.


Group Work


Group #1


         Small, interdisciplinary and cross-community groups interacting with a specific cluster of students. For example, a faculty member would send a student to a specific financial aid officer and/or academic advisor. This way a bubble is created for the student to assist them with every aspect of their learning. This would create a village around each student with every member of the village committed to the students success. But a challenge is how to create this experience for part-time students.

         Organizing according to student learning outcomes.

         Participation is expected and is universal (faculty and staff).

         Resources are allocated according to student learning outcomes.

         Regardless of the size of the institution, students need to feel connected. Experiences need to be personalized for each student.

         The college needs to be organized according to the students and communities needs, not according to our needs.




Values Mission


Technology Governance

Student Learning



Services Outcomes




Group #2


Four Principles

         The unit does not own, but supports the employee.

         Units are multi-dimensional, discipline is one dimension.

         Units defined as need for learning.

         Stages of students, especially the first term, are reflected as a dimension.





















Group #3



















Individualized Capstone Experience