Pedagogy and Curriculum

Summary of the Pedagogy and Curriculum Committee Final Report

The committee resolved to examine:

1.  how faculty members currently define women-centeredness.

2.  ways that faculty incorporate a women-centered focus in their courses, including specific

a) teaching strategies and b) content.

3.  aspects of the College that support its historic focus on women.

4.  areas for improvement and monitoring.

5.  the ways in which pedagogy may need to change to accommodate men.

The committee sent a survey to members of the faculty which focused on defining women-centered, in course content and classroom practice.

The committee held a campus-wide meeting of current students, staff, faculty and alumnae, asking the following questions:

  • which aspects of the classroom experience (including class size and content) have been the most meaningful.
  • how the teaching style of the faculty contributed to student learning.
  • what are some ways that advising by faculty helped students navigate their four years at Wilson.
  • what aspects of Wilson’s women-centered culture students found most helpful.
  • how the College can make improvements in the areas of pedagogy, curriculum, and inclusiveness.

The committee studied results from the faculty survey and the campus-wide meeting.These results, combined with discussions with numerous members of the college community, form the basis for its findings:

1. How faculty members currently define women-centeredness:

  • There were a broad range of views among the faculty regarding the definition of women-centered teaching.
  • A number of faculty responded that their disciplines and course content were gender-neutral and thus they were not in need of any particular awareness of how gender functioned in them.
  • Some faculty did not think gender was an issue in terms of classroom composition.
  • Other faculty equated it with “best practices” or “good teaching.”
  • Some faculty expressed the need for a clear definition to be provided by the College.

2.  Ways that faculty incorporate a women-centered focus in their courses, including specific a) teaching strategies and b) content:

  • Students identify as a major strength of the College, the availability and personal commitment of the faculty.
  • Students identify hearing other points of view, professors who encourage debate, and an attitude of respect for all as strengths in the classroom.
  • Faculty emphasize encouragement, creating a safe, respectful environment for students in the classroom as strengths at the college.
  • A number of faculty highlight significant contributions made by women to the discipline.
  • Some faculty have noted that many of the strategies used in the classroom that were once termed feminist are now described as “good teaching.”
  • The college has a high percentage of female faculty who serve as role models.

3.  Aspects of the College that support its historic focus on women:

  • A high percentage of female faculty at the college who serve as role models.
  • There is a tension between the College’s history as “providing an education equal to that available to men” and the more recent commitment (in the last thirty years or so) by faculty to a feminist pedagogy.
  • The Women’s Studies curriculum.

4.  Areas for improvement and monitoring:

  • Small class sizes and seminar-style courses are preferred by students.
  • There is concern about the College’s ability to maintain small class size in the face of growth.
  • There is concern that the College culture does not communicate a commitment to a women-centered approach – not to new faculty, adjuncts, and even current faculty.

5. The ways in which pedagogy may need to change to accommodate men:

  • The elements of women-centered pedagogy have value for all students and will address the needs of the new population of men, if proper training and information is provided to faculty.


  • There is a lack of agreement among faculty (and perhaps the college as a whole) of what it means to have a women-centered focus.
  • A number of faculty demonstrate a lack of awareness in understanding the ways gender informs a discipline as well as how it gets taught.
  • A number of faculty have a very clear knowledge of women-centered pedagogy and practice it in the classroom. They do not regard their discipline as gender-neutral and try to encourage students to explore and challenge such a construction.
  • There is a strong array of Women’s Studies courses offered at the college.
  • Feminist pedagogy is employed by faculty in courses beyond Women’s Studies courses.
  • There is a high percentage of female faculty who serve as role models for students.
  • A women-centered pedagogy benefits all students.


  • Hold workshops that engage faculty about women-centered pedagogy and increase awareness about the fallacy of “gender-neutral” disciplines. These need to include outside experts on this issue but should also make use of faculty who have a very clear knowledge of women-centered pedagogy.
  • Additionally, provide information about how women-centered pedagogy is beneficial to all students and is in keeping with the ideals of a small, liberal arts college.
  • Extend this knowledge and approach to new faculty and adjuncts.
  • Keep the Women’s Studies designation in the curriculum.
  • Find ways to support and promote Wilson’s history as a women’s college, such as supporting FYS courses and sessions that focus on the history of the College, and encouraging faculty to make use of the Archives in their courses.
  • Maintain a list of resources for faculty use on women-centered pedagogy.
  • Create a LibGuide as well as other electronic resources on women-centered teaching and content, including syllabi and course assignments.
  • Create similar resources that address a women-centered pedagogy in the co-ed classroom and in larger-sized classes.

Coeducation Recruitment Implementation Committee

The committee on coeducational recruitment submitted the final summary of its research on this topic.  The following is a summary of the committee’s nine-page report:

1. In order to respond to the quest for knowledge about academic programs/majors, we will investigate the development of publications/booklets with explanations of the majors.  Internship opportunities, student research and the benefits of studying that major at Wilson as well as faculty profiles could also be included.  For younger students (9th- and 10th-graders), a publication that tells them what jobs or careers are related to each of our majors is a must.

2. Students admit to not opening email or text messages they receive from colleges.  We heard this from the male student interviews, but are aware of this fact from national studies of student preferences.  The male students admitted to rarely checking their email.  This has implications for student search practices, much of which is driven by early email contact upon receipt of those addresses then backed up by direct mail. Admissions will revert to the old “first in the mailbox” theory with “Search” and be certain that what is sent is meaningful and attractive to students.

3. Students expressed a strong preference for personalized letters that invite them to do something such as visit the campus and enjoy a meal in the dining hall. Admissions personnel can capitalize on our already strong relationship building that is evidenced by the bond between our admissions counselors and their student pool of applicants and enrolling students.  Personalized letters inviting students to visit the campus could be from their admissions counselor.

4. It appears that males prefer individual visits to colleges vs. attending an open house. Individual visits are tailored to their specific interests and allow them to have conversations with faculty and other students.  Wilson can anticipate an upswing in these; the Admissions staff will have to plan in-office time during fall and spring recruitment seasons in order to have office coverage and accommodate prospective student visits.

5. Male students do not appear to have much trepidation about who they will have as a roommate. What will be important for the parents of male students as a part of the campus tour is the ability to view the residence hall and a typical residence hall room in which the student will live.

6. Students provided insights about college websites that, from their perspective, are far too difficult to navigate and find the information that they seek.  The website they hold in highest regard is the College Board because of its simplicity and ease of navigation.  The information is short and to the point. They discover all that they want within a click or two.  This is their major source of college information.

7. Students stated that Net Price Calculators were of no use to them in their search for colleges.  They told us that there were too many questions about information that they as high school students did not have available to them.  They made a few attempts on college websites to use them but soon abandoned NPCs.  Some students suggested that colleges should provide examples of financial aid awards.

8. The only college fair in this area is the small October event at Chambersburg Area Senior High School (CASHS).  A very small number of colleges actually participate in this and an even smaller number of area students and parents are present. Perhaps Wilson could partner with CASHS and help to develop this college fair into a meaningful opportunity for area students and their parents.

9. College Prowler is a major source of student information about colleges that all students mentioned.  This site is where enrolled students write comments about their college and campus.  Colleges have no control over this site.  We checked it out and discovered that the comments on the site from Wilson students are more of a positive nature.

10. Males do not want their parents involved in their college search.  This will be very different for Wilson’s admissions counselors because they are used to having the parents of females do all of the talking.  Without question, this will be a refreshing change of pace.

With regard to coeducational recruiting, the committee found that the process of male student recruitment does not differ greatly from female student recruitment.  Both search by academic programs of interest to them as opposed to specific colleges or types of colleges.

Of particular note is the fact that the male high school students expressed no apprehension about Wilson’s “Traditions;” in fact, the group from Chambersburg appeared to express some excitement about them because that school has many similar traditions in place that parallel Odds/Evens, class colors and songs.  The Daisy Chain even seemed like fun to them.  The advice from male students was not to alter anything about Wilson’s Traditions; they believe that men will fit in with whatever appeals to them.

Included on a list of expected amenities is a snack bar on campus that is open after the dinner hour or a food truck that roams the campus where students can purchase soft drinks, snacks, sandwiches, pizza, etc.   Outdoor and indoor recreational opportunities on campus are also expected as are intramurals.

Academic awards and prizes as well as endowed scholarships need to be expanded to include the eligibility of both males and adult students of any gender.  The present exclusive situation won’t be acceptable in the future.

Everyone has been concerned with the need to provide a rationale to males as to why they should be interested in attending a former woman’s college.  One group of high school males emphatically stated that we should be telling men right now that they will be a part of something historic, something new.  All of the male students liked the small class size and relationships with faculty; these are the very things that are always stressed in the student recruit process.

Traditions Committee

The Traditions Committee met for the last time this semester on May 9.  We have gotten a lot of feedback from students about their views on Wilson’s traditions and some of the challenges they face in trying to preserve them.  Some themes that have come up repeatedly among students and in our meetings are:

• Need for better communications about Wilson’s traditions between student groups

• Need for improved communications between students and staff members regarding traditions and compliance with policies, laws, and the Honor Principle

• Desire to make traditions more inclusive of the various student populations at Wilson i.e. ADP, WWC, international students

• Desire to incorporate male students into traditions and the right to reserve some traditions for female students only

• Opening for the College to support specific traditions in a variety of ways including providing venues, financial support, promotion, etc.

The Committee is working on a recommendation that would create an advisory panel of staff and students that would provide a forum for communications about traditions.  The make up of this panel will be discussed in future meetings and may include faculty and alumnae.  The goal of the panel would be to support the students who are responsible for carrying on traditions.  The panel would serve as an informational resource about how traditions are put into practice.

Other ideas for continued discussion include: proposal to make Spring Fling into a more inclusive, family friendly event that could invite people and vendors from the Chambersburg community to increase fund-raising potential; seeking out physical space for classes to use for planning and storing traditions material; ideas for promoting traditions during orientation; creating digital or physical copies of class notebooks to be stored in the C. Elizabeth Boyd ’33 Archives for emergency use only; ways to connect current student and alumnae to increase communication about where traditions have come from and how they have evolved.

Retention Committee Update

The Retention Committee held the last meeting of the semester on Wednesday, May 8. The group will continue in the fall with two newstudent representatives, as yet to be named.

The committee discussed a wide variety of needs in relation to retention and is currently  reviewing five suggestions for improved retention, which will be submitted to President Mistick and the strategic planning committee. The five areas identified by the committee were selected based on the committee’s belief that they require immediate focus and resolution.
Our agenda for next year is to continue to work on these five areas with the appropriate offices, departments and/or divisions, and also to consider additional areas which affect

Value and Affordability

Value and Affordability Implementation April 19, 2013

Members: Mary Ann Naso, Freya Burnett, Brian Speer, Brian Ecker

Brian Speer updated the committee on a story proposal for the The New York Times on the value and affordability plan that will go on Monday. If the Times isn’t interested, we will send the release to Inside Higher Ed and The Washington Post.

A general release on value and affordability will go out the following week.

Mary Ann, Linda, and Brian Ecker met to discuss our financial aid packaging philosophy.  We have confirmed the merit award levels as well as the amount of grant aid to award, which is based on the percentage of the cost of attendance.  We have decided to not move forward with the idea of a full scholarship for valedictorians.

Mary Ann and Brian Ecker had a phone conversation with a parent and the feedback was very positive on the debt buyback narrative and concept.  From this parent’s perspective, the intent of the program was clear and the narrative was easily understood.  There was a little uncertainty by the parent on the definition of Stafford loans; subsequently, the definition for Stafford loans was added to the press release on the debt buyback program.

We are still looking for feedback on how to start a financial literacy topics course from Mary Hendrickson.

Communications will produce a piece over the summer on affordability and value for use by the admissions office.  Brian Speer will be modifying the debt buyback narrative to make it more general for all students.  The group discussed how the career services and an alumnae network could help to tie together the affordability issue.