The STEM Course Redesign Program

“Grades” as we know them originated as the Industrial Revolution got under way, and they still have the unfortunate effect of training students’ attention on themselves (the grades) instead of on learning.  As one student said, “Grades don’t measure understanding. They measure compliance.”

The Teaching Experiment Academy (TEA) invites STEM faculty to redesign or partially redesign an existing course, guided by mastery learning models and employing a specifications grading system. Faculty who teach undergraduate courses will be given priority to join the program. View the program guideline and requirements to learn more about the program. Seats are limited. Please submit your application by June 6, 2021. The acceptance letter will be sent out during the week of June 14 – 18, 2021. For more questions, contact your campus liaison for further assistance.

Three primary components are designed to facilitate the course redesign process: 

The Boot Camp (July 6 - 19, 2021)

A two-week remote synchronous working meeting is scheduled to onboard participating instructors. They will get started with the course redesign process by working in small groups to complete daily assigned tasks assigned by the master trainers.

Course Redesign and Implementation

Participating instructors will continue the course redesign work after the boot camp. A faculty peer coach from each institution providing teaching consultation and support will be available during the course redesign and implementation process (Summer 2021 – Fall 2022).


The Faculty Learning Community

The bi-weekly faculty peer support meeting is scheduled for the participating instructors to exchange teaching ideas, challenges, and solutions. The purpose is to cultivate a faculty learning community among three funding institutions to foster a peer support network.

Apply to Our Program

This application form is for STEM faculty who teach lower division courses and would like to apply for a mini-grant in Summer 2021 to support curricular development using mastery grading/specification grading pedagogy to be implemented in the Fall 2021 – Spring 2022 academic year. All faculty applicants will be reviewed by a committee of representatives from UC Irvine, San Jose State University, and Cal Poly Pomona.

The selected applicants will partially or wholly transform their courses using the mastery learning and specifications grading strategy to strengthen students’ growth mindset and improve learning outcomes. A partial course transformation will be expected to have at least 20% of the course work redesigned, a revised syllabus, and class activities centered around mastery learning and specifications grading. Applicants will complete a 3-day Institute and participate in a yearlong Faculty Learning Community (FLC) with instructional design support and coaching to accomplish these goals.

Boot Camp Working Meetings

July 6 – 19, 2021 from 1 to 2:30 PM PT

Application Deadline

June 6, 2021

Course Redesign

Fall 2021 – Spring 2022

Program FAQs

Who is eligible?

Any instructor scheduled to teach a STEM class between Fall 2021 and Spring 2022 at UC Irvine, San Jose State University, or Cal Poly Pomona is eligible to apply.  Priority will be given to instructors teaching undergraduate courses.  Graduate courses will be allowed if space permits.

Why should you join the program?

1. Faculty Stipend: Funding for faculty stipend is available upon completion of the required deliverables & activities. Contact your campus liaison for additional information. 

2. Enhance teaching experience with New Grading Strategy: Learn a whole new way of assessing student learning and thinking about grading. Increase confidence in the grades your students earn, and maybe even better legitimize student success rates for your course.

3. Teaching Expert Guidance: Get practical advice and guidance from faculty experienced in designing and implementing specifications grading in STEM courses.

4. Faculty Peer Coach Consultation and Technology Support: Facilitated by an experienced peer coach about implementing specifications gradings in course redesign. Access dedicated instructional design consultants to help you integrate learning tools (e.g., Canvas and Gradescope) during the course redesign process.

5. Faculty Learning Community: Join a faculty learning community, exchange teaching experiences, and work with faculty from across disciplines and across universities.

6. Educational Research Opportunity: Have the opportunity to engage in the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning and publish educational research papers.

What are the program requirements?
  • Joining a two-week Summer Boot Camp scheduled from July 6 to 19, 2021. 
    • Daily remote synchronous working meeting from 1:00 to 2:30 PM PT
    • Asynchronous activities toward the course redesign milestone
  • Attending the bi-weekly, one-hour cohort meeting to exchange teaching ideas, discuss issues and solutions, and generally support each other in the TEA Faculty Learning Community.
  • Required Deliverables: The level of course transformation is up to you.  Transform part of your course or the entire thing.  The minimum requirement is a partial course transformation. To be eligible for the faculty stipend, a participating instructor will
    • Complete 20% of the course’s graded work redesigned around mastery learning and specifications grading
    • Revised class activities to support the graded work
    • Revised course syllabus
How to join the program?

The deadline for submitting the TEA program application online is Sunday, June 6, 2021.The acceptance letter will be sent out around June 14 – 18, 2021. The program participants are expected to activate their UCI NetIDs before Sunday, June 27, 2021 in order to access the pre-reading assignments and the program course site before the program begins on Tuesday, July 6, 2021. The instructions to activate the UCI NetID is included in the acceptance email. If you have any questions, please contact your campus liaison for assistance.