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Irreconcilable Differences or 21 st Century Opportunity? Presenter: Diane Dick Dissertation Research Committee: Dr. Jean Gordon, mentor; Dr. Martha Hollis,

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Presentation on theme: "Irreconcilable Differences or 21 st Century Opportunity? Presenter: Diane Dick Dissertation Research Committee: Dr. Jean Gordon, mentor; Dr. Martha Hollis,"— Presentation transcript:

1 Irreconcilable Differences or 21 st Century Opportunity? Presenter: Diane Dick Dissertation Research Committee: Dr. Jean Gordon, mentor; Dr. Martha Hollis, committee member; Dr. Joshua Fischer, committee member

2 Four Stories Preserving the traditional language requirement in an adjunct-poor environment: Im going to learn Russian? Getting the Gen Eds out of the way: Bringing a grease- covered Chiltons to a dramatic literature course. Wandering in a hurry through General Education with no major : General Education has no answers for me! The classics for a business major: Nothing but problems I dont need!

3 Two questions For now... What are some inferences we can draw about these experiences of adult degree-seekers completing traditional general education requirements? For later... What questions might traditional academic decision- makers address as they consider revising their traditional General Education program?

4 A bit about the study: Qualitative/exploratory: Looking for the considerations associated with adapting a traditional private college curriculum for an adult audience: a focus on the General Education component. Academic leaders and decision-makers at 3 traditional private colleges responded to open-ended questions about...

5 Their Realities, Perceptions, Ideals Realities: Their traditional General Education curriculum, and whether/how they changed it for adult focused programs Perceptions: Their perceptions about how their institution views the purposes of General Education, the characteristics of adult learners, and the purposes of the baccalaureate degree Ideals: Their personal views on what General Education should be; what adult learners should study; and what a baccalaureate program should be

6 Realities: How was your traditional General Education curriculum adapted for the adult focused program?

7 Alexandrine College Adult-focused program is maturenearly 4 decades serving adult learners Built 2 scheduling models (weekday short sessions, and weekend longer sessions), with the same GE requirements for each Access to roster of all courses limited solely by students schedules Built curricula and methods that explicitly applied adult learning principles to all students, asserting that adult learning principles work equally well with 18-22 year olds

8 Benedictine College Adult-focused program is middle-aged: nearly 20 years in operation Created a weekend college exclusively for adults Access to roster of GE courses limited by availability in weekend format Maintained strict adherence to traditional General Ed curriculum, excluding the thinking like a college student first year integration experience offered to incoming post-high school freshmen

9 Clementine College Adult focused program is relatively new, nearing 10 years, characterized by early and aggressive expansion Created an accelerated program meeting on weekday evenings, maintaining a firewall between the adult program, and the traditional residential school. Access to roster of GE courses limited to availability of adjuncts with subject expertise Maintained strict adherence to traditional General Education curriculum, excluding the first year freshman experience

10 Perceptions How did your institution approach the problem of adapting GE to your adult program?

11 Common perceived institutional goals for the GE Component GE offers breadth of content GE offers skill building: critical thinking, writing and communication, computational Pragmatic value: Content relevance in a professional program expires, but intellectual skills can help professionals keep up Intrinsic value: GE deals with the big human questions Learning different ways of thinking: How does a historian approach this problem? How does an artist approach this problem? How do people in differing cultures and situations respond to this concept/tale/event/music/artwork? Inculcation (or, at least a reflection) of institutional mission and values GE includes the things they might not normally choose to take, but that are seen as valuable by the institution

12 Outlying perceptions regarding GE component Professional program faculty think of GE as finishing school for professionals (a nice hobbybut not the real stuff) Most faculty dont think about GE, but about their own courses, which ignores questions like Should a GE literature class be different from a literature class for the major? or Does learning calculus make me more numerate?

13 Common perceived considerations for adapting traditional GE to adult-focused program Content must be identical or equivalent Scheduling adjustments, including longer class sessions, accelerated terms, convenient hours Accessibility Quality control challenges Instructor availability

14 Outlying perceptions regarding considerations for adapting GE to adult-focused program Honest attempt to adapt to particular needs of adults without compromising outcomesassessment movement has helped us in this Little faculty involvement in decisionsno shared governance (justified by explanation that the only change was delivery system, not content or rigor) Get somebody to teach something in this GE requirement rather than a more intentional approach An effort was made to eliminate distinctions between adult program and the rest of the college, but with mixed results

15 Early Conclusions The considerations informing decisions about adult- focused General Education suggest insights into how professionals in academic cultures think about: the role of liberal arts in professional preparation, non-traditional (and traditional) students, and ultimately, what it means to be college educated.

16 Your Ideals... and Your Ideas What should the General Education component of the baccalaureate program accomplish?

17 Your Ideals... and Your Ideas In what ways should adult differences (experiential, situational, cognitive) influence the decision to adapt General Education requirements or offerings?

18 Your Ideals... and Your Ideas What specific features distinguish a bachelors degree from solely technical or professional preparation?

19 Back to those Four Stories Preserving the traditional language requirement in an adjunct-poor environment: Business and technology students find community at a local pubs monthly Russian Round Table Getting the Gen Eds out of the way: Trading a grease-covered Chiltons for a beer-soaked Sam Shepard--and a new literature major? Wandering in a hurry through General Education with no major... but Im getting there!: Finding philosophical foundations in Medieval European History, leading to life-changing vocational decisions The classics for a business major?: Embracing the classics through memorization, via a deadly Hamlet and Gertrude face-off on a tee-shirt


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