Presentation on theme: "ONE WORD A Faculty Value A University Priority A Conversation About General Education August 18, 2014."— Presentation transcript:
ONE WORD A Faculty Value A University Priority A Conversation About General Education August 18, 2014
CONTEXTS from this morning’s address by your president
Accreditation: Expectations concerning institutional outcomes, strategic planning, and assessment all invoke the theme of our general education discussion— the “one word” that will be introduced in a moment....
Growth through freshman recruitment: Students are attracted by general education programs that are understandably purposeful
Strategic Planning: The design of the curriculum should be consistent with the strategic priorities of the university—and vice versa
Department of Ethereal Studies Upper Midwest State University Professor U. R. A. Pedant Editor, Journal of Esoteric Study University of the Lower Midwest Springfield, Iowa 77777 Dear Professor Pedant, It is with pleasure that I attach to this covering e-mail an article for publication in the Journal of Esoteric Study.
To avoid any misunderstanding, I want to make it clear that the objectives of this article are nowhere clearly defined or stated.
Please respect my lengthy experience as a scholar. Assume that my intent will emerge in due course.
Because I do not clarify the structure of my argument, a reader may not understand how its different elements add up to a coherent whole. They should work at it! There’s nothing wrong with a little work! I can’t hold every reader’s hand! They are adults, after all.
Readers who fail to understand my argument may in time—perhaps many years later—come to appreciate its importance. In the short term, who is a better judge of my effectiveness than I am?
Any effort to evaluate my article would be at best premature and at worst a violation of my academic freedom.
I will look forward to seeing my article in print as soon as possible.
Ever hear... ? The following are statements voiced at faculty senate meetings at three public universities.
“Memorable courses evolve. If you’re too definitive at the beginning about what you hope to accomplish, you leave no room for spontaneity and exploration.”
“I have had alums tell me that it wasn’t until years later that they appreciated what they had learned in my course.”
“My syllabus is between me and my students. I don’t want the bloody provost telling me what it supposedly should include.”
“When I close the door to my classroom, I expect—and my students expect—to be left alone.”
“My syllabus is between me and my students. I don’t want the bloody provost telling me what it supposedly should include.” “When I close the door to my classroom, I expect—and my students expect—to be left alone.” “Learning outcomes? That may be the latest jargon, but there’s nothing new about that. Students have been learning stuff for thousands of years.”
“Of course I’m in favor of assessment. I give grades, don’t I?”
Courses should be allowed to evolve. Realizing and confirming learning may take years. A syllabus is a private communication. The classroom is a privileged enclave. There’s nothing new about “learning outcomes.” Grading is a form of assessment. Care to comment? A grain of truth in some of these statements?
By contrast, a commitment to intentionality might sound something like....
(First class meeting) Here’s our syllabus. First, let’s discuss what we will be learning together in the course of the semester—and how we will be able to demonstrate what we have learned.
(First week of the semester) How many of you are sociology majors? Would you be willing to share with the class your view of what someone with a bachelor’s degree in sociology should know and be able to do?
That’s great. Now let’s discuss how this course helps to get you there.
(Class meeting during the semester) Good morning! Today we will look at the important role of rewards in society and consider how changing the rewards can lead to a change in behaviors. By the end of the hour, we should all be able to offer an example of this phenomenon drawn from our own observations.
Care to comment? What does intentionality sound like in your classroom?
What are the characteristics of an intentional general education curriculum?
Coherence Continuity Common learning Competence development
Coherence Continuity Common learning Competence development Community consciousness
Coherence Does the general education curriculum reflect—and influence—the institution ’ s mission? Are its goals clear? Well understood? Does the curriculum embody genuine choices? Does the curriculum express a conscious emphasis on learning? Are the objectives of courses clearly stated? Is there a recognizable logic to the curriculum? Do transfer students gain access to the general education values of the institution?
Continuity Are there clear links between general education and education in the chosen field? Are values of general education expressed in chosen field study? Vice-versa ? Are there opportunities for students and faculty to build (and cross) bridges between general education and education in the chosen field? Does the community college curriculum articulate well with four-year curricula? And vice-versa? Are the values of general education available to the transfer student?
Common learning What are the odds that two students, meeting at random on the SUU campus, will have read the same book? Considered similar intellectual issues? Explored analogous questions? Does the curriculum embody an overall understanding that effective common learning (what is learned) requires a deliberate focus on learning (how it is learned)?
Competence development, e.g. Can students who complete SUU’s foreign language requirement order a croissant in Paris or a latte in Florence? Are students who complete the “math” requirement “ numerate ” ? Are all students effective epistemologists? I.e., “ computer fluent ” ?
Community consciousness Do students have the opportunity to celebrate campus and community diversity? Do students examine competing notions of the common good? Are issues of citizenship raised? Explored? Tested? Enacted? Are transfer students oriented to the culture of the community?
2If the knowledge and abilities offered through general education are not reinforced in every major, they will atrophy.
2If the knowledge and abilities offered through general education are not reinforced in every major, they will atrophy. As seniors, students will be less competent writers and will be less computationally literate.
3If the general education curriculum is conceived and taught without reference to what the majors expect students to accomplish, students will learn less than they should and faculty members will be less effective than they can be.
1 “OK. Now that your general education is behind you, it’s time to buckle down.”
2 “Golly. I think I knew more math when I was a freshman than I do now that I’m a senior.”
3 I’m so glad that I can teach my gen ed students what really matters— before they get swallowed up in majors like business... or fashion design... or...
4 “My students can’t write! Why isn’t the English Department doing its job?”
5 “This student can’t do the math. How will she ever succeed in the study of business?”
5 “Why isn’t the math department doing its job?”
At SUU, are there any indicators that students might benefit from ✔ More clearly defined learning objectives for the baccalaureate? ✔ More clearly defined learning objectives for major programs? ✔ More clearly defined learning objectives for general education? Care to comment?
If any of the above seem at all familiar, this may be a good time for a discussion of general education at Southern Utah University.
The path forward... Your essential learning outcomes will provide a framework for the entire educational experience. Each student will follow a “ compass ” —a plan of study ensuring command of the essential learning outcomes. Students will learn the arts of inquiry and innovation through immersion in analysis, discovery, problem solving, and communication.
Further steps... Students will have the opportunity to confront “ the big questions ” —issues in science and society, cultures and values, etc. Students will connect knowledge with choices and action through engagement with real-world problems. Students will gain from civic, intercultural, and ethical learning a capacity for personal and social responsibility.
Even if SUU offers... A coherent general education curriculum that provides continuity, assures competencies, enables common learning, and encourages community consciousness Adequate classroom resources Learning opportunities outside of the classroom Rational outcomes assessment
... unless every member of the faculty, whatever his or her field of expertise and curricular level, contributes to the education of every student...
The result can be disappointing... For faculty members dedicated to general education and liberal learning For those who teach majors For those who teach graduate students For students and their families For those who employ graduates
Why? If otherwise principled, knowledgeable, professional faculty members convey the message that general education is either a harmless diversion or a wasteful impediment to the major or to graduate study, they can undermine even the most innovative and effective program.
What makes it worse? Students are more likely to hear this message within their majors or in graduate school, when they have become more clearly focused, more self-interested, and more highly motivated.
On the other hand... If faculty members in the majors and in graduate programs demand, model, and build on liberal learning, they enable their students to maintain and build on their liberal learning
What are some ways in which faculty members in any discipline, at any level, can endorse or model the values of effective general education? Care to comment?