Presentation on theme: "Communicating the Value of General and Liberal Education General Education and Assessment Conference March 2007Miami, Florida."— Presentation transcript:
Communicating the Value of General and Liberal Education General Education and Assessment Conference March 2007Miami, Florida
Important Messages and Communications Challenges What are the two most important things you hope your students learn as a result of their general education requirements? What are two common misunderstandings or challenges you have heard from students or their parents about general or liberal education?
LEAP Public Opinion Research 4 focus groups each with college-bound high school students and advanced college students ( in Indianapolis, IN, Fairfax, VA, Milwaukee, WI, Portland, OR) 3 focus groups with employers (2006 Atlanta, GA, Fairfax, VA, Milwaukee, WI) 2 national pollsbusiness leaders and recent graduates (late 2006)
What Do Students Think?: Selected Focus Group Findings High-school students feel uninformed about the college curriculum and uncertain about its demands. Students focused on choice of major rather than important outcomes attainment. Student lack understanding of liberal education. Once informed of definition of liberal education, students embrace concept, but complain that reality not living up to ideal.
Student Views of Liberal Education Broad, well-rounded education Freedom to choose courses Open-minded Political or liberal Impractical, less marketable Easy Waste of time
Volunteered Definitions Of Liberal Education Its a well-rounded education that exposes you to a variety of ideas, disciplines, and fields. It encourages appreciation and awareness of a variety of fields. It helps create a well-rounded individual who is knowledgeable about a variety of things. Life is interdisciplinary, and so is a liberal education. Thus, this type of education is valuable both personally and professionally. It also allows a person to find and focus on what they truly love to study. --College student, Portland, OR It brings up both liberal arts, which to me means a broad education not involving the hard sciences. It also means a politically liberal education, which is the way a lot of colleges are. The professors teaching are often liberal, and I think that usually people come out of college more liberal than when they came in. --College student, Alexandria, VA The freedom to choose and learn, broad education, its not focused on one specific field. Its a privilege rather than a right, and offers an open door. --High school student, Alexandria, VA
College Students Mixed Reactions To Liberal Education College students embrace the goals and concepts of liberal education in theory. Benefits of liberal education: Diversity of curriculum – exposure to multiple disciplines, complements skills learned in major Preparing students for life after graduation – ability to adapt, tools to meet challenges and take advantage of opportunities But they also identify a gap between the ideal and their own experience with general education: Dissatisfied with limited options of general education No sense of connectedness or integration of major
What Outcomes of College are Most Important to Students? Selected Focus Group Findings The outcomes of college that prospective and current college students think are most important: maturity, time management, work habits, self-discipline, teamwork. The outcomes students think are least important: values, cultural diversity, science, American history and culture, computer skills, global awareness, civic engagement. Students dont connect these outcomes to the college curriculum. Long-term professional success named overwhelmingly as primary reason to go to college
Criticism Of General Education General education requirements detract from, rather than enhance, their major. Timing of general education requirements = less chance of connection to major. Limited options for fulfilling requirements. Dont connect general education to important broad learning outcomes. General education classes are sometimes duplicative of what is learned in high school and are too elementary. Concern expressed more by career-oriented students. I went into school knowing exactly what I wanted to do. And, Ive always been that kind of person. Once I make a decision, thats it. And so when I was in freshman and sophomore year, when I had to take all the liberal arts curriculum, I just thought it was the biggest waste of time ever. --College student, Alexandria, VA
What Business Leaders Say: Selected Findings from National Poll For success in todays global economy, college students need a balance of a well-rounded education and knowledge and skills in specific fields. Employers overwhelmingly endorse key elements of a liberal education as essential to success in todays global economy. 63% agree that too many recent college graduates do not have the skills to be successful in todays global economy
Employers: Top Priorities For Increased Emphasis By Colleges % saying colleges should put more emphasis on each learning outcome Science and technology developments Teamwork skills in diverse settings Applied knowledge in real-world settings Written/oral communication Critical/analytical thinking Global issues Information literacy Creativity/innovation
Employers: Other Areas In Need Of More Emphasis By Colleges % saying colleges should put more emphasis on each learning outcome Complex problem solving U.S. role in the world Quantitative literacy Ethics and integrity Cultural values/traditions Civic engagement Foreign language skill Democracy/government
Real-World Application Of Knowledge And Skills Is Seen As Critical Employers: They [students] learn the book knowledge: its all theory; its not actual practice, and I do believe we need more practice. Atlanta business executive I think internships do an amazing job in terms of educating people versus your day-to-day everyday sitting in a class learning from a book. Fairfax business executive Recent graduates : 60% of graduates engaged in an internship. 88% rate it as very (56%) or fairly (32%) important in preparing them for their professional and career goals. 51% of graduates engaged in leadership of an on- campus student organization. 79% rate it as very (42%) or fairly (37%) important in preparing them for their professional and career goals.
Educational Approach Assessment How important is it for todays colleges and universities to provide the type of education described below? This particular approach to a four- year college education provides both broad knowledge in a variety of areas of study and more in-depth knowledge in a specific major or field of interest. It also helps students develop a sense of social responsibility, as well as intellectual and practical skills that span all areas of study, such as communication, analytical, and problem-solving skills, and a demonstrated ability to apply knowledge and skills in real-world settings. Employers Not sure Less/not important Fairly important Very important * 76% of employers would recommend this type of education to a young person they know.
Messages That Work Liberal education outcomes are key to success in todays global economy. Narrow training is not enough. Liberal education introduces students to multiple perspectives and develops their own independent critical judgment. Students must gain broad knowledge and have multiple opportunities to hone skills over time and in real-world settings.
Liberal Education and Americas Promise Debra Humphreys