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The Aims of General Education: One Systems Efforts to Facilitate Student Learning Throughout the System OR How the USG has Managed to Implement Some of.

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Presentation on theme: "The Aims of General Education: One Systems Efforts to Facilitate Student Learning Throughout the System OR How the USG has Managed to Implement Some of."— Presentation transcript:

1 The Aims of General Education: One Systems Efforts to Facilitate Student Learning Throughout the System OR How the USG has Managed to Implement Some of the Principles of Greater Expectations AAC&U February 19, 2005

2 Session Facilitators University System of Georgia Dorothy Zinsmeister, Assistant Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs Robert Haney, Chair, Regents Administrative Committee on Institutional Effectiveness (RACIE) Cathie Mayes Hudson, Associate Vice Chancellor for Strategic Research and Analysis James Burran, President, Dalton State College & Chair, Council on General Education

3 University System of Georgia (USG) 34 public institutions 4 Research Universities 2 Regional Universities 13 State Universities 2 State Colleges 13 Two-Year Colleges

4 Board of Regents of the USG Governing body for all 34 institutions Policies apply to all 34 institutions

5 Identify some advantages to being a part of such a System Identify some disadvantages

6 Advantages BOR approves the University System of Georgia Core Curriculum Principles, Framework and Guidelines in 1996. Coincides with semester conversion. Core curriculum Learning outcomes the driver for course development Transferability across the System Communication across the System Result Common core curriculum (almost) with: common course numbers (mostly) common course titles (mostly) common course descriptions (mostly common course outcomescontinues to be work in progress *http://www.usg.edu/admin/accaff/newcore/

7 Critical Factors for Success Opportunity for change System-wide Council on Undergraduate Education-recommended principles, guidelines and framework for the core RACIE Institutional options Discipline-Based Committees Council on General Education Transfer Ombudsmen

8 Intentions of General Education The Role of RACIE

9 RACIEs Role Born in response to SACS Criteria in early 1980s Initiated discussion on learning outcomes & effectiveness efforts Planning and assessment policy statement Task forces for rapid progress Distinction between Core Curriculum and general education New outcomes-based Core Curriculum

10 Board of Regents Policy Statement [...] each institution shall have a formal process by which systematic assessment of institutional effectiveness is conducted and the results of assessments are used to achieve institutional improvement. Assessment processes may differ from institution to institution, but each institution shall assess basic academic skills at entry, general education, degree programs, and academic and administrative support programs and/or functions. The faculty and staff of each institution shall be involved in developing assessment processes and included in the structure by which those processes are implemented and used for improvement. --Board of Regents Policy Manual, Section 205 Planning and Assessment

11 General Education in the USG From the origins of intellectual study to the present, general education has been a key to a fulfilling life of self-knowledge, self-reflection, critical awareness, and lifelong learning. General education has traditionally focused on oral and written communication, quantitative reasoning and mathematics, studies in culture and society, scientific reasoning, and aesthetic appreciation. Today, general education also assists students in their understanding of technology, information literacy, diversity, and global awareness. In meeting all of these needs, general education provides college students with their best opportunity to experience the breadth of human knowledge and the ways that knowledge in various disciplines is interrelated. In the University System of Georgia, general education programs consist of a group of courses known as the Core Curriculum as well as other courses and co-curricular experiences specific to each institution. The attainment of general education learning outcomes prepares responsible, reflective citizens who adapt constructively to change. General education programs impart knowledge, values, skills, and behaviors related to critical thinking and logical problem-solving. General education includes opportunities for interdisciplinary learning and experiences that increase intellectual curiosity, providing the basis for advanced study in the variety of fields offered by todays colleges and universities. October 26, 2004

12 RACIEs Continuing Role Training and manuals on assessment principles and techniques Workshops to help institutions prepare for SACS reaffirmation under the old Criteria for Accreditation Peer review of first learning outcomes and assessment plans from USG institutions Request for list of common general education learning outcomes Policy and procedures for comprehensive program review

13 The New Core Curriculum Lower-division courses offered in all sectors Limit of 60 semester hours Common template, but with greater institutional choice than under the quarter system Core categories described in terms of learning outcomes for the first time

14 Assessment of General Education Outcomes in the University System of Georgia

15 USGs Ideal Model for Institutional Assessment Use results to improve Define student learning outcomes Define measurable results Assess Link results to Strategic Plan Link to budget Assessment Model Strategic Planning Model

16 Ideal Model for System Assessment Consistently defined student learning outcomes Control statistically for student academic characteristics and other inputs Similar assessments Similar analysis of results Results of sufficient quality to show change over time Link to budget and planning? –How important is general education?

17 Characteristics of Assessment Model General education student learning outcomes defined at institution level –Not common across System, but many shared in common Assessment at institution level –Assessments not common across the System or within institutions –No additional resources for assessment Models at institutions vary –Assessment of general education owned by departments –Outcomes owned across departments

18 Practical Model for Assessment Use results to improve Define student learning outcomes Define measurable results Assess Use results to improve Define student learning outcomes Define measurable results Assess Use results to improve Define student learning outcomes Define measurable results Assess Link results to Strategic Plan Link to budget Assessment ModelsStrategic Planning Model Use results to improve Define student learning outcomes Define measurable results Assess Use results to improve Define student learning outcomes Define measurable results Assess Use results to improve Define student learning outcomes Define measurable results Assess Use results to improve Define student learning outcomes Define measurable results Assess Use results to improve Define student learning outcomes Define measurable results Assess Use results to improve Define student learning outcomes Define measurable results Assess Use results to improve Define student learning outcomes Define measurable results Assess Use results to improve Define student learning outcomes Define measurable results Assess Use results to improve Define student learning outcomes Define measurable results Assess Use results to improve Define student learning outcomes Define measurable results Assess ? ?

19 Challenges at Institution Level Hard to add up assessments into a meaningful whole Difficult to pinpoint areas of concern and link actions needed to departments or people –Difficult to link results to decision-making, planning, and budgeting Difficult to determine overall progress of an institution over time How can institutional policies enrich general education?

20 Challenges at System Level Hard to ensure fairness –Compare institutions? Difficult to differentiate between general education assessments that work well and those that do not –Dangers of micromanagement Extremely difficult to add up institutional assessments into a meaningful System whole Almost impossible to determine if the System has made progress over time

21 How can public policies at the System level enrich general education? Focus on creating a culture of evidence and sustain a culture of inquiry Evaluate general indicators of success –If students graduate, is general education working? Accountability vs. assessment –Measurements designed for a particular outcome –Ewells approachUse available data

22 Using Existing Data for Assessment Regents Test –Initiated in 1972 Minimal skills required for all graduates –Essay testscored pass/fail –Reading Tests assess vocabulary, literal comprehension, inferential comprehension, and analysis. Can be linked to general education

23 Using Existing Data for Assessment NSSE and CCSSE –First System-wide administration in Spring 2005 –Two replications of ACTs SOS Accountability indicators –Retention and graduation rates Learning support (remediation) feedback Transfer feedback

24 Assessments of the Future Assessments that are valid, reliable, and pinpoint areas for improvement –Assessments work well at institution level –Assessments add up to meaningful whole Based on assessments, resources are used to improve instruction

25 Role of the Council on General Education When the University Systems semester conversion process began in 1997, several issues dominated: –Ensure the quality and integrity of the general ed core curriculum –Guarantee transferability among institutions –Balance institutional autonomy against System- wide requirements

26 Council on General Education The mechanism that evolved to address these issues and facilitate the creation of a new general education core included: –Institutional semester conversion task forces –Discipline-Based Committees (Pre-existing) comprised of System-wide faculty representation –Math –English –Etc. –System Council on Undergraduate Education Council on Majors Council on General Education

27 The Council on General Education protects the integrity of the core and facilitates transferability among institutions. Its litmus test apparatus: Core Curriculum Principles and Framework* –Provides broad parameters –Focuses on collegiate-level outcomes –Incorporates institutional flexibility –Requires intentional, cohesive approach * http://www.usg.edu/admin/accaff/newcore/

28 Council on General Education Council members are appointed by the Senior Vice Chancellor for Academics and Fiscal Affairs –Eleven members represent Two-Year Colleges State Colleges State Universities Regional Universities Research Universities

29 Council on General Education They also represent Presidents Chief Academic Officers Math English Fine Arts Natural Sciences Social Sciences Learning Support Academic Assessment

30 Council on General Education In addition, the Council on General Education assures transferability through –Transfer of Core Curriculum Guidelines –Transfer Ombudspersons (Facilitators) on every campus

31 Council on General Education 2 recent examples of how the mechanism works: –MATH 1001: Quantitative Skills and Reasoning –ISCI 1121K: Integrated Science

32 Successes and Challenges

33 Next Steps and Hopes for the Future University System of Georgia

34 Hopes for the Future Alignment Intentional Learning Our Students Best Works

35 Alignment within the USG Alignment with pre-college curricula Alignment across sectors Dialogue about the Core and general education Discipline-based committees Council on General Education Ease of transfer Full faith and credit

36 Intentional Learning Living-learning communities Freshman reading programs First-year seminars Learning goals

37 Our Students Best Work Publics need for information –Value-added of college education –Why return on investment is so low –Why graduation rates are lowest in certain populations

38 Articulating What We Do Taking our case to the public Informing legislators Others

39 Specific Goals Better orientation about expectations for learning outcomes Plan of study Milestone assessments Culminating experiences to demonstrate mastery


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