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Debra Humphreys Association of American Colleges & Universities Communicating Effectively About the Aims and Outcomes of.

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Presentation on theme: "Debra Humphreys Association of American Colleges & Universities Communicating Effectively About the Aims and Outcomes of."— Presentation transcript:

1 Debra Humphreys Association of American Colleges & Universities Communicating Effectively About the Aims and Outcomes of Liberal and General Education Network for Academic Renewal February, 2012


3 Communicating What Really Matters in College What are the two most important skills you hope your students develop as a result of completing their gen ed requirements? What are two common misunderstandings or challenges you have heard from students about liberal or general education? If someone came to your colleges Web site, what would be the main message they would receive about the most important outcomes of college?

4 Communicating What Really Matters in College Thinking about all of higher education, what do you think is the outcome of college most neglected by colleges and universities?


6 LEAP Areas of Work Public Advocacy/Communicationleadership through National Leadership Council, Presidents Trust, and work in selected LEAP states to make the case for liberal education and importance of essential learning outcomes Campus Actiontechnical assistance and networking to support campus efforts to increase all students achievement of essential learning outcomes and to communicate more effectively about liberal education Authentic Evidencereports on public opinion, high-impact practices that lead to essential learning outcomes, assessment approaches that deepen student learning and periodic reports of national data on student achievement

7 Why Make Communications a Priority Intentionality and coherence of educational experience Lack of awareness about what really matters in collegeespecially among first-generation students and their families Slipping public confidence in higher education

8 Public Opinion In 2004, 93% of Americans viewed higher education institutions as one of the most valuable resources to the US. Public ranked colleges as high as military and churches. (Chronicle of Higher Ed) In 2009, 55% of Americans viewed higher education as absolutely essential to success, up from 31% in (Public Agenda) In 2010, 87 percent of Hispanics agreed that a college education is important for a person to get ahead in life. (Univision/AP)

9 Public Opinion In 2009, 60% agreed that colleges today are like most businesses and care more about the bottom line than about making sure students have a good educational experience. (up from 52% in 2007). (Public Agenda) In 2009, 70% said students shouldered a great deal or a lot of the blame for low graduation rates. (AP/Stanford)

10 The Communications Challenges External challenge (public, prospective students, parents) What is a good educational experience? What are the essential elements of a good educational experienceoutcomes and practices? Internal challenge (current students, faculty, colleagues) How does general education fit into the larger goals of institution? How are we collectively providing an integrative quality education?

11 Narrow Learning is Not Enough The LEAP Essential Learning Outcomes Knowledge of Human Cultures and the Physical and Natural World Focused on engagement with big questions, enduring and contemporary Intellectual and Practical Skills Practiced extensively across the curriculum, in the context of progressively more challenging problems, projects, and standards for performance Personal and Social Responsibility Anchored through active involvement with diverse communities and real-world challenges Integrative Learning Demonstrated through the application of knowledge, skills, and responsibilities to new settings and complex problems

12 Why are these outcomes essential? In an economy where every industry…is challenged to innovate or be displaced, all students need the kind of intellectual skills and capacities that enable them to get things done in the world…(creative and practical intelligence) In a democracy that is diverse, globally engaged, and dependent on citizen responsibility, all students need an informed concern for the larger good…(responsibility) In a world of daunting complexity, all students need practices that require them to practice skills and integrate and apply their learning to challenging questions and real-world problems (real-world application)

13 Main LEAP Messages There is an emerging consensus about the essential learning outcomes students need for successand an engaged liberal education provides these outcomes. We must raise levels of student achievement of these outcomes to meet the demands of a volatile economy and globally interdependent world. College is not only about professional success; the future of our democracy and our shared futures depends on a more informed, engaged, and globally aware citizenry.

14 General Communications Tips Communicating messages about aims of educationeveryones responsibility Students receive messages from multiple sources (Web sites, syllabi, faculty, advisors, career counselors) Messages are more effective if they are tailored to ones audience Multiple messages must be consistent, repeated, and reinforced in multiple settings

15 Know Your Audience: LEAP/AAC&U Research Focus groups with college-bound high school students, advanced college students, employers ( ) National surveysbusiness leaders (2006/2007/2009) and recent graduates (2006) National surveyAAC&U member CAOs (2009) National surveyAAC&U member presidents (2011; co- sponsored by Gates Fdn; unpublished) Focus groups with policy influencers (2011)

16 What Do Students Think? Selected Focus Group Findings High-school students feel uninformed about the college curriculum and uncertain of its demands. Students are focused on choice of major rather than what they will learn; long-term professional success is paramount goal. Students lack understanding of liberal education. Once informed of definition of liberal education, student embrace the concept, but complain that reality not living up to ideal.

17 Other Student Views: Top Attributes for Desired Employment 1.Opportunity for personal development 2.Job security 3.Good insurance benefits 4.Friendly co-workers 5.High-starting salary 6.Chance to improve the community 7.Recognition for performance 8.Location close to home 9.Opportunity for advancement 10.Diversity Source: NACE 2011 Student Survey; 50,000 college students; 20,000 graduating seniors

18 Other Student Views: What 2010 high school graduates say What is most important to you in a job or career? 1.Work that I find interesting or care about (59%) 2.Work that helps other people (28%) 3.Job that pays bills while I have fun outside work (28%) 4.Job security (19%) 5.Making a lot of money (18%) 6.Being able to work with my hands (9%) 7.Being my own boss (6%) Source: One Year Out Hart Research Associates for College Board (summer 2011)

19 Outcomes of College: Student Views The outcomes of college that HS and 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 outcomes to the curriculum. Long-term professional success overwhelmingly primary reason to go to college

20 Criticisms of General Education 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.

21 What Employers Say [Employers] generally are...frustrated with their inability to find 360 degree people who have both the specific job/technical skills and the broader skills (communication and problem-solving skills, work ethic, and ability to work with others) necessary to promise greater success for both the individual and the employer. From Peter D. Hart Research Associates, Report of Findings Based on Focus Groups Among Business Executives (AAC&U, 2006)

22 National Surveys of Employers on College Learning and Graduates Work Readiness AAC&U commissioned Hart Research Associates (in 2006, 2007, and in late 2009) to interview employers (C-level suite executives and, in 2009 additional human resource professionals) whose companies report that hiring relatively large numbers of college graduates Findings are summarized in the following reports: How Should Colleges Prepare Students to Succeed in Todays Global Economy? (AAC&U, 2007) How Should Colleges Assess and Improve Student Learning? Employers Views on the Accountability Challenge (AAC&U, 2008) Raising the Bar: Employers Views on College Learning in the Wake of the Economic Downturn (AAC&U, 2010) See:

23 How important is it for 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.

24 Not sure Less/not important Fairly important Very important * 76% of employers would recommend this type of education to a young person they know. How important is it for colleges and universities to provide this type of education (see previous slide)?

25 HART RESEARCH P e t e r D ASSOTESCIA Raising The Bar Employers Views On College Learning In The Wake Of The Economic Downturn Key findings from survey among 302 employers Conducted October 27 – November 17, 2009 for

26 2009 AAC&U Survey Methodology Survey among 302 executives at private sector and non-profit organizations that have 25 or more employees Each reports that 25% or more of their new hires hold an associates degree from a two-year college or a bachelors degree from a four-year college. Overall margin of error = +5.7 percentage points Source: Raising the Bar (AAC&U, 2010)

27 Employers Expectations of Employees Have Increased % who agree with each statement Our company is asking employees to take on more responsibilities and to use a broader set of skills than in the past Employees are expected to work harder to coordinate with other departments than in the past The challenges employees face within our company are more complex today than they were in the past To succeed in our company, employees need higher levels of learning and knowledge today than they did in the past

28 Broad Skills/Knowledge AND Specific Skills/ Knowledge Are Needed for Career Success Which is more important for recent college graduates who want to pursue advancement and long-term career success at your company? BOTH in-depth AND broad range of skills and knowledge Broad range of skills and knowledge that apply to a range of fields or positions In-depth knowledge and skills that apply to a specific field or position

29 Employers Top Priorities For Student Learning Outcomes In College % saying two- and four-year colleges should place MORE emphasis on helping students develop these skills, qualities, capabilities, knowledge Effective oral/written communication Critical thinking/ analytical reasoning Knowledge/skills applied to real world settings Analyze/solve complex problems Connect choices and actions to ethical decisions Teamwork skills/ ability to collaborate Ability to innovate and be creative Concepts/developments in science/technology

30 Top Candidate Skills and Qualities Ability to work in a team structure Ability to verbally communicate with persons inside and outside the organization Ability to make decisions and solve problems Ability to obtain and process information Ability to plan, organize, and prioritize work Ability to analyze quantitative data Technical knowledge related to the job Proficiency with computer software programs Ability to create and/or edit written reports Ability to sell or influence others Source: NACE Job Outlook 2012 Survey, October 2011

31 Key Capabilities Open the Door for Career Success and Earnings Irrespective of college major or institutional selectivity, what matters to career success is students development of a broad set of cross-cutting capacities… Anthony Carnevale, Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce

32 Civic and Economic Messages Can Be Effective Together Colleges and universities are uniquely positioned to model and teach respectful democratic dialogue and problem solving. There is a civic dimension to every field of study, including career and technical fields, as well as to every workplace. Industries and services have ethical and social responsibilities of their own.

33 Civic and Economic Messages Can Be Effective Together A flourishing economy requires the same skills that support citizenship. Civic and democratic learning opportunities (e.g. service learning, community-based research, courses on US history, diversity, and global issues) provide broad skills and knowledge that are useful both for success in the workplace and to prepare students to be active and engaged citizens.

34 HART RESEARCH ASSOTESCIA AAC&U Members On Trends In Learning Outcomes, General Education, and Assessment Key findings from online survey among 433 Chief Academic Officers and other academic leaders at AAC&U member institutions Conducted November 19, 2008 – February 16, 2009 for Margin of sampling error ±4.7 percentage points

35 35 Goals/Outcomes for All Students College Learning Humanities Science Social sciences Global/world cultures Mathematics Diversity in U.S. Technology U.S. history Languages Sustain- ability Writing skills Critical thinking Quantitative reasoning Oral communication Intercultural skills Information literacy Ethical reasoning Civic engagement Application of learning Research skills Integration of learning Among respondents from campuses WITH campus-wide goals, percent saying their institutions common set of learning goals/outcomes addresses each area of knowledge/intellectual skills & ability Areas of KnowledgeIntellectual Skills/Ability

36 What do Presidents Think? Top Goals for American Higher Education Better preparing graduates to be knowledgeable and effective citizens (59% absolutely essential) Better preparing students to understand and succeed in the global economy (57% absolutely essential) Better preparing graduates for success in the US and regional job markets (54% absolutely essential) Increasing the number of low-income and minority students who have access to post-secondary education (53% absolutely essential)

37 New Goals Set by Presidents To increase retention and completion rates (93%) To implement new ways to assess student learning (86%) To connect more students academic learning with real-world settings and problems (77%) To increase the proportion of students achieving stated learning outcomes (76%)

38 Presidential Voices Given the pace of technological and social change, it no longer makes sense to devote four years of higher education entirely to specific skills. By learning how to learn, one makes ones educational last a lifetime…students should develop the ability to continue learning so they can become agents of changenot victims of it. Michael Roth, Huffington Post, 2010

39 Messages That Work Liberal education outcomes are key to success in todays global economy and for responsible citizenship. Narrow training is not enough. Students must gain broad knowledge and have multiple opportunities to hone skills over time and in real-world settings. General education is an essential part of providing students these outcomes and opportunities.

40 Messages That Work Liberal Education outcomes are important because students are likely to change jobs multiple times Liberal education introduces students to multiple perspectives and develops their own independent critical judgment. Students neednt choose either a liberal education or preparation for professional successboth forms of education can be pursued together in mutually reinforcing ways.

41 Strategies for Making the Case Focus on the outcomes of a good liberal education and their value in the knowledge-based, global economy Use data (employers; alumni; field trends) that demonstrate that employers want broadly educated, responsible graduates Note the common set of skills and knowledge needed for work and citizenship Real-world experience matters: provide students with real-world applied learning, but also help them translate those experiences into skills and capacities employers can understand

42 Ways to Get the Message Out Wisconsin Student Essay Contest Student Focus Groups Op-Eds, blogs, speeches Orientation and advising Alumni magazines and events Use LEAP toolscampus tool kit; speeches, surveys; student brochures Web e/generaled/requirements


44 AAC&U Resources Making the Case for Liberal Education: Responding to Challenges Communicating Commitment to Liberal Education: A Self-Study Guide for Institutions Why Do I Have To Take This Course? A Student Guide to making Smart Educational Choices (see section on Becoming a Citizen of the World) What Will I Learn in College? What You Need to Know Now to Get Ready for College Success (available in print; bulk prices available) What is a Liberal Education? and Why is it Important to My Future? (available in bulk; 500 minimum order)


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