Thoughts on the Gen-ed Updates

I’ve been thinking about gen-eds now for some time…

  1. See one of my newsletter articles from Fall 2012 based on a project I completed for Hi ED 840, Assessing Student Outcomes and Evaluating Academic Programs SP 2012
  2. Access a recording of the ppt presentation at a workshop I did on campus for tapping into the power of the gen-eds… June 2012

What follows are thoughts I shared with the campus and posted on the  PSU gen-ed blog . I think it is important to add value, simplify the process, use what’s already out there in terms of research and best practice, align with Middle States standards for gen-eds… and in the end have something that is flexible, scalable,  and sustainable.. that provides choice (for all stakeholders) and opportunities that make a difference…

Models & Research
1) I am a proponent of George Kuh’s work on High Impact Practices – (summary attached) things like service learning, first-year seminars, internships, collaborative projects, etc… please take a look at the list…
a) the research has already been done on the impact of these practices for improved retention and student learning
b) this approach to changes in the gen-ed would focus on incorporation of high impact practices while maintaining the current gen-ed curriculum with its existing goals that are already aligned with Middle States standards and could:
i) simplify the change process – by not dismantling what exists – but by adding practices that have value and importance – i.e. students would be required to complete the gen-ed requirements as they stand
Courses would receive HIP (High Impact Practices) designations if they incorporate one of the HIPS.A course can be a HIP course and a gen-ed course at the same time (or a course in the major).Students are required to have at least 2 HIP courses (what research shows starts to make a difference) – one in the first 2 years, one in the second 2 years… or one only for 2-year degrees.HIP courses can be carried as students move from campus to campus
ii) This model allows for flexibility at the course, program, college, campus level; allows for integration of already proven practices; allows for faculty autonomy and choice; allows students to have choice; creates a designation that is simple to transfer across campuses; creates a straightforward designation that can be checked for gradation requirements.

2) Use the Principles of Excellence as an overarching guide to approaching HIP work –

1) I don’t see notations (although I’m assuming the focus on learning outcomes is related to this) about Middle States standards for the gen-eds… We don’t need to reinvent that wheel – a framework/standard is already there -  Standard 12 in (pg 61 of the pdf) attached describes the gen-ed standard – another reason NOT to change the Gen-ed curriculum as it stands which is already in compliance
2) What constitutes evidence of learning for Middle States? Another resource: Examples of evidence of learning doc is here
3) AAC&U’s Project LEAP VALUE Rubrics can also be used…

Implementation Challenges
1) Create a process whereby courses can be designated HIP courses
2) Make sure that students have enough options across the course offerings to get their HIP requirements done in a timely fashion
3) Change academic plans to include HIP requirements
4) Create opportunities to share ideas about creating courses with HIP elements.


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