Without Really Trying Anyone's Patience

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How to Succeed at
Meaningful Gen Ed Reform
Without Really Trying Anyone’s Patience
Piers Britton & Ed Wingenbach
1
•
The existent Liberal Arts Foundation:
 Ostensibly based on modes of enquiry rather than
being department/division based –
 BUT: de facto driven by departmental and other
political compromises.
CC (Cross Cultural)
CP (Creative Process)
DD (Dominance and Difference)
FL (Foreign Language)
HB (Human Behavior)
HH (Humanities History)
HL (Humanities Literature)
HP (Humanities Philosophy)
M1 (Science with Lab)
M2 (Mathematics)
M3 (Math/Science+Lab)
SE (State & Economy)
WA/WB (Writing Across The Curriculum – Lower & Upper Division)
Humanities Philosophy (HP). Philosophical reflection poses
fundamental questions about the nature of reality, the
possibility of knowledge, and the meaning of life. Courses in
philosophy introduce the issues and methods of
metaphysics, ethics, logic, and epistemology. They engage
students in critical reflection on the presuppositions of other
human inquiries, such as art and religion, the natural and the
social sciences. Courses in religion introduce the beliefs and
spiritual principles embraced by different faiths. All these
courses train students in critical and analytical skills and
nurture intellectual autonomy by encouraging students to
challenge their deepest assumptions.
Move to an outcomes-based LAF model which optimizes
transparency for:
•
•
•
Students – who do not see the LAF as anything more than a
hurdle to jump, and are unclear about intellectual goals;
Faculty – seeking committee approval for LAF designation;
College Curriculum Committee – not necessarily all familiar
with each category, but charged with assessing applications for
LAF designation.
Moreover, intended to facilitate:
•
•
Dissemination/ongoing discussion of learning goals as well as
Assessment of student learning.
Obstacles:
Obstacles:
Obstacles:
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
Collect syllabi for all current courses taught under the given LAF
designation;
Extrapolate key shared values and concerns;
Draft language based on current practice as enshrined in syllabi;
Circulate to chairs of all departments in which courses for category are
taught, seeking feedback – then revise as necessary;
Hold open forum for all interested faculty (stressing communal rather
than parochial ‘ownership’ of the LAF) – further revisions;
Circulate provisionally agreed language to entire College faculty;
Discuss in full Faculty Assembly prior to vote.
Humanities Philosophy (HP)
Philosophical reflection and investigations of religious
thought and practice pose fundamental questions about the
nature of reality, the possibility of knowledge, and the
meaning of life. Students completing the HP requirement
will demonstrate:
• an ability to investigate and analyze systems of inquiry
and belief;
• skills in understanding and investigating philosophical or
religious concepts;
• a capacity to think critically about their own world views
as wells as those of others.
Humanities Philosophy (HP).
Philosophical reflection poses fundamental
questions about the nature of reality, the
possibility of knowledge, and the meaning of
life. Courses in philosophy introduce the issues
and methods of metaphysics, ethics, logic, and
epistemology. They engage students in critical
reflection on the presuppositions of other
human inquiries, such as art and religion, the
natural and the social sciences. Courses in
religion introduce the beliefs and spiritual
principles embraced by different faiths. All
these courses train students in critical and
analytical skills and nurture intellectual
autonomy by encouraging students to challenge
their deepest assumptions.
Humanities Philosophy (HP)
Philosophical reflection and investigations
of religious thought and practice pose
fundamental questions about the nature of
reality, the possibility of knowledge, and
the meaning of life. Students completing
the HP requirement will demonstrate:
•
an ability to investigate and analyze
systems of inquiry and belief;
•
skills in understanding and
investigating philosophical or
religious concepts;
•
a capacity to think critically about
their own world views as wells as
those of others.
•
Gen Ed re-made with full participation of
faculty but—by virtue of working from
current practice—avoiding inefficient argument
over goals and aspirations.
•
Basis created for evaluation of alignment
between rhetoric and actuality, and debate
about the desirability of current
configuration, as captured in new language.
Ed Wingenbach
and
Piers Britton

Sustainable: Minimal demands on faculty time.

Student Centered: Direct evaluation of student work.

Feedback: Results impact GE requirements.

Engaging: Assessment process consistent with
faculty culture and values.

Reflective Teaching: common and well-established
commitment to improving pedagogy through
conversations and observation.

Faculty Governance: Curriculum and assessment are
“owned” and managed by faculty

Thus, develop an assessment strategy focused on
improving pedagogy and embedded within
governance

Select one LAF requirement.

Faculty teaching this LAF identify one representative
assignment.

Faculty keep copies of that assignment produced by
all students.

At the end of the semester, Institutional Research
(IR) collects the artifacts.

LAF Task Force and IR produce a representative
sample of the collected student work for review by
faculty teaching this LAF

Work sample for each LAF provided to all faculty
teaching that LAF, including faculty who did not teach
in the spring

Professional development meetings scheduled to
discuss the LAF. Topics include:
◦ Are students producing the outcomes in their work?
◦ Are outcomes appropriate, as written?
◦ How might we design courses/assignments to help students
meet the LAF expectations?
◦ Should the language or outcomes of the LAF be revised?

Task Force members take notes, summarize
recommendations, collect suggested revisions to the
LAF, etc.

Task Force produces report, including both an
evaluation of student performance in demonstrating
outcomes and recommended revisions to LAF.

Report distributed first to all LAF faculty for
comment, then submitted to Curriculum Committee
for action and IR for storage.

If changes needed, Curriculum Committee manages
the process, including submissions to College
Assembly for final approval.

All courses with the LAF designation assessed in this
cycle must apply for recertification; any courses not
approved or not resubmitted will lose LAF status
beginning the following semester.
Semester
S 09
F09
S 10
F 10
State &
Economy
AC
DW
FB
RC
AC
DW
FB
RC
AC
DW
FB
RC
AC
DW
FB
RC
AC
DW
FB
RC
Math \
Science II
AC
DW
FB
AC=Artifact Collection DW=Development Workshop
FB=Feedback RC=Recertification
Human
Behavior
Cross
Cultural
Creative
Process
Math \
Science I
S11
F 11
S 12
F 12
S 13
RC
Semester Individual Faculty Activity
S 09
Collect one assignment
F 09
Attend one workshop
S 10
Comment on report (optional)
F 10
Submit LAF application
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