Listening Tour Stop #1

Thanks to everyone who came out to our first stop on the listening tour for Liberal Education at FHSU.  The lunch hour was spent discussing what we currently do well, what opportunities we have to improve, what makes FHSU unique as a higher education institution, and what skills, proficiencies, and orientations we want to see in our graduates.

To summarize, here are our notes on the event:

  1. What does our current program do best?
  • We teach critical thinking well;
  • Some of our interdisciplinary classes fulfill the goals of diverse knowledge integration very well; Our academic advising is generally strong, and in some cases outstanding;
  • FHSU does a good job in creating a welcoming environment to students who might feel marginalized at other institutions, such as first-generation college students;
  • Generally speaking, FHSU does a good job of “adding value” for student who are on the margins, academically speaking;
  • FHSU has walked the line between serving as a “steward of place” and inculcating openness to the wider world fairly well;
  • Leader in virtual education, although some quality issues remain.
  1. What are the weaknesses of our current program?
  • In terms of understanding and acceptance of other cultures, there are gaps in our “World Ready” nature;
  • There are large gaps between departments in our internationalization efforts (some departments are outstanding, some lagging);
  • We do not always do a good job of inculcating “cultural competency” in our students
  • We do not always “connect the dots” well;
  • Our students do not always relate well to students with disabilities;
  • Some of our IDS classes (not all – see above) do not do a good job of integrating diverse disciplines and subject matter;
  • Many departments “over-prescribe” gen-ed classes, so that they simply become an extension of the specialized major, thus defeating the purposes of a liberal education;
  • In some areas, our teaching of critical thinking is not very good;
  • We often assume that our students know more about technology than they in fact do, and hence neglect their education in this area
  1. What makes FHSU unique?
  • FHSU admits many lower quality students, brings them up to normal academic standards;
  • FHSU is very service oriented;
  • FHSU has served as a good steward of a unique place in Kansas
  • Uniquely friendly and open;
  • China connection offers unique opportunities;
  • Unique virtual programs
  1. What core skills and proficiencies are necessary for inclusion?
  • Knowledge of technology, there are great disparities in student experience;
  • “Reading, writing, and arithmetic” – basics must be addressed;
  • Communication, both at the group and interpersonal level;
  • Critical thinking;
  • Numeracy, in all its many forms;
  • Analytic inquiry;
  • Intellectual curiosity;
  • “Intellectual courage”;
  1. How do we serve students with diverse needs?
  • Use of three separate learning modalities;
  • Recognize that students come from fiscally conservative backgrounds

After reading this brief summary, what do you see as the current general education system’s strengths and weaknesses?  Would you change or add to the list of skills and proficiencies compiled by the attendees at the tour?

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