The next-generation university

Although it is impossible to predict the future, envisioning the needs of future students is what separates the next-generation universities from universities relying on an outdated system of student learning and assessment. According to a recent article published on Inside Higher Ed, this is exactly what university’s should do. Take for example, the inclusion of experiential learning in the classroom before students are about to graduate. Or what about technology enhanced education or learning by doing? All of these suggestions, plus more, can be incorporated into the vision of educating future students at FHSU. E-mail a Liberal Education Committee member now to give voice to your opinions. Find a link to the Inside Higher Ed article here.

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Assessment Solutions

Though the FHSU Liberal Education committee is still working in Phase 1: Learning Objectives and Outcomes, it’s never too late to do a little pre-planning for Phase 2: Assessment.  In today’s digital world, a significant component of an effective assessment system is finding a software solution to manage and report on all of the various assessment data collected.  These software solutions are sometimes referred to as Accountability Management Systems (AMS).  FHSU has another university committee examining a variety of different AMS in order to find the best solution for FHSU.  One of the systems under review is called Taskstream and they have recently partnered with the Association of American Colleges and Universities (AAC&U) to advance general/liberal education learning outcomes assessment.  The two entities will be hosting a series of webinars on the topic with the first occurring on Thursday, March 24 at 1:00 pm CST.

Civic engagement — value and assessment

For the past decade or more FHSU has been nationally recognized as a higher education leader in the area of civic engagement.  We have provided nation-wide leadership to the American Association of State Colleges and Universities’ American Democracy Project and we are well recognized by peer institutions for our high quality civic engagement work both in the classroom and in extra curricular venues.  This is not just “feel-good” work.  It is important preparation for our students — certainly for for a life “well-lived,” but also in preparation for a work force that increasingly values civic competency.  ETS, the Educational Testing Service, long recognized for its work on the GRE and TOEFL, is now turning its attention toward filling a much needed gap in high quality assessment tools for measuring civic engagement.  This Fall they are piloting a new set of civic competency assessment tools with a plan for launching these tools in the near future.  As FHSU revises its Liberal Education program, it is important for the institution to continue its national reputation as a thought leader in this area, and as a campus that well-prepares its students as civic-minded and civic-skilled graduates.  It will be instructive to follow the work ETS is doing in this area.  To gain some insights into their research around civic engagement, here is a link to a recent ETS report.  http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/ets2.12081/full

Massive Undertaking on revamping “General Education”

Duke and Harvard University have recently undertaken a massive project on revamping their general education programs. They have gathered the opinions of faculty and students. FHSU has also worked to include faculty opinions, and in early stages, student opinion on their general education experiences at FHSU.

Find information on their full revamping process here.

Rethinking Grading

In this article, Steven Mintz asks:

How can we make assessment more meaningful?

Rigorous assessment is central to education. It tells us whether our students are mastering essential skills and knowledge and whether our teaching is effective.

But grading also provokes much grousing.

Many students complain that grading is arbitrary, inconsistent, and unfair, while many instructors grumble about grade inflation, the excessive amount of time devoted to grading, and the many complaints that grading prompts.

How can we make assessment at FHSU more meaningful? What role does assessment play in Liberal Education? What do we want to grade? What other approaches to grading can we use at FHSU?

Teaching a Common Culture

How a Generation Lost Its Common Culture offers provocative thoughts about what it means to teach (or fail to teach) a “common culture.”  While I am less pessimistic than the author of this article, I do appreciate his call to action here.  If we are educating “a generation-in-waiting to run America and the world,” then I hope we are doing more than preparing them for jobs.  I hope we are preparing them for real leadership — leadership that will be called upon to address complex global problems.  Our students need a complete set of tools to tackle the challenges their generation will face.  Liberal education, done well, puts those tools in their intellectual toolboxes.  This is a serious task for us as educators.