Should these books be mandatory reading for our students, and maybe for us, as faculty, also?  A reminder of the importance of a liberal arts education could perhaps benefit us and refresh us in our teaching of those courses!



National Trends in Learning Outcomes in Liberal Education


For your reading pleasure…a fairly recent report by AAC&U regarding trends in Liberal Education.  It is gratifying to see that the proposed learning outcomes for FHSU are in line with national trends and best practices.

Helicopter parenting is a phenomenon that has been with us since the 1990s or so.  We are now seeing it come to full fruition in higher education (arguably less so in this area of the country, although its effects can still be observed daily among our students), with children who never been allowed to deal with frustration or failure, and have had everything fixed by their parents.  In the attached article, a dean explains to parents what they need to do to make sure their children are “college ready”.  However, it seems to be falling more and more on the counseling centers, student affairs staff, and yes, even faculty, to deal with some students’ inability to manage failures, and other emotional setbacks without help.  What do you think is the university’s role in transitioning the helicopter-parented into the “real world” of academia?

Group Collaboration as a Learning Outcome: Important for Career and Society?

We’ve been in discussion in the Liberal Education Committee regarding learning outcomes. One of the learning outcomes that is mentioned in both the DQP and LEAP models is group and collaborative work.  I don’t know about you, but I think group work is one of the learning methods that students seem to like the least.  I remember, as an undergrad, getting frustrated with these groups at times, and just doing most of the work myself.  As we know, when you move into the work setting, where group work is common, this is not a workable way to solve issues within the group.  No one has the time to do all the work.  But I think the importance of productive and satisfying group work affects more than our careers.  Listed below are the LEAP objective for Group/collaborative learning goals.  They are ambitious, but I like them.  They make me think about political discourse these days.  Although it is not always true, we seem to either be passive and not discuss our differences, or be aggressive and refuse to actively listen to one another.  If we could teach our students the art of civil discourse, would that not help them in their careers and as citizens of a community or even country.  I’m intrigued by the possibility.  What do you think?


Group/Collaborative Work: Goal and Objectives

Goal: Learning to work cooperatively and productively with others, including sharpening one’s own understanding by listening actively and seriously to the insights of others, especially those with different backgrounds and life experiences, and arriving at compromises that incorporate a variety of points of view.


Contributes to team meetings

Helps the team move forward by articulating the merits of alternative ideas or proposals

Facilitates the contributions of other team members through active listening

Constructively builds on or synthesizes the contributions of others

Notices when others are not participating and invites them to engage

Engages team members in ways that facilitate their contribution

Makes individual contributions to the group effort outside of group meetings

Completes all tasks by assigned deadlines

Completes thorough and comprehensive individual work, that advances the project

Fosters a constructive team climate

Treats team members respectfully through polite and constructive communication; positive vocal and written tone, facial expression and body language

Motivates group by expressing confidence in the importance of the group task and the group’s ability to accomplish it

Provides assistance and/or encouragement to other team members

Addresses conflict (especially destructive conflict) directly and constructively, helping to manage/resolve it in a way that strengthens overall team cohesiveness and future effectiveness



Liberal Education and Employment

When we think of liberal education skills, we often consider their value in encouraging the development of our students into broadly knowledgeable, well-rounded, thinkers who contribute to their communities and world, and rightly so.  However, it is also important to consider the value of liberal arts competencies through the framework of employment, as preparing students for this is also one of our tasks.  Attached is a report commissioned by the American Association of Colleges and Universities, indicating the importance that employers place on liberal arts proficiencies, alongside specialized skills learned in particular majors, in the employees they hire and hope to retain.  No matter the particular fields, employers want critical thinkers, who express themselves well in both written and verbal form, and are able to collaborate in groups, etc.  The report attached indicates important liberal arts skills that employers seek, as well as some of the discrepancies in how prepared students thinl they are in these area vs. employers.  An interesting read!