The Critical Role of General Education compilation

If you are reading this, you are obviously interested in general education and liberal education here at FHSU.  Many of you may be wondering how passionate the committee members are about their charge.  Rest assured- we are!  A bit of proof of that passion is the excitement I felt when I saw that Inside Higher Ed has a new compilation of articles on the critical role of general education.  These articles are now at the top of my “to-read” list- along with the upcoming webinar!

Learn more here:


Warring over Learning Outcomes

A College of Charleston professor has been stripped of his teaching duties after a clash with administration over his learning outcomes, or rather, his lack thereof.

What is your opinion of Mr. Dillon’s use of Woodrow Wilson’s quote as his learning outcomes? Are they suitable for the purpose? Or should learning outcomes be more specific?

The object of education is not merely to draw out the powers of the individual mind: It is rather its right object to draw all minds to a proper adjustment to the physical and social world in which they are to have their life and their development: to enlighten, strengthen, and make fit. The business of the world is not individual success, but its own betterment, strengthening, and growth in spiritual insight. “So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom” is its right prayer and aspiration.

Read more at: 

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?

Assessment choices

The Liberal Education Committee will soon be completing Phase 1-learning objectives, and moving to Phase 2- assessment.  An AAC&U survey has found that more universities are using rubrics instead of standardized tests to assess students’ learning.  How do we envision assessment of Liberal Education learning outcomes at FHSU? What type of assessment will be best for both students and faculty?


Study explores information-seeking strategies of recent graduates

One of the key ideas that has come into focus while drafting FHSU’s Liberal Education learning objectives is the idea of preparing our students for lifelong learning.  A recent study from the University of Washington Information School focused on the lifelong learning of recent graduates and their information seeking strategies.

According to Allison Head, the lead researcher, “Many of today’s college students are ‘strategic learners’ — they are good at answering professors’ questions, completing assignments, and getting high marks,” Head said. “But they’re not defining questions of their own, which may be the one critical thinking skill they need most after college.”

The study also suggested, that recent graduated also “struggled in self-motivation, communication skills, and task delegation, particularly with older colleagues.”

“As more and more college students are specializing in their majors so they are more employable, they are taking fewer courses in liberal arts, where general inquiry and problem solving are part of the curriculum,” Head said.

Several of the drafted Liberal Education learning objectives can work to strengthen these skills, such as:

  • Written and oral communication
  • Information and technology literacy
  • Inquiry and analysis
  • Critical and creative thinking
  • Foundations and skills for lifelong learning
  • Teamwork and problem solving
  • Career and interpersonal skills

As Information and Digital Literacy Librarian at Forsyth Library at FHSU, I particularly found a related analysis from UW interesting,  focused “on the role of librarians in the lifelong learning process and how to create practical and relevant services that foster curiosity.”

Amanda Hornby, the UW teaching and learning program librarian and geography librarian, points out that libraries “can be part of the solution and proactively help students develop research and communication skills that prepare them for post-undergraduate life.”

As we finalize FHSU’s Liberal Education learning objectives, and move as a university towards program and course assessment plans, I can’t resist a bit of self-promotion and encourage you to remember that the librarians and staff at Forsyth Library are always eager to partner with faculty in planning, teaching, and assessing current and future learning objectives.


Liberal Education for all FHSU students

As we contemplate learner outcomes for Liberal Education at FHSU, one question has been raised several times: how do provide a liberal education to all our students- not only to our native Kansans, and not only to our on-campus students, but to our international students as well?

According to a new report  by the Institute of International Education and backed by the State Department:

“In 2014/15, there were 88,874 more international students enrolled in U.S. higher education compared to the previous year. India, China and Brazil account for most of the growth in international students on U.S. campuses. While China remains the top country of origin of international students in the U.S., increasing by 11 percent to 304,040, India’s growth outpaced China’s this year, with students from India increasing by 29.4 percent to a record high of 132,888.”

In FHSU’s mission statement, we are striving to “develop engaged global citizen-leaders”.  How do we account for the changing demographics of our students to provide the best liberal education, creating forward thinking, world-ready leaders?

Open Doors 2015: International Students in the U.S. Up Ten Percent to Nearly One Million; Highest Rate of Growth in 35-Years; Increases Reported in 44 States. Study Abroad by American Students Picks Up Momentum

Novelist Marilynne Robinson warns Stanford audience against utilitarian trends in higher education

In the 2015 Presidential Lecture in the Arts and Humanities, Pulitzer Prize-winning author Marilynne Robinson argued that if the American higher education system continues to shift priorities towards training instead of educating, students will be ill-equipped to participate as citizens of a democratic society.

Read the full article here:  The Stanford News