Faculty committees seek input on general education curriculum

With the newly proposed general education requirements, the Curriculum for Liberal Education (CLE) as it is currently known may soon be obsolete.

On Monday, a campus-wide General Education Open House was held from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. in the library multipurpose room, where students were encouraged to give feedback to committees of faculty members that are proposing the “Pathways for a General Education.”

 “We’ve always been attentive to what we’re hearing from students, and now we’re capturing it in very formal ways, including this (open house) today,” said Jill Sible, the assistant provost for undergraduate education.

The developing proposal will eventually overhaul the existing CLE requirements, instead instituting five “core outcomes” and an area called “comprehensive outcomes.”

“The idea is to develop an outcomes-based curriculum,” Sible said. “We’re starting at the end point.”

Sible said that when designing outcomes, the committees of nearly 50 faculty and staff first asked, “What do we aspire for all Virginia Tech students to learn, to know, to be able to do when they graduate?”

From there, Sible said the committees worked backward, matching up outcomes with the means of achieving those outcomes.

The five “core outcomes” – achieved through credits – include discourse; quantitative and computational thinking; scientific thinking; design and the arts; and human behavior, social relationships and traditions of thought.

The comprehensive outcomes area includes three goals, which students will be able to achieve through different “pathways,” such as a study abroad experience, a minor or special courses intended to fulfill the area.

Committee members shaped their respective “core outcomes” with the hopes of creating a general education curriculum that would be “a valuable part of a student’s degree, and one that they shape in ways that can enhance their overall education,” said Rachel Holloway, vice provost for undergraduate academic affairs.

Although it is now four years in the making, the “Pathways for a General Education” is still in the development phase and has yet to have a set implementation date on the calendar.

“We hope by fall to have a more complete picture to share with people again,” Holloway said. “We would like to start the approval process — which does take some time — next year, and then start experimenting with some new courses.”

“I want to see a change in the general education curriculum because I think it will help students to be more well-rounded when they graduate and to become better participating citizens… and that’s why I’m here today,” said Luan Bui, a fourth-year senior in architecture who attended the open house. “I want to see more integration (of subjects).”

The open house was one effort to receive feedback from students on potential general education requirements, in addition to previous focus groups.

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