Learning outcomes emphasized in proposal

The General Education Council and Academic Senate are moving forward on the new general education forum.

The General Education Council (GEC) presented the new general education program to the Academic Senate on Friday, March 28. The proposal covers the approval of a General Education Program with learning outcomes, approval of a written competency as a university graduation requirement, and approval of a mathematics competency as a university graduation requirement.According to Academic Senate Chairman Larry Pagel, about 50 people were in attendance at the open forum, including faculty, students and administrators.

The response to the proposal was positive and Pagel said there was much feedback for several departments.

“There were some departments with certain faculty that had questions of their specific majors,” Pagel said. “So I know that the general education council has taken into consideration all of their questions and even what was provided at that time a week ago was different from what the senate will receive on Tuesday isn’t exactly what was presented last week.”

Student representative appointed by ASNMU for the general education council Katerina Klawes agreed that while there was some reluctance the proposal was received well overall.

“Faculty members at the open forum were concerned about the new program,” Klawes said. “I believe they experienced some anxiety about the change from the current liberal studies program to the new general education program. Change is never easy, and I was able to witness the ‘growing pains.’ Overall, I believe that on a whole the program was well received.”

Under the new general education program there will no longer be liberal studies, but learning outcomes for students to earn credits under.

The program will consist of eight learning outcomes: critical thinking, communication skills that express and convey ideas clearly and effectively, interpretation of quantitative data leading to conclusions, engagement with cultural diversity, integrative thinking by synthesizing disciplinary knowledge and applying this synthesis to new contexts, analysis and evaluation of artistic, literary or rhetorical expression, synthesis and analysis of major social issues, and the use of scientific processes to investigate and report knowledge about natural or social phenomena.

“What I think they’ve done away with are some typically specific courses that will meet those 20-some competencies and now there are eight competencies,” Pagel said. “So departments will have to look at their current liberal studies courses and look at the rubrics that we will provide and then they will have to see if that course meets rubric and if they want that as a new general education course. But departments will have to make that decision and all of the courses will have to be chosen newly based upon the new rubrics and new competencies.”

Klawes said the new program will focus on competencies not courses.

“That means that students are able to forgo some classes, if they can show that they are competent in the subject areas,” Klawes said. “The old program was created in the 1960s, and was very out-of-date. The new program accounts for assessment of courses, something that was never allotted for before, and hence will help keep the program up to date.”

Under the new program, departments will have to evaluate their courses and decide what learning outcomes they believe their course fits under.

“The new General Education Council will make those decisions,” Pagel said. “So a department will look at a course and say, ‘I think it meets both critical thinking and this one other competency’ and they are going to send it to the GEC and they will decide based upon those rubrics weather they believe that it meets those competencies or not.”

Looking into the future, Pagel said the Academic Senate and General Education Council will have several more meetings before the proposal is approved and goes into affect.

“The General Education Council sends the proposal to the senate, the senate is going to look at the entire proposal,” Pagel said. “At the first meeting there is only questions.

“Our policy requires two meetings and sometimes we do suspend the rules and vote right away but typically we receive a report at one meeting, you accept the report the second and ask questions, and then it isn’t until two weeks after that where there can be debate.”

If the proposal is approved, the changes will be implemented in Fall 2015.

“The goal is that if they are approved by the Academic Senate, then it will go to the provost for approval and then also to the Board of Trustees. We’re looking for implementation for fall of 2015,” Pagel said. “Now whether we are going to meet that goal or not depends on the reaction we receive at the senate meeting.”

For more information about the GEC and the general education program visit www.nmu.edu/gec.

Speak Your Mind