GENERAL EDUCATION REVIEW COMMITTEE
MINUTES OF MEETINGS: 1996-97 Academic Year
John Habel presented material from the AAC&U Conference and from the Web about model freshman seminar courses. The discussion looked at which models might work best for a course here and for our faculty's interests.
John Habel and Nory Prochaska reported on the AAC&U Conference on Renewing General Education. The rest of the discussion centered on the possible role of learning communities in general education.
The committee discussed advantages and disadvantages of upper level general education courses, and of a senior seminar type course, based on responses to the faculty survey.
The retention of freshman from Fall to Spring was discussed, along with the contributions that general education can make to this issue. Trends appearing in faculty responses to the questionnaire were summarized, and a plan for future discussion was developed.
The Spring General Education Faculty Meeting discussion of our progress was reported. The responses to the faculty questionnaire were discussed.
Patti Cutspec reported on her experience at the AAC&U meeting in Atlanta. Many of the trends we have identified from our reading were reinforced in the information from the conference. A general education program must reflect the mission of the institution.
Patti Cutspec summarized the Articulation Agreement Meeting with the community colleges which she attended in Chapel Hill. Implications of the general education component of this agreement were discussed. Betsy Whitley shared the questions that her subcommittee developed for proposing to the general faculty. The questions were pared down somewhat, and will be submitted to the faculty as soon as possible.
Questions to be submitted to the whole faculty will be sent to committee members editing and discussion at the next meeting. The summary of our philosophy statements was distributed and studied by the committee with favorable comments and anticipation of further discussion after faculty feedback is received.
Philosophies of committee members were summarized. Support for a strong Freshman seminar course depends on institutional support for faculty development and course coordination. The committee's plans for next semester will be summarized in a memo from Dr. DePaolo to the faculty that will come out early next year.
Further discussion of feedback from faculty; the next meeting will be the last for the semester and will further explore plans for soliciting faculty opinions regarding general education.
The need to identify our "niche" is foremost before we can decide how "trusting" to be of community college general education programs; we need to address the needs of the majority of our students and accommodate exceptions flexibly. Further discussion of our framework, and of seeking faculty input--should the request be for informed or spontaneous input?
Meeting with Doyle Bickers from the Admissions office, and with representatives of the community college system. General education must be flexible and respect the community college general education program; general education must meet the needs of students, not of the faculty or the institution.
Framework discussion continues; a freshman year prescription is suggested but not widely accepted; What else should be in the first year?
Committee looks at our present program and begins to form a framework of what we want in a general education program; comments regarding the present program are specific; features desirable in a new program include richness, identification of relevance to student's lives, a basis for teaching in the majors (skills, etc.), instilling a lifelong love of learning.
Scott Sportsman leads discussion on "Strong Foundations: Twelve Principles for Effective General Education Programs"; we still need to answer the question "what is the point of general education?"; need a mission statement and agreement amongst ourselves on what our institution is about; what is right for our population. The program we have now has many commendable characteristics, but if they are not working for us, we need to find out why.
We have observed many repeated themes throughout the meeting minutes and can conclude that we have seen a valid sample of what has been written about general education programs. It is time to summarize for the University community and to begin to solicit opinions from our academic community; several mechanisms for doing this are discussed.
Barbara Lovin leads discussion on the second part of "Revitalizing General Education in a Time of Scarcity" where it is noted that campus politics, community and culture all play a part in general education reviews. We see the need to keep all of the players informed and involved, and need to be operating within our own context. Ongoing evaluation and evolution must be part of our program, and there must be incentives for participation and continued improvement. General Education needs prestige and strong leadership; generally, new faculty hires are not selected for strong teaching and their contribution potential to general education, but for department needs and research contributions.
LeVon Wilson leads discussion of the first part of "Revitalizing General Education in a Time of Scarcity." Higher education is on a roller coaster between liberal education and technical training. We need to formulate institutional goals before defining a general education program; the source of any reform movement in general education can influence the outcome; we need to identify what makes us unique in order to attract students in a competitive higher education market; student demographics need to be considered; the committee is still in the idealistic stage of our review; the reality of putting a program on paper and implementing it is yet to be encountered; compromise will be needed, and the process must be open to maintain credibility; Patti Cutspec will develop a mechanism for sharing our progress with the faculty at large.
Patti Cutspec leads discussion on "New Vitality in General Education." General education cannot be separated from the rest of the educational experience; we need to consider the unique characteristics of our institution and specific outcomes need to be defined. Students, faculty and administration must all agree on process and goals of general education; we need to define what an educated student is and need faculty input to do so.
Dr. Richard Collings from Academic Affairs visits the committee; he advises us that we need an underlying philosophy first, and need support from a majority of the faculty. Most general education programs are similar in required skills and content; we need to tailor our program to fit our faculty and students, and to fit who we are as an institution.
Dr. Noelle Kehrberg visits, representing the University Strategic Planning Committee. The development of the new mission statement is discussed; conflicts are identified between what we say we value and what we demonstrate we value in our actions.
Nory Prochaska leads a discussion on several articles about the New American College; we need to define our mission; we have latitude in this since we are neither a flagship research institution nor a liberal arts college; the New American College is exemplified by a scholarship of discovery, integration, application and teaching. We need to decide who we are; a faculty forum format is suggested to share our work with the faculty at large.
Curtis Wood leads a discussion on Alan Guskin's "Restructuring the Role of the Faculty"; a strong general education program must accommodate change; Max Schreiber leads a discussion on Barr & Tagg's "From Teaching to Learning--A New Paradigm for Undergraduate Education"; we must assess our instructional mode; should general education be separate from the major?; we need to examine the teaching to learning emphasis shift and implement new instruction strategies.
John Habel leads discussion of Gaff & Lambert's "Socializing Future Faculty to the Values of Undergraduate Education"; we should focus on our values and how we impart them to new faculty; there is a change in attitudes between new faculty and long term members of the faculty; a vertical or tiered general education program needs to be considered. Faculty need to be informed of our process.
Max Schreiber leads a discussion of the Wingspread Report and Wiliamon & Naylor's "Curriculum Counterrevolution"; the teaching versus learning mindset needs to be considered; the character of the faculty, composition of the student body and the quality of their interaction are important in determining curriculum; we need to define the educated person; we must be conscious of who we are as a regional comprehensive university rather than a liberal arts college; we must be conscious of our values, and that of valuing learning in particular
Bruce Henderson leads a discussion of Wiengartner's "Undergraduate Education: Goals and Means"; we need to decide goals first; proficiencies, conversancies and competencies are used to describe levels of mastery; we need to understand who our students are; general education is only a part of the bigger undergraduate education experience.
The committee's charge is to spend the Fall semester reviewing national trends in general education; during the Spring, we will examine where WCU fits in these national trends; we narrow our bibliography to the important items that everyone on the committee should read, and that will form the basis for our discussions for the semester.