The college faculty approved a revised general education program on Oct. 20.
The old program has been in use for the past 40 years, according to Andrew Carlson, director of general education for the university. The system was made up of 12 learning goals (broad goals students should achieve through general education) and 39 learning objectives (smaller, more specific things students should gain from each course) that many accreditors said seemed repetitive and outdated.
Last year, the faculty began working to revise the general education program to eliminate redundancies and give the program more focus. From this, the faculty ended up with seven program learning outcomes and 19 student learning outcomes.
“When we thought about gen. ed. in the past, we thought in terms of courses,” Carlson said. “This time, we thought in terms of program outcomes and student learning outcomes.”
Carlson says that this new program is also focused on the types of assignments given in different-level courses. This new general education model should make sure that assignments given in higher-level classes are more advanced than those in lower-level classes. This will make the standards of assignments in all classes more comparable and will give students the opportunity to get better at certain kinds of assignments during their four years here.
Carlson says many students may not notice a change to the general education program in the next year, but over the next few years he hopes the courses will be better and there will be more “coherence in assignment writing.”
One of the goals is to have an online portfolio where students can upload the assignments they’ve done in all of their courses. Carlson said this program may start next year, but in order for it to be effective, assignments have to be written under the same guidelines.
While many students might believe general education isn’t important to their major, Carlson says it is important for students in order to have a good life.
“Typically, studying for one profession or one major won’t equip you with all the knowledge sets that you need to have a successful and happy life,” Carlson said. “I think of general education as equipping people for a good life, not just for one profession.”
While the general education program has been revised, there hasn’t been a change to the number of general education courses needed to graduate, as this is determined by the state. There will also continue to be an emphasis on ethics, religion and performative fine arts in our general education.