Live & Learn @ SIUE
Dr. Kathleen Bueno
Dr. Melanie Brimer
Ms. Michelle Sears
Consultants: Dr. William Larkin,
Dr. Barbara Nwacha,
Dr. Jerome Shen
The Live & Learn @ SIUE Model seeks to address the “three formative themes in re-invention of liberal learning: inquiry and intellectual development, social responsibility and civic engagement, and culminating learning” (“Practicing Liberal Education: formative Themes in the Re-invention of Liberal Learning” by Carol Geary Schneider, President of AACU). In addition, the model is designed to integrate more fully the five institutional values of SIUE: citizenship, excellence, integrity, openness and wisdom. Accordingly, our model is based on the learning community model. It consists of three types of learning circles: A Freshmen Inquiry Learning Circle, two Interdisciplinary Learning Circles, and a Civic Engagement Circle . All learning circles comprise clusters of three courses designed to promote interdisciplinary connections, to integrate ethical studies, to produce flexible/transferable skills, a broad synthetic vision of the values and aspirations common to all academic endeavors, ultimately providing students with the ability to seriously engage complex social issues and seek solutions. During the fourth semester, the Live & Learn Project serves as a vehicle for addressing more fully the values of citizenship and diversity; it will also serve as a midpoint assessment piece of the undergraduate program.
The learning community model proposes that learning is enhanced by communication and interaction among people from diverse backgrounds. We propose that students be organized into (residential and non-residential) learning communities that integrate a student's academic experience into their lives outside of the classroom. In this manner, our model encourages structures and relationships that emphasize collaborative discovery, integration, and application through civic engagement. Each community will consist of students participating in the same cluster of courses, engaging in out-of-class cultural events offered by the university community and meeting in designated space in a residence hall or the university center where they can come together on a regular but informal basis for social and academic purposes. In this manner, the Live & Learn @ SIUE Model reflects how people learn and work in their professional occupations and personal lives today.
Before teaching can safely enter upon conveying facts and ideas through the media of signs, schooling must provide genuine situations in which personal participation brings home the import of the material and the problems which it conveys.
Live & Learn @ SIUE
Two of the central concerns of the learning community movement, as stated by Patrick Hill, Academic Vice President at The Evergreen State College, at the 1985 Inaugural Conference on Learning Communities of The Washington Center for Undergraduate Education, are “the unrewarding and wasteful mismatch of a research-oriented, discipline-focused faculty with a career-oriented student body lacking an academic heritage and the mismatch between a non-interventionist pedagogy with the fundamental passivity of the student body.”
Live & Learn @ SIUE, like the more than 500 learning communities that already exist in higher education, seeks to follow the advice of Mr. Dewey and correct the concerns of Mr. Hill. By “[rearranging] the curricular time and space of both students and faculty to foster community, coherence and connections among courses, and more sustained intellectual interaction between students, between students and teachers, and between teachers” (MacGregor), our design creates an environment that develops the intrapersonal and interpersonal skills necessary to make the cognitive development possible.
Freshmen Inquiry Learning Circle
This learning circle is taken by freshmen and transfer students during their first semester at SIUE. The Freshmen Inquiry Circle is composed of a cluster of three courses: a freshmen seminar, English 101, and an introductory course in one of the following discipline areas: the physical and life sciences, the humanities and fine arts, or in the social and behavioral sciences. The Freshmen Seminar serves as the anchor of the Freshman Inquiry Circle and establishes a theme to be integrated in all three of the courses in the learning circle. A theme is defined as a topic related to the university goals, a topic related to a current societal issue or to a cultural interest, or a topic related to a minor or to an area of studies (i.e., Peace Studies, Women Studies, etc.). Finally, the inquiry learning circle will include a one-credit hour Live and Learn @ SIUE course. The Live and Learn @ SIUE course will engage students in out-of-class activities with an upper classmen teaching assistant/mentor. The purpose of the course will be to help new students become better acquainted with each other, the faculty and campus resources. Faculty and departments are encouraged to create Freshman Inquiry Circles of special interest to majors and minors in their programs and to develop Freshman Inquiry Circles related to the Focused Interest Communities in the residence halls (nursing, education, technology and Bellwethers). A different set of learning circles will also be created to meet the needs of transfer students. (See First Year Interdisciplinary Studies Learning Circle for details.)
Need Both freshmen and transfer students benefit from learning opportunities that facilitate the transition to university level work and expectations. Both groups of students profit from learning opportunities that orient them to the services and culture of the university and that engage them in an intellectual community of students and faculty. According to a University of South Carolina survey of 620 two-and-four-year colleges between 2000 and 2003, the number of colleges offering freshmen seminars increased 23%. Nationally over 70% of college campuses offer a freshmen seminar. The seminars have proven to be valuable components of the general education curriculum because students are engaged and tend to continue their studies. This has been true for SIUE also. Additional values and benefits from freshmen seminars at SIUE include greater involvement in campus life, increased knowledge and use of support services, increased level of out-of-class interaction with faculty and academic advisers, and increased overall satisfaction with the college experience.
The Freshmen Inquiry Circle includes English 101. Often students do not come to college with the comprehension, analysis, assessment and reflection skills needed to meet the rigor of college-level writing tasks. These kinds of literacy skills are directly related to the education of the students' parents, the students' socioeconomic background, and their racial/ethnic group. Non-minority students whose parents attended college and have higher incomes have higher levels of literacy. SIUE has a sizeable percentage of students who represent the first generation of their family to attend college. We also serve minority students. We believe that the English 101 courses make a valuable contribution to students' success in meeting the rigors of college-level courses.
The third course in the Freshman Inquiry Circle provides an introduction to one of the disciplines and to the way that specialists in the discipline approach critical and in-depth study of an argument, problem or solution. By relating the body of knowledge and the systematic thinking of the discipline -“the ability to seek, and to see, connections between and among all kinds of phenomena” (Maher, 1983, p. 226)—to the theme introduced by the Freshmen Seminar, students develop their critical thinking skills to apply theories or concepts to areas of study, societal issues or cultural interests. The Freshmen Inquiry Circle provides a foundation for continued learning by engaging students, by supporting the transition to university level study, by developing literacy, and by fostering cross- disciplinary connections that enrich and inform the students' entire university program.
The intended outcomes of the Freshmen Inquiry Circle would be:
An introductory course in one of the following discipline areas: the physical and life sciences, the humanities and fine arts, or in the social and behavioral sciences.
First Year Interdisciplinary Learning Circle
The First Year Interdisciplinary Learning Circle is taken by freshmen during their second semester at SIUE. The First Year Interdisciplinary Learning Circle is composed of a cluster of three courses: an Interdisciplinary Studies Course, English 102, and an introductory course in one of the following discipline areas: the physical and life sciences, the humanities and fine arts, or in the social and behavioral sciences. The Interdisciplinary Studies Course serves as the anchor course. The course establishes a theme to be integrated in all three of the courses in the learning circle and includes a critical thinking and formal reasoning skills component. Additional sets of interdisciplinary learning circles will also be created to meet the needs of transfer students. These Smooth Transitions Learning Circles will include learning opportunities that orient transfer students to the services and culture of the university and that engage them in an intellectual community of students and faculty. Faculty and departments are encouraged to create First Year Interdisciplinary Circles of special interest to majors and minors in their programs and to develop interdisciplinary studies circles related to the Focused Interest Communities in the residence halls (nursing, education, technology and bellwethers). Finally, the inquiry learning circle will include a one-credit hour Live and Learn @ SIUE course. The Live and Learn @ SIUE course will engage students in out-of-class activities with an upper classmen teaching assistant/mentor. The purpose of the course will be to help new students become better acquainted with each other, the faculty and campus resources.
Need According to recent studies, more than 50% of students at 4-year colleges do not score at the proficient level of literacy required to compare credit card offers with differing interest rates or to summarize the arguments of newspaper editorials. Literacy levels are significantly higher when students take courses that place a strong emphasis on applying theories or concepts to practical problems. In addition, cumulative learning is enhanced by a logical sequence of coursework that builds intellectual skills and insights. Cumulative learning requires a knowledge base, intellectual skills and capabilities that may be applied to study in the major and beyond the classroom.
Interdisciplinary Studies Course
(adapted from “Contemporary Trends in General Education” Andrea Leskes)
(Department of English Student Manual for ENG 102)
Second Year Interdisciplinary Learning Circle
The Second Year Interdisciplinary Learning Circle is taken by sophomores during their third semester at SIUE. The Second Year Interdisciplinary Learning Circle is composed of a cluster of three courses: 1) an Interdisciplinary Studies Course, 2) a course in mathematics, computer science, computer management and information systems, or statistics, and 3) an introductory course in one of the following discipline areas: the physical and life sciences, the humanities and fine arts, or in the social and behavioral sciences. The Interdisciplinary Studies Course serves as the anchor course and establishes a theme to be integrated in all three of the courses in the learning circle. Faculty and departments are encouraged to create Second Year Interdisciplinary Circles of special interest to majors and minors in their programs.
Need Knowledge of the arts and sciences is relevant to and essential for pre-professional education. Knowledge of ethics, aesthetic considerations, understanding of cultures and societies, and understanding of the natural and physical world remain essential for making informed decisions as professionals and as citizens. The major depends on the general education to provide “the knowledge base, intellectual skills and capacities” (Leskes, 2005) to develop these capacities at sophisticated levels within their specialty. Furthermore, the process of gaining mastery in a field may be transferred to other disciplinary fields during a professional career—it is projected that many graduates will do so. “General education and professional education share many of the same goals for learning and can support and strengthen one another” (Leskes, 2005).
Interdisciplinary Studies Course
Introductory/Advanced Distribution Course
Mathematics, Computer Science, Computer Management Systems or Statistics
The course objectives for these courses are to be determined by the faculty teaching the courses. The objectives should complement the goal of developing quantitative literacy.
Civic Engagement Circle
The Civic Engagement Circle represents the culminating foundation experience. This Learning Circle promotes synthesis of the learning experiences in the first two years of university studies and provides the opportunity to integrate knowledge, skills and values in a civic engagement project. An advanced distribution course, an interdisciplinary course, an advanced elective course in the major or in the minor may be designed as an anchor for this learning circle.
Need Currently, the values of citizenship and integrity are not integrated nor are they articulated throughout the curriculum. We believe that the first four semesters of university studies should focus on forming liberally educated people of integrity and engaged citizenship. Cronon (1998) stresses the importance of seeing “connections that allow one to make sense of the world and to act within it in creative ways.” This ability comes from “listening, reading, talking, writing, puzzle solving, truth seeking, seeing through other peoples' eyes, leading, working in a community…gaining the power and the wisdom, the generosity and the freedom to connect” (p. 78). The Civic Engagement Circle allows students to make these connections and to demonstrate both citizenship and integrity.
The intended outcomes of the Civic Engagement Circle would be:
“to develop civic competence and critical thinking that empowers students as effective citizens in their localities, states, nations and global environment”
“to contribute through the discovery, dissemination and application of knowledge to the economic and social well-being of communities locally, regionally, nationally and internationally”
“to collaborate with diverse groups, organizations, institutions and communities for the common good” (Adapted from “Civic Engagement: Renewing the Land Grant Mission,” the final report of the University of Minnesota 's Civic Engagement Task Force)
to provide students “in –depth opportunities to examine and reflect on authenticity, purpose and meaning.”
Individual course objectives for the courses in the cluster are to be determined by the faculty teaching the courses. The objectives should complement the goals for the learning circle.
“If we want students to take risks, use reflective practice, work in groups and so on, faculty members and others in teaching roles need to do the same,” writes Judy Patton of Portland State University . With this proposal, we are asking for what Rob Cole refers to as a “structural revision of the academy and of the curriculum it fosters.” Along with faculty, participants from academic and student affairs will collaborate in ways not necessary to the current model, and in effect, will model the behaviors and ways of thinking we want to encourage in our students. Fortunately, many other schools have paved the way, allowing us to learn from their mistakes. The University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign founded their first learning community in 1971. The history of Unit One, detailed here http://www.housing.uiuc.edu/living/unit1/about/history1.asp , offers up many useful lessons.
Recognizing the many students who succeed on the solo path of the current distribution model, we offer our model as a coexisting structure. We recommend that SIUE begins by building on the Focused Interest Communities, Horizons First Year Experience and Second Year Experience programs already established on campus. Live & Learn @ SIUE will be a natural progression into the academic lives of the self-selected students who request the communal experience. From there, the program can organically build programs solely around interests (without residential ties), and learning communities can be specifically developed to meet the needs of transfer, part-time, and commuter students.
We recommend creating a steering committee and assigning a faculty member as part-time program coordinator. This team should apply to attend the Washington Center for Improving the Quality of Undergraduate Education's National Summer Institute in 2007. While there, they will create a two-year plan for Campus Learning Community Initiatives for SIUE
( http://www.evergreen.edu/washcenter/events/documents/2006Brochure_forWeb.pdf ).
A follow-up site visit by a team of consultants should be scheduled at the end of the first year of the program
( http://www.evergreen.edu/washcenter/pdf/expect_campus_visit.pdf ).
In addition, members should join the Consortium for Illinois Learning Communities and attend the annual planning retreat
( http://cilcs.org ).
It is not difficult to gather a staggering amount of raw data while assessing programs. The trouble lies in determining what of the data is significant and helpful. In learning communities, we want to assess learning, retention, time to degree, involvement in campus and community activities, as well as the satisfaction and engagement of both students and faculty. In order to provide context and perspective, we recommend benchmarking, a comprehensive assessment strategy. This approach will allow Live & Learn administrators to anonymously compare their practices and achievements with self-selected similar organizations engaging in similar practices. We recommend utilizing the external assessment component from the first year forward, then adding an internal assessment after the first three iterations. Keeping in step with the learning communities philosophies, we strongly recommend that the results are used to improve the program rather than evaluate or rate individual performances. If benchmarking proves to be cost prohibitive, we suggest a combination of formative and summative approaches using both quantitative and qualitative methodologies.
Resources and Needs
Faculty who participate in Live & Learn @ SIUE will become more than teachers. They will design their students' environment, become expert observers of their work, coach individual successes, and facilitate civil conversation. We recommend a stipend of $1500 per semester for participating faculty.
Costs involved in learning community development and delivery vary widely and depend on the configuration of each program. Some or all of the following direct and indirect are often involved:
( Washington Center )
For detailed information about budgetary concerns, please read: http://www.evergreen.edu/washcenter/lcFaq.htm#33
Institutionalization of Civic Engagement
Currently at SIUE, civic engagement occurs marginally. In order to integrate the value of citizenship in the undergraduate curriculum, civic engagement must become institutionalized. The first step entails agreeing on a deliberate construct for civic engagement at SIUE. In addition, a framework of guiding principles must be developed. Next, the level of commitment on campus must be examined. The focus of this examination centers on departments, disciplines and associations. In addition, essential infrastructure is needed in the form of centers and offices in academic affairs. These centers and offices should provide faculty development, support structures and resources, budget and resource allocations, and support for external resource allocation. Civic engagement becomes institutionalized when it is routine, widespread, legitimized, expected, supported, permanent, and resilient. The process requires approximately 3-5 years and success depends on administrative leadership and support.
We believe, “that we educators hold in our hands the power to form, or deform, students' souls, their sense of self and their relation to the world.” (Parker) We ask that you join us in fulfilling the hopes students bring with them to SIUE by realizing that we cannot expect to change the students without first changing ourselves.
Bowley, Erin. (2003) “Civic Engagement: Renewing the Land Grant Mission,” the final report of the University of Minnesota's Civic Engagement Task Force, Minnesota Higher Education services Office and Minnesota Campus Compact.
Boyer, E. L. (1995) “The Educated Person.” In J. A. Beane (Ed.), Toward a Coherent Curriculum, pp. 16-25. Alexandria, Virginia: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.
Brown, Gary. (2004). “Getting Real in the Academy.” About Campus, 9 (4), 10-18.
Center for Enhancement of Teaching, (1999). “Learning with Vision: Foundations of a Liberal Arts Education” University of Northern Iowa .
Cronon, W. (1998). “Only connect…The goals of a Liberal Education.” The American Scholar, 67(4), 73-80.
Dalton, Jon C. (2006) “Inventory for Assessing the Moral and Spiritual Growth Initiatives of Colleges and Universities.” In Chickering, Dalton, J. and Stamm, Encouraging Authenticity and Spirituality in Higher Education, pp. 318-329. Jossey Bass.
Dewey, John. Democracy and Education, New York: The Macmillan Co., 1964.
“Freshman Programs” The Evergreen State College. Available at: www.evergreen.edu/catalog/2005-06/planningunits.htm
“First Year Interest Groups” University of Wisconsin-Madison. Available at: www.lssaa.wisc.edu/figs/
“Freshman Interest Groups” University of Washington. Available at: http://depts.washington.edu/figs/
Freire, Paolo. Pedagogy of the Oppressed, 1970.
Goldsmith, M, Patty-Graham, K. McReynolds, J., Manning, N. and D. Sill (2004) “New Student Seminar Task Force Report and Recommendation.” Available at: www.siue.edu/UGOV/FACULTY/bridgeNewFreshmanSeminar.htm
Haynes, Carolyn. (2006). “The Integrated Student: Fostering Holistic Development to Advance Learning.” About Campus, 10 (6), 17-23.
Hill, Patick. (1985). “The Rationale for Learning Communities.” Available at: http://www.evergreen.edu/washcenter/natlc/pdf/rationale.pdf
Koester, Jolene et al. (2005). “Exploring the Actions Behind the Words ‘Learning-Centered Institution.” About Campus, 10 (4), 10-16.
Kurotsuchi, Karen Inkelas et al. (2006). “Learning Moves Home.” About Campus, 10 (6), 10-16.
Laufgraben, Jodi Levine. (2004). “How Benchmarking Can Help Us Improve What We Do.” About Campus, 8 (6), 4-11.
Leskes, Andrea. (2005) “Contemporary Trends in General Education” Plenary Session, Asheville Institute on General Education.
MacGregor, Jean and Barbara Leigh Smith. (2005). “Where Are Learning Communities Now? National Leaders Take Stock.” About Campus, 10 (2), 2-8.
MacGregor, Jean. (1994). “Learning Communities Take Root.” Washington Center News, Spring.
Maher, T. (1983). “Education for Vision: Its Cultural Context.” Soundings, 66 (2), 218-237.
Maher, Michelle A. (2004). “What Really Happens in Cohorts.” About Campus, 9 (3), 18-23.
Palmer, Parker J. (2000). “Learning Communities: Reweaving the Culture of Disconnection (Excerpts from a keynote address).” Washington Center News, Spring. Available at: http://www.evergreen.edu/washcenter/natlc/pdf/spring2000a.pdf
Schneider, Carol Geary. (2003) “Practicing Liberal Education: Formative Themes in the Re-invention of Liberal Learning” Association of American Colleges and Universities
SIUE F A C U L T Y C O M P O S I T I O N M A N U A L, available at: www.siue.edu/ENGLISH/Comp_Manual/introduction.html
Smith, Barbara Leigh. (2001). “The Challenge of Learning Communities as a Growing Naitonal Movement.” Peer Review, 4 (1).
Smith, Barbara Leigh et al. Learning Communities: Reforming Undergraduate Education, San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 2004.
Sullivan, L. “Five Models of Integrated Learning Communities.” Available at:
Taylor, Kari B. (2005). “ A Gathering of Minds: Designing Twenty-First Century Education with Twentieth Century Ideas.” About Campus, 10 (2), 17-23.
Wildman, Terry M. (2005). “From the Outside In: Lessons in Learning Beyond the School Walls.” About Campus, 10 (1), 16-22.
Appendix A: Configuration of Learning Circles
Appendix B: Sample Progression of Learning Circles
Appendix C: Sample Civic Engagement Project
Sample Civic Engagement Project
(General description): SP 304, Service Learning Interpretation Project (Spring 2005)- This project involves a 20-hour commitment to participate in a service learning project. The project entails providing interpretation for Latino children with limited English skills during the school day and during the after school program at Holy Rosary School in Fairmont City , IL. The purpose of the project is to help the children progress in their school subjects while they are developing proficiency in English. The project also is intended to provide low-risk opportunities for SIUE students to apply the strategies and language skills needed in interpretation. The strategies include regular reading about Latino culture and about interpreting in school settings, vocabulary expansion, note-taking, shadowing and communicative practice. The language skills are reading comprehension, listening comprehension, and oral communication.
Final Project Description:
The project consists of two parts. Students should use loose-leaf paper and add the assignments as they are completed. This section of the notebook should be divided in subsections dedicated to each of the assignments described below. The first part of the project will focus on your participation in the service learning project. Participation will include planning meetings (1-2), initial visit to the school with tour and description of your assignment, 20 hours of service documented with a time sheet, and a recorded sight interpretation and a consecutive interpretation at the school with permission form.
The second part of the project will include a signed copy of the ethics pledge, copies of your five articles in Spanish related to Latino culture or working with children and families, a list of 50 vocabulary words (10 each week during the last five weeks of the semester), a description of your assignment, copies of texts for which you provided sight interpretation during your service (depending on the duties assigned you, this may be a sampling of at least five texts, i.e.: a worksheet, a textbook explanation, field trip information, a permission form, etc.), a reflective journal on assigned topics, a self evaluation and an evaluation completed by a teacher or the principal from Holy Rosary School.
By the end of the semester, the students completing the Service Learning Interpretation Project will complete 20 hours of interpretation service at Holy Rosary School.
By the end of the semester, the students completing the Service Learning Interpretation Project will demonstrate knowledge of cultural information, new vocabulary and phrases learned, and other background information needed to interpret in a school setting by completing a written reflection in Spanish about the interpretation experience.
By the end of the semester, the students completing the Service Learning Interpretation Project will demonstrate their abilities to complete a sight interpretation and a consecutive interpretation in Spanish by recording actual interpretation done at Holy Rosary School with good general vocabulary, with accurate basic grammar, and sufficient details in a manner comprehensible to native speakers used to dealing with non-native Spanish speakers.
Service Learning Project (60% of project grade):
-completion of 20 hrs. of service (35 pts.)
-clear, reasonably complete and accurate interpretations--sight and consecutive (10 pts.)
-evaluation by teacher or principal (10 pts.)
-appropriate permission obtained for recording (5 pts.)
2. Reflective Journal/Readings/Vocabulary List (40% of project grade):
-signed ethics pledge (5 pts.)
-10 reflections in Spanish on assigned topics related to the service learning experience and the readings (20 pts.)
-5 readings and copies of sight interpretation texts (5 pts.)
-self-evaluation (10 pts.)
-50-word vocabulary list (counted in Reading/Listening Comprehension/Vocabulary Journal final grade)
In order to be eligible for a grade of C or above, the service commitment must be met.
Please do not hesitate to ask the instructor for help if you are having difficulty with any portion of the project.
Appendix D: Existing Learning Opportunities/Programs on Campus Related to Civic Engagement
The SIUE School of Business International Exchange Program offers specialized short-term (about two or three weeks) service learning tours that are flexible for students who are unable to get away for the entire semester. Students work on service projects such as building a house, like Habitat for Humanity, or helping to maintain a national park in the rain forest within developing countries like Costa Rica and Mexico. Students are accompanied on the trip by an SIUE professor, who teaches the travel study course. All the travel study courses are taught in English. Students register for classes at SIUE and pay only tuition, no fees, for the class. Some classes are held prior to the trip in preparation for the travel study experience. Participants enroll in GBA 489 for three credit hours. The service learning trips attract a broad range of students from various majors.
Kimmel Leadership offers a Volunteer Service Component that requires sixty hours of volunteer service and attendance at one structured reflection session. Thirty of the volunteer hours must be completed in the community. In order to receive credit toward the leadership transcript, students must verify service hours and complete Verification of Service Forms, detailing duties performed and skills acquired for each volunteer opportunity. Non-credit Volunteer Internships are available through various academic departments. Through these departments, non-credit volunteer internships can be listed on the academic transcript. Kimmel Leadership also offers service learning trips during spring break. The 2006 Spring Break Service Learning project involved travel to the Cherokee Nation.
Student Housing offers Horizons, a program specifically for first-year residents that will make the transition to college life at SIUE easier. Living on the same wing in Prairie Hall, members will receive specialized attention that encourages them to do their best as an active community member and participant in various University programs, and through interactions with University faculty and staff. Horizons members gain a sense of community that will remain well beyond your first year of college. As a Horizons member, students will be encouraged to interact with other students, contribute to service learning activities, and participate in SIUE student organizations.
Appendix E: Provision for Needs of Professional Schools
The learning community model provides a flexible structure that can accommodate the needs of the professional schools. Instead of concentrating the four learning circles in the first four semesters, the learning circles can be spread out over four years. In addition, programs may deem that their students are better served by a combination of learning circles and by parts of the existing distribution model. Furthermore, some programs may decide that the existing distribution model serves their students best.
Several professional schools at universities across the country have adopted the learning community model as part of their general education curriculum. One fine example is Penn State 's School of Engineering and Engineering Technology (pennstatebehrend.psu.edu/student/fig/Engineering.htm). The School of Engineering and Engineering Technology has developed seven freshmen interest groups. One of the groups brings women together who wish to major in engineering. They enroll in a one-credit hour freshmen seminar called “Be Wise” (Women In the School of Engineering). Students in this FIG also take an engineering design course and an English composition course. Another FIG, named “The Ghost in the Machine,” groups students together who are especially interested in designing software. Students enrolled in this FIG take a freshmen seminar, an introduction to software design, and an introduction to programming techniques. Another excellent example is The University of Texas at Austin 's freshmen interest groups in the School of Nursing . These FIGs consist of 18 students who enroll in the same three major prerequisite courses and participate in a weekly freshmen interest group seminar. The FIG includes opportunities for supplemental instruction, study groups and sessions with mentors and faculty. (For more information, see www.utexas.edu/nursing/html/student support.html ) These are just two examples of how FIGS serve the needs of students enrolled in the professional schools.
BRIDGE Proposal Overview - Self-Assessment
1. How does your proposal support the values of SIUE (citizenship, excellence, integrity, openness and wisdom)?
The model promotes excellence through a logical sequence of coursework and other learning experiences that lead to cumulative learning by providing an interdisciplinary base, exposure to multiple modes of inquiry and approaches to knowledge, and acquisition of intellectual skills and capacities through experiential learning. The model fosters citizenship by challenging students to relate their learning to the issues and concerns of our contemporary world and by engaging in a service learning project. Integrity is woven throughout the proposed general education curriculum by directing students to gain self-knowledge and grounded values, to continuously develop and reach higher levels of critical thinking and formal reasoning skills through analytic/problem-solving, and to act on the values base they have formed. The model promotes openness by grouping students in diverse learning communities, through discussion of the themes of the learning circles and through participation in a civic engagement project. The coherence of the proposed general education curriculum provides repeated opportunities for developing wisdom --the knowledge base, intellectual skills and capacities-- to the level of sophistication needed in a profession and as an informed citizen.
2. How does your proposal support the stated objectives of the baccalaureate degree?
oral/written communication skills: English 101-102, SPCH 105 required; further utilized and honed in each of the learning circles.
analytic/problem-solving skills, scientific literacy, foundation in the liberal arts: a) thematically linked courses, b)critical thinking of component in First Year IS Circle, c)experiential learning base to curriculum, d)current IAI required courses in the sciences with lab science, e)retains distribution courses, but links them to create greater integration and coherence, and f) application to civic engagement project
value of diversity: out-of-class activities of freshmen seminar, learning communities, civic engagement project
ethics: academic integrity in ENG 101-102, reinforced in syllabi for learning communities, thematic learning, critical thinking of component in First Year IS Circle, ethics of profession/discipline, use of ethics pledges and readings on ethics for service learning project
preparation in/for a discipline:
-the model provides the opportunity for students to develop intellectual skills and a knowledge base that will assist them to be successful in their area of concentration; in addition, the greater coherence of the model makes these skills more transparent and applies them to important current societal issues/interests, including the possibility to incorporate courses in the major as part of the learning circles
3. Does the proposal support the diverse range of needs of SIUE's student body and the special needs of the various professional and academic programs at SIUE?
Diverse range of needs of SIUE's student body: the model lends itself to tailoring learning experiences to diverse needs; the model proposes learning circles for transfer students, learning circles for non-residential students and part-time students with designated meeting spaces; learning circles can be tailored to meet more flexible programs for chancellor and dean scholars.
Special needs of the various professional and academic programs:
- the model invites departments and professional schools to create learning circles to meet the needs of students in their programs; the flexibility of the learning circles allows for rich combinations and variations (for example, learning circles can be spread out over four years, they can include a course in the major, or they can be built as two course clusters)
- the model does not preclude retaining the distribution model for programs that deem it more appropriate for students in their programs
4. Does the proposal respond to and address the ‘emerging concerns' of the faculty? For general education to be relevant, it must address integration, information, communication, application.
The model addresses concern for integration by clustering courses in communities of students and faculty addressing common themes. It also promotes attention to a logical sequence of learning circles bringing coherence and transparency to the connections among fields of knowledge. The model provides for information literacy by including objectives regarding the ability to access, interpret, and evaluate information from a variety of sources. It develops communication since English 101-102 employ a process-writing approach. SPCH 105 develops public speaking skills. These skills are honed through assignments for the learning circles and in the service learning project to more sophisticated levels. The model centers on the application of knowledge and skills gained through coursework and other learning experiences, including the service learning project, to current issues and interests. (It assumes that “best practices” in pedagogy will be supported and encouraged through ELTI and FTC—especially student-centered learning, experiential learning and use of technology.)
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