Understanding Ourselves, Engaging Our World:

Curriculum Reform for 21 st Century Learners

 

Laura Wolff, Economics & Finance

Debbie Mann, Foreign Languages & Literature

Kim Poteet, Instructional Services

Ann Riley, Lovejoy Library

 

Abstract

 

General education under our plan will be different from current requirements but will build on key SIUE competencies and values. Our plan takes a social constructivist approach to crafting learning. Students will choose an interdisciplinary theme-based general education program that will teach the essential skills, attitudes and behaviors to achieve our goals for the baccalaureate, with differing requirements for traditional freshman and transfer students. As students pursue their majors, new or expanded requirements in the junior and senior year will carry the general education program throughout the baccalaureate program to reinforce and build on prior knowledge and skills. For freshman, a set of students and faculty will be linked over three semesters for six-hour, integrated core theme courses because social interaction between the learner, teachers, and other students is a critical part of the learning process. Because faculty and students will work together over time, faculty will be better able to assess and mentor students. Various faculty members will be involved in instruction within the theme community, integrating many skills and perspectives into the course sequence.

 

We believe that integrated, sequenced general education courses offer SIUE students the best opportunity to systematically build on prior knowledge and skills and give faculty a unique setting to design curriculum and learning activities to fully achieve our goals. Both faculty and students will be part of an interdisciplinary community where SIUE values can truly be shared and explored. Our plan envisions activities that are often identified as co-curricular as a key part of the learning process. Civic engagement projects that allow students to understand and address community-identified needs while exploring concepts will be a required part of the theme sequences. We anticipate more extensive use of short term workshops, break-out groups, small group tutorials, and other instructional settings as well as expanded use of and development of academic support centers. Our plan calls for the systematic integration of the many excellent and varied resources of our campus and surrounding communities into the instructional process.

 

The active participation, collaborative climate, and development of responsibility that is described in our SIUE value of citizenship will be achieved under our plan. Intrinsic to our plan is a created community in which participants are actively engaged in the activities and relationships associated with citizenship, with chances to try out citizenship behaviors. Excellence will be achieved through continuous improvement, both within the students going through our program and in the delivery of the program itself. Assessment will fuel innovation, and our strong links to the broader community will lead to better scholarship and public service. Integrity is enhanced by investing in the delivery of essential skills education and sharing the responsibility for general education across units. Openness will be enhanced by the strong focus on diversity, respect and freedom. Civic engagement allows SIUE to apply knowledge to promote the common good as well as fueling the creation and sharing of knowledge that serves society. Students will be better able to become lifelong learners and community and professional leaders if they truly come to understand themselves as educated persons engaged in the world through their general education program.

 

Proposal

 

General education under our plan will be different from current requirements but will build on key SIUE competencies and values. Each entering traditional freshman will choose an interdisciplinary theme-based general education program. (See page 7 for a discussion of requirements for transfer students.) Within the theme, students will be part of course communities that will carry over through the first three semesters. A set of students and faculty will explore content based on the theme while developing the skills necessary for success in the baccalaureate program. For the first three semesters, the general education program will comprise six hours each term in an integrated course. Theme faculty will have some flexibility in how the six-hour blocks are organized as long as the learning goals are achieved. Because faculty and students will work together over time, faculty ability to assess and mentor students will be enhanced. Because various faculty will be involved in instruction within the theme community, many skills and perspectives can be integrated into the course sequence. As students pursue their majors, new or expanded requirements in the junior and senior year will carry the general education program throughout the baccalaureate program.

 

Our proposal calls for a single, six-hour, integrated course each term because we do not believe that linked sections of skills and content courses offer the level of integration, the sense of shared community for faculty and students, and the opportunities for new forms of learner-centered activities that our model will allow. According to the 2006 SIUE Fact Book (pg. 76), only 20 percent of our graduating seniors reported that they discussed ideas from readings or classes with a faculty member outside of class or that they worked on activities other than direct course work with a faculty member. Only 14 percent reported any form of community-based projects as part of a course. Doing what we've always done is not likely to lead to significant change. We believe that integrated, sequenced general education courses offer SIUE students the best opportunity to systematically build on prior knowledge and skills and give faculty a unique setting to design curriculum and learning activities to fully achieve the goals of the baccalaureate degree. Both faculty and students will benefit from building an interdisciplinary community where SIUE values can truly be shared and explored.

 

Our plan envisions activities that are often identified as co-curricular as a key part of the learning process. Civic engagement projects that allow students to understand and address community-identified needs while exploring concepts related to the theme will be a required part of the theme sequences. Even in more traditional classroom-based instruction, we envision more extensive use of short term workshops, break-out groups, small group tutorials, and other instructional settings. We advocate expanded use of support centers such as the Writing Center and the Speech Center and the development of new ones. Given our learning goals regarding information literacy, the SIUE library and its staff will be an integral resource to the theme communities. Assets of the SIUE community, including the Kimmel Leadership Center, student housing, student activities, ongoing lecture and arts series, the Museum, the Gardens and others can be integrated into the theme activities so that our students can truly become part of a University community. How we involve our students in learning demonstrates what we believe is important. Systematically integrating into the instructional process the many excellent and varied resources of our campus community demonstrates a commitment to the development of citizens that participate broadly in University activities and later the rest of society.

 

Our general education plan takes a social constructivist approach to crafting learning. According to Vygotsky and other social constructivist theorists, social interaction between the learner, the teacher and other students is a significant part of the learning process. Interactions in a social environment allow learners to construct, share, reconstruct, test and ultimately build knowledge within a context. Social constructivists share Piagetian cognitive constructivist commitment to student-centered, experiential learning, but the instructor and the community play a much greater role in developing knowledge by extending the construction of meaning beyond the individual's frame of reference. Interacting with instructors and other students provides the social context necessary to check perceptions and ideas, to develop necessary language and self-regulatory skills and to broaden understanding of cultural norms. Learners develop a frame of reference comprised of knowledge, beliefs and values that determine who they are and how they behave. This frame of reference is then used to interpret and integrate new knowledge that builds on prior knowledge. Translating experience into meaningful understanding happens through social interaction in a context where students explore, analyze, evaluate, and synthesize knowledge (Vygotsky 1978 as cited in Jadallah, 2000).

 

The basic premise of our sequenced core theme courses is that they will provide a platform for students to develop the language and skills, the attitudes and behaviors, and the core content knowledge necessary to form a frame of reference consistent with the University's values and to achieve the objectives for the baccalaureate degree. A frame of reference can be understood as a matrix of concepts, factual examples and generalizations that provide a basis for understanding one's environment. The intention is not indoctrination but rather to challenge learners to evaluate their own ideas and to expose them to alternate ones. (Jadallah, 2000). These other viewpoints might come from the students and faculty in the theme community, the curriculum the theme covers, or the larger social community that is encountered through co-curricular activities. The created environment of a theme community will cause students to encounter and explore differing viewpoints, viewpoints that may support, contradict or simply offer new perspectives to existing knowledge. Learners must continually make conscious decisions about whether to maintain or to modify their existing ideas and frame of reference.

 

The frame of reference students develop in the theme communities can then be applied to the rest of their degree program. For true learning integration and achievement of the University's objectives, deliberate challenges and new experiences at an increasingly higher level of sophistication and expectation must be carried throughout the baccalaureate program so that students continue to construct and build knowledge based on both prior knowledge and new experiences. By carrying the general education program throughout the undergraduate degree and making it an interdisciplinary responsibility of the entire University community, we hope to achieve the goal of creating life long learners who can successfully participate in a society where change is constant.

 

Outline of General Education Requirements:

18 hours of core theme courses that integrate content with skill development

6 additional hours of courses developed or designated by theme

3 hours IS course junior year

3 hours ethics course junior year

6 hours senior seminar/project

36 hours total

 

Additionally, students must meet the minimum math requirement as designated by their major, with a C in College Algebra or its equivalent being the minimum standard university wide.

 

Important components of our proposal:

In Appendix A, we provide three examples of hypothetical themes to model the sequence of core courses and their requirements. While the content and some requirements will vary by theme, overall learning goals and skills to develop in this part of the general education sequence can be established and maintained across sections and emphasis areas. What follows is an overall description of our general education program by term for four-year students, with a focus on the core theme courses.

 

Sequence of General Education Courses for Traditional Four-Year Students

First semester: 6 hour core theme course

Second semester: 6 hour core theme course

Third semester: 6 hour core theme course

Fourth semester: 6 hours of required courses or electives from within theme

Fifth semester: 3 hour IS course

Sixth semester: 3 hour ethics course

Seventh semester: 3 hour senior seminar or part one of senior assignment

Eighth semester: 3 hour senior assignment

 

First semester freshman will start their theme-based sequence in a section with a group of approximately 60 students. This group of 60 students will be together for the entire freshman year, but not always in the same subgroups for the various learning activities. Three to four faculty members will work with this group on an ongoing basis with other faculty within the theme community perhaps coming in to offer specific expertise, alternate viewpoints or other supportive resources on an as-needed basis. The theme faculty will include persons with expertise in teaching skills (speech communication, writing, critical thinking, information literacy, etc) as well as faculty that primarily offer a disciplinary content perspective. There will be multiple sections of the first semester core theme course taught by different faculty members so that the community of students within the theme is much larger than the community of students within the individual sections. This broader community of faculty and learners might share some course or co-curricular activities as appropriate over the first year. The theme curriculum will be developed, implemented, and revised based on assessment by the faculty members teaching in the core courses with broader oversight from appropriate administrators and University-wide committees.

 

Learning goals for the first semester core course would include a strong focus on interpersonal communication, respect for diversity, becoming comfortable with ambiguity and multiple viewpoints and ways of knowing. The current requirements of the freshman seminar would be fully met by this core course. The first theme core course would be in some ways similar to currently successful CIV courses, orienting students not just to our University but to what it is to be intellectually curious. However, it would have a heavier emphasis on skill development given the additional contact hours and resources. Put in terms of the skills courses we are replacing, learning goals might include some current goals for Speech 103, a couple of the current learning goals for English 101, some of the practical skills associated with CMIS 108, and some objectives of Phil 106. For example, a learning goal from Speech 103 is the development of effective listening and conflict management skills. From English 101, a goal that might be appropriate in the first term is using writing as a way of thinking through ideas. Civic engagement activities and wider use of the many diverse resources of our University community would be a required component of any theme core course.

 

The second semester core theme course would have learning goals that include a strong emphasis on writing, teamwork, and presentation skills. Advocacy would be incorporated into the theme, and some form of public forum/project would be a potential outcome for each section. The theme block would address many of the current goals for English 101 and some of the presentation skills associated with Speech 105.

 

The third semester core theme course would have learning goals that are focused on analysis. Students would engage in a series of research based written and possibly oral assignments. Students will demonstrate the ability to work with and to interpret data by using data to support or refute an argument. Finding and evaluating sources would be an important goal in terms of achieving information literacy. The current learning goals of English 102 and Philosophy 106 and the American Library Association's Information Literacy Competency Standards might provide outlines for use in developing the learning goals for this course.

 

For the fourth semester, each theme has the flexibility to either develop additional required courses to be completed by everyone in the theme community or to allow students to choose from several elective courses designated by the theme that would continue to utilize and to enhance both the frame of reference and the skills developed in the theme core courses. At the end of the fourth semester, students should have a portfolio of projects completed within their theme-based portion of general education that the theme faculty and others can assess. Assessment results should be shared with students in order to continue the process of supporting student learning, but more importantly should be used to enhance learning opportunities for future theme students. Exit interviews with students would also be a useful form of assessment, especially using methods based on the principles of appreciative inquiry. The University, the Bridge process and other SIUE units have used this approach to assess program strengths.

 

In the junior year, students would take an interdisciplinary course similar to the current IS requirement. Faculty teaching these courses would have an enhanced ability to challenge students and to make courses more learner-centered. Based on their preparation from their theme communities, students at the junior level should be comfortable working in an interdisciplinary environment and be bringing a more consistent skill set that can be further enhanced as problems are examined with deeper knowledge. Civic engagement activities could continue or study circles could be introduced, either as required components of the junior year general education courses or as co-curricular optional activities based on student interest. Themes at this point would have “alumni” that could either continue to work together across programs or new interest groups could form.

 

The other junior year general education requirement is an ethics course. This does not mean that ethics are not introduced or addressed until the junior year. Ethical dimensions of issues would be part of the interdisciplinary material covered within any of the themes if not also in other courses. The ethics requirement could be met with a general course open to any major or with a course developed specifically to meet the needs of a major or professional school, which might be particularly attractive for some given that accreditation programs are showing greater interest in ethics instruction in professional curricula. Requiring an ethics course at this point in the sequenced curriculum allows ethical issues to be explored more deeply with the additional knowledge and skills students have developed as they enter their major fields of study. New concepts and new environments offer opportunities to continue to form the frame of reference we desire of our graduates. And given the desire for integration, the skills developed in the theme sequence should at this point be reinforced and expanded in the courses within the major, not just in the junior level required IS and ethics courses.

 

In the senior year, we are suggesting a two semester sequence for the senior assignment. The first part of the sequence might be organized as a seminar with the second part focused on producing a final product.

 

Administration Issues:

 

The faculty teaching in the core theme courses need to be at a minimum rank of full time instructor. This is critical for success in our program because of the need for the faculty members to be in longer term teaching relationships with students and other team members, the investment in faculty and curriculum development the program will require, and our premise that general education is the basis for forming the frame of reference necessary to achieve our goals for the baccalaureate and the values of the University. This is a major change given that many sections of core skills courses and some introductory content courses are currently taught by call staff and part time lecturers. While it may cost more to change staffing, we regard it as a critical investment. How we deploy resources is perhaps the best indicator of how much we value general education. Where do we place our best and brightest teachers? How do we support them?

 

Given appropriate leadership in the theme communities, we can imagine graduate students working with break out sections, tutorials, or expanded support centers for a portion of the instruction. A faculty member teaching critical thinking or another important skill would likely participate differently in our theme-based courses than the comparable course load of three or four sections a semester, depending on rank. This might mean being a resource for more students and other faculty within a theme community and less contact hours in day to day classroom instruction.

 

SIUE has some history with staffing and administering IS, Un 112, CIV and other courses that cross programs. When something belongs to everyone at the University, it effectively belongs to no one because which sections to staff with whom are decisions made primarily at the unit level. Because faculty evaluations of teaching, service and research also start at the unit level, courses, service and research agendas that cross programs are often less valued than the same activities that are entirely within the unit. Research agendas in the area of teaching and student learning generally are not regarded as highly valued at the unit level in most programs. If we want curricular integration on a sustainable basis, we are going to have to find new ways to fund, staff and evaluate faculty that participate. The faculty teaching core theme courses are also going to require greater preparation time, unique course loads that may vary over a cycle rather than just a semester, and an ongoing commitment to faculty development in promoting and evaluating effective student learning strategies.

 

Because of these and other issues, we believe this program will require an administrator at the associate provost level. The process to approve, staff and assess the theme-based curriculum will require that level of authority. We are not suggesting that creating an entire new academic unit is required in order to implement this program, although that is a possible choice. Faculty could continue to be assigned to their current unit, with either a cross-units requirement to provide faculty to the program or the ability of the administrator to buy-out faculty to the program. With our commitment to use of the wider University resources, some participation in the theme communities won't come in the form of traditional faculty lines. Regardless of how the administrative details are worked out, we strongly advocate that every unit have some participation in the general education program so that it truly belongs to every program at the University.

 

A dream outcome might be a Center for Excellence in Undergraduate Education that has oversight for some current SIUE academic initiatives, such as the Excellence in Learning and Teaching Initiative, Assessment, the Undergraduate Research Academy , the Excellence in Undergraduate Education program, the freshman seminar and IS requirements, study abroad and international education. This center could add new positions and resources for coordinators for writing across the curriculum, teaching critical thinking, civic engagement across our academic program, and many other forms of faculty development. While the faculty in the theme communities will need special care, all programs will have to invest in skills and curriculum development to integrate general education and to achieve our goals for the baccalaureate.

 

Under our proposal, the University community will have to continue to collaborate to create themes, engage faculty, re-designate some courses and create new ones. Monitoring and assessing the achievement of learning goals across sections and across themes is critical for sustainable integration. This requires able administration with access to resources and knowledge of the broader University. Probably a committee similar in composition to the Bridge committee with members that come from across the campus community will be necessary on an ongoing basis to continue to address the special needs of general education.

 

Transfer students and other special cases:

 

Students that transfer meeting the full Illinois Articulation Initiative requirements would take one six-hour theme based course designed specifically for them that would include learning goals that meet the SIUE requirement for a new student seminar and the quantitative literacy requirement that students must demonstrate the ability to support or refute an argument using data. We believe that the civic engagement and information literacy goals built into the three semester core course sequence also are unique to our institution and important for students to meet in order to achieve the goals of the baccalaureate. Transfer students would then need to meet the general education requirements of the junior and senior year. Depending on the major, they may be able to transfer an ethics course from another institution.

 

Given the stream-lined nature of our general education program, entering transfer students that have less than an associate's degree would probably start the theme-based courses from the beginning, perhaps grouped with other transfer students rather than entering freshman to better address their situation. While these students may repeat some skill development, much of the program is unique to our institution and important for achieving our goals. The administrator and committees responsible for developing, approving and assessing the theme communities could place students differently on a case by case basis if there are special circumstances.

 

The special needs of underprepared students could be addressed based on the area in which they need remediation with the need for remediation still being initially identified by ACT score. Students who need reading remediation would take a developmental reading course in addition to their theme course during their first semester. This could be continued the second semester if necessary. Students who need writing remediation would take a developmental writing course their first term, which should prepare most of them for the writing in the second course in the core sequence. If they need a full year of writing remediation, they can take a second semester of developmental writing along with the core course. Students who need math remediation would start with developmental math courses their first term and must continue until they pass college algebra.

 

Students that start a theme but fail to achieve passing grades and do not demonstrate written or oral communication skills at the level of competency required will be re-directed the next term into a special three-hour skill focused course until they achieve the required competency. (The assumption is that there will be enough students within a theme community that this could be taught by faculty still within the theme and use content from the theme although the students may be grouped with students from other sections than those with whom they started the theme). This course could be offered as an intensive, short course, perhaps in summer before the start of fall term so that a student failing the second core course might still be able to move into the third course through interventions designed to make up the skill deficit. Our hope is that with the same set of faculty working with students over an extended time period many deficiencies could identified and addressed prior to students failing courses. Individual educational plans could be developed to address deficiencies that are impeding the students' chances for success.

 

Issues to consider:

 

Special care may be necessary in course descriptions and designations so that outside institutions are able to accept our core theme courses as meeting the learning goals of existing skill courses. We think this may be especially important for education students seeking certification as well as any students who leave our institution to continue their studies elsewhere.

 

Our program as outlined does not require a certain number of courses beyond the major. In fact, majors and degree programs could and perhaps should develop ethics courses that are focused on issues of importance to their profession, which would count both for the major and as meeting general education requirements. Senior projects certainly would require the skills and frame of reference developed in the general education program, but might again be relatively narrowly focused. Some programs by accreditation require a number of hours outside the major and would thus encourage a broader sample of elective courses. If there are programs that do not and if this is a concern, we could include as a general education requirement a minimum number of elective hours outside the major without adding any distribution requirements. The expectations and assessment of the senior project could also be more focused on general education outcomes.

 

The Path Ahead

 

Helping undergraduates develop the frame of reference consistent with SIUE values requires a transformation in how we deliver general education. The active participation, collaborative climate, and development of responsibility that is described in our SIUE value of citizenship will be better achieved under our plan than with SIUE's existing general education program. Intrinsic to our plan is a created community in which participants are actively engaged in the activities and relationships associated with citizenship, with many chances to both model and to try out citizenship behaviors. Our value of excellence will be served by the emphasis in our plan on continuous improvement, both within the students going through our general education program and on the delivery of the program itself. Assessment will fuel innovation, and our strong links to the broader community will lead to better scholarship and public service. Integrity is enhanced by investing in the delivery of essential skills education and sharing the responsibility for general education across units, rather than assuming it is someone else's fault that our students' skills, attitudes and behaviors are not where we want them to be. Openness will be enhanced by the strong focus in our integrated core courses on diversity, respect and freedom. Civic engagement allows our faculty and students to apply knowledge in a way that promotes the common good and promotes the creation and sharing of knowledge that serves society. Our graduates will be better able to become lifelong learners and community and professional leaders if they truly come to understand themselves as educated persons engaged in the world through their general education program.

 

Works Cited:

 

Jadallah, Edward. “Constructivist Learning Experiences for Social Studies Education.” Social Studies . September/October 2000, Volume 91, Issue 5.

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Appendix A—Social Justice Theme Illustration

 

The letters after each item refer to the Learning Outcomes listed at the bottom of each page.

 

Semester 1 (6 hours)

 

Content: History of Social Injustices (c, e, f, g)

•  Basics of politics and power

•  Origins of racism in colonialism

•  Worldwide causes of poverty & starvation

•  History of non-Europeans in America

•  Powerful historical speeches (a)

 

Skill Development: Oral Communication (Primary focus) (c)

•  Focus on speech and debate skills with multimedia fluency (a, k)

              - Examine questions of social responsibility (e)

              - Debate issues of social justice (g)

              - Analyze arguments (f, g)

              - Examine elements of powerful speeches (a, g, h)

 

Skill Development: Written Communication and Information Literacy (Secondary focus) (d, h)

•  Write advocacy speeches to develop link between oral and written thinking (a, c)

•  Explore journaling to make personal connections to issues raised in class (a, b)

•  Create written responses to social justice issues in the news (a, e, f)

•  Begin to learn to use information effectively to advocate a position (i)

•  Understand the economic, legal, and social issues surrounding the use of information, and access and use information

   ethically and legally

 

Co-curricular Experience: Volunteer on Campus (a, c, e, f)

Through Kimmel Leadership Center, choose a campus organization that addresses an issue of social justice.

•  Volunteer for 12 hours minimum over the course of the semester

•  Write and present a speech that explains the goals and activities of your chosen organization and the social justice issue or

    issues addressed by that organization

 

Freshman seminar: (b)

Components of the Freshman Seminar will be incorporated into both the skill development and content of this theme throughout the first year.

Students will develop oral presentations to introduce their fellow classmates to different aspects of the campus.

 

Learning Outcomes

a. Finding a voice                                              f. Building appreciation for diversity

b. Introduction to academic environment           g. Critical thinking

c. Oral communication                                      h. Information literacy

d. Writing skills                                                 i. Using data to support arguments

e. Civic engagement                                          j. Scientific method

                                                                        k.. Technical literacy

 

 


Semester 2 (6 hours)

 

Content: The Individual and the Community

-  Economic systems and their impact

-  Personal responsibility

              + how to make a difference

-  Social responsibility

-  Choose an issue, then:

              + identify possible causes of problem (g)

              + examine the opposition

              + study available information, identify gaps in information (g, h)

              + explore possible solutions (g)

 

Skill Development: Written Communication and Information Literacy (Primary focus) (d, h)

Focus on writing to persuade, to argue, and to effect change, using social justice issues

•  Use chosen social issue to provide topics for a variety of expository writings

•  Learn to determine the nature and extent of the information needed to accomplish goals of writing assignments

•  Learn to access needed information effectively and efficiently in order to accomplish academic and personal goals

 

Skill Development: Critical Thinking (Secondary focus) (g)

•  Learn to evaluate and construct valid arguments using chosen social issues

•  Remove obstacles to thinking and open pathways to more creative thinking by use of creativity theory to explore possible

    solutions to social justice issues

•  Develop critical reasoning and problem solving skills through examination of macro- and micro- causes of social injustice

 

Co-curricular Experience: Volunteer in the community (e, f)

•  In a section or small group, students will choose a community social service agency and volunteer at least four times

   (3 hour minimum each time) over the course of the semester.

•  With group:

             - identify the social injustices or inequities that the chosen agency is addressing. How do they fit into the historical

               patterns being studied?

             - Design and present an argument for greater support (governmental or individual) for the chosen agency.

 

Learning Outcomes

a. Finding a voice                                       f. Building appreciation for diversity

b. Introduction to academic environment     g. Critical thinking

c. Oral communication                                h. Information literacy

d. Writing skills                                           i. Using data to support arguments

e. Civic engagement                                    j. Scientific method

                                                                  k.. Technical literacy

 

 

 

Semester 3

 

Content: Social Problems (similar to Sociology 300-3)

-  Extent and causes of a number of current American social problems

-  How social conditions become problems

-  Methods of researching problems, including an introduction to the scientific method (j)

 

Skill Development: Written Analysis, Quantitative and Information Literacy (d, h, i)

•  Research various aspects of social issue of choice

•  Demonstrate the ability to work with and to interpret data by using data to support or refute an argument

•  Develop an understanding of the economic, legal, and social issues surrounding the use of information and how those same

    issues also relate to social justice

•  Learn to access and use information ethically and legally

•  Learn to evaluate information and its sources critically and incorporate selected information into written analyses of social

    justice issues

•  Learn to use information effectively to accomplish a specific purpose: the final project, which is to write a grant for an

    agency or project chosen by student, incorporating the research

•  Use the information skills to research a social justice issue (see co-curricular experience) and write a research paper

    outlining results

 

Co-curricular Experience: Become an Advocate

Work with an agency of student's choice.

•  Design a research project that will meet an identified need of the agency

•  Use that research to write a grant or an advocacy paper for that agency, or use the research to create a product identified

    by the agency

 

Learning Outcomes

a. Finding a voice                                        f. Building appreciation for diversity

b. Introduction to academic environment     g. Critical thinking

c. Oral communication                                h. Information literacy

d. Writing skills                                           i. Using data to support arguments

e. Civic engagement                                    j. Scientific method

                                                                  k.. Technical literacy

 

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Appendix B: Illustration of International Experience and Cross-Cultural Awareness Theme

The letters after each item refer to the Learning Outcomes listed after each term

Semester 1 (6 hours)

Content: Cross-Cultural Communication (new course, partly based on Speech 103)

- recognition of the campus as a culture different from that of high school and development of knowledge of campus

   community (b)

- awareness of students' own cultural assumptions (f)

- discussion of different value systems, ways of interacting (f)

- exploration of how culture affects interpersonal interactions (f)

- debate of current issues in which cultural difference produces divergent viewpoints (f,g)

 

Skill Development: Oral Communication (Primary focus)

- focus on speech presentation and listening skills (a,c)

  development of

      - effectiveness in self-expression (a,c)

      - effective listening skills: accuracy in perception of oral communication message (verbal and non-verbal) transmitted by

         others (c)

      - openness to and appreciation for others' viewpoints; ways of questioning, disagreeing with tolerance and respect (f)

      - skills in analyzing and debating issues in which a different cultural mindset leads to opposing viewpoints (c,f,g)

  

Skill Development: Written Communication and Information Literacy (Secondary focus)

- focus on informal writing for self-expression + multimedia fluency (a, d, k)

    development of

       - skills in journaling to examine students' own values and cultural assumptions and make personal connections to issues

          raised in class (a,d,f,)

       - skills in organization of thoughts in reaction papers to readings, speakers, campus events (e.g. India Night) (a,b,d,f)

       - skills in sharing thoughts and comments in on-line discussion groups (k)

       - skills in accessing information to gather background knowledge needed to discuss and reflect on cultural differences (h)

       - skills in combining retrieved information with original thought to produce new information (h)

Co-curricular Experiences: Discovery of Other Cultures
- pair with international students to see “US” from a different perspective (c,f,g) 
- volunteer to work with a group from another culture (e,f) 
- attend campus event like Africa or India night (b,f) 

Freshman Seminar: (b)

Components of the Freshman Seminar will be incorporated into both the skill development and content of this theme throughout the first year.

 

Learning Outcomes

a. Finding a voice                                       f. Building appreciation for diversity

b. Introduction to academic environment     g. Critical thinking

c. Oral communication                                h. Information literacy

d. Writing skills                                           i. Using data to support arguments

e. Civic engagement                                    j. Scientific method

                                                                  k. Technical literacy

 

Semester 2 (6 hours)

Content: Interdisciplinary approach such as Global Problems and Human Survival (IS 336)

- analysis of international issues from more than one disciplinary perspective, such as threats to human survival from war,

  over-population, pollution, resource depletion, under-development, misuse of the oceans and news technologies (g, i)

- examination of causes of these problems (g,i)

- exploration of approaches to dealing with these threats (g, i)

- discussion of questions of personal and social responsibility

 

Skill Development: Written Communication and Information Literacy (Primary focus)

- exploration of the multiple facets (ideological, social, cultural, political, economic, historical) of issues raised in class to

   construct informed critical positions and sound inquiries and arguments related to these topics (g, h)

- examination of differing viewpoints encountered in readings and determination or whether to incorporate or reject these

  viewpoints in formulating one's own position on issues raised in class (g, h)

- reading and written analysis of texts from a variety of academic discourses and cultural viewpoints (d, f, g)

- investigation of the principles of evidence used in academic writing (d, g)

- evaluation of information and its sources (h)

- identification of the purpose and audience of potential resources (h)

- examination and comparison of information from various sources to evaluate reliability, validity, accuracy, authority,

   timeliness, and point of view or bias in researching issues raised in class (g, h)

- recognition of prejudice, deception, or manipulation in sources of information used in researching issues raised in class (g,h)

- recognition of the cultural, physical, or other context within which the information was created and understanding of the

   impact of the context in interpreting the information (g, h)

- writing to persuade and to effect change (d, a, g, i )

 

Skill Development: Critical Thinking (Secondary focus)

- evaluation of ideas and arguments and development of criteria for accepting or rejecting claims (g)

- presentation of argument and refutation of argument based on issues raised in class (d,g)

 

Co-curricular Experiences: Meaningful Involvement with other cultures

- advocacy project including an aspect of cultural difference or service learning in a cultural context other than the students'

  own (c,d,e)

 

Learning Outcomes

a. Finding a voice                                        f. Building appreciation for diversity

b. Introduction to academic environment     g. Critical thinking

c. Oral communication                                h. Information literacy

d. Writing skills                                           i. Using data to support arguments

e. Civic engagement                                    j. Scientific method

                                                                  k.. Technical literacy

 

 

Semester 3 (6 hours)

 

Content: Understanding another culture—Introduction to Foreign Studies (FL 111a,b,c,d,e)

- study of cultural institutions (f)

- study of history and geography of a country/ region (f)

- exposure to and analysis of literary, musical, artistic production from the target country/region (c,d,f)

- discussion of social and environmental issues impacting the target country/region (c,d,f)

 

Skill Development: Written Analysis, Quantitative and Information Literacy (Primary focus)

- production of a polished, accurate research paper dealing with a current issue in the culture under consideration, supported

   with appropriate and accurate data (h, d)

-ability to formulate questions, explore all sides of the issue under consideration, create a working thesis, and draw

  conclusions from research (d, g, h)

- ability to differentiate between primary and secondary sources and assess the effectiveness of various sources for the

  development of an argument or thesis (h)

- ability to construct a thesis or argument using raw date from primary sources (h)

- demonstrate the ability to work with and to interpret data by using data to support or refute an argument (i)

 

Skill Development: Oral Communication (Secondary focus)

- explain interpretation/appreciation of artistic work from the culture of the target country/region (c,f)

 

Co-curricular Experiences: Cultural Immersion

- study abroad or cultural immersion experience during or at the end of the second semester of sophomore year (f)

 

Learning Outcomes

a. Finding a voice                                       f. Building appreciation for diversity

b. Introduction to academic environment     g. Critical thinking

c. Oral communication                                h. Information literacy

d. Writing skills                                           i. Using data to support arguments

e. Civic engagement                                    j. Scientific method

                                                                  k. Technical literacy

 

______________________________________________________________________________________________

    


Appendix C—Science and Society Theme Illustration

 

The letters after each item refer to the Learning Outcomes.

 

Semester 1 -- 6 hours: Skill focus is on Speech / Communication

 

Content: Science and Social Change: Introduction

Based on CMIS 108, Speech 103, English 101, Univ. 112

•  basics of relationship of scientific advances and societal change

•  overview of history of science in both Western and non-Western cultures

•  focus on development of technologies: Bronze and Iron Age, gunpowder and explosives, basic engines, electricity,

   telecommunications etc.

 

Skill Development: Oral Communication (Primary focus)

•  focus on speech and debate skills + multimedia fluency (a,c,k)

               - questions of human aspects of technology development(e)

               - debate issues (g)

               - analyze arguments (g)

               - respect for alternative viewpoints (b,f)

 

Skill Development: Written Communication (Secondary focus)

•  papers after discussions to develop link between oral and written thinking

•  journal writing to develop personal responses to issues raised in class

•  written responses to science issues in the news

•  demonstrate recognition of science issues in other disciplines

 

Freshman seminar: Students will examine the role of science in higher education, the expectations of higher education and have activities based on the support services and aspects of student life at SIUE. (b, e)

 

Learning Outcomes

a. Finding a voice                                        f. Building appreciation for diversity

b. Introduction to academic environment     g. Critical thinking

c. Oral communication                                h. Information literacy

d. Writing skills                                           i. Using data to support arguments

e. Civic engagement                                    j. Scientific method

                                                                  k. Technical literacy

 

Semester 2-- 6 hours: Skill focus is on Writing and Critical Thinking

 

 Content: Based on Biology 111 (this theme), Speech 105, and English 101 skills (a,d) 
-  Review of biochemical issues and facts; scientific method; scientific literacy
-  specific issues such as oil deposits, their formation and uses (d,f,g)
-  relationships between science and economies; industrial revolutions (k, f, i)
-  how natural resources and the technologies of utilizing them have been central to formation of cities, towns and 
    nations (I, k, d, e)
-  health and disease issues as they result from and create societal change: introduction to epidemiology using childhood 
   diseases, Black Death, influenza epidemics, AIDS, etc. (e, i, g)

Skill Development: Written Communication (Primary focus) Information Literacy (Secondary focus)
This semester will focus on writing to persuade, to argue and to effect change, using issues raised in class. Students will be 
required to research specific natural resources and diseases and support arguments. 

 

Learning Outcomes

a. Finding a voice                                        f. Building appreciation for diversity

b. Introduction to academic environment     g. Critical thinking

c. Oral communication                                h. Information literacy

d. Writing skills                                           i. Using data to support arguments

e. Civic engagement                                    j. Scientific method

                                                                  k. Technical literacy

 

 

Semester 3 -- 6 hours: Skill focus on Writing, Quantitative and Information Literacy

Content: Based on Biology 204 (this theme), English 102, Philosophy 106
         --current scientific and technical developments and their relationships to both ongoing and future societal changes. 
Examples could include VOIP, genetic counseling, hybrid vehicles, reusable space vehicles, recent discoveries in interplanetary
exploration, biotechnology, etc. 

Skill Development: Written Communication & Quantitative Literacy (Primary focus); Information Literacy (secondary focus)

 

Learning Outcomes

a. Finding a voice                                        f. Building appreciation for diversity

b. Introduction to academic environment     g. Critical thinking

c. Oral communication                                h. Information literacy

d. Writing skills                                           i. Using data to support arguments

e. Civic engagement                                    j. Scientific method

                                                                  k. Technical literacy

 

_______________________________________________________________________________________________

 

BRIDGE Proposal Overview - Self-Assessment

 

1. How does your proposal support the values of SIUE (citizenship, excellence, integrity, openness and wisdom)?

 

The active participation, collaborative climate, and development of responsibility that is described in our SIUE value of citizenship will be better achieved under our plan than with our current general education program. Intrinsic to our plan is a created community in which participants are actively engaged in the activities and relationships associated with citizenship, with many chances to both model and to try out citizenship behaviors. Excellence will be served by the emphasis in our plan on continuous improvement, both within the students going through our general education program and on the delivery of the program itself. Assessment will fuel innovation, and our strong links to the broader community will lead to better scholarship and public service. Integrity is enhanced by investing in the delivery of essential skills education and sharing the responsibility for general education across units. Openness will be enhanced by the strong focus in our integrated core courses on diversity, respect and freedom. Civic engagement allows our faculty and students to apply knowledge in a way that promotes the common good and promotes the creation and sharing of knowledge that serves society.

 

2. How does your proposal support the stated objectives of the baccalaureate degree (oral/written communication skills, analytic/problem-solving skills, value of diversity, scientific literacy, ethics, foundation in the liberal arts and sciences, preparation in/for a discipline)?

 

Our sequence of core general education courses strongly support primary skill development. The fact that our plan is sequenced throughout the baccalaureate degree program will allow those skills to be reinforced and strengthened. While our theme curricula are not fully developed, we believe that an interdisciplinary approach that incorporates the perspective of a wide range of academic disciplines will promote the foundational understanding necessary for success in any program. The value of diversity and consideration of ethical dimensions of issues are strongly supported in our plan. As structured now, our program is less strong in scientific literacy depending on how that is defined. If defined in terms of understanding the scientific method and being able to analyze and to support an argument using data, our interdisciplinary theme-based communities will achieve those goals. More detailed requirements of specific forms of scientific knowledge at this point will depend on the themes developed. As SIUE faculty continue to collaborate on reformulating general education, some of these objectives could certainly be able incorporated into theme requirements.

 

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?

 

We address the needs of transfer students as well as underprepared students while still designing a plan that will promote the retention of four-year students and a structured way for them to achieve the goals of the baccalaureate. Because our general education requirements are stream-lined and because the new requirements we propose adding at the junior and senior level could be completed within the major, it should be attractive to most degree 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)?

 

We believe integration and the ability to apply learning in a variety of settings is a major advantage of our plan. Our core theme courses strongly address information literacy and oral and written communication skills as we have structured them.

 

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