SUMMARY OF THE REPORT OF THE GENERAL OBJECTIVES STEERING COMMITTEE

Submitted December 16, 2003 , to the Office of the Provost and the Faculty Senate Executive Committee

Southern Illinois University Edwardsville

 

Introduction

During the 2002 Fall Semester, the Provost's Office and the Faculty Senate began discussing a project that would engage the faculty in a formal review of the Statement of Objectives for General Education and the Baccalaureate Degree. That statement was written over twelve years ago, and was formally adopted in July 1991. Since that time, the turnover due to retirements has changed the faculty from predominantly senior to predominantly junior. One of the challenges for SIUE has been is to develop a sense of ownership on the part of the new faculty for the full scope of the baccalaureate degree. By the end of the F all Semester , t he Faculty Senate and the Provost's Office jointly appointed a steering committee chaired by a highly respected senior faculty member and made up by a mix of facul t y from across the university .

 

Charge to the Objectives Steering Committee— January 13, 2003

The committee was charged with beginning a review of the current Statement of Objectives for General Education and the Baccalaureate Degree and the Goals of the SIUE General Education Program and with developing plans for engaging the faculty in a review during the fall 2003. Questions to be addressed included:

 

Committee Activities, Findings, and Recommendations

The committee explored four interconnected avenues in pursuit of answers to the questions that were posed in its charge.

•  The committee collated the two statements of goals for general education and the baccalaureate degree that appear in the SIUE 2001-2003 Undergraduate Catalog .

•  The committee members gathered and evaluated extensive information about general education and the baccalaureate degree at a wide range of colleges and universities in the United States .

•  The committee received support to sponsor a series of faculty conversations about general education and the baccalaureate degree.

•  The committee collaborated with the Office of the Provost to facilitate campus and community involvement with the “Greater Expectations” initiative launched by the Association of American Colleges and Universities (AAC&U) in 2000.

 

In the following sections, a brief summary of each of the four areas sets the stage for the committee's recommendations in that area.

1. SIUE Goals Statements

The committee compared the two goals statements that appear on pages 47-48 in the current undergraduate catalog (the “Statement of Objectives for the General Education and the Baccalaureate Degree” and the “Statement of General Education Purpose, Goals, and Objectives”), considering whether these two separate statements were necessary. The committee recommends that these statements be renamed in the catalog copy (and corresponding text in university policy) the “Statement of Objectives for the Baccalaureate Degree” and the “General Education Program”; and also that the description of the General Education Program be revised to remove unnecessary redundancy and outdated text. (See Appendix A: Revised Statement of Objectives for the Baccalaureate Degree and description of the General Education Program.)

2. Goals at Other Higher Education Institutions

Committee members gathered information from over forty colleges and universities that were selected because of their similarity to SIUE and/or their reputation for a commitment to progressive liberal arts education. After examining the various statements and descriptions and comparing them with SIUE's corresponding materials, the committee easily came to the consensus that the SIUE Statement of Objectives for the Baccalaureate Degree aligns well with similar statements at other progressive institutions of higher education; that the Statement of Objectives for the Baccalaureate Degree remains a timely, effective statement of SIUE's goals for undergraduate education; and that the SIUE “Statement of Objectives for the Baccalaureate Degree” would benefit from some minor changes (see Appendix A for the committee's revised Statement) to incorporate our increasing concern over the past twelve years with such matters as information literacy, quantitative literacy, valuing diversity, and developing students who can become responsible leaders.

3. Faculty Conversations

Although the committee was forthcoming about the fact that it was not charged with examining any aspect of the General Education program other than its statement of objectives, there was a continuing and growing demand among our colleagues for opportunities to discuss a variety of aspects of general education at SIUE. The committee sponsored a series of Faculty Conversations that provided faculty the opportunity to discuss their views on the current general education objectives and other areas with which they were concerned. They raised a number of important issues that fell outside the purview of the committee: the current use and practices of general education courses; the disjointed relationship between general education courses and the courses comprising a student's major or minor concentration; and the frequent and pervasive lack of communication between the providers of foundation-level general education instruction and their colleagues teaching upper-division courses.

4. The “Greater Expectations” Initiative

A few months after the committee began its work, the Office of Provost asked for our assistance in responding to an invitation from the AAC&U for SIUE to participate in its “Greater Expectations” initiative. The SIUE team developed a campus action plan at the Institute for consideration and review by the Objectives Steering Committee. The plan outlined a timeframe for action, identified stakeholders in the discussion of the Objectives for General Education and the Baccalaureate Degree at SIUE, and included measures for assessing the progress of the campus-wide initiative. At the Fall Faculty Symposium, the leadership team and the steering committee gave brief panel presentations about their activities. The President of AAC&U, Dr. Carol Geary Schneider, was the keynote speaker at the Fall Faculty Symposium, and she also joined Chancellor David Werner in sponsoring a Campus-Community Dialogue, “Sounding the CALL: Greater Expectations for the Learning Students Need in the 21 st Century,” immediately following the symposium. In response to these conversations, the committee specifically recommends that the Faculty Senate address the question, “How well are the design and execution of the current General Education program meeting the Statement of Objectives for the Baccalaureate Degree?”

 

Summary and Conclusion

The Objectives Steering Committee was originally charged with the task of addressing three primary questions, the brief answers to which appear in italics below:

•  Are the goals and objectives still meaningful and do they capture our best thinking about the nature of a baccalaureate education in 2003?

Yes. The committee's conclusion that the goals and objectives are timely, relevant, and effective was supported both by the opinions expressed by faculty at open meetings and by an examination of goals and objectives that currently guide other highly regarded institutions of higher education.

•  Should we rewrite our goals and objectives?

No. The committee found no evidence that would suggest that a major overhaul of the currents statements of goals and objectives is warranted. However, the committee did recommend minor changes.

•  Is there a need to rethink our curriculum in light of our current or any new goals and objectives, either in terms of the structure of the curriculum or the manner in which we engage students in that curriculum?

Yes. The committee did not consider nor recommend any specific changes to the current curriculum and/or the methods by which it is delivered. However, the committee recommends that the Faculty Senate continue to solicit (and, as it deems appropriate, act upon) ideas and proposals from the faculty in regard to general education and the baccalaureate degree.

 

 

APPENDIX A:

Revised Statements of Objectives and Goals for General Education

 

Statement of Objectives for the Baccalaureate Degree

The purpose of baccalaureate education at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville is to provide students with a solid foundation for intellectual development and an ability and desire to make contributions to society. As a public institution, SIUE strives to develop students who are well-informed, effective citizens; who provide leadership in civic and community affairs; who appreciate the arts; who have increased capacity for self-reflection , self-assessment and healthy living; health and well-being, and self-assessment ; and who will pursue life-long learning.

The undergraduate curriculum encourages students to set the events of the world in broad perspective and to bring a reasoned approach to the challenges they may face.

To achieve these purposes, the University seeks to impart the following abilities and knowledge to its students through their general education and study in their academic majors and minors:

Analytic, Problem-solving, and Decision-making Skills
All students will develop Such skills include in information literacy and , quantitative literacy, and develop the ability to understand and interpret written and oral texts, and to recognize, develop, evaluate, and defend or attack hypotheses and arguments. These skills are to be developed throughout all undergraduate programs in all courses.

Oral and Written Communication Skills
All students will develop skills Skills in expository, argumentative, and creative writing, and in effective speaking and listening are to be developed through extensive and regular writing assignments, oral presentations, and participation in discussions.

Foundation in Liberal Arts and Sciences
All students will acquire a solid base of knowledge in liberal arts and sciences and of the contributions of these fields to civilization and to the quality of life. All undergraduate degree programs at SIUE, including professional programs, are rooted in the liberal arts and sciences through the integration of each major program with the General Education program.

Value of Diversity
All students will gain an understanding of the traditions that influence individuals and communities American culture and of the traditions of other cultures in order to develop a respect for and a sensitivity to human ethnic and cultur al diversity. Students will gain a deeper understanding of global interdependence.

Scientific Literacy
All students will have experience in the methods of scientific inquiry in and laboratory and field investigation and gain knowledge of scientific and technological developments and their influence on society.

Ethics
All students will understand the nature of value judgments, will have an ability to make reasoned and informed value judgments, and will appreciate the diversity among cultures with respect to mores and traditional standards of conduct.

Preparation in an Academic or Professional Discipline
Students completing the baccalaureate degree will have attained a level of achievement within an academic or professional discipline which will enable them either to begin a career in the discipline or to pursue graduate work in that or an appropriately related discipline.

 

 

General Education Program

The General Education program plays a significant role in preparing students to meet the standards contained in the Statement of Objectives for the Baccalaureate Degree. The specific objectives of the General Education program are:

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