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Reflective Essay Relating to Educational Goals and the BLS Degree

A Proposal on How and Why, Singularly, the Bachelor of Liberal Studies (BLS) Degree

Will Satisfy Educational, Employment, Career, Professional, and Personal Goals

Think about your life. Think about the "Characteristics and Capabilities of Graduates." Think about the Liberal Studies Program and its expectations. Think about the BLS curriculum parameters. Think about the Senior Assignment and integrate your project concept into the proposal, addressing all the information on this page as well as including your projected selection of courses, and present it to the Director for the Bachelor of Liberal Studies program two weeks prior to completing the educational contract and declaring your major.

Respond to the following Bachelor of Liberal Studies Program Expectations:

  • Students are expected to pursue broad-based education in liberal arts and sciences.
  • Students are expected to develop an individualized program of study with an interdisciplinary focus.
  • Students are expected to be certain that their educational goals cannot be fully met with specific curricula.
  • Students are expected to integrate abilities to plan and develop a program appropriate to interests.

In writing your essay and proposal, it is expected that you will take the opportunity for self-reflection, observation on your college experience, and formulation of your goals at SIUE. Your proposal will be reviewed to determine if it has an interdisciplinary focus and whether or not your educational goals can be satisfied by any other major that SIUE offers. If your proposal is determined not to have an interdisciplinary focus and/or if your educational goals are determined to be able to be met by any other major, your application for admission to the BLS degree will be denied.

In addition to the above, your essay might include, yet is not limited to, some of the following ideas:

Personal History

  • Likes / Dislikes / Desires / Interests / Concerns / Ambitions / Hopes / Goals / etc.
  • Employment or other variations of work experiences
  • Usual and/or unusual education experiences

History of educational experiences:

  • Institutions of higher education attended
  • Previous majors and/or areas of academic interest
  • Why previous majors became unsatisfactory
  • How you learned about the BLS degree and why it came to be one of your choices to satisfy educational goals

Reasons involved in selecting the BLS degree, for example:

  • Time-to-degree completion
  • Goals after graduation
  • Beginning a new career
  • Enhancing current employment
  • Other

Evaluative Instruments

The following evaluation instrument is filled out by the Director upon each student's admission to the program, by individual faculty mentors for each Senior Assignment, by the BLS Committee for their summative evaluation of each graduating senior based on the exit panel, and by the BLS Director following review of the final reflective essay and exit interview. Using their individual and collective professional judgment at each point in time, the faculty involved use the following rubric to determine proficiency levels on a graded scale of 0-3, using decimal points as appropriate (e.g. 2.5).

Evaluation Instrument A:

Program Learning Objectives and Outcomes

Advanced

3

Proficient

2

Novice

1

Unsatisfactory

0

Demonstrate the ability to provide reasonable and informed opinions on all aspects and issues relating to the human environment: social, political, technological, and cultural.

Present very well argued views on a wide variety of issues, with ample evidence and highly appropriate illustration.

Present views on multiple issues and provides adequate evidence and some illustration for arguments.

Present views on one or two issues and provides minimal evidence and illustration for arguments.

Inability to present views on any issue that is supported by firm evidence or careful argumentation.

Demonstrate capability for effective written and oral communication in order to articulate their views in different forums.

Communicate in an exemplary fashion, whether it be written, oral, or non-verbal/artistic.

Communicate in a well organized, clear manner, whether it be written, oral, or non-verbal/ artistic.

Communicate in a manner that is adequate, whether it be written, oral, or non- verbal/artistic.

Inability to communicate in an organized fashion that is clear, fluent or effective whether written, oral, or non/verbal.

Demonstrate quantitative and/or analytical problem-solving skills.

Analyze directly (i.e., by reference to the system per se and not via a secondhand source) and independently a situation or system. Develop new tools (e.g., formulae or computer code) or apply tools in a novel manner.

Apply established techniques to analyze a system. Demonstrate facility with formulae or techniques under non-novel conditions.

Demonstrate ability to comprehend analysis performed by an expert. Be able to explain the steps taken by another after seeing them.

Rote parroting of analytical technique, at best.

Demonstrate keen awareness of the interdisciplinary nature of all subjects.

Generate novel theoretical and methodological connections between two or more discrete disciplines and translate these connections in a compelling and intriguing fashion

Identify well-established theoretical and methodological connections between two or more discrete disciplines and translate these connections in a reasonable and accurate fashion.

Exhibit general recognition of the concept of theoretical and methodological connections between two or more discrete disciplines and translate these connections in a rudimentary fashion.

Unable to exhibit general recognition of the concept of theoretical and methodological connections between two or more discrete disciplines and translate these connections in a rudimentary fashion.

Display a fostered sense of global interdependence and familiarity with international and national issues

Frequent use of discussion, examples, analogies and personal experience tied to global interdependence and international issues

Some use of discussion, examples, analogies and personal experience tied to global interdependence and international issues

Limited use of discussion, examples, analogies and personal experience tied to global interdependence and international issues

No use of discussion, examples, analogies and personal experience tied to global interdependence and international issues

Evaluation Instrument B:

An additional source of assessment data is derived from a final assignment in which students are asked to reflect upon their BLS program through an essay that addresses the following five (5) questions:

1) Have you improved your ability to think broadly in a more informed way about a variety of human issues? Explain.

2) Have you improved your ability to communicate, whether in writing, speaking, or non-verbal ways? How much?

3) Have you developed your abilities to reason using analytical tools like logic or in quantitative ways? Explain.

4) Have you gained a better sense of how knowledge is interconnected and can be approached in interdisciplinary ways? Explain.

5) Do you have a better sense of how you and your interests fit into the larger global world, nationally and/or internationally, than when you started the program? How so?

Based on the final reflective essay, the BLS Director completes an additional Evaluation Instrument A to be calculated along with previous assessments.

Since Evaluation Instrument A is used by the BLS Director at the time of the initial oral interview/reflective essay, the faculty mentor after completion of the Senior Assignment, the BLS Committee after the culminating exit panel with the student, and the BLS Director after a review of the final reflective essay, it may provide a useful measure of academic growth as a result of the student's program. Consequently, while the same instrument is being used to compile measurement of the learning objectives, there are multiple approaches that are being used (interviews, essays, project, exit panel) to demonstrate level of growth in the learning objectives. These are separate sources for measured data. Due to the highly variable nature of student projects, pegging a single learning objective to a particular moment of data collection is difficult (e.g., a given project may or may not reveal level of growth in a particular area); however, since the same evaluative instrument is applied to multiple measures, the likelihood of gaining useful information for each area assessment is increased. Evaluation Instrument B also supplies the BLS Committee with data that may be used to compare the quantitative results obtained from Evaluation Instrument A to students' self-reported analysis, providing a qualitative measure that may be used to triangulate results from the other sources of measurement.

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