University Studies: Lessons Learned from Common Core Curriculum at Portland State University

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1 University Studies: Lessons Learned from Common Core Curriculum at Portland State University Candyce Reynolds, Ph.D. Portland State University, USA

2 Liberal Education a philosophy of education that empowers individuals with: broad knowledge and transferable skills a stronger sense of values, ethics civic engagement characterized by challenging encounters with important issues more a way of studying than a specific course or field of study Usually global in scope, It can include a general education curriculum which provides broad exposure to multiple disciplines and learning strategies in addition to in-depth study in at least one academic area. Association of American Colleges and Universities (AACU)

3 Context Having a liberal education is seen a virtue in US Institutions of Higher Education General Education is required in US universities as way to insure a Liberal Education In the early 90 s, Carnegie Report on Undergraduate Education was highly critical of US General Education PSU s desire to improve General Education What is a liberal education in an urban institution

4 FORMER REQUIREMENTS 18 credits from two departments, from each of the three academic distribution areas. 54 Two courses (6 credits) of diversity coursework from the approved list Writing Writing HPE 295 3

5 The Challenge Can you state with conviction that these requirements are meaningful? (Michael Reardon, Provost of PSU, 1993)

6 The Challenge Continued Faculty Senate appointed Committee to look at different forms of General Education One committeee took a research approach looking at the literature and consulting experts in higher education to develop the model

7 FACTORS WITH NEGATIVE EFFECTS ON GENERAL EDUCATION OUTCOMES Living at Home Watching Television Large Institutional Size Lack of Community Among Students Frequent Use of Teaching Assistants Full-Time Employment; Off-Campus Employment (Alexander Astin, 1992)

8 FACTORS WITH POSITIVE EFFECTS ON GENERAL EDUCATION OUTCOMES Student - Student Interaction Student - Faculty Interaction A Faculty That is Very Student Oriented Tutoring Other Students A Faculty that is Positive about the General Education Program An Institutional Emphasis on Diversity Hours Devoted to Studying (Alexander Astin, 1992)

9 THE GOALS OF UNIVERSITY STUDIES ARE Inquiry and critical thinking Communication Awareness of the Diversity of Human Experience Ethical Issues and Social Responsibility

10 UNIVERSITY STUDIES REQUIREMENTS Courses Credits Freshman Inquiry A Year-long, thematic course. 15 Sophomore Inquiry. Three 4 credit courses selected from different thematic clusters. 12 Upper-Division Clusters. Three 4 credit course within an interdisciplinary theme. 12 Senior Capstone 6 Total 45

11 An integrated curriculum Acknowledgement that student development issues are important to success A commuter campus necessity to reach students in the classroom Idea that student development can and should be tied to the curriculum Four level program vs. one or two level program

12 UNST Courses Freshman and Sophomore Inquiry and Senior Capstone courses are all newly proposed courses All are required to address the UNST goals All are expected to incorporate inquiry based pedagogy All are expected to address students developmental needs as well as transmission of knowledge

13 Fink, 2003

14 The Portland State Model Freshman Inquiry Students in Class of about 35 for entire year Two hours per week students are in small groups (12) led by a student peer mentor Sophomore Inquiry Students take 3 different courses during the year in classes of about 35 One hour of small group mentor sessions led by a graduate student mentor

15 The Portland State Model (cont.) Junior Clusters Choose one Sophomore Inquiry area to focus on Interdisciplinary look at area in more depth Three courses Capstone Courses Interdisciplinary teams of students Address problems in the community Projects led by faculty and/or community practitioners

16 A few of our awards and recognitions W.K. Kellogg Foundation For Advancing Institutional Transformation The Pew Leadership Award For Renewal of Undergraduate Education Templeton Guide to Colleges that Encourage Character Development Examplary program for Frosh and Senior year programs Hersburg Certificate of Excellence for Undergraduate Curricular Reform 7rd year, US News & World Report, top ten colleges for Learning Communities, Service Learning, and Capstones

17 What we now know. Retention has increased From Frosh to Sophomore now 62% (was 30%) This is still vexing to the University as it is lower than our competitors Other measures increased Natives have higher class level, academic standing, student credit hours, and PSU GPA than transfers Students are learning End of term evaluations are high Freshman Inquiry Portfolios indicate learning Impacting work in their major

18 Successes Learning Community Development Inquiry/problem based learning Academic and student development rewards Mentor Program For students For faculty For mentors

19 Successes Community Based Learning University s motto: Let Knowledge serve the City Capstone courses: all graduating seniors Interdisciplinary teams of students Applying knowledge/skills gained in major and general educationnto real problem in the community

20 Successes Community Based Learning (Continued) Development of CBLs at appropriate levels in Freshman and Sophomore Inquiries Student responses Faculty responses Community response Culture of Assessment Impacted university wide methods of program and institutional assessment

21 Challenges Changing University Priorities Funding from the state is now only 12% Research dollars are highly prized and needed Less focus on teaching Faculty culture Student Centered Teaching is hard in a research culture Lack of reward for good teaching Vocal minority opponents

22 Challenges Sustainability Tenure-related faculty versus Contingent faculty Students expectations for traditional modalities of education

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