The value of General Education

General education is always on my mind — I love my job, and I love working with our thoughtful, hard-working and curious students! I get excited about the fact that, at our school, the students will get a new, and hopefully challenging and fun new experience. Perhaps they will discover a love of art, or read a piece of literature that will open their minds to new ideas. I’m lucky, as the majority of my students understand and appreciate the need for courses outside of their majors.

But I also see that this appreciation is becoming less and less the case. Students have always battled against taking Gen Ed courses, so that is nothing new. What does seem more widespread is how vocal students are becoming. I often search for interesting articles or news stories about Gen Ed, and more often than not, I will find at least three articles from college newspapers — and the tone is not positive. It goes beyond just displeasure about taking a particular course; there is a feeling that General Education actually hurts these students, by taking them away from their majors.

This is not a student problem, but one that must be addressed by faculty and administration. If so many students are feeling this way, then clearly, we are not doing a good enough job of explaining to students the need and the value in General Education. College should not just be about taking courses to get a job — it’s about becoming a whole person. A college really does have a duty to enrich students lives, not just prepare them for a career. If an institution simply thinks of students as consumers, then Gen Ed won’t matter. But if we do what is right and make college a thoughtful learning experience, we need to work harder to get the right message to our students.

Please attend this free NECB Webinar!

As the Gen Ed program chair here at New England College of Business, I do want to get in a little plug for our wonderful school. Anyone out there who is reading this blog is welcome to attend this webinar offering more information on the programs and what we have to offer. We have a very hard working and dedicated faculty and staff, and our General Education program fits in very well with our business curriculum. I hope to see you there!

Use of ePortfolios in General Education courses

I posted this report recently on my Facebook page, and it got me to thinking about the use of ePortfolios in Gen Ed courses. For those out there reading these posts, do any of you have experience, either as a student or faculty member, in using ePortfolios? We do use them at my institution, but only for capstone courses. I think this is a very valuable idea — it helps students to keep track of the work they are doing over a long period of time, and gives them the ability to access that work later on.

Though this is a business college, these ePortfolios would still be an important part of the student experience. Many students who graduate from here go on to graduate programs, and it may not always be in the business field. It’s important that those of us teaching Gen Ed courses or in Gen Ed departments show students the value of what they are doing.

Here is the study I was referring to:

Harvard University Report on General Education

As I was thinking about this blog, I knew right away that I wanted one of my first posts to be about this Harvard University report on General Education. Though it is from 1950, it is so incredibly relevant to what we are doing today. This encompasses all of the reasons I am working in General Education, and I hope you find some value in it as well!

Welcome to General Education Review!

Hello all, and welcome!

My name is Patrick Hutchinson, and I am an Assistant Professor and Chair of General Education at New England College of Business. I have started this site/blog to hopefully begin a discussion and also create a space for all involved in General Education in Higher Education. General Education encompasses many ideas and means different things to different institutions, but I believe we share the same goal; to enrich the lives of our students with new ideas and concepts they might never have otherwise encountered. I’m hoping to have some interesting contributions and discussions; I will also be posting articles and websites that pertain to General Education.

I welcome everyone interested in General Education — I hope faculty, chairs and especially students will join in and provide relevant and thoughtful contributions. I know that many students are hesitant to take courses outside of their areas of interest, so come and see why these courses can be of such value to you!

Welcome again!