Two + two = awesome!

Two plus two and four plus one agreements are great ways get students into programs; the cost is much cheaper for the student, and the institutions should hopefully gain more enrollments as part of the agreement.

But there still exists this frustrating and unfortunate bias against liberal arts courses. These courses truly do provide an important foundation for any program, be it business, STEM, etc. The ability to communicate thoughtfully should never be taken for granted, and many of my Gen Ed courses provide just this kind of information.

As a Gen Ed chair, I would love all of the students at my institution to take these courses with us. But I also very much appreciate and value a good two + two program; students can “get these classes out of the way,” often at a lower cost. It also gives them some time to think about their future majors while they are in community college.

Reading some of comments in this great Inside Higher Ed article, you’d think that Liberal Arts courses are the great shame of American education. I should know better, of course –I never find myself in a good mood after a few minutes in the comments section. But it just surprises me that some people find it this hard to see the value in these courses. I suppose I’m lucky in that I have so many of my students tell me how important these classes were to them, so I can take that as a very happy sign that students are having a great experience!

Finding the value in “bad writing”

The Chronicle published a great little blog post today about finding the value in bad writing. I’d love to try this in some of my courses; does anyone have any experience with this?

I can see this going beyond a creative writing or journalism course. If you incorporated some writing exercises into a lit course, for example, you could show how difficult it can be to really create a thoughtful story!

Here is the article from the Chronicle:


Inventive changes coming to Boston University’s General Education Program

It looks possible that there are some very interesting changes coming to the BU Gen Ed program. I’m not aware of how many schools, if any, have implemented these kinds of changes in their Gen Ed curriculum, but I’d love to learn more. This seems like a great way for a large institution to help students make theoretical and practical connections.

If approved, BU will have its Gen Ed program be University-wide as opposed to being specific by college. This would certainly require a lot of thought and preliminary discussion, but it could be very successful. At the small business school where I work, it’s easy to have all the students use the same Gen Ed curriculum — but I wonder what the response will be from students at a university of this size?

The comments seem, as usual, to range from optimism to frustration. General Education programs seem to make few people happy in the moment, but that’s OK; the benefits to the overall learning of the student is well worth it down the road! If anyone has any experience with this type of program, please share!

Recent news about General Education

So I’ve become one of those bloggers! I was doing really well, making sure I posted thoughtful content regularly, and then I disappeared. My apologies! Like just gets in the way sometimes, but I’m more committed than ever to write about and share any news I find interesting about the world of General Education.

On that note, I read two great items this week. First, a student at the University of North Carolina – Wilmington wrote a very encouraging letter to her school paper about the importance of General Education. I was fairly surprised to see that. Each term I look at these letters that are published online, and like clockwork, I see the ones that come in about how Gen Ed requirements are a waste of time and money. This letter made for a very refreshing change. This student understands that, when done thoughtfully, Gen Ed courses can open your mind to new ideas and give you important new experiences. She even went as far as to proclaim that we may be pleasantly surprised by what we find. Huzzah! I’m very grateful to her for her honest and thoughtful appraisal.

A few days later, I came across the proposed Gen Ed changes at both Harvard and Duke Universities. These sound like very intriguing ideas, and ones that should be explored. As much as I support a “traditional” approach to Gen Ed, any way that we can get students to embrace these courses helps a great deal. Ideas like pass-fail and mentorship may not work for each institution, but they are worth looking into.

I’d love to know if anyone from any other institution has tried these ideas, and if so, what have the results been. Thank you all!