Posts Tagged ‘LEAP’
By: Dwight L. Smith, Vice President of Academic Affairs, County College of Morris, New Jersey
One session from this year’s Annual Meeting offered an interesting report from an effort to improve articulation of general education between two-year colleges and four-year universities in California. Using the LEAP Essential Learning Outcomes and the Degree Qualifications Profile as directional signs, California State University–Northridge and Pierce College have created three interdisciplinary general education paths for students through social justice, global studies, and sustainability. Rather than creating new courses, these three paths utilize existing general education courses. As an added incentive to students, five of the six courses in a path leading to an interdisciplinary minor can be completed at the community college (Pierce) with the sixth completed at CSU–Northridge—a setup which has been met with positive student response.
By: Dwight L. Smith, Vice President of Academic Affairs, County College of Morris, New Jersey
The Degree Qualifications Profile (DQP) is providing a framework for faculty across institutions within states to identify Essential Learning Outcomes in majors and general education to benefit student transfers. Two- and four-year institutions in Utah and Wisconsin are in the first of three years in an AAC&U Quality Collaboratives initiative that has faculty from different Utah institutions identifying common learning outcomes in select majors. For Wisconsin, institutional collaboration is focused on civic learning as part of a revised general education outcome of a university to which the two-year colleges send many of its transfers. Even though each state has policies regarding the acceptance of transfer credit, the participating institutions are motivated to ensure the quality of student learning
By: Carol Geary Schneider, President, AAC&U
Many of you probably saw the recent news about the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching (CFAT) launching a project to rethink—and potentially propose alternatives to—the credit hour as it is currently used in higher education. This is a welcome development and one that AAC&U has urged for some time both through its LEAP initiative and through its recent work on the Degree Qualifications Profile. But, having worked closely for several years on the shift from credit hours to competency—meaning a central focus on what students know and can do with their knowledge—I see pretty clearly both the need for change and all the difficulties that lie ahead.
Credit hours and the closely related decision to organize them around “breadth and depth” were put in place a century ago to bring order and some degree of common practice to a then highly uneven and fast-changing higher education enterprise. But both the credit hour system and its sibling, the breadth/depth division of curricular labor, are creaky and woefully inadequate to 21st-century needs and challenges.
The California Acceleration Project is generating new promise for setting up pre-collegiate learners for success through programs in community colleges. It’s also forging potential for advancing liberal education outcomes within developmental education—a place where people might not expect such learning to occur. We often hear negatives about remedial and developmental placement and outcomes. There are indeed concerns to raise about the well-being of students who never make it beyond pre-collegiate courses. But the California Acceleration Project (CAP) makes a case for using active learning to advance 21st-century outcomes along a developmental pathway. Katie Hern’s article “Acceleration Across California: Shorter Pathways in Developmental English and Math” in the May/June 2012 Change magazine, suggested to me ways that this high-energy initiative aligns with the goals of AAC&U’s Liberal Education and America’s Promise (LEAP) initiative.
If you look to CAP for your typical remedial approach, you won’t find it. Instead, you’ll see students absorbed in and excited by rigorous, effortful work, “doing things you’d think they couldn’t do,” Hern says. The website is chock full of classroom materials and videos, “creating as many pictures as we can that are compelling to faculty.” You can watch a team of students debug a question on the national Comprehensive Assessment of Outcomes in a first Statistics Course (CAOS) exam, reasoning and learning their way through a tough box-plot problem. You watch them teach each other standard deviation. In the end they conclude that the answer key to the exam question is actually wrong. And not a one of the students in the video placed into college-level math. Read the rest of this entry »
By Carol Geary Schneider
This posting is a preview of President Carol’s Geary Schneider’s President’s Message that will appear in the forthcoming issue of AAC&U’s flagship journal, Liberal Education.
This summer began with a riveting crisis at the University of Virginia. On June 10, the board of visitors, prompted by a small group working offstage and independently of any formal meetings or motions, dismissed the widely admired president of the university, Teresa Sullivan, after barely two years of service, “largely because of,” according to the Washington Post, “her unwillingness to consider dramatic program cuts in the face of dwindling resources and for her perceived reluctance to approach the school with the bottom-line mentality of a corporate chief executive.” While the “dramatic” cuts under discussion were never officially described by any of the principals, President Sullivan hinted at her own perception of at least one of the issues at stake when she responded publicly to the board of visitors’ actions. “A university that does not teach the full range of arts and sciences will no longer be a university,” she wrote in mid-June. “Certainly it will no longer be respected as such by its former peers” (emphasis added).
The board of visitors’ actions provoked an unprecedented backlash—on the campus and beyond—and, fortunately for the University of Virginia, President Sullivan was quickly reinstated. But the assault on what Sullivan described as “the full range of arts and sciences” continues without cessation in American public discourse and across virtually all sectors of American higher education. That assault certainly did not begin with the visitors of the University of Virginia. Rather, their disputes with President Sullivan show only that the steady drumbeat of denigration now threatens to shape self-destructive choices and actions, even at one of the nation’s most distinguished research universities. Read the rest of this entry »
The attempted ouster of UVA President Teresa A. Sullivan has sparked a firestorm of attention to issues of change in higher education, which has been followed by a rush of commentary on how much higher education needs to change, how resistant to change it is, how models for change in business should be applied, etc. For me, it’s been instructive to talk with reporters who are struggling to understand the clash of visions on display at UVA and to see how little they understand about how much higher education is changing. Many reporters and commentators also seem to lack any understanding of shared governance and the academy’s traditional reliance on faculty judgment to guide change.
As I’ve been fielding call after call about UVA, I’ve also seen one press release after another announcing new initiatives to develop more efficient pathways to college degrees and credentials (e.g., flexible online degree programs for returning students, online general education courses that are fully transferable across systems, and new ways to get degrees by earning credit for prior learning or for just passing tests). All these new “disruptive innovations” are motivated in some way or another by the need to increase the numbers of successful college graduates and increase our “productivity.” Surely, some of these “disruptive innovations,” many of which make use of the latest information technologies, might indeed prove useful in serving some portion of the college-going population. But I can’t help but wonder: where is the discussion about what quality learning really means in today’s world, and where is the evidence that these newly proposed innovations will actually provide students with the learning they need to be college-educated people? Where is the evidence that they improve productivity and reduce costs? Read the rest of this entry »
By Tia Brown McNair and Ashley Finley
“No one rises to low expectations.” Many educators have probably heard this quote at some point in their professional career. The saying challenges us as educators to set the bar high for our students, and for ourselves; to seek excellence as a standard, not as a fortunate surprise. It challenges us not to engage in deficit-minded thinking when we interact with students, because our words and our actions send a powerful message that can quickly become a self-fulfilling prophecy. Educators must be a source of encouragement, inspiration, and motivation for all students—the academically prepared and underprepared. That is why it is so troubling when educators use words that negatively label students—words like “hopeless,” “unmotivated,” “disengaged,” “uneducated.” Even if we sometimes use these words reflexively or unintentionally, we have a responsibility to challenge those who describe our students in this manner and more fully commit ourselves not just to the academic success of some students but to every student enrolled in college.
A conversation with Robert (BJ) Snowden, professor of radio and digital media at Cosumnes River College, in Sacramento, CA, introduced me to how he is incorporating “high-impact practice” (HIPs) into his own community college classroom. Many educators agree that the “high-impact practices” identified by AAC&U in its LEAP initiative are valuable, but they assume the practices require special and expensive new programs to implement. BJ’s use of HIPs is basic and introductory. It’s low cost by any measure. It’s been a “surprising” good time for BJ and his students. BJ admits that he was a HIP novice as recently as three semesters ago. His springboard came when one of his colleagues started using service learning. BJ started reading about service learning and thinking about its application at CRC. All these phenomenal stories about students’ learning—why not give it a try?
A bit of context: Cosumnes River College is a single-campus college within the Los Rios Community College District. Cosumnes River (CRC) serves 15,000-16,000 full- and part-time students. Located on the south side of Sacramento in an agricultural region, CRC attracts a highly diverse student population, including large numbers of Latinos and African Americans. BJ teaches in career and technical education (CTE), in the radio, TV, and film program. Typically students come to him for training so that they can get a job. Some of his students do also aim to transfer. Much of what BJ does requires real-world application, which he describes as “critical thinking, writing, research, and creativity for an industry of innovation.”
This blog post is part of AAC&U’s blog series on Making Excellence Inclusive.
The death of Trayvon Martin has sparked a national conversation on racism, the law, media, and ethics, and it is clear that Martin has put a face on the systemic problem of racial profiling. As an African-American man, I cannot help but think how easily Trayvon Martin could have been someone I know and love: a nephew, a cousin, a friend. In fact, I cannot help but wonder if it could have been me. I grew up in small-town Virginia, in a quiet, predominantly white community similar to the one where Martin was shot. And now, in Washington, DC, I live on a similar street, and I often walk to the corner market with the hood of my jacket shielding my face from the cold. All of this prompts me to ask what the AAC&U community and higher education can learn from this tragedy, how it might inform our work to foster the potential in all students—particularly men of color—as well as our efforts to build an informed, antiracist culture. Most of all, I wonder what is at stake if we as educators fail.
AAC&U aims to answer those big, complex questions through its national meetings, such as the March, 2012 Student Success conference and the upcoming Diversity and Learning conference in October, as well as through publications such as Diversity and Democracy. At the Student Success meeting, I attended a session facilitated by Norm J. Jones of Dickinson College and John Michael Lee, Jr. of the College Board. According to research from the College Board’s Advocacy and Policy Center, 51 percent of Latino males, 45 percent of African American males, 42 percent of Native American males, and 33 percent of Asian American males between ages 15 and 24 who graduate high school will end up unemployed, incarcerated or dead. I cannot help but picture Trayvon Martin’s face in those numbers, the faces of my nephews. For educators in a country that professes equality and democracy as its founding principles, these numbers and the dire portrait they paint are unacceptable. And they not only reveal what is at stake, but demonstrate that the stakes for these students are high.
It is highly unusual for a U.S. president to call a small group of higher education leaders to the White House. But, these are clearly unusual times. Building on national economic concerns being expressed so powerfully through the various “occupy” demonstrations, many reporters have begun more intense coverage of the issues of college costs and student debt—the topics of today’s White House meeting. The meeting today follows on a high-profile speech delivered in late November by Education Secretary Arne Duncan in which he called on higher education officials to “think more creatively—and with much greater urgency” about how to reduce the cost of going to college and how to reduce students’ debt loads. I am hoping that the conversation at the White House today also addresses creatively questions of educational quality in addition to questions about college costs.
The renewed and intensified attention to college costs isn’t unwelcome. We should be having a “national conversation” about college costs—about the importance of investing in higher education in order to fuel economic growth, and about who should bear the financial burdens of educating our citizens for success in the 21st century. But we also need to have a national conversation about quality, and about who has access to high-quality college education.