General Education Review Committee Report
Our response to be developed after comments are received
The department members support the following statement made by one of its members
- I would strongly argue that in a liberal arts education, logical/analytical/mathematical/quantitative reasoning is one of THE key elements, absolutely as fundamental as anything else. I don't mean to minimize the importance of global awareness, study of classics, and all the rest, but to me, the bedrock of a liberal arts education is "learning how to think." And the ability to quantify, evaluate, and reason symbolically is fundamental to that process.
Another common opinion is that it is very appropriate that --Marsha 18:24, 23 May 2007 (EDT)students be strongly encouraged to take courses in a variety of areas.
The department also agrees that it would be beneficial to be able to require more than 40 credits in a major program, especially in the case where several required courses are in more than one discipline.
Here are remarks on individual sections of the report.
FIRST YEAR EXPERIENCE COMPONENT
- Mixed opinions
- One member states,"I favor the seminar university-level writing choice. Not all freshmen seminars are WI and students need experience learning to write on the college level." Another member agrees with this, unless all FSEMs were in fact WI. (Question: does "one freshman writing course" essentially mean "English 101"?)
- One member states,"Students need to develop writing, speaking, and critical thinking skills during their freshmen year. Ideally all FSEM courses would encourage students to develop skills in all of these areas."
- Others feel that the FSEM is sufficient
INDIVIDUAL LEARNING EXPERIENCE COMPONENT
- The department agrees that this should be a department-level decision, and not a university-wide requirement. We would however have little difficulty accommodating this if it were a requirement.
FOREIGN LANGUAGE COMPETENCE COMPONENT
- Mixed opinions
- One member states, "I don't believe we are currently serving our students well by making them take intermediate level. Many of our students are going to the community college to take these courses anyway. I would favor on have the first two course and not all four. In addition I think giving credit for studying abroad at non-native English countries should count for the language component."
- Others feel that the requirement should be a department-level decision and that exposure to other cultures can also be achieved through courses other than language courses.
- Another department member states, "I'd like to see a requirement in foreign language similar to what we have now retained. I think that students need more global exposure and foreign language is one way to achieve that objective."
- Another department member states, "We need to decide what the purpose of the foreign language requirement fundamentally is. Is it (a) a way to expose students to other cultures? (b) a skill that today's graduates need to have in order to function in a global society? (c) an intellectually stimulating activity that requires students to think in new ways? If it's (a), I would argue that a course in Latin American History and Culture would achieve this goal every bit as well, if not better, than a course in the Spanish language. If it's (b), then I would argue that Ancient Greek and Latin should NOT satisfy this requirement. And if it's (c), then I would argue that computer science programming courses should satisfy the requirement."
- Another department member states, "I think studying a foreign language is extremely valuable. It forces you to think about your native language in ways that you wouldn't normally. It also heightens student awareness of other cultures and perspectives. That said, I don't think it's essential for every student to study a foreign language. Studying art or literature could accomplish many of the same goals."
PHYSICAL EDUCATION COMPONENT
- The majority of the opinions of the department members support retaining the current PE component.
DISTRIBUTION AREA COMPONENT
- The department generally favors the option "Seven courses required, with at least one taken in each of the following areas:" as an effective and appropriate set of requirements. It removes some of the notion of General Education requirements as a set of items to be checked off. It allows students more selection in the areas in which they take their general education courses, and encourages students to take more responsibility for and thus develop a greater stake in their learning. Upon examining the other option for the distribution area, one department member was heard to remark, "Is Regan still president?" Expressing his opinion that that option offers little new or innovative.
- Question from the peanut gallery: If this option is chosen, does/should CPSC 220 qualify for "Analyzing nature?" The language states "at least one course employing the scientific method, quantitative analysis, and technology" and "any lab-based science class fulfills this requirement." Those are both big checks for us. Now if we specifically used assignments and in-class examples that quantitatively analyzed data from bio, chem, and physics, I would argue that 220 could fulfill this requirement. Examples: "Write a program performs some elementary analysis on genetic data (find gene sequences that match a certain pattern; compare two gene sequences and measure their similarity; etc.)" "Write a program that computes the firing angle necessary to hit a target with a cannon, and display the trajectory on screen. (Allow the user to experiment with the distance and height of the target, strength of gravity, etc.)" "Write a program that lets the user describe the positions and types of atoms in a molecule, and display and rotate it on the screen." (We actually did this one at CU; it's pretty simple and has a nice "cool factor.")
- The department, its students, and alumni all see the importance of teaching and learning writing within the context of the discipline. There are mixed opinions about how to accomplish this.
- One member states, "I think the students should be forced to take as many as possible, one of the number one criteria for graduating seniors is communication skills."
- Another states, "I think that writing within ones discipline is important. "Does no stated requirement mean that one could have a major program without WI courses?" If that is the case then I'd rather see the four courses maintained."
- Yet another believes that no stated requirement is appropriate with major programs making appropriate requirements.
- Yet another states, "I think the WI concept and requirement is essential, and that four required courses is a good number. However, I think a balance is needed between discipline-specific writing and writing in other areas. I'd hate to see all of a student's WI experience be focused on scientific writing, for example, or creative fiction. I like the idea of requiring perhaps two WI courses in the discipline, and two outside, as a way of encouraging this balance."
- As with the writing component there is a strong appreciation for a required speaking component. Also there are differences of opinions on how that should be accomplished.
- One department member believes it is appropriately set with a major program.
- Another states, "Retain two course SI requirement. Students benefit from being able to select different courses. Forcing this into the major could have negative impact on one's major GPA if this is an area of weakness for the student."
- Another states, ""I think the students should be forced to take as many as possible, one of the number one criteria for graduating seniors is communication skills."
- Another states, "I actually don't think two courses is enough. I think it should be four, as with WI. I also wish there were some way to enforce/encourage different types of speaking: formal presentations, group discussions, debates, drama, etc."
- Another states, "Two courses aren't enough. Students should be required to take more speaking intensive courses. Students should receive early instruction and practice in speaking, either in FSEM or in a speaking equivalent to writing workshop.
QUANTITATIVE COMPETENCE COMPONENT
- The department strongly supports this requirement, and strongly supports the notion that students take courses that deal with numeric and symbolic manipulation.
--Polack 21:37, 23 May 2007 (EDT)I feel it is important to say we are in support of this but courses in this area must meet a "true" quantitative component. It is like Math Modelling being race and gender. Just because it goes over race and gender stats I think it is a bad attempt at trying to squeeze something out of the course that it is not.
- One department member states, "Two courses required. Students need more quality quantitative coursework. Perhaps this should be a building sequence so students can advance past their high school competencies."
- One member stood on a soapbox and ranted, "Isn't it our responsibility to ensure that students have the ability to reason, calculate, and judge precisely? I think one of the biggest problems in our country today is that people make irrational decisions and follow an illogical thought process. They don't know how to make sense of statistical claims, analyze an argument, understand trends, make reliable predictions, separate truth from speculation, or even understand their mortgage statement. Plus, we're falling behind other nations in technology, science, and engineering. We need more math, not less!"
- One member openly wonders whether some of the subjects listed (specifically, psychology and business administration) would be able to include enough quantitative course material in addition to their other material to sufficiently satisfy this requirement. For instance, if PSYC 100 is intended, it hardly seems possible to deal with quantitative analysis to any degree of rigor and still have time to survey such a broad field. If, rather, PSYC 261 is in view, then this begs the question as to why the course does not currently fulfill the Goal 2 requirement, and in what way its content would be adjusted so as to include the requisite quantitative analysis.
Report from the committee follows. Feel free to insert comments.
General Education Proposals – The “Next Step”
After discussing the comments made by faculty and students in the six open forums held during February and March, the General Education Review Committee made two decisions. First, the Committee condensed the three tentative plans distributed earlier into a series of alternative components that might make up the final plan recommended by the committee. These components are outlined on pages 2 and 3 of this report. Second, the Committee decided that it needed immediate feedback about these contrasting plan components.
Each member of the General Education Review Committee is charged with soliciting departmental input about the ideas contained in this report. Committee members are to use any means necessary to find out what faculty and students in the departments think about the different plan components outlined. They may decide to ask for the department to meet for discussion, or they might solicit opinions electronically, or through informal dialogues. The important point is that committee members are expected to engage departmental colleagues about the various alternatives set forward in this report. Written reports from all academic department representatives, and from the Bachelor of Liberal Studies and College of Graduate and Professional Studies representatives, are due by Friday, May 4, 2007. All written reports will be posted on the general education “wiki” at: http://www.jtmorello.org/gened.
There are three major issues about which the Committee needs input: (1) which alternative in each component area is favored, and why; (2) how might the alternative for a particular component be structured and delivered; and (3) how should the new requirements differ for the BLS and BPS programs? Obviously, if there are different suggestions for addressing a particular component area, the Committee would be interested in reviewing those ideas. The approach for getting these notions on the table would be to discuss them with the departmental representative using whatever approaches your representative is making available for soliciting reactions to this report.
The goals for a revised general education program remain the same as expressed in the report distributed prior to the open forums: to make UMW’s requirements more streamlined, more flexible, and more contemporary. Following this next round of discussions in the departments, a sub-group of the General Education Committee will meet during the May/June summer session to draft the final report presenting a proposed general education curriculum. The final report will be distributed before the start of the fall semester in August so that it may advance through the necessary faculty governance channels. Because the anticipated starting date for a new general education program is still the fall 2008 semester, the final plan recommended for action will need to emphasize changes that may be feasibly enacted within that short time frame.
As noted in the last report, discussion of the topic of whether the new UMW curriculum should be based on courses or credit hours remains on hold. Because a decision to shift to the so-called “unit plan” would have significant effects on all major programs, it is appropriate to determine the shape of the next general education program first and then to move to what will be a much larger discussion about whether graduation requirements are based on the number of courses taken or on the credit hours of those courses.
The remaining pages of this report contain: (1) a side-by-summary of the contrasting alternatives in eight component areas that will likely make up the final recommendation for a new general education program; (2) a list of the membership of the General Education Review Committee; and (3) a draft statement expressing an overall perspective about the curriculum.
Contrasting Sets of General Education Components
These are NOT a pair of competing plans. Rather, these are contrasting alternatives for how the several components of the next general education program might be structured. Based on feedback received during this “next stage” of discussions, the final recommendation from the General Education Review Committee might be based on elements from both sides of the two columns of components that appear below. The final recommendation might also propose a different way to address a particular component.
FIRST YEAR EXPERIENCE COMPONENT
One Freshman Seminar required for all first-year “non transfer’ students.
One Freshman Seminar required for all first-year “non transfer’ students PLUS One Freshman Writing Course (focusing on developing a foundation to university-level writing and intellectual maturity).
I favor the seminar university-level writing choice. Not all freshmen seminars are WI and students need experience learning to write on the college level.
INDIVIDUAL LEARNING EXPERIENCE COMPONENT
One course required as part of the major program. May be independent research, internship, service learning, practicum, student teaching, or study abroad.
No stated requirement. Rather, the goal of pursuing individual experience is to be encouraged by all faculty through the use of URES 197, upper-level independent study courses, research methods courses, and so forth. Major programs would determine how these options might work within their major requirements.
I think that each major should be able to make an individual decision about the appropriateness of this kind of experience in the major. I'd prefer "no stated requirement"
FOREIGN LANGUAGE COMPETENCE COMPONENT
Intermediate competency in a foreign language is required for all students. Students would have several options for demonstrating competence, using the mechanisms currently in place. These currently are completing the 202 (intermediate) level course, a score of 620 or higher on an SAT II foreign language subject test or passing the UMW competency test, qualifying scores on the AP or IB exams, or successful completion of an advanced-level (300-400) foreign language course.
Note: the specific mechanisms for establishing competence could be changed, if desired.
Foreign language competence is not a universal requirement. Rather, programs are expected to see the value of knowledge of a foreign language to their area of study, and to include a requirement in an appropriate foreign language as part of the definition of the major. Departments who can successfully argue that requirement of foreign language study is unnecessary to the major (or a hindrance to their students) would make their argument to the Curriculum Committee. The assumption, otherwise, is that students will be expected to achieve a level of foreign language knowledge deemed appropriate by the major department. If delivery of foreign language instruction can be intensified, this may be achievable in one or one and a half years. If study abroad expectations can be heightened, and if support is there to make it a realistic expectation for something like the majority of students, this might shift in the direction of foreign language competency. The Department of Modern Foreign Languages could offer leadership in such a direction.
I'd like to see a requirement in foreign language similar to what we have now retained. I think that students need more global exposure and foreign language is one way to achieve that objective.
PHYSICAL EDUCATION COMPONENT
Two courses required – any two physical education or dance courses (in other words, the same requirement as now)
No physical education requirement I believe that regular exercise is important. The healthy mind, healthy body approach. I'd like to see some component retained and two seems to work.
Components and proposed requirements continue on the next page. Contrasting Sets of General Education Components (continued)
DISTRIBUTION AREA COMPONENT
Seven courses required, made up on the following elements:
Natural Science -- a two-semester sequence in the same natural science discipline (biology, chemistry, geology, physical geography, physics). At least one laboratory course must be taken (lab must be part of the first course in the sequence). The second course could be either a science issues/applications course (without a lab), or the student could take the second half of the introductory, lab-based science course (as present).
Arts and Literature -- any two courses in: studio art, art history, classics, music composition, music history, literature, philosophy, religion, theatre)
Human Behavior and Society -- any three courses in: anthropology, sociology, business administration, economics, history, historic preservation, linguistics, political science, psychology, speech, social or political geography. One course must have a strong historical perspective; course-specific, not discipline-specific)
Seven courses required, with at least one taken in each of the following areas:
Analyzing Nature – at least one course employing the scientific method, quantitative analysis, and technology to understand the natural world. Any lab-based science class fulfills this requirement.
Global Inquiry – at least one course exploring and understanding past and present interconnections and differences in our world. An approved study abroad program could be used to fulfill this requirement. Includes courses in any department that deal with international affairs, international development, comparative studies, globalization (cultural, economic, political), or global environmental issues.
Cultural Expressions – at least one course focusing on appreciating human culture through artistic achievements, works, and processes. Includes but is not limited to current general education courses in art, art history, music, literature (all languages), theater, etc
Social Forces – at least one course focusing on understanding the structures, relations, and institutions, both past and present, that affect human behavior and communication. Includes but is not limited to current Gen. Ed. courses in psychology, political science, history, human geography, anthropology, classics, religion, philosophy, economics, etc.
Maintain a four course Writing Intensive requirement (delivered as it currently is via courses designated across the curriculum)
No stated requirement. Major programs will be responsible for providing writing education as a part of the major. WI Program and Writing Center infrastructures remain in place.
I think that writing within ones discipline is important. "Does no stated requirement mean that one could have a major program without WI courses?" If that is the case then I'd rather see the four courses maintained.
Maintain a two course Speaking Intensive requirement (delivered as it currently is via courses designated across the curriculum)
No stated requirement. Major programs will be responsible for providing speaking education as a part of the major. SI Program and Speaking Center infrastructures remain in place.
Retain two course SI requirement. Students benefit from being able to select different courses. Forcing this into the major could have negative impact on one's major GPA if this is an area of weakness for the student.
QUANTITATIVE COMPETENCE COMPONENT
Two courses required – Any two courses with strong quantitative content in disciplines such as computer science, mathematics, music theory, natural science, business administration, philosophy, and psychology.
No quantitative competence requirement
Two courses required. Students need more quality quantitative coursework. Perhaps this should be a building sequence so students can advance past their high school competencies.
General Education Review Committee Members
Ernie Ackermann, Department of Computer Science Porter Blakemore, Department of History and American Studies Jean Ann Dabb, Department of Art and Art History Andrew Dolby, Department of Biological Sciences Claudine Ferrell, Bachelor of Liberal Studies Program Steve Hanna, Department of Geography Brad Hansen, Department of Economics Cheryl Hawkinson-Melkun, Bachelor of Professional Studies Program Ed Hegmann, Department of Athletics, Health, and Physical Education Margaret Huber, Department of Sociology and Anthropology Teresa Kennedy, Department of English, Linguistics, and Speech Leonard Koos, Department of Modern Foreign Languages Elizabeth Larus, Department of Political Science and International Affairs Larry Lehman, Department of Mathematics David Long, Department of Music Venitta McCall, Department of Education Susan Matts, Department of Physics Larry Penwell, Department of Business Administration Doug Sanford, Department of Historic Preservation Kelli Slunt, Department of Chemistry Debra Steckler, Department of Psychology Gregg Stull, Department of Theatre and Dance Craig Vasey, Department of Classics, Philosophy, and Religion Grant Woodwell, Department of Earth and Environmental Science
Ex Officio Rosemary Barra, Interim Vice President for Academic Affairs and Dean of the Faculty Nina Mikhalevsky, Vice President for Strategy and Policy Jeanie Kline, Associate Vice President for Academic Affairs John Morello, Associate Vice President for Academic Affairs
University of Mary Washington Undergraduate Curriculum
The University of Mary Washington produces graduates prepared to make choices that lead to fulfilling lives as responsible contributing members of local, national, and global communities. Regardless of the undergraduate degree program chosen, three interrelated components make up the University educational experience: General Education, the Major or Concentration, and Electives.
General Education forms the foundation of a solid liberal arts program, and is designed to cultivate the skills and knowledge that will enable graduates to make effective decisions as citizens of a rapidly changing, richly diverse, and increasingly interconnected world. Because people in the twenty-first century will face a wide array of choices, the university’s General Education requirements introduce students to a variety of learning perspectives and enable them to appreciate the connections between those different ways of viewing and engaging the world.
General Education experiences are found both in coursework and in small learning environments designed to facilitate collaborative and individual intellectual development. To enhance participation in the communal process of learning, General Education requirements emphasize the development of fundamental skills such as writing, speaking, critical thinking, and quantitative reasoning that are essential in almost every field of study.
The Major or Concentration provides an opportunity to develop a degree of expertise in a specialized area of study resulting from focused investigation in a particular academic discipline or a grouping of related disciplines in the case of an interdisciplinary Major or Concentration. Majors or Concentrations are organized areas of inquiry and knowledge with defined learning goals and methodologies. The Major or Concentration requirements complement, reinforce, and extend the objectives of General Education while adding depth of study in coursework, individualized learning encounters, and co-curricular experiences.
Electives are taken to explore personal interests, to add variety to one’s studies, or to advance particular academic, career, or professional goals (such as preparation for law or medical school). Electives also enable the study of an area of knowledge in greater depth through individually selected courses or experiences that build upon a Major or Concentration’s formal requirements.
The combination of learning experiences provided through general education, the major, and electives will enable students to emerge fully prepared to contribute to the world beyond the University.
This is a draft statement (developed by the General Education Review Committee) expressing an overall view of the purpose of the UMW curriculum. The component areas outlined on the previous two pages seek to implement the goals of the general education part of the curriculum as described in this statement.