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PERSPECTIVE 1: THE QUESTION “WHAT SHOULD ALL STUDENTS KNOW OR BE ABLE TO DO UPON GRADUATION?” SHOULD BE THE FOCUS WHEN DISCUSSING THE FUTURE OF GENERAL EDUCATION AT UTK

I feel that we need to ask “What should all undergraduate students—regardless of their majors and career aspirations—know or be able to do upon graduation?” We need to stick to this question and look forward to where the general education program should go to avoid backward-looking debates about the merits and faults of where we have been. We should strive for an outcomes-based program so that the question is not about where students sit in classes but what they can do. So perhaps our general education outcomes do not specify disciplines [or future professions]; rather they focus on what students should be able to demonstrate about what they learn.

Adapted from Fuess, S. M., & Mitchell, N. D. (2011). General education reform:  Opportunities for institutional alignment. The Journal of General Education, 60, 1 – 15.

 

PERSPECTIVE 2: AN “EFFECTIVE CITIZEN” MODEL SHOULD BE THE FOCUS WHEN DISCUSSING THE FUTURE OF GENERAL EDUCATION AT UTK

I think the “effective citizen” model of general education closely aligns with our UTK mission statement and is one we should pursue. An ideally educated person in the effective citizen model of general education is someone who is familiar with the important ideas and discoveries of the disciplines and who also understands their relationship to and implications for society. The effective citizen model focuses on the student and what the student should learn in order to live well and engage fully in society. Its major advantage is the combined focus on understanding important ideas and approaches of the disciplines and their social implications.

Adapted from Awbrey, S. M. (2005).  General education reform as organizational change:  The importance of integrating cultural and structural change. The Journal of General Education, 54, 1-21.

 

PERSPECTIVE 3: GENERAL EDUCATION AS A SET OF TECHNIQUES, PERSPECTIVES, AND GENERALIZABLE SKILLS—RATHER THAN A SURVEY OF FOUNDATIONAL IDEAS—SHOULD BE THE FOCUS WHEN DISCUSSING THE FUTURE OF GENERAL EDUCATION AT UTK

I believe that general education is not about delivering a corpus of knowledge or even a survey of foundational ideas. Rather, it is to illustrate for students how a physicist asks questions about the world and then goes about trying to answer them—and how a philosopher does this, how a mathematician does this, how an economist does this, and how a poet does this. The point is to add the techniques and perspectives of many disciplines to the students’ intellectual arsenals, as well as to hone the generalizable skills of effective and persuasive writing and public speaking (all classes have papers, and all classes have oral presentations), of quantitative reasoning, and of analytical thinking (p. 49).

Adapted from Helfand, D. J. (2013). The social conquest of general education.  The Journal of General Education, 62, 43-51.

PERSPECTIVE 4: AN INTEGRATIVE, INTERDISCIPLINARY FOCUS THAT PROVIDES STUDENTS A FRAMEWORK FOR LEARNING WITHIN AND BEYOND THEIR MAJOR SHOULD BE THE FOCUS WHEN DISCUSSING THE FUTURE OF GENERAL EDUCATION AT UTK

I believe that general education should foster genuine interdisciplinary thinking by introducing university students to the spectrum of scholarly inquiry and asking them to make connections, draw conclusions, and conceptualize knowledge with respect to it.  The purpose of general education is “not so much about [giving students] the dots themselves as the ways in which one might connect them.” Whereas a smorgasbord or the so-called “cafeteria approach” may expose students to subjects and ways of thinking beyond their majors, it does not actively encourage students to make cross-disciplinary connections and ultimately supports disciplinary exclusivity.

Adapted from Hothem, T. (2016). Integrated general education and the extent of interdisciplinarity:  The University of California – Merced’s Core 1 Curriculum.  The Journal of General Education, 62, 84-111.

 PERSPECTIVE 5: THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN LIBERAL LEARNING AND PROFESSIONAL SKILLS SHOULD BE THE FOCUS WHEN DISCUSSING THE FUTURE OF GENERAL EDUCATION AT UTK

"We believe that to achieve one’s full potential, a musician [nurse, engineer, or any professional] needs to go beyond the practice [or drafting] room and nurture the intellectual growth offered through the breadth and depth of a liberal arts education. We also believe that in this exciting, ever-changing world we live in, consummate [professionalism] needs to be paired with intellectual agility, cross-disciplinary problem solving, bold creativity, and an entrepreneurial mindset." [Lawrence Conservatory of Music, http://www.lawrence.edu/academics]

Please drag and drop the the five perspectives to rank order them, with most favorite / preferred on top.

  • 1 PERSPECTIVE 1: “What should all students know or be able to do upon graduation?"
  • 2 PERSPECTIVE 2: An “effective citizen” model
  • 3 PERSPECTIVE 3: General education as a set of techniques, perspectives, and generalizable skills, rather than a survey of foundational ideas
  • 4 PERSPECTIVE 4: an integrative, interdisciplinary focus that provides students a framework for learning within and beyond their major
  • 5 PERSPECTIVE 5: The relationship between liberal learning and professional skills

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Did you attend the April 8 roundtable event?