Faculty Senate discusses general education goals

Debby Hernandez, Administration Editor

The Faculty Senate debated critical thinking in general education courses and received two members from the university learning goals committee Tuesday.

Rebecca Throneburg and Rich Jones, co-chairs of the university learning goals committee, reviewed learning goals and general education committee plans for the semester.

Throneburg said committee members received feedback from faculty members who teach general education courses on which of the learning goals they are already targeting.

“95 percent of gen. ed. classes say they are already working on critical thinking,” she said. “But critical thinking outcomes is one of our biggest concerns.”

Throneburg said the general education committee would consist of learning goals members, CAA members and faculty with general education classes.

Faculty Senate chair Grant Sterling said faculty members do not seem to take the situation seriously.

“I know there are many faculty in many departments whose basic attitude towards all this is, ‘We are fine; we’re teaching critical thinking in our classes, so if you’re saying there is a problem, that means those departments need to catch up on us,’” he said.

Sterling added that many faculty members do not see a lack of critical thinking in their teaching.

“My biggest concern is for a lot of faculty on campus, they have not bought into the idea that there are any problems with them or with their departments, so they are not going to change anything,” he said.

Sterling gave learning goals members input on what could be done to help resolve the issue.

He said they should focus on convincing faculty in general education courses that they will have to do things differently.

Senate member Steven Scher added that targeting the problem will be a difficult task.

“I think most faculty are truly invested in wanting to help their students and meet these goals, but how do we convince them that it is not working?” he said.

During summer symposium, learning goals members discussed ways to guide general education for this academic year, including how many of the learning goals should be implemented into the general education classes.

Throneburg said members decided that an average of two learning goals should be implemented into general education courses.

As part of the senior seminar, 100 students are randomly selected to take the Watson-Glaser critical thinking test to assess their skills, survey their global citizenship and test their speaking skills.

Freshmen are also randomly selected to take the Collegiate Learning Assessment, which tests the same things.

Scher said critical thinking assessments need to be in the form of pre and post tests.

Since some students come in knowing more than others, it is important to have pre and post tests to better analyze the success of the departments, he said.

“We must asses critical thinking at the start and then again later and see how much has been changed,” Scher said. “Then we would see if the major increased critical thinking skills.”

The Faculty Senate will review vacant positions in the Library Advisory Board in its next meeting.


Debby Hernandez can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]