Faculty Senate receives learning goals update

Debby Hernandez, Associate News Editor

Faculty Senate members reviewed updates on how Eastern’s learning goals will be incorporated into courses based on the proposal by the learning goals committee.

Rebecca Throneburg, the co-chair of the committee, said this is the second year of the five-year plan for changing the learning goals.

The second year will consist of infusing the goals into general education courses, and the third year will include incorporating them within majors.

“The purpose of the learning goals is to better prepare students with skills employees want (and) to be better informed ethical citizens,” Throneburg said.

Eastern’s five learning goals include critical thinking, writing, speaking and listening, quantitative reasoning and responsible citizenship.

Throneburg said each department would be required to incorporate three of the five goals into their courses under the committee’s proposal.

The department would determine one learning goal, while another goal will be assigned by the learning goals committee based on a particular segment within the department.

All general education courses would be required to incorporate critical thinking.

Senior seminars would be required to cover the five learning goals.

Rebecca said the committee will look into other schools and what makes them get recognized for goals.

Senate member Steven Scher asked about the possibility of not being able to incorporate one of the designated learning goals into a course, such as citizenship in a psychology course.

Throneburg said the course would have to incorporate a variation or aspect of the learning goal. She said diversity for example could be incorporated in the psychology course to fulfill the citizenship learning goal requirement.

Grant Sterling, the chair of the Faculty Senate, said departments might not always inform faculty about changes made to courses, and faculty might not follow the regulations related to the learning goals.

He asked if the Council on Academic Affairs should be in charge of enforcing those regulations by reading syllabi of courses and making sure they are following them.

“If we really are doing serious periodic review of the syllabi in specific courses and what actually goes on, then you are going to have to have somebody evaluating it with the power to say, ‘here are the consequences because you didn’t do what you said you were going to do,’” Sterling said.

Senate member Jeff Stowell said he believes the goal is to set up a rigorous curriculum and essentially leave it to the departments to follow it.

Throneburg said the proposal explains the process and that course syllabi will be evaluated over time.

She said Eastern is a voluntarily participant of the Illinois Articulation Initiative, which is a transfer agreement that has institutions accept certain general education courses in exchange for comparable lower-division general education requirements.

The agreement also helps transfer students who are undecided on what institution they will transfer to.

She said institutions such as Illinois State University, Northern Illinois University and Southern Illinois University in Edwardsville have a general education committee, while Western Illinois University only has a council.

Throneburg said learning goals committee members hope to establish a long-term standing general education committee for Eastern.

She said the committee hopes to bring a lot of communication on the subject to faculty members, beginning with a newsletter in late February.

Forums will take place on March 5 and on April 7 to inform all faculty members about the learning goals proposal, receive their input, and to answer questions they might have on the subject.

She said the committee hopes to finalize the proposal by the end of the spring semester.

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