CAA reviews 2015 HLC proposal for general education

Brooke Schwartz, Administration Reporter

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At a discussion before the Council on Academic Affairs meeting on Thursday, CAA members went over the 2015 Higher Learning Commission proposal for the regulation of general education courses at Eastern.

The HLC will review Eastern again in 2019 to see if the recommendations to create a more structured and unified general education program are being implemented or if progress has been made.

Rebecca Throneburg, a communication disorders and sciences professor, was on a committee in 2014 that researched the best way to format general education syllabi and reduce redundancies within Eastern’s current general education courses.

Throneburg presented the general education committee’s findings and showed the example syllabi the committee came up with.

Throneburg said current general education courses resemble high school courses that students have already taken; the courses touch on many different subjects but do not get into any one subject too deeply.

“If (students) have one last science class with (Eastern), what’s the nature of the one last science class that (students) need to get? Is it so (students) know facts, (it’s) not going to be their major, they need to know facts about (the professors’) discipline? Or they need to be able to basically say ‘I’m taking a geology/geography class, and now I’ve learned that I can consume science news better and I can be a better educated science reader for the rest of my life’,” Throneburg said. “I think that’s kind of a different mindset.”

The model syllabi Throneburg showed included a more specific integration of the learning goals current course proposals have to include.

“If you’re going to teach a learning goal, you can’t just have 12 weeks of topical content. We want to see the topical content, we want to see time in class to teach the learning goal (and) to practice the learning goal,” Throneburg said.

Academic adviser Greg Aydt said the specifics of the syllabi prompted discussion about whether Eastern should try for a broad general education program or more narrowed one.

“Some places want to have more options (for general education programs), some places want to (focus more on general education programs),” Aydt said.

CAA chair Stacey Ruholl, director of adult fitness, said Eastern’s choice general education program along with structure has to be decisive before any changes happen.

“There’s a lot that needs to be figured out, it feels like, before we can really gung-ho and let’s get the courses changed,” Ruholl said. “There’s a lot of background decisions that need to happen first.”

A discussion of general education courses will continue Feb. 15 at 2 p.m. in room 4440 of Booth Library.

Brooke Schwartz can be reached at 581-2812 or at [email protected].