Millersville University, Faculty Senate

General Education Curriculum

Program Review

May 1996

VI. Recommended Action Plan

During their more than two years of studying the General Education curriculum, the committee members have repeatedly noticed a number of deficiencies in the curriculum. We recommend that these deficiencies be addressed and remedied as possible.

The first deficiency arose very early during the discussions of the committee: the lack of an assessment strategy. Linked with this is the fact that the goals of the general education curriculum themselves are not phrased in terms that make them capable of assessment. Assessment is important for many reasons.

1. It enables the university to determine if the curriculum is having the desired effect.
2. It enables the university to show progress over the years.
3. It allows the university to ascertain the effect of changes that are made and determine whether those changes are beneficial or detrimental.
4. It can make the curriculum more understandable to students, prospective students, parents, and employers.
5. It enables faculty to see how what they are doing in a course fits into the overall scheme of the general education curriculum.

We emphasize that the purpose of curriculum assessment is not to evaluate individual faculty or departments, but rather to determine how the parts of the curriculum work together.

The second deficiency became evident during detailed discussions this year. With the exception of Writing and Perspective workshops, there has been little retraining of the faculty to enable them to present the new curriculum. The curriculum very much emphasizes the process of learning rather than relying heavily on the content knowledge of individual courses. Of the twelve goals of General Education, just three are knowledge oriented. Yet students and many faculty observe that many courses continue to be presentations of knowledge and neglect fostering the development of critical thinking and life-long learning skills. Student surveys bear this out. The faculty do a better job at teaching the concrete rather than the abstract. Courses present knowledge better than they educate students how to learn.

The third deficiency is the lack of a champion of the curriculum. With the possible exception of the members of the General Education Curriculum Review Committee, no member or group of the faculty or the administration has defended the provisions of the curriculum. No one has taken ongoing responsibility for making the curriculum work and has stood up for its requirements. In fact, all segments of the Millersville community--faculty, students, and administration--have criticized various aspects of the curriculum. There is no ongoing forum for discussion of the features of the general education curriculum, a place where new ideas can be advanced without seeming to be challenges of the curriculum. The committee suggests the creation of various continuing forums at which General Education will be discussed: brown bag informal conversations, internet sites for the exchange of ideas, periodic meetings of faculty engaged in certain types of courses, etc.

Fourth, much of the burden of the change in the curriculum has been placed upon the students. With a more rigorous curriculum, students should receive more guidance in fulfilling requirements. Yet there has been little improvement in academic advisement and there are few mechanisms to enable a student to plan a program of study in general education. One recommendation of an external consultant (Appendix D) is that more carefully planned programs of study be available. This coincides with the aspect of coherence that is a characteristic of curricula at other institutions. But it also requires a registration system that is more responsive to student needs than is the current model.

Of course, all of these deficiencies are related. If the faculty had been better prepared for a new curriculum that they could understand and assess, they would be strong supporters of the curriculum, enabling students to understand its ramifications and possibly removing the need to more than rudimentary administrative guidance. Assessment would mean that challenges could be recognized as substantive or frivolous.

I. Demand for and Reputation of Program
II. Quality of the Program
III. Costs of the Program
IV. Compliance with Board of Governors Policy
V. Five-Year Plan for Major Resource Needs
VII. Acknowledgments

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