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Tilted Model

Alternative Models  

The Gen Ed Steering Committee has explored a range of possible models for a new Gen Ed program at BC. We are not in a position to sign on to a new model in an informed and deliberate manner without taking this step. There are a number of dimensions along which models for Gen Ed vary. Key factors include the number, and type of outcomes, the continuum from core curriculum to total infusion with various hybrid arrangements in between, and the various methods of assessment.   

Li Liu from CMST presented on Cascadia’s infusion model. Cascadia has four learning outcomes which are infused across all courses. A constraint for this model is that substantial content cannot be delivered to all students. For instance, we could not expect every course on campus to deliver meaningful instruction on Cultural Diversity. Different courses on campus often have overlapping curriculum. But there is no significant content that is taught in all of our courses. For this reason, an infusion model like Cascadia’s cannot have content-based outcomes. Outcomes that are shared by every course offered across campus must be limited to addressing near universal aspects of the teaching and learning process.  If there is significant curriculum beyond required English and Math courses that we’d like all of our students to get as students at BC, the Cascadia model will not deliver this. 

We also briefly discussed a core curriculum model. A core curriculum model would deliver instruction in Gen Ed outcomes through a few required courses. We might, for instance, have a required course that focuses on communication and critical thinking, and another that focuses on cultural diversity and issues of justice more broadly. The major drawback of going this route would be the substantial disruption to enrollment patterns it would entail. In the case of this example, a full third of both Humanities and Social Science distribution requirements would be fully occupied by required core classes.   

The TILT model proposed by our AAC&U team is a flexible hybrid model. Its key features include a limited number of Gen Ed outcomes and Gen Ed subcommittees to the CAC for each outcome. The subcommittees are charged with vetting courses for certification in a Gen Ed, supporting programs in brining courses up to curricular standards, administering and evaluating assessment of their Gen Ed, and using these results to continually improve institution wide education in their Gen Ed. This model allows for Gen Ed outcomes with significant content to reach all our students, but without dramatically disrupting enrollment patterns. The TILT model leaves open the question of just how robust the curricular standards for each Gen Ed outcome will be and just how widely they will be infused across programs. Indeed, these matters remain open to fine tuning even after implementation of the TILT model.  

The Gen Ed Steering Committee has explored these issues to some degree. Some of these issues were previously explored last year by FACT and the AAC&U team along with many others in our early initial conversations. We are eager to broaden that discussion, though we also realize that the details of model choice may not be of highest concern to many faculty.   

BC is an outlier in terms of the number of outcomes. Most institutions have under a half dozen Gen Ed outcomes. The most frequently claimed Gen Ed outcomes at institutions around the state are communications and critical thinking. If our Gen Ed outcomes are to be Institutional Learning Outcomes (ILOs) that reach all of our degree seeking students, they will have to be rather few in number. If we hope to teach our Gen Eds in a substantial meaningful way, they cannot be indiscriminately infused across campus.  

  

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