Categories
Tilted Model

Legacy Problems, TILTed Solutions 

 Legacy Gen Ed Problems TILTed Gen Ed Solutions 
18 outcomes are too many Cut down to 4 or 5 
Outcomes are variously interpreted and assessed with the result that there is no one thing we are measuring with our assessment data Use Gen Ed committees to cultivate and articulate shared conceptions of Gen Eds and curricular standards with commensurable assessment methods 
Many outcomes are not taught generally to all of our students Make Gen Ed certified courses degree requirements 
Gen Ed is not transparent or meaningful to students TILT Gen Ed (Transparency in Learning and Teaching) 

Comments: 

  1. There is little prospect of making 18 outcomes meaningful for students. Even among faculty and administrators, nobody can just name all 18, never mind define them. A third of our 18 outcomes have no definition in campus documents. If we cut down to 4 or 5 outcomes that represent what it means to get an education at BC, outcomes that embody the basic skills and core values we want all students to cultivate, then we can be transparent with students and make our Gen Ed program meaningful to them. 
  1. This is an accreditation issue. Accreditation expects us to use the results of assessment to improve our teaching of Gen Ed outcomes and to use the results of Gen Ed in academic planning and resource allocation decisions. We can’t do this without meaningful data. Currently there is generally no one thing we are measuring with our data. We have a “junk in” problem. This problem stems from the fact that we have treated Gen Ed as synonymous with assessment. The result is that we really only have the tail end of a program of General Education. A key feature of the TILTed (Transparency in Learning and Teaching) proposal is to establish permanent subcommittees to the CAC (Curriculum Advisory Committee), one for each of our 4 or 5 Gen Eds. Each Gen Ed subcommittee will have roles to play prior to assessment in articulating curricular standards for the outcome, vetting and recommending courses for certification in the Gen Ed, supporting programs in developing curriculum for the Gen Ed outcome. Meaningful assessment requires that we know what we are measuring and adopt shared standards of evaluation. The proposed Gen Ed subcommittees are charged with facilitating this prior to assessment, and then iteratively in light of assessment results. 
  1. This is also an accreditation issue. Accreditation is asking for institution wide learning outcomes. Making our Gen Ed outcomes Institutional Learning Outcomes requires incorporating all of our Gen Eds into all degree programs. This will be feasible only if we narrow our Gen Eds down to a few basic skills and core values. 
  1. Students have little to no awareness of the existence of our Gen Ed program. Making our Gen Ed program transparent and student centered requires addressing problems 1-3. Our Gen Ed program should embody the core of what we want all degree seeking students to get out of a BC education. Being clear with students about this requires that we know what our Gen Ed outcomes are and that we have a more or less shared conception of them. This is a first step towards TILTing Gen Ed. 
Categories
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.