Millersville University, Faculty Senate

General Education Curriculum

Program Review

May 1996

Appendix D
Consultant's Report

MAY 1994

Dr. Michael E. Knight of Kean College visited Millersville University on March 17 and 18 [of 1994] at the invitation of the General Education Review Committee to contribute to the review of the General Education Program. Prior to the visit extensive written materials, including the catalog, advisement materials, and committee reports and documents of both the Assessment Committee and the General Education Review Committee were examined. During the visits meetings were held with the following groups.

The report that follows is based on those meetings and the review of the previously described documents. An effort has been made to identify a series of issues regarding general education and to develop the report based on these issues with recommendations regarding possible actions.


It is clear that the General Education Program designed by Millersville University is the product of much discussion and deliberation. The program certainly demonstrates an institutional perspective encouraging high standards of performance, integration of the curriculum and the application of knowledge, skills and abilities in a variety of settings. This structure of the program and the students' educational experiences supports the following description of program review by J. Gaff in General Education Today (1983):

Formative evaluation asks students and faculty to describe the best and worst parts of the program, problems encountered, and suggestions for improvement. Although a formative evaluation may not yield a definitive verdict about the success of the program, it provides information that can help program planners maximize whatever strengths it possesses. (p. 147)

The consistent implementation of a formative evaluation perspective seems more likely to support a continual journey toward program improvement. At the same time measures of success can be described and ascertained through the assessment process so that concerns about the development of students can be addressed. Gaff also states:

Formative evaluations are designed and conducted primarily to yield information that can be used by program planners to adjust the program as it evolves. (1983, p. 147)

The balance between accountability and improvement seems to lean toward improvement as the long term strategy to demonstrate institutional effectiveness and therefore provide accountability.

The key issues of general education identified during the March visit can be categorized as follows:

It appears that there is a degree of fragmentation of general education that is interfering with the announced intentions of the program. The questions of ownership and participation were addressed very differently in some of the group meetings. In order to maintain a focus on general education a consistent voice is required. An examination of your catalog and the discussions on campus about the perspectives component led me to two relatively unrelated definitions of its purpose and implementation. What I had expected to be a group of integrating, culminating courses were presented as something quite different. The fragmentation is likely created by the absence of a common understanding of the general expectations for the program, and the specific contributions of the various clusters and the perspectives courses. Use of Fundamentals, Proficiency Requirements, and Competency Courses as titles for the same educational experiences may also contribute to the confusion particularly that of entering students.

Information in the Millersville University catalog (pp. 25 and 26) describes the purpose and intention of perspective courses. Consistent responses by students and faculty led me to the conclusion that the purposes and intentions of the perspectives component are not being achieved with regularity.

There is no intention to suggest abandoning the concept of perspectives courses but rather to encourage the development of a clear definition that is communicated across the campus and consistently represented in those courses. I believe the perspectives component is the highlight of a well designed program.


The following recommendations are proposed to enhance the advisement process and are extensions of some of the prior suggestions.


These two areas may be seen as the design and implementation of the curriculum. As such, the following recommendations are an attempt to take advantage of the natural synergy between them.

Writing Emphasis
Perspective Courses

I am aware of two facts. The number of recommendations may seem overwhelming, and many of the recommendations require actions by others. Participants in the various meetings communicated support for the structure and intentions of the General Education Program. For these reasons, and because many of the recommendations are interrelated I believe you will be successful in your efforts.

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