Millersville University, Faculty Senate

General Education Curriculum

Program Review

May 1996

Appendix E
Summaries of Works Consulted

"How to Improve Your College's Intellectual Outcomes," by Leonard Baird
"For Whom is Liberal Education Produced," by David W. Breneman
"CSUN Preliminary Discussion: Guide on General Education," California State University, Northridge
"Proposed Outcomes of University Studies," California State University, Northridge
"Alternative Model Programs for General Education," California State University, Northridge
"The General Education Program: We're Taking a Fresh Look at General Education," Carnegie Mellon University
"The Administration and Governance of Interdisciplinary Programs," by Beth A. Casey
"The Need for Liberal Education," by Gordon K. Davies
"General and Liberal Education: Competing Paradigms," by Michael E. Erickson
"General Education Reform and the Computer Revolution," by Ann S. Ferren
"Toward a Second Wave of Reform," by Jerry Gaff
"Multidisciplinary Curriculum: A Review of A Curriculum for the Citizen of the 21st Century," (Kline, 1995)
"What is liberal education?" by H. Mark
"Public purpose and public accountability in liberal education," by M. McPherson
"The Public Interest in Liberal Education," by Kathryn Mohrman
"The Components of Construct Validity: A Comparison of Two Measures of General Education Outcomes," by Gary R. Pike
"General education: The insiders's view," by S. Twombly
"Student Perspectives on General Education in a Research University: An Exploratory Study," by Susan B. Twombly

"How to Improve Your College's Intellectual Outcomes," by Leonard Baird

The cover page indicated that the article would give specific steps leaders can take to improve academic achievements during college based on a summary of 25 years of research. However, the ensuing pages contained an article concerning important lessons from innovative colleges and universities and traced the history of the University of Wisconsin at Green Bay. Development of the U. of Wisconsin at Green Bay began in the mid 1960s with many innovative programs and rapidly increasing enrollment. However in 1974 they were merged into the state system resulting in loss of funds due to "productivity" budget cuts. After experiencing a decline in enrollments in the 70s, there was an increase in the 80s along with curriculum reform eliminating old requirements and adding new. They continue to specialize in environmental sciences and an interdisciplinary approach. They are also experiencing an increase in graduate level demands.

"For Whom is Liberal Education Produced" by David W. Breneman

Breneman defines liberal education as education in the traditional liberal arts disciplines, in particular, where a student majors in one of these. He notes that fewer students are majoring in these disciplines, especially in less selective and/or public colleges. He attributes this to student worries about finding a job, to more students attending college, and to the decline in the availability of jobs for high school graduates. Because students who major in vocational areas now receive little of the "transformational" benefits of liberal education, better opportunities for high school graduates through technical training would benefit those not really interested in college. If colleges want to make a case for liberal education for these students, they need to find a way to provide its transforming potential to students who are not majoring in the liberal arts.

CSUN Preliminary Discussion: Guide on General Education California State University, Northridge

Web materials taken from

The purpose of this report is to provide a preliminary outline of some of the common issues facing general education and to begin to provide a common knowledge base on which to center our discussions in the coming months.

The Purpose of General Education
The goals for general education must be clearly articulated by the faculty. The article lists ten possibilities suggested.

Approaches to General Education
In the 19th century, general education was a well defined body of knowledge in European and American universities. The core curriculum generally included the European classics, mastery of European languages, and some aspects of basic science. It was a curriculum created for upper class gentlemen and designed to develop a sense of exclusivity and privilege. In the United States, the traditional European core curriculum, albeit with an American flavor and broader curricula, still dominated general education into the 1970's. The upheaval at universities in the late 1960's and early 1970's led to two broadly conceived approaches. They emerged as representative of general education strategies organized by universities. Many faculty find neither of these broad approaches to be entirely satisfactory and many universities have sought a middle road. One approach is the Distributive Approach. It is defined as the offering of a breadth of experiences to the undergraduate. Seen as an opportunity for students to sample major disciplines, this approach offers students experiences in areas known and unknown to them before entering college. Another approach is the Integrated Approach. Rather than focusing on discrete and specific knowledge, this approach is more process-oriented, focusing on the development of fundamental academic skills and the ability to acquire, process, and integrate knowledge. It offers the potential of crossing disciplinary lines and developing "thematic" interdisciplinary courses. The article gives a list of questions raised with respect to this issue.

General Education at CSUN
The current general education program is a distributive model. Students are provided an array of courses from which to select within six different sections of general education.
Specific issues are described as follows:
The article also lists a number of issues to be considered.

3. Administering General Education
Currently, the administration is decentralized. Limited central planning of course offerings, course development, and evaluation is conducted. Local control gives departments and faculty the greatest autonomy and flexibility. It also makes evaluation difficult and could lead to inefficiencies in planning, scheduling, and development. The article also lists a number of issues to be considered.

4. Faculty Development and Incentives
If general education becomes a more central part of the undergraduate curriculum, then the entire faculty must share the responsibility of delivering the revitalized curriculum. It will require continual development of faculty skills to deliver the new curriculum. Furthermore, if faculty are to engage in general education as seriously as they do in the instruction of their majors, then the rewards and incentives for faculty will need to be modified. The article also lists a number of issues to be considered.

5. Transfer and Inter-Segmental Articulation
While a revitalized general education program may attract more freshman students, it is likely that we will continue to be a major receiver of transfer students. It is important, therefore, to understand the inter-segmental agreements among the different parts of the California higher education community. In particular, CSUN should seek consultation with its community college partners and integrate them into the revitalization process.

General Education Bulletin #4:
Proposed Outcomes of University Studies
California State University, Northridge

Web materials taken from

On January 26, 1995, over 175 faculty, students, and staff attended the All-University General Education Conference held on January 26, 1995. The following outcomes for a general education program were identified by the conference for further discussion.

There is a continuous process of revitalizing the general education program. It includes:

Alternative Model Programs for General Education
California State University, Northridge

This article focuses on model programs for delivering the general education goals and outcomes developed earlier. There is an overwhelming consensus among the faculty, students, and staff to support general education as the core of the undergraduate curriculum. This curriculum should be designed to develop fundamental and ways of knowing and support the development of well-rounded students for the majors.

There are three divisions in all three models. They are: the first year, the middle years, and the final year.

The three models developed are:
The new general education program will integrate the building of fundamental/foundational areas into every aspect of the general education program. These areas are:
The article also gives a list of specific issues on which one specific workgroup is working.

The General Education Program: We're Taking a Fresh Look at General Education
Carnegie Mellon University

In 1992-93, a new General Education program was activated in the College of Humanities and Social Sciences (H&SS) at Carnegie Mellon University. The program focuses on analytical styles appropriate to solving different kinds of problems and on using data to address significant interpretive issues: ranging from the application of social science models to understanding how to compare diverse cultures. There is a variety of ways in which different topics are presented. They also have the opportunity to learn in small studio settings and in larger lecture and discussion class environments. Various major features include:
The following are important parts of the curriculum.

"The Administration and Governance of Interdisciplinary Programs,"
by Beth A. Casey

Enrollment in interdisciplinary programs has increased rapidly over the past decade. Their are now approximately 235 interdisciplinary programs, the majority of which were started after 1971. Interdisciplinary programs can help develop gen ed curricula because they share several common purposes, including integrated learning, and the development of skills essential to life in an interdependent society. Casey suggests that an integrated gen ed program requires a university-wide office for gen ed with its own director or coordinator. The office exists primarily to ensure that gen ed development is an ongoing process not just an activity that takes place during five year reviews. The gen ed review committee should be comprised of members from all contributing departments and programs and faculty development groups or learning communities should be formed to support gen ed development in all curricular areas. These learning communities are essential if the goals of gen ed are to be accomplished a creatively as possible. Creativity is key as is developing a flexible structure based on faculty and curricular strengths as well as student characteristics and needs.

"The Need for Liberal Education,"
by Gordon K. Davies

Davies asks whether liberal education is for everyone. He disputes Breneman's definition, saying it implies that liberal education is only for the privileged, especially through class, sex, or race. While less selective colleges have emphasized practicality, they have also emphasized egalitarianism. Seeing liberal education as connected to a particular set of disciplines emphasizes elitism. The pre-World War II German people had plenty of this “gentleman's finishing” type of liberal education, and it did not make them better human beings. We should focus our attention on "the results of education," so that graduates have the ability to "act justly, skillfully, and magnanimously in the world." It is in this sense that liberal education is for all, not just those who will be "leaders".

"General and Liberal Education: Competing Paradigms,"
by Michael E. Erickson

Erickson argues that, although the terms "liberal education" and "general education" are often confused, they are different and offer significantly different models for educational reform. They differ in underlying assumptions, ideological orientations, pedagogical methods, curricular aims, and ultimate aims. Liberal education believes there is a fixed body of eternal truths, written by great thinkers; these truths need to by assimilated by students through "classic texts." which also teach "mental discipline"; these texts are best taught through the traditional disciplines, and using such traditional teaching methods as lecturing and mentoring; and the ultimate aim of liberal education is transmission of culture and right reasoning. In striking contrast, Erickson argues that general education is instrumentalist, in that it sees reality as always perspectival and knowledge as relative, tentative, and hypothetical; the specific content of education is less important than its usefulness; it emphasizes experimentation over tradition and sees students as active partners in their own education; and its aim is pragmatic, which is to say, "the development of behaviors and actions through praxis, action based on reflection." "Knowledge as such is not as an end in itself as it is for liberal education, but an instrument for personal/social growth."

"General Education Reform and the Computer Revolution,"
by Ann S. Ferren

Reform consists of restructuring requirements and identifying skills and knowledge essential for all students. Computer literacy is currently not a universal requirement. Should it be? The answer of this paper is YES, computing and general education should be linked.

Philosophical arguments: FOR requiring computer literacy: prediction that 70% of all jobs will require computer technology (1992). AGAINST: traditional liberal arts faculty feel that broad liberal arts education is best for a complex and changing world. Emphasis on computer is vocationalism or teaching for career. Also: although many faculty agree that computing-like writing, speaking, and critical thinking, is a fundamental skill, they are far less supportive of computer literacy requirements. FOR: empowerment for good career and a good life. Those without computer skills may end up "have nots".

PRACTICALITY CONSTRAINTS: It is difficult to find the right place in the curriculum for computing. The curriculum must fit the context, mission, and history of a single school. There are many forms of general education. There is no one right way.

"SPECTRUM" offer as a distribution requirement <-------> mandate exit competency

MAJOR SUMMARY: Computing is important, all agree. What is needed is a clear focus on the place of computing in the curriculum for the particular school.

"Toward a Second Wave of Reform," by Jerry Gaff
New Directions for Community Colleges, 81, 5-12 (1993).

The focus of the article was the reform movement of general education for community colleges. He identified trends in community colleges. Gaff contends a second wave of reform through the 1990's goes beyond content/curriculum and should involve students actively taking part to shape the changes. He examined several community college programs who have made big and successful strides in general education.

"Multidisciplinary Curriculum: A Review of A Curriculum for the Citizen of the 21st Century" (Kline, 1995)
In his book Conceptual Foundations for Multidisciplinary Thinking (Standard University Press, 1995), Stephen Jay Kline argues for a change in education as usual. He suggests that what is needed is for learners to see more than connections between and among disciplines (interdisciplinary). They need to experience the whole intellectual enterprise in a way which gives them the tools they will need for the 21st century. Taken together, learners experience a coherent system of learning Kline calls multidisciplinary.

Kline directs his comments at undergraduate education and derails both the shortcomings and possible solution for the general or common core of education. Inasmuch as high schools model their programs after undergraduate colleges, his comments are equally relevant to them.

Individuals in each discipline tend to see their own discipline as paramount. These narrow disciplines do not provide the correct perspective to understand the world as a whole. According to Kline, simply requiring students to take courses in a variety of disciplines does not create a common core. In fact, requiring that they use knowledge and skill from a variety of disciplines to solve problems (interdisciplinary) does not prepare students adequately; they lack an understanding of the whole intellectual enterprise (world as a whole). A coherent, whole-world view requires the synthesis of discipline-based concepts into an academic toolbox. It requires that some advanced concepts be taught without the benefit of an arduous apprenticeship within a discipline. While this is possible, it is not often done. Kline does not provide a complete description of these tools of thought but does give a few examples. They are: (1) Constraints and determination, (2) Feedback Systems, (3) Rational thought, and (4) Probability distribution functions.

"What is liberal education?" by H. Mark
New Directions for Higher Education, 85, 31-36 (1994).

The author provided a historical evolution of liberal education. The core of learning is equated to liberal education yet none can agree on what should be in this core. He provides several definitions/views of liberal education.

"Public purpose and public accountability in liberal education," by M. McPherson
New Directions for Higher Education, 85, 83-92 (1994).

The focus was on the role and rationale for public support of liberal education. Growing tension between public demands for accountability of public money and freedom granted to the university toward interest of general education. The author provides opposing views of the tension between the public demand for accountability and rationale for the deletion of general education versus university autonomy and academic freedom in search for truth and knowledge.

"The Public Interest in Liberal Education," by Kathryn Mohrman

The key reasons for state government to invest in higher education are:
Mohrman believes that if we take seriously our responsibility to produce effective citizens we need to provide a liberal education along with professional studies for those students for whom the B.S. degree is the end of the line because they represent the majority of the population. Economically speaking, productive workers require both the knowledge and intellectual skills associated with a liberal education as well as the insight provided. Since our society is rapidly changing, we must prepare our students not only for the problems they face today but also for the ones they will face tomorrow. Students also need to understand the concept of critical inquiry--the ability to question what they read and hear, to challenge one's own assumptions and the assumptions of others and to ask difficult questions. The students also need to then take this critical inquiry one step further and act. The study of liberal arts should be taken seriously not just for content, but for the development of the essential skills of analysis, judgement and critical thinking.

"The Components of Construct Validity: A Comparison of Two Measures of General Education Outcomes," by Gary R. Pike

The purpose of this article is to provide criteria that can be used to judge appropriateness of measures of general education outcomes and to use these criteria to evaluate two commercially available tests: the College Basic Academic Subjects Examination (College BASE) and the College Outcome Measures Program (COMP) Objective Test. The testing and research took place at the University of Tennessee at Knoxville with a focus on use of the tests to improve the gen. ed. program and satisfaction of performance funding requirements. Although "assessment is here to stay", the general results of this study were that :
Since UTK's mission is not to limit admission to only the brightest high school graduates, the test results would bring pressure on the school's mission by the results influencing funding. The problem with standardized tests is that they are not generalizable to other schools and are only valuable within the school to improve its own program. Also, the Gen. Ed. program could be defined by the test scores. Efforts to improve scores could divert resources from other outcomes not included in the measurement instrument. He concludes the following. It is time for institutions to consider alternate approaches to assess general education outcomes. These approaches will be institution specific, frequently qualitative in nature, and will seek information about the effectiveness of general education from faculty and student perceptions. This form of assessment is designed for program improvement rather than accountability.

"General education: The insiders's view," by S. Twombly
New Directions for Higher Education, 80, 91-103 (1992).

The author examined research that focused on perceptions of students, faculty, and administrators involved with general education. Students defined general education as exposure to broad range of subjects. A high value was placed on effective communication skills and cognitive skill. Many students formulate perceptions of general education in relation to their major and usefulness in meeting career goals. For those undeclared students, the meaning is rather vague. Faculty influence students understanding of general education not by advisement but by their assignments, methods of teaching, and type of content. Most students studied less, did not recognize general education goals that were explicitly expressed in courses. The higher order thinking skills were not occurring in general education courses. Author recommends faculty examine what is important--student perceptions and experiences--that is where you can learn the real curriculum and what goes on in the classroom.

Faculty development--link general education to professional education and spend more time talking to each other about general education goals and how to accomplish them.

"Student Perspectives on General Education in a Research University: An Exploratory Study," by Susan B. Twombly

The study of student views gave the following results:
Purpose of General Education as seen by the students:
Factors that influence the understanding of the gen ed program:
When choosing courses, students use the following criteria:
In reference to how they fit into the workload, students tend to fill the sciences first because they are typically the hardest to fit. The least favorite requirement is foreign language. "What you can get into" frequently determines course selection.

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