Ohio Eminent Scholar Milt Hakel and President Sidney Ribeau (right) explain BGSU’s student learning measures to the Ohio Board of Regents April 20.

Regents meet at BGSU, approve two degree programs

The Ohio Board of Regents got a wide-ranging look at BGSU and its many areas of achievement when the board met on campus April 19 and 20. Among the actions it took on schools statewide was approval of two new degree programs for Bowling Green.

The regents also approved a $500,000 joint use agreement between BGSU and the Wood County Committee on Aging (WCCOA) for the Wood County Senior Kitchen Project. The agreement will allow BGSU gerontology, nutrition, and human movement, sport and leisure studies students and faculty increased access to WCCOA’s activities and operations for service-learning opportunities.

President Sidney Ribeau and Ohio Eminent Scholar Milt Hakel, psychology, gave a presentation about BGSU’s student learning measures, which Hakel said could be “scaled up and adopted by other colleges and universities.”

Bowling Green has focused on defining learning outcomes in both general education and in majors, and on assessing students’ attainment of those outcomes in tangible ways, the two told the regents. “We have tried to become a more learning-centered institution,” Hakel said. “Learning goes beyond knowing. We want students to be able to do and use what they know.”

Katie Hatch (right), visual communication and technology education, explains her research to President Ribeau (left) and OBOR Chancellor Roderick Chu.
Katie Hatch (right), visual communication and technology education, explains her research to President Ribeau (left) and OBOR Chancellor Roderick Chu.
Helping students assess their own learning is key, Hakel said, citing the electronic portfolio as an example of a tool increasingly used to keep track of and document progress. Surveys done by the University have shown that students who use e-portfolio have higher retention rates and higher grade point averages than those who do not.

Having a student success plan and using innovative assessment techniques is a way for universities to get ahead of the national mandate that is coming in regard to accountability, Ribeau told the regents.

“At the policy level, this is a rare opportunity for Ohio to lead the nation,” he said. “An A is an A, but with grade inflation going on across the nation, what does that mean? Using e-portfolio, we can show what that means.”

Regent Donna Alvarado commented, “This just blows me away. It’s great stuff. I’m thinking of this as an employer. To be able to see a link where people are talking about what’s meaningful to them is just wonderful.”

Outgoing Chancellor Roderick Chu, who was instrumental in creating the University Success Challenge Grants that helped BGSU pursue the new student success initiatives, said, “It’s tremendously exciting after all these years to see this happening.”

Degree programs approved
The two new degree programs approved for BGSU are a master’s degree in cross-cultural and international education and, for BGSU Firelands, an associate degree in applied science in early childhood education.

The master’s degree program is designed to build a “global educator” and prepare teachers to work effectively with a diverse student population, here or abroad. It is in keeping with the “understanding cultures and nations” component of BGSU’s Academic Plan and addresses the growing number of students in the United States from other cultures and the effects of globalization on American society.

Although open to all, the program is expected primarily to attract schoolteachers seeking graduate degrees. Returning Peace Corps volunteers, nongovernmental organization employees and others who have worked overseas are also likely candidates, say its designers.

Flexible and interdisciplinary, the new program will be housed in the College of Education and Human Development’s educational foundations and inquiry (EDFI) division, with significant crossover to the other colleges, especially arts and sciences. Students will be required to take nine credits in other colleges relative to a particular theme, or cognate, in line with the student’s interests. Students will focus their papers and projects in those courses on educational issues.

A required internship will enable students to apply their academic knowledge to the practice of education in a cross-cultural or international placement, such as an American Indian reservation, foreign school or nongovernmental organization. Students must also complete a foreign language component.

The 12 EDFI faculty have strong experience academically and professionally in international research and teaching, making the division well positioned to explore education from cross-culturally grounded philosophical and teaching perspectives.

The program had already received the approval of the Faculty Senate, Graduate College and BGSU Board of Trustees.

The associate degree in early childhood education will allow students to apply for paraprofessional licensure through the Ohio Department of Education. The students will also be able to obtain the coursework required by the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services to be a day-care director and/or lead teacher.

Cautionary words
The April 20 meeting was Chu’s last as chancellor of the regents. He shared some parting observations, asserting that increasing Ohio’s educational attainment is the only path to achieving the regents’ goal of improving the quality of life for all Ohioans.

Ohio needs to develop “whole people,” he said, those not just with skills but also with the attitudes, beliefs and behaviors necessary to succeed.

“There is so much to be done,” Chu said, “but we have a population that lives largely in denial of the need to change. The ongoing quest for immediate gratification keeps us from making the commitment of resources” needed to move the state forward, “just when we need it most.”
April 24, 2006