BGSU has begun a journey that has the potential to redefine its identity as an educational institution. Several elements have already emerged that will be central to its success, along with some critical questions.
Dr. Neal Jesse (left), political science chair, and Barbara Henry, associate vice provost for advising and academic success, discuss the importance of advising.
A team of representatives from across the University has been working for a number of months on Connecting the Undergraduate Experience (CUE), aimed at creating “distinctive, coherent, undergraduate learning experiences that link curricular and co-curricular programs,” which is the first strategy in the Strategic Plan.
“Over the next three to five years, BGSU can begin to distance itself from others depending on what it does with undergraduate education,” Richard Hersh, senior consultant with Keeling and Associates, told the CUE Committee at its second retreat Sept. 25 and 26. President Carol Cartwright and Provost Kenneth Borland acted as team members in the discussions. All the University deans participated as well, and also shared their reactions to the presentations of findings thus far.
The lack of coherence in the undergraduate experience was pointed up by the results of focus groups conducted by Keeling. Student responses revealed that they do not understand the importance of the “well-rounded education” and the requirement that they take a variety of courses outside their major, nor do they see the interconnections between topics, Keeling reported.
The CUE Committee focus
Focused on its charge and the undergraduate students’ concerns, the CUE Committee has developed a conceptual learning model for BGSU. Based on their research readings and the initial discussions, four committee subgroups tackled what had been identified as four essential questions about an undergraduate experience that would produce graduates who possess higher-order thinking and who will be change agents as citizens.
“This is very achievable in the four years they spend at the University,” Borland said.
The groups presented their first findings related to these questions under the umbrella:
At BGSU, what would learning look like—
1. If we created the possibility of an integrated learning experience for all undergraduate students, one that helps students pursue intentionally connected opportunities?
2. If it were based on achievement of essential learning outcomes, measured directly through formative and summative assessment?
3. If we adhered to the best learning and teaching practices?
4. If we incorporated high-impact practices into our undergraduate experiences, including curricular and co-curricular activities?
The eventual curriculum redesign will have broad implications, even influencing the campus master plan as the University builds new, dynamic classroom spaces that could be quite different from traditional settings, the committee heard.
Advising is key
While initially it was said that the effort must be faculty-driven, it quickly became apparent to the team that equally important to success will be strong advising—academic, career, co-curricular and more—reported Committee Chair Catherine Cardwell, interim vice provost for academic programs. Advising must be educational, developmental and formative, and advisors themselves will need to understand the interconnectedness of disciplines and their connections to life.
Read Monitor in coming weeks for more on the groups’ responses to the four questions.
All documents, minutes and plans related to CUE can be found at
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