Lively discussions have been taking place at the forums held by the Connecting the Undergraduate Experience (CUE) Committee to give updates on its progress and gather feedback.
Committee Chair Catherine Cardwell, interim vice provost for academic programs, told those at the Oct. 28 session that before closing down the first, information-gathering phase of the process, it is important to hear from the BGSU community. The committee will next move on to the curriculum development phase, expected to last from December through next May.
President Cartwright has said, “The faculty own the curriculum, but the University owns the undergraduate experience.” This was borne out by the number of staff members, undergraduate and graduate students at the meetings, along with faculty.
At the forums, the conceptual learning model was presented, showing the University’s learning outcomes intersecting with such high-impact practices as learning communities, service-learning and capstone courses. Aiming for a more “learner-centered” approach, the goal is to make sure more students have access to these experiences and that they understand the strong connection between co-curricular and classroom learning.
Participants were asked to discuss three topics, with a member of the committee recording their responses.
The general response to the conceptual model has been positive. One comment was that it showcases students’ individual journeys and is not a cookie-cutter plan; conversely, the challenge might be making sure it accomplishes its goals because it is so flexible, it was said.
The outcomes and the practices come together quite naturally, one faculty member observed, while staff members noted that the model made it easy to see how everyone on campus could play a role in creating a cohesive experience for students. Graduate students attending commented that, as the “face of the University in many general education classes,” they were happy to participate.
Asked to identify issues that might still need to be addressed, science and math faculty members voiced the opinion that quantitative skills should be included in the learning outcomes, saying they had seen an increase in people without adequate preparation in those areas.
The issue was raised about the capacity of the University to support more of the learner-centered experiences, particularly in a time of financial scarcity. For example, one said, small class sizes are important to capstone classes. More tracking and reporting of how many students are currently engaged in the high-impact practices was suggested in order to have a point of comparison in future.
On the third topic, participants spoke of what their areas are already providing in the way of high-impact practices.
In addition to the input from the University community, Cardwell said, the committee will be reviewing reports from the General Education Committee, which has been studying potential models of general education at other universities.
Two more discussion sessions will be held this week, at BGSU Firelands, and a CUE blog will soon get under way, she announced. A recording of some of the discussions will also be posted, along with abundant background materials, on the Web site, http://www.bgsu.edu/cue/.