Innovations in General Education: Preparing Students for the Future


As higher education adapts to change
students are demanding an education that is relevant to their lives and communities. “How can we prepare students to be ready for career changes, be ready for technology changes be ready for cultural changes?” Educators today are working to meet these demands through meaningful and engaging academic experiences. “Teach students the
knowledge in the discipline or an area, help them understand how that
discipline applies to the world and help them understand themselves.” “This is a new student these learners to be engaged they
need to have options and the need to recognize that this system is here for them.” “We need to
do that for people who are not well served by the educational system
that we have it may take more time and it may take
more investment but if we don’t do that our global standing in the future will
be affected.” To meet the challenges of the future
educators have been exploring innovations in general education, college
curriculum that all students take. “General education is basically the pre-requisites you have to do to get to doing your basic course work.” “Basically just the first two years of your college is spent on GE education so.” “I remember my freshman year I kinda
looked at general education… Oh cool.. I just did
four years of high school do I have to just take all these
requirements again?” “They’re not engaging with these classes
like… oh this is a part of my experience, this is what’s
really making me prepared and getting me ready for my major courses
later.” “So it’s in our interest to make them the
best we can they’re the things that students take on
their way in the door when they’re still making up their mind
whether or not they should have come to college in the first place and they’re our opportunity to prepare
people for the kind of intellectual versatility they’re gonna need after they graduate when they get into
an economy that’s changing very fast.” “There’s no reason those courses have to
be the same courses delivered in the same way they were decades ago they can be prepared and put together in ways that
really reflect today’s student and the environment in which today’s students are gonna be working and going forward with their
studies.” One prominent innovation is thematic it GE pathways,
general education courses linking together many disciplines exploring complex
real-world problems such as sustainability social justice, and health and wellness. “What the thematic pathways does for the student is it gives them a chance to look at
some issue that’s happening right now today and and go from class to class understanding
‘Hey i’m looking ahead to the lenses I have a sociologist
looking at it through the lenses of a biologist,’ and then it gives them a
little practice on the different methodologies of the disciplines to approach this issue.”
“Instead of taking random courses they take courses within a path and
the path offers them some cohesiveness.” “The basic idea is that the path project is a collaboration between Pierce College and California State
University at Northridge.” “You take these group of classes here
at Pierce and you can transfer to CSUN you can have a minor in in Civic Engagement…you didn’t know..okay.” “When students transfer here from
Pierce and they do you send us hundreds of students every year if they’ve done the path which is four
courses at Pierce then they can do two more courses here
and finish out the path and they’ll also be eligible for the minor
once we it have in place.” ” There are five different paths that
are sort of around a theme…social justice aesthetics and culture, sustainability,
and health and wellness and global studies.” “They fulfill those
requirements within the larger context of the theme.” “Food
is a big issue in California… so having a food garden here on
campus sounds like a perfect fit in order
to teach some of our sustainability principles through the
food garden.” “I’m taking a geography class and
anthropology class and they all connect through the theme of food. How in anthropology it shows you how
different cultures treat their food and geography how
different areas of the world treat their food and it shows how different studies all connect through one theme.” It all came together a lot of classes high-tech and i’m taking right now
overlap with one another so they make it more interesting as have just taking random courses where else can we just
come together different disciplines different
disciplines Inc come together in just express what their
needs are and of course our main focus is one thing is student success in another innovative general education
strategy students in first-year seminars receive credit for developing electronic portfolios demonstrating
their growth what’s been interesting about what we’ve
done in sacramento is that we use electronic portfolios to help student move through their upper
division general education requirements a lot faster by recognizing that the the
work they do as undergrad at the Community College
and using that to certify their level competency in writing and general education and critical thinking
at the poor University we happening with a fine no students and
get them connected with opportunities and services directed towards transfer likely folio system their experiences
been far more enriching that students who are
coming to the program I’m right before the early I was
surprised by me a lot of people look at me like how current weight so fast world because
this program when I went in Sac State I E new for
world our own only two years to graduate and course
because this program going to be two years employers want to
be more than just arrest me they want to see how we’ve made the
portfolio to be all the accomplishments done to see how
we roll around eight we participate in the community how we can contribute and become a good
athlete to their company had academic goals and three which is
what I thought you forward my story so however life it does change
at the people call you when I like it that you can go back in change whatever you want because
we’re growing as a person here bhakti I’m not doing anything person at
that was portfolios or curriculum organizers and we’re
educating people for life getting people for work that’s really
the value I think in keeping a portfolio
another exciting approach in general education is public sphere pedagogy for students engaging real-world debates
and public dialogue with their campus and community public
sphere pedagogy began as a simple idea which was how can we make courses
bathroom find artificial around track or not
relevant relevant public sphere pedagogy is built on the
idea that we should take curricular
activities that are in the classroom and then connecting to a broader public
sphere and I can take a lot of different forms
but Watson’s engaging in dialogue on want them
engaging in dialogue in places and with people that are
outside the classroom we created a public dimension to
students work and they do traditional work reading
writing research but for a public purpose the baby yet are hold New York I old play ran by serving others the now what
works and what doesn’t work said line doesn’t work our store we’re not send tests for now good beer loses where she go we my or downtown I’m going to cause a
major passes me all these good public sphere
pedagogy exist in that first year experience
program and encompasses several programs like the great debate in town hall
meeting and one thing we’ve been really
interested in is working with power Community College partners locally and
regionally to have parts how their students
participating in it can work as well the students come here and a participate
in the event right alongside the CSU Chico students anecdotally they immediately afterwards
talk about how they now they see themselves as capable of
transferring other excited about transferring and quantitatively we know that the
students who participate in the event are more likely to be successful on that
course and they are more likely to be successful in a subsequent semester the moment they
understand that this has implications beyond the classroom something extra happened and that’s the
innovative part I think its agreement he said you you know and you practice
your skills and I from the islands the Class A like that gets weirder the question
understand why I’m doing this how is this relevant no one asked that
question more because they see how the curriculum but they’re engaged and actually matters and how people are
making you spend your world the bottom line is to develop in our
students an understanding that they can make a difference I mean it’s so trite its central and we
talk about you know providing our students with the
capacity that they can make a difference in their own lives and in their
communities and then to have a curriculum that
celebrates that understanding and provides the
experiences in order to prove it mean that’s when something really
exciting occurs service-learning connects students and
their community to general education coursework addressing important social issues
students understand what service learning is they understand how it’s connected to
the course content they are better prepared to enter into
the community and link what they’re learning in the course to their service so I think that it
makes sense for them to give them an opportunity to actually use their
knowledge in the classroom put it towards common
good you really talk about you know connecting the
students to attempt anything the klaas put him out there who’s so them you know
the cure it is we talked about in class the other day know about hunger units in Burnaby it just gave me so much
growth as an individual and as a critical thinker because I really
didn’t think that I had the opportunity to change other people’s lives students get out into the community
where the main character people have different backgrounds they’re ready here to serve and to learn about this
community’s we are going out into the field and then
students are using their bodies and their minds for their tits acquiring a new skill set so I would say
they’re more engaged that really helped me feel not only what
we were learning in class about on all the inequalities that we
have here in our society but also have that firsthand with this class
actually did for me with gotta go outside make connections like
the one they made at CDC life-changing experiences through this
program we’re educating our students to kept act on their education to active in
the community act for the greater good and to really
graduate students haha who are socially responsible and civically responsible
and prepared to be that type of this time long after graduation Metro academies prepare students to meet
the challenges at their community doing innovative approach to general
education combining long-term learning communities student
support services and faculty development all the Metro
academies have students traveling as a coke or so it my it feels more like graduate
school work feels like you’re you’re moving with a
group and you have guides on the pay a and each other Metro academies has also
a social justice team as well as a career theme many
fewer people were killed how many my right now Metro focuses on low-income first-generation college
students to first in their family to attend college only learn it looks yet looking he
learns that let me what it was the other pillar matches that we work
locally we work with our local high schools straight from high score I came pfft and
i thought id imagine I know the brand new experience for me
from being they love actually really mind-blowing
because they with the brain no idea this isn’t just about changing one thing
that’s happening for one student in one class is really about what’s going on in
the classroom it’s about integrating academic and
support services together and it’s also the institutional change
largely we’re looking at question the faculty development how our
teachers trained to do this work how our students trained and supported in their first two years are they taking
classes that are relevant to them is a curriculum exciting does it have a
connection to their whole lives to their personal experiences I think Metro is a is a more holistic
approach that a lot of interventions I worked with in the past in terms of education because it looks
at the entire scope what the student will encounter
when they’re in the University echoes doing a lot to transform general
education pedagogy in general asocial justice teams and I feel that these students are going eventually
become community leaders and we come to work were very much engaged with their empowerment supporting student success educators
from different disciplines colleges in systems are engaging in rich conversations
building a growing community of practice curriculum innovation has to be faculty
centered it has to be driven by faculty involvement there want to teach they’re the ones who
understand curriculum and they’re the ones that have the responsibility for
the curriculum we have a variety of interventions that
we can try to improve the way we serve our students but at the end of the day curriculum and
faculty have to be involved in that effort what we have to do is make the
curriculum at the center of the degree as engaging and compelling as we can so
that all those efforts to better serve our students fit together better than they did a for me that’s
exciting to see faculty start to realize the
world’s changing we can do some things that are different
we can work together it’s exciting faculty and people inside
universities have to see that this is not a fight
have good news for but we have two own the new kinds
capacities around granular name the pass is a
technology and ask what is it that we can uniquely
do as universities that the webcam by 2025 that is all universities will be able to
do better than the Internet we need to have
students understand and we need to have faculty institutions understand that the general education component his
is less about a belief structure and more about our promise to students
them when they leave our institutions will carry with them the skills and the
competency they need to be citizens I love the
world today the future version at the baccalaureate
degree that takes advantage the reforms will be
characterized by a couple of things it’ll be clearly relevant and
interdisciplinary in from the first day the idea that you
do three units at this in three minutes at that they have nothing to do with
each other i think is gonna go the way the past
because the fact is people are too busy and they can pick up the learning that
they want in smaller bite size pieces and in ways that are more clearly
connected to what they wanna get at education the other way that I think
hired two cases going to look different in the future is that as a result of putting general
education and learning in the majors side by side at
every tournament in Rome it’ll be easier for students to take on
ramps and off-ramps into higher education I think education
is going to have to keep up the free wanna stay relevant want students to finish their degree
means as better citizens as better prepared
for what we face unfettered picking two
years the coffee that had nothing to do with my major a gives me a purpose if I don’t have
this opportunity on the wind direction I’ll be gone probably still working in send out that
I won’t our own progress so far and then out to
be the in the row really hmm in a position where I think
okay I’m not alone and Catholic school that it was a big part of my whole college education and I’m gonna I’m grateful for it and I am going to miss it was a great
experience and I amid a comment is made me want to be a
better student and especially like okay I me to do anything to
distract get on that when that will be above that level and able to apply those
concepts in the real world before I graduated with the real game changer in

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