UNCG Campus Weekly

Campus Weekly is published each Wednesday when classes are in session. In the summer, it is published biweekly.

Transformation Time for Gen Ed

011211Feature_GenEdConferenceIn the past, some representatives from the university would attend a conference at the American Association of American Colleges and Universities (AAC&U). This year, AAC&U was invited to UNCG for a two-day mini-institute starting on Reading Day. The AAC&U normally does not do this for a particular university, but ultimately agreed to come give a mini-instutute for a broad group of UNCG stakeholders, regarding UNCG’s core general education program and goals.

About 110 individuals attended, largely faculty. Tables were marked: Deans Council, Departmental Heads, Associate Deans, General Ed Council, Advising Council, Learning Communities, the Student Learning Enhancement Committee and Student Affairs. Some members of the NC A&T faculty were in attendance as well.

Provost David H. Perrin, in welcoming everyone, noted this was the first-ever institute of this type presented by AAC&U outside their acclaimed summer Gen Ed institute.

“Moreover, they have tailored the UNCG Mini-Institute to match our specific learning goals and reform process.” They would focus on:

  • Innovation in general education course design
  • Advising strategies to encourage students to approach comprehensive liberal learning with an enhanced appreciation for its value in their lives
  • High-impact pedagogy most appropriate for general education
  • Best ways to assess and improve the process.

He noted that our campus had earlier hosted Dr. Ron Crutcher, co-chair of the National Leadership Council for Liberal Education and America’s Promise, whose visit was very helpful for UNCG. And he spoke about UNCG’s gen ed program and its assessment:

“Our reform process is in improving and ensuring the intentionality and coherence of our general education curriculum. General Education at UNCG must do a better job of preparing students to grapple with complexity, contingency and new learning in contexts of rapid change.”

The opening plenary of the mini-institute was about “Promoting Better Teaching and Learning Across the Whole Campus.” It was delivered by Dr. Dee Fink.

He asked how many had won a teaching award. About half the attendees raised their hands.

“Can you get better?” he asked all those who raised their hands.

Fink stressed that faculty must be knowledgeable about current ideas and literature in college teaching. “We should know it. We should use it.”

“We’ll get you more than a degree,” UNCG should tell its students. “We’ll make you a meta-learner.”

It’s about learning how to learn, not just taking courses, he said. “Helping students take charge of their own learning.”

Professional development for faculty is very important, Fink added. “We want faculty to get better over time.”

After the mini-institute ended, Dr. Steve Roberson, dean of undergraduate studies, spoke of general education’s importance to every student, regardless of their major, and he stressed that the campus’ work will continue. Teams of UNCG individuals will create white papers around four themes:

  • Integration of learning goals across the curriculum
  • Promoting Gen Ed
  • Assessing Gen Ed
  • High-impact pedagogy

The papers will be brought to the UNCG Gen Ed Council and the campus community, Roberson said, as some standards of best practice which UNCG may embrace.

“So the work of the mini-institute didn’t stop,” he said. “It will proceed for many weeks and months to come.”

Visual: plenary speaker Dr. Dee Fink speaks to the UNCG group in Cone Ballroom.
By Mike Harris
Photograph by Mike Harris