General Education Curriculum
One of the distinctive and defining characteristics of general education at Monmouth College is that it is spread over four years. Well-integrated in design, interdisciplinary in emphasis, both national and global in scope, Monmouth’s general education program provides an intentional and developmental educational experience. What follows reflects the Curriculum Review Task Force’s vision of a new general education program within Monmouth College’s comprehensive curriculum.
After receiving faculty input, the CRTF derived five educational elements which anchor our academic program. Each element is comprised of specific goals. This proposal’s three-part general education program – Integrated Studies, Across the Curriculum initiatives, and Foundation Courses – is the attempt to make concrete these fundamental elements:
o Critical Thinking: All students graduating from Monmouth College will be able to:
§ Analyze, then synthesize, ideas and information
§ Recognize contexts of inquiry and argument
§ Identify and question assumptions
§ Discriminate between fact and fallacy
o Effective Communication: All students graduating from Monmouth College will be able to:
§ Originate and develop ideas
§ Support assertions
§ Utilize suitable organizing strategies
§ Understand language confidently
to communicate successfully;
o Ethical Inquiry: All students graduating from Monmouth College will be able to:
§ Explore the nature and scope of the human condition
§ Investigate the diverse ways in which human beings make that condition meaningful
system of values which informs beliefs and practices;
o Varieties of Human Experience: All students graduating from Monmouth College will be able to:
§ Comprehend a variety of individual perspectives
§ Comprehend a variety of cultural perspectives
richness of world societies, learning, and traditions;
o Depth of Knowledge and Integration of Learning: All students graduating from Monmouth College will be able to:
§ Gain basic knowledge in a variety of fields
§ Combine detailed disciplinary knowledge with broad interdisciplinary study
§ Discover patterns of meaning across disciplines
§ Produce comparative judgments about the purpose and methodologies of any particular discipline.
Research conducted by the National Center on Postsecondary Teaching, Learning, and Assessment has shown that students learn more from logical sequences of courses that build on one another than from independent and unrelated courses. Thus, the CRTF envisions general education interweaving with a content major to create a full and meaningful undergraduate education. That is, Foundation Courses and major courses move in parallel through a student’s career. These are joined and reinforced at opportune moments by the liberal arts worldviews and skills conveyed in the new Integrated Studies and Across the Curriculum initiatives. The current proposal attempts to lay out these three integral components of the general education curriculum at Monmouth College. (See Tables 1A and 1B for a summary of Coursework by Year and Resource Implications respectively.)
Designed as a logical sequence of learning experiences taken throughout a four-year program, the Integrated Studies component is comprised of four courses. Meeting students at their postsecondary levels of scholarship and maturity, Introduction to Liberal Arts welcomes students to Monmouth College and introduces them to the liberal arts experience. This course concentrates upon building students’ intellectual and practical skills as they develop an understanding of their own place within academia. This concentration on a college-located self is then expanded so that students can place themselves in the world: Global Perspectives emphasizes the global context of their education. Having considered the academic world during their first year and their material world during their sophomore year, students are prepared to address more abstract questions of human values, philosophies, and religions in their third year, within a Reflection course. Finally, the capstone experience and the final course in this sequence, Citizenship: Responsible Action, encourages students to use their reflections upon the abstract to return again to the concrete, taking their place in this world as active, mature, and educated citizens.
All of the courses in the Integrated Studies component will address the Critical Thinking, Ethical Inquiry, and Varieties of Human Experience elements of the Monmouth College academic program.
N.B. All of the specific details for the four courses enumerated below will be settled in subsequent faculty workshops.
Like the Reflection component, Citizenship: Responsible Action will be offered as a limited menu of courses that would likely include revised versions of present Issues and Ideas courses, such as: Environmental Ethics; Economy, Community, and Ethics; Feminist Approaches to Literature and Society; Liberty; War and Peace; Poetics of the Self; The New Individual; Biotechnology and Human Values; Economic Policy Alternatives and Citizen Welfare; and, Ethics in an Information Society.
Although not formally included under its aegis at this time, the CRTF believes that Disciplines in Context (2-3 hours) rightfully belongs with the Integrated Studies sequence since both address the same three core elements, Critical Thinking, Ethical Inquiry, and Varieties of Human Experience. Disciplines in Context is a pilot program designed as a supplement to both general education and major study; it develops a breadth of interdisciplinary knowledge while encouraging a deeper understanding of a student’s own major area. Specifically, this course would address a single topic from multiple, disciplinarily-related viewpoints. Science Seminar is one model for this program, although this course could be a joint venture built by two or three majors. Indeed, the CRTF envisions a two- to three-year pilot period during which departments would be encouraged to propose and enact their own visions of a Disciplines in Context course.
Addressing the Depth of Knowledge and Integration of Learning element of the curriculum, the specific goals of Disciplines in Context are fourfold: to examine the foundational assumptions and methods of those disciplines; to consider the roles of those disciplines in society; to compare and contrast various disciplinary communication strategies; and, to produce a project with an interdisciplinary focus and approach. Disciplines in Context is an explicit acknowledgement that being successful in a career is often a matter of being familiar with the interests of related and disparate fields.
The Integrated Studies courses provide an evolutionary learning experience as students generate knowledge in one course then build upon it in subsequent courses. The fundamental skills introduced and reinforced in the Across the Curriculum initiatives will supplement and bolster the intellectual processes of Integrated Studies and major courses alike.
ACROSS THE CURRICULUM
Just as intellectual and ethical development are fundamental to a Monmouth College education, so, too, is skills development. The Across the Curriculum initiatives have been designed to provide tools – skills in writing and reading, speaking and listening, and numeracy – which a student may use to build a successful career. These skills will be woven throughout the student’s four years, in major and non-major courses alike.
o Communication Across the Curriculum (7 hours): Effective reading, writing and speaking skills are foundational to a liberal arts education. CAC is designed to integrate these skills at many points in a student’s education.
The CATA and English departments have developed ten shared goals for proficiency in communication skills, including the ability to:
§ Form and develop a thesis
§ Determine a purpose for a specific audience
§ Organize main points
§ Support assertions
§ Avoid mechanical errors
§ Use library resources
§ Document sources
§ Identify organizational strategies
§ Present ideas orally
§ Think critically
There are numerous sites where these goals will be addressed.
Within General Education:
o English 110 (4 hours) will be the primary course for reading and writing skills.
o CATA 101 (3 hours) will be the primary course for speaking and listening skills.
o Interdisciplinary Exploration will support CAC goals by including at least one thesis-based writing assignment and providing opportunities to analyze speech communications in events such as convocations, class discussions, and student presentations.
o Two or three additional general education courses will also address CAC proficiencies.
Outside of General Education:
o Each academic program will be encouraged to identify courses designated for “C” certification. These courses will explicitly articulate and practice communication skills pertinent to that discipline’s goals in critical thinking, writing, and speaking. The goal is that each student receives reinforcement of skills literacy in major courses as well as in general education courses.
Articulating major and non-major courses, diverse CAC goals, and particular disciplinary requirements will not happen in a vacuum. Oversight of communication skills development will require a full-time coordinator, a position proposed at 1.0 F.T.E. Of this 1.0 F.T.E., 0.46 F.T.E. will be reallocated from hours currently devoted both to English (oversight of the Mellinger Learning Center and teaching Writing Fellows) and CATA (coordination of CATA 101). After one year, the position will move out of both departments and be consolidated as a single position/person. Duties of the coordinator will include, but not be limited to, consulting and advising, integrating technology, acting as administrative and academic liaison, developing learning programs and materials, and teaching.
o Quantitative Literacy Across the Curriculum (0-6 hours). If words are the root and substance of CAC, quantitative data and numerical competency are the core concerns of QAC. As in CAC, QAC is aimed at achieving a number of skills-based goals, including the ability to:
§ Manipulate quantitative data
§ Apply numerical competencies in a variety of real-life contexts
§ Develop arithmetic, algebraic, and graphic skills
§ Apply basic mathematical models to scientific and social problems
§ Understand basic principles of probability, statistics and data analysis
§ Think logically
§ Analyze and synthesize coherently
§ Make informed decisions
Again, as with CAC, these goals will be addressed in a number of courses, two of which must be taken to satisfy the “Q” requirement:
Within Foundation Courses:
o Quantitative reasoning and data analysis components will be included in the current required Foundation laboratory science courses.
Outside of Foundation Courses:
o In addition to the Foundation science courses, all students must complete at least one other “Q-certified” course. For 85% of Monmouth College students, this requirement will be met through their major. Each major on campus will include at leat one course which will be desitnated a "Q" course. This course will include some significant emphasis on numerical/quantiative reasoning. For students who enter the college with inadequate numerical competency, as determined by high school grades and ACT math sub-scores, we will offer a 2-3 semester-hour course, Math for Liberal Arts. Students identified as needing Math for Liberal Arts would have the option to take a diagnostic math competency exam and demonstrate that they do not need to take the required course.
o Many science and math courses will qualify for “Q-certification.” Courses such as Accounting 213 & 214, Business 211 & 212, Sociology 202 & 203, and Psychology 201 will qualify as well. Departments which do not have a "Q" course may develop one with the help of the Math department or designate a relevant "Q" course from another department as a required course for their majors.
Integrated Studies and the Across the Curriculum initiatives provide focused intellectual steps as well as practical and academic tools. These innovations will make plain the intentional and developmental nature of our general education program. However, broad learning remains a hallmark of any quality college education. The Curriculum Review Task Force believes the Foundation Courses are imperative to the Monmouth College liberal arts experience and should remain central to the general education curriculum.
The Foundation Courses support the Integrated Studies courses and Across the Curriculum initiatives by providing depth of learning and further exposure to the varieties of human experience. The courses are gathered under the rubrics already in place in our general education curriculum, Foreign Language, The Sciences, The Arts, and Human Societies.
o Foreign Language (up to 8 hours)
The study of foreign language is integral to a strong liberal arts general education. Learning another language requires that our students understand and communicate in a new pattern of thought, in and on terms other than their own. Like our applied arts or laboratory sciences, studying a foreign language is experiential learning, requiring our students to participate in a different culture, to recognize that the way someone speaks represents a different way of explaining and living the human condition. Like Global Perspectives, it requires students to meet and value what is alien to their experience.
To satisfy the Foreign Language requirement, students must be proficient at the 102 level of language study. To ensure that 101 courses are truly introductory experiences, students having studied a language for two or more years in high school will place in 102 or higher should they choose to continue in that same language, barring exceptional circumstances.
o The Sciences (8 hours)
Studying physical and life sciences not only introduces us to what scientists know, but also to how they know it. Science is fundamentally creative, a way of discovering how the natural world works via the scientific process: careful observation, quantitative description, the testing of hypotheses against data, and a healthy skepticism for the untested.
While both physical scientists and life scientists share in the scientific process, their approaches are quite different. Taking laboratory courses in both types of science ensures that students appreciate and experience first-hand the strengths and weaknesses of diverse applications of the scientific method. Students will thus appreciate the variety of ways “science” suggests interesting, important similarities and differences in how we should understand and act in our complex world. Therefore, students are required to take one laboratory course in the physical sciences and one laboratory course in the life sciences.
o The Arts (5-6 hours)
Like the four-year general education program, the Arts requirement is a distinctive and defining element in the Monmouth College experience, a trademark of our curriculum. Valuing the arts fully demands both participation in and appreciation of the arts. Thus The Arts requires one course in each area, the only time in many students’ education when they are exposed to art in both participatory and scholarly ways. By drawing on the analytic, historical, and creative expertise of several departments, this Foundation requirement helps students become aware of and understand diverse cultural concepts. Students contextualize these concepts as they learn to understand and value the arts in their appreciation course; they embody the concepts as they engage actively in the creative process by drawing, singing, writing, acting, or participating in any number of other art forms.
o Human Societies (3 hours)
Understanding how cultural, social, political, and economic systems develop and function is integral to the liberal arts experience. The Human Societies requirement at Monmouth College is designed to provide a foundational breadth in either the humanities or social sciences, an understanding that can be explored through historical and contemporary contexts. Each student will choose one course from a limited menu of discipline-based courses connected by commonly-shared objectives; such goals will include developing an understanding of personal and cultural perspectives on a given issue, and appreciating the richness of world societies, learning, and traditions. Courses within this menu may be offered by many departments, including classics, history, political science, religious studies, anthropology, economics, sociology, and business.
The CRTF understands that instructors teaching classes within a given menu will meet and coordinate materials, presentation of materials, and course content in order to accomplish best the goals of that Foundation area.
General education at Monmouth College emphasizes active participation in the pursuit of five core educational elements: Critical Thinking, Effective Communication, Ethical Inquiry, Human Experience, and Integrated Learning. The three constituents of general education delineated here – Integrated Studies, Across the Curriculum initiatives, and Foundation Courses – are designed to address, intentionally and incrementally, what and how students need to learn during their four-year liberal arts education. Pursued with passion, the general education curriculum will prepare graduates for a lifetime of responsible action and continued learning.
N.B. Some details of this proposal are necessarily not present, deferring some design and content issues to the faculty who will be teaching the courses. Proposed “workshops” may be conducted at full faculty workshops held next year. At that time, proposals and amendments can be made with larger faculty input.
Table 1A: Proposed General Education (Integrated Studies, Across the Curriculum, and Foundation Courses) Coursework by Year
* Calculations of FTE’s may vary depending upon the number of offerings available within the menu listings.
o April 16: CRTF meeting to finalize draft of proposal
o May 1: Faculty Forum to discuss full general education curriculum proposal
o First week of May: Distribute final draft of general education curriculum proposal in anticipation of the 2-day full faculty workshops
o May 15-16: Full faculty workshops to finalize general education curriculum
o May 20: Foreign Language workshop, half-day
o Continuing submission of proposals for new majors and programs
- Consider integration of Disciplines in Context into majors under the Science Seminar model
o Design workshops for Integrated Studies courses and other foundation courses with common objectives.
o Committee structure review to reduce committee workload and strengthen/expand/empower committees charged with overseeing aspects of the academic program.
Introduction to Liberal Arts (former Freshman Seminar)
Freshman course entitled Introduction to Liberal Arts
The 4 SH freshman course entitled Introduction to Liberal Arts that includes the Orientation for Success component is the introductory course of the new curriculum model that allows students detailed and critical engagement with texts and themes. The course allows for the development and strengthening of skills that are fundamental for successful college work such as basic analytic, oral, listening, reading and writing skills. The first year Interdisciplinary study course provides students with a forum where, among their first-year peers, they can test their ideas and be challenged. The course also sets up the possibility of incorporating the theme or texts into various other course lectures and discussions.
The Orientation for Success material is important to the first year experience. Given the relationship between the average ACT of an entering class and retention rates, this structured program would provide each student with information designed to strengthen his/her ability to persist at Monmouth College.
The following is a brief description of the course:
Freshman year students will take Introduction to Liberal Arts: (4 hours). Logistically, this will be scheduled in the same way that our current Freshman Seminar is and the purpose of the course, as an introduction to the liberal arts and higher education, will remain. However, the professor of each section will have a greater opportunity to fashion the course to his/her area of interest and/or specialization. All sections will share a common theme, common objectives, and a yet to be determined minimum of common readings, but each will have a different emphasis depending upon the instructor. Apart from the common readings, convocations, and bi-weekly orientation presentations by campus staff, instructors will have freedom as to how the remainder of the course is focused. The subtitle and how the common topic is examined from a variety of liberal arts perspectives will be the instructor’s prerogative. It will be possible to cluster sections should faculty be interested in team teaching or more closely linking section content in other ways.
As a freshman registers, s/he will rank his/her preferences for the sections offered. The Registrar’s Office will do everything possible to honor top choices. Although students may choose to sign up for a particular section because they feel most comfortable with a certain topical approach or disciplinary focus (i.e., history, biology, literature, etc.), the intent is to expose them to other perspectives using their perceived comfort zones as starting points. The freedom to design a unique course section will give faculty a chance to be particularly creative in approaching a common theme.
The college orientation information that has traditionally been part of the freshman year experience will be delivered through the Introduction to Liberal Arts courses. The difference will be that the orientation information will be delivered bi-weekly by campus staff. In presenting the information in this way, library, leadership, and student life staff can ensure uniform delivery of orientation information. Conversely, faculty will not be expected to discuss campus life issues, which they may not feel comfortable addressing as academics. It is imperative, however, that the orientation information be presented during scheduled class time to reinforce its importance.
Communication Across the Curriculum Proposal
Effective reading, writing and speaking skills are foundational to a liberal arts education, and vitally connected through the study of rhetorical strategies to what we mean by “critical thinking” goals of our mission and purposes. Responsive to the faculty’s judgment that recent students have needed-- and prospective students will (urgently) need-- intensive work in these skill areas, the CAC task force and the Curriculum Review Task Force make this proposal for an across the curriculum initiative designed to provide both horizontal and vertical integration of skills training. As described in our charge below, this proposal first identifies primary instruction sites, a specific list of skills, then outlines a plan for developing general education and major discipline sites for elaboration, specification, and reinforcement of strategies and skills pertinent to those particular areas.
In making this proposal we understand that a vote for the initiative is not a vote to allocate resources on its behalf, nor a vote to prioritize this among a host of other initiatives yet to come. We ask the faculty to consider the merits of this proposal as a viable and efficient way of meeting students’ needs and our own educational goals.
Charge: To design a comprehensive four-year program in which “communication across the curriculum” (reading skills, writing skills, speaking and listening skills) are intentionally integrated both horizontally and vertically; to use English 110 and speech 101 as primary instruction sites and to identify sites of elaboration, specification, and reinforcement (using common vocabulary and key concepts) within General Education and major study; to produce methods and sites of competency testing for all undergraduates pursuing a MC degree.
Elements of the Proposal
1. We propose that CATA and English departments will share explicitly goals and vocabulary largely described in Attachment A, “Skill Goals for SCAT 101 and Eng 110”. (Attachment A was produced in a General Education Rubric review of the Monmouth College “Language Rubric” in the mid 1990’s). Beyond shared skill goals, English 110 is a primary site for reading and writing skills. CATA 101 is a primary site for speaking and listening skills. horizontal integration
2. We propose that Freshman Seminar incorporate selectively goals and vocabulary of Attachment A as applied to a) at least one carefully designed writing assignment, and b) the structure and analysis of speech communications such as: convocation, class discussion, and student presentations. horizontal integration
3. We propose that the rhetorical strategies outlined in Attachment A, #8 a-h become a vocabulary of reading, writing, speaking, listening, (and to a very considerable degree critical thinking skills) across the curriculum. horizontal and vertical integration
4. We propose to identify two or three general education course sites for explicit articulation and practice of writing (W) or speaking (S) skills, using the shared vocabulary of Attachment A, #8. For example: “Comparative Societies” might model limited, special and particular applications of the shared rhetorical/critical thinking vocabulary in demonstrating “What it means to think/write effectively in the social sciences” vertical integration
5. We propose that each discipline/major identify as many as four course sites (2 “W” and 2 “S” courses) for explicit articulation and practice of writing or speaking skills based on the shared vocabulary; but refined, and elaborated in order to demonstrate that discipline’s particular goals in critical thinking, writing and speaking. vertical integration
6. We propose to test the competency of our students in recognizing and using those basic rhetorical skills featured in Attachment A., as they have been introduced in the language rubric courses, then reinforced, refined and elaborated in General Education and majors courses – especially those designated as “W” and “S.” We propose that the test should be given comprehensively at the beginning of the Fall semester of the junior year. Those who fail the test may quickly enroll in a one-credit half or full semester course and retake the test at the end of the Fall semester. Passing the test is a requirement for graduation from Monmouth College.
7. We propose several possible strategies to identify and help those first-year students whose deficiencies in basic communication skills and knowledge require immediate remediation, if they are to succeed at Monmouth College. We propose using the A.C.T. verbal sub-score and possibly a diagnostic essay exam as markers for remediation.
Options for remediation:
A. A one-credit hour seminar or tutorial (Pass/Fail) addressing basic skills, added to a normal load during the fall semester.
B. A three credit “Rhetoric 99” course designed as a Fall pre-requisite for subsequent spring term enrollment in English 110, Speech 101, and special sections of Freshman Seminar.
C. Fall enrollment in special sections of either English 110 or CATA 101 offered back to back with Freshman Seminar. These special double-section courses (two hour blocks) would be taught by the same instructor.
D. A 3-4 week summer basic skills “orientation” course as prerequisite for regular enrollment in the Fall semester.
1. We propose creation of a CAC Coordinator position (1 FTE) (see attached job description) Of this 1.0 FTE, 0.46 FTE will be reallocated from hours currently devoted both to English (oversight of Mellinger Learning Center and teaching Writing Fellows) and CATA (coordination of CATA 101).
2. Consultant Visits: After developing a rough model based upon our CAC working group meetings and feedback from the faculty, we propose inviting a consultant to critique our plan and to garner widespread institutional support from faculty and administration for the edited model. We propose a second visit from the consultant during the early phases of implementation of the program.
3. Monies for faculty workshops and an annual budget for the CAC coordinator.
4. Monies for new course development. (remediation, competency test tutorials, etc.)
Draft of a Proposed Staging Schedule
1. Consultant to campus: selection of coordinators (in-house?); outside grant funding opportunities; student involvement in planned changes (first year).
2. A common vocabulary of CAC skills (first-year workshops)
3. Developing a competency exam and remediation strategies; trial run of competency test (first year)
4. General Education and discipline course “sites” for CAC (summer workshops)
5. English 110, CATA 101, Freshman Seminar–implementation of CAC proposals (second year)
6. Development of General Education and discipline course CAC alignment (second year).
7. Completion and full implementation of the program and competency test (third year)
Two (2) half-time positions for CAC; two (2) half-time teaching positions
Own office in individual departments; one shared office/resource room for CAC
· Create lessons, projects, units, etc. for classes across campus
· Act as consultant on campus
· Create and direct on-going workshops for faculty
· Attend appropriate seminars, workshops, etc. to remain abreast of information in CAC
· Catalog all data
· Create/administer tests
· Work with MLC person
· Maintain library of reference materials
· Acquire student portfolios
· Track some students for progress
· Communicate with all departments and chairs and instructors
· Communicate with administration
· Work with Sue Dagit for grants
· Apply projects, lessons, etc. to classes
· Public relations
· Literacy need of each academic area
· Coordinate visiting CAC scholars for on-going workshops
· Handbook and reports to college
· Web site (one for faculty; one for students)
· Integrate technology
· Create a CAC guide for freshmen which includes content of courses campus-wide that reflects the skills therein
· Oversee a CAC committee which includes representatives from all departments for input in the CAC process
SKILL GOALS FOR SCAT101 AND ENG110
COMMUNICATION SKILLS IN WHICH ALL STUDENTS SHOULD BE PROFICIENT BY THE END OF THE FRESHMAN YEAR
(Students should be able to…)
1. FORM AND DEVELOP A THESIS. “Thesis” may be defined as the central idea of an essay. A thesis (most often an introductory thesis) should not only identify the essay’s topic but assert something about that topic (your position). In other words, a thesis may be thought of as an arguable assertion coming at the head of an essay. “Thesis” then requires development: illustration, elaboration and support in the body of the essay. A thesis is generally not a statement of fact (self-evident). Nor is it a matter of pure opinion (unarguable). Responsibilities of a thesis statement may entail a series of topically focused paragraphs (the body of the essay) and a conclusion (restatement of thesis, final examples, implications of the essay’s work, etc.).
Formation and development of a thesis statement may involve several or all of the following prewriting exercises:
a. Identification of subject.
b. Identification of topic
c. Analysis of assignment
d. Determination of approach and audience
e. Brainstorming for ideas: free writing, list-making
f. Grouping and arrangements of ideas
g. Tentative thesis
h. Revision of thesis during drafting of the essay/speech
Faculty usually comment on the quality of the thesis and its development in EVERY assignment which calls for a thesis.
PRIMARY COURSES: Freshman Seminar, SCAT101, ENGL101
PRIMARY COURSE: SCAT 101
Secondary course: Freshman Seminar
PRIMARY COURSES: Freshman Seminar, SCAT101
Secondary Course: ENGL110
PRIMARY COURSES: Freshman Seminar, SCAT101
Secondary Course: ENGL110
PRIMARY INSTRUCTION: Programmed materials
Second Courses: (all courses)
PRIMARY COURSES: Freshman Seminar(?), SCAT101
PRIMARY COURSE: Freshman Seminar
Second Courses: ENGL110, SCAT101
a. Descriptive strategies (spatial arrangements, organization)
b. Narrative strategies (chronology, anecdote, flashback)
c. Definition strategies (denotation, connotation, examples, comparison, negation, operation, etc.)
d. Classification and division (grouping the many; dividing the “one” into parts [analysis])
e. Comparison strategies (block model, point-by-point model, similarities-differences, analogy)
f. Process analysis (chronology, enumeration)
g. Cause-effect analysis
h. Argumentative strategies (induction, deduction, refutation, persuasion)
PRIMARY COURSE: Freshman Seminar
Second Courses: ENGL110, SCAT101
All messages should be delivered at sufficient volume, with at least some eye contact, and with a minimum of distracting movement. Students should not merely “read” to the listeners. Faculty have a clear preference for answers which develop an idea (as opposed to single phrase answers or opinion only).
PRIMARY COURSES: Freshman Seminar, SCAT101
Secondary Course: (all courses)
PRIMARY COURSES: Freshman Seminar, ENGL110, SCAT101
Secondary Courses: (all courses)
Quantitative Reasoning Across the Curriculum
A Proposal from the Mathematics and Computer Science Department
Physical Universe and its Life Forms
Liberal education is, at its heart, the search for truth, beauty, wisdom, and our place in the world. We naturally thirst for beauty and order and science is one way that we satisfy this thirst. French Mathematician Henri Poincaré wrote of our quest for beauty in nature:
Physicists Werner Heisenberg and Albert Einstein spoke of the power of the beauty and truth in nature :
To know the simplicity and wholeness of the relationships of nature is the goal of science. The fundamental understanding of nature that scientists have achieved and continue to achieve is one of humankind’s greatest accomplishments--one that all educated men and women should know, appreciate, and celebrate. This understanding helps us find our place and appreciate our limitations as both individuals and as a civilization. It helps guide us toward wise choices both personally and collectively as our understanding of the world becomes more subtle and sophisticated....
Studying physical and life sciences not only introduces us to what scientists know, but also to how they know it. Science is a creative process--a way of discovering how the natural world works that encompasses careful observation, quantitative description, the testing of hypotheses against data, and a healthy skepticism for the untested. To understand how nature works without knowing how we came to that understanding is not to understand at all -- since nature is reduced to magic incantations and potions.
Because measurement and experiment are crucial to understanding both what scientists know and how they know it, students are required to take one laboratory course in the physical sciences and one laboratory course in the life sciences. While both physical scientists and life scientists share in the scientific process, (careful observation, quantitative description, the testing of hypotheses against data, and a healthy skepticism for the untested), their approaches are quite different. Physical scientists typically study the physical universe by performing carefully controlled experiments where very few parameters are varied at one time. Their reductionist approach is to simplify a system until they can understand it using simple and fundamental laws. Once understood, those laws can then be applied to ever more complex systems. Life scientists necessarily approach discovery differently. Because
living systems are large and complex, it is often difficult or impossible to simplify or control them in the same way that physical scientists do. This means that life scientists must approach the process of understanding differently--taking a more holistic approach that attempts to describe the system in a detailed and meaningful way while implicitly recognizing an inherent complexity that cannot be simplified away.
By taking both physical and life science laboratory courses, students learn what scientists know by the direct experience of measurement in the laboratory. Recent studies* indicate that students that are “interactively engaged” in a science course (students that are engaged in “active learning” that can occur in the laboratory) are more likely to grasp and retain what they learn. Taking laboratory courses in physical and life sciences will ensure that students appreciate the diversity of application of the scientific method. They will see the inherent strengths and weaknesses in the different ways that physical and life scientists do science. They will appreciate how those methods lead to interesting and important similarities and differences in how we should understand and make choices in our technological world.
Instructors teaching these laboratory courses will be meeting as a group to discuss coordination of the presentation of material to better meet the goals of this requirement (this was one of the suggestions the assessment committee made after our recent review).
The two Science courses will include significant quantitative reasons and data analysis components and be a part of the QAC initiative.
*Hake, R.R. “Assessment of Student Learning in Introductory Science Courses,” 2002 PKAL Roundtable on the Future: Assessment in the Service of Student Learning, Duke University, March 1-3, updated online at www.pkal.org.
Rationale for BMWA:
The working group for Beauty and Meaning in Works of Art recommends that the requirements of the current rubric remain unchanged. The working group believes that the current requirements are clearly understood within the context of a liberal arts education by both students and faculty and will easily integrate into the newly proposed curriculum. Seven departments currently contribute to the rubric enhancing the analytic, historical and creative processes that are needed to help students become aware of and understand diverse cultural concepts. (from the 2001 assessment report) The participation and appreciation requirement is distinctive to the Monmouth College curriculum.
Review of the 2001 assessment document and meetings of the working group helped in answering the questions set forth in the charge to the BMWA sub-group.
Goals: as referred to in the Monmouth College mission statement
· The inclusion of courses from seven specific disciplines acknowledges the
interconnected nature of the liberal arts experience.
College purpose #8 – Develop creativity and skills in…artistic expression
College purpose #9 – Understand the methods of inquiry and expression in the
all course syllabi meeting rubric requirements
Current List of Course Offerings: There may be other courses that could be added. ex. more literary options
Catalog Narrative: The working group proposes the following change to the third
paragraph of the BMWA mission statement –
Valuing the arts fully includes both appreciating and participating in the arts.
For this requirement students participate actively in arts like writing, musical
composition, singing, acting or drawing and also learn to understand and
appreciate similar works of art.
Development of interdisciplinary / team taught offerings in BMWA: A questionnaire
was sent to twenty-one faculty in CATA, MUSIC, MFL, HIST, CLAS, ARTD,
ENGL and PHIL – RELG STUDIES, thirteen responses were gathered.
· Interest in teaching such a course? 5 yes, 6 no, 2 yes, if extra pay and a course release
· Background for teaching “ “? 8 yes, 5 no,
· Give up a course you currently
teach to teach “ “ ? 5 yes, if no effect on majors, 8 no
you REALLY teach “ “? 5 yes, depending on who the other instructor was
Most yes responses were followed by comments about receiving full credit for being involved, effects on individuals departments, real need for, depends on the other person and only if there was monetary support to prepare.
Concerns: There is no ownership/coordinator of the BMWA component and there is
rarely, if ever, a meeting of the faculty responsible for the courses nor are there
regular conversations aimed at improving the rubric. (from the 2001 assessment)
Conclusion: The working group recommends that the current requirements of the rubric remain the same for the following reasons:
Student and alumni survey items on college-wide assessment instruments suggest that
the rubric is well received by students in most cases and their appreciation and understanding of the arts increased as a result of their courses at the college.
Curriculum Review Task Force Proposal on Citizenship: Responsible Action
The CRTF recommends adoption of “Citizenship: Responsible Action" as a senior capstone course in “Integrated Studies.” Citizenship addresses “Educational Goals” A, C, and D of those endorsed by the faculty in the last two years. The course invites students to examine an issue or problem in the world from more than one disciplinary perspective; then to use critical thinking skills acquired in general education and majors courses to examine possible roles and responsibilities as local, national, and international citizens.
The group sees this capstone to “Integrated Studies” as replacing the present “Issues and Ideas” General Education senior-level course. Like the title “Issues and Ideas,” “Citizenship” would serve as a rubric identifier for a limited menu of courses that could quite possibly include revised versions of present ‘Issues and Ideas” courses such as: “Environmental Ethics,” “Economy, Community, and Ethics,” “Fe0minist Approaches to Literature and Society,” “Liberty,” “War and Peace,” “Poetics of the Self,” “The New Individual,” “Biotechnology and Human Values,” “Economic Policy Alternatives and Citizen Welfare,” “Ethics in an Information Society.”
The central idea of the course is to offer students the opportunity to move from theoretical/contemplative modes of information gathering and analysis to assignments and projects focused on responsible action in the world. The hallmark of the course should involve a senior capstone project that can be defined variously as: a term research or position paper (linking belief and action, proposing policy); an individual or group service project; or an experiential learning project linked to goals of citizenship and responsible action. (Note: With reference to the last two possibilities, Millikin University’s “service learning” component in its “University Capstone Seminar” is one recent analogue to what is partially proposed here. So is Portland State’s “Ethical Issues and Social Responsibility” senior capstone course, featuring an option for “community based projects”).
1. A “new” Citizenship course, “Economy, Community and Ethics” (formerly an ISSI catalogue listing) might well retain its focus on the problem of reconciling Judeo-Christian values and contemporary materialism in a global economy (MC Catalogue), but would now highlight project possibilities that include: a personal essay projecting life choices based on faith; a research paper on administration of Catholic Charities or the “exemplary life” of Dorothy Day; apprenticeship with/ work for a faith-based charitable or philanthropic institution.
2. A Citizenship offering of “Environmental Ethics” (ISSI listing) might again focus on the examination of “ecological problems caused by human activities” and “rethinking the relationship between human beings and nature”(MC Catalogue). Projects might include: personal position and “policy” papers; research into ongoing experiments in genetic engineering of crops; experiential learning with Monsanto or Pioneer Seed Company; experimentation and work on a Monmouth College alternative “organic mini-farm” at the LeSuer site (a possible long-term project involving multi-year studies of soil quality, food quality, pest control, markets for organic produce, etc.).
However individual instructors or groups of instructors may organize course work and projects. The group foresees that to be successful "Citizenship: Responsible Action" courses must share the following goals of design and structure:
$ Each course among the limited menu of courses in this area should attract students from a variety of disciplinary backgrounds; the student population in each section should be heterogeneous with reference to majors.
$ Each course title and syllabus should reflect an interdisciplinary approach to a specific problem or issue.
$ Service or experiential learning projects must articulate clear academic goals, and include a written component of rigorous academic evaluation.
$ One instructor might well teach such an interdisciplinary course, but the best delivery of the course would come in team-taught or Atriad@ teaching sections, where two or three different disciplines are represented.
$ The college must be willing to devote resources to: faculty/staff research and development of project possibilities; outreach for community-based (long term) projects, pedagogy sessions on service learning/experiential learning strategies and assessment.
 Gaff, Jerry G. and James L. Ratcliff. Handbook of the Undergraduate Curriculum. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass Publishers, 1996. 149.
 It is important to note that this conceptual model fits very well with the purposes of general education summarized by Jerry G. Gaff in his review of relevant literature (Gaff, op cit., 142.). He found that effective General Education in colleges:
- Is rooted in the liberal arts and sciences
- Stresses breadth of knowledge, languages, and methodologies
- Strives for integration, synthesis, and cohesion of learning
- Encourages appreciation of one’s heritage and other cultures
- Examines values and controversial issues
- Prizes a common educational experience for all students
- Expects mastery of linguistic, analytic, and computational skills
- Fosters personal development and an expanded view of self