Archive for Monday, February 28, 2011

Baker University updates requirements to hone skills used after graduation

February 28, 2011

Baker University is preparing to overhaul its general education requirements, focusing on skills rather than on specific courses.

The change, which needs approval from the school’s Board of Trustees, is already being piloted for freshmen.

Erin Joyce, Baker’s interim assistant dean for liberal studies, has been involved throughout the five-year process leading up to the change.

“The students who have taken the freshman pilot courses, they do seem to like it,” she said.

The number of hours required for general education will be lowered, from about 56 to 60 hours for most students to 38 hours. The number of total hours required for graduation will stay the same.

The required courses will be spread out over four years.

In the first year, students will be encouraged to “ignite” their learning and discover themselves. In year two, students learn to “investigate” through scientific inquiry.

In the junior year, students focus on “integration” of information, followed by the senior year when learning centers around the “impact” of what they’ve learned and how they can apply it to the real world.

This comes after the school hired a consultant from the American Association of Colleges and Universities, and after Baker looked at data from businesses that showed what they’re expecting from graduates.

Businesses want students who can communicate well, Joyce said, both orally and in writing, who are critical and creative thinkers, globally aware, act ethically and can work in teams.

Therefore, the new model focuses on skills rather than specific classes. For example, gone are the old Composition I and Composition II requirements.

In their place is a “core class” called Liberal Studies 111, a class that integrates writing, public speaking and other skills. But each section of LS 111 is different, based around a theme that the instructor chooses.

Joyce teaches a class designed around Harry Potter. Others focus on music and culture, media and gender, and investigating the paranormal.

The key thing is that the students are picking up the skills, said Rob Flaherty, associate dean for the College of Arts and Sciences. He teaches a class on mind-altering drugs and their culture, and doesn’t lecture often, instead using class time for students to collaborate, discuss and research.

“A lot of our students will have jobs when they graduate that don’t exist today,” he said, making the focus on these kinds of skills all the more important.

Old standbys like biology, chemistry and physics are still around, Joyce said, but are linked with the core classes.

Kansas University is undergoing a similar review of its general education requirements. While KU leaders have indicated that it will likely include a reduction in the number of general education hours required, Flaherty said it was doubtful that a model exactly like Baker’s could be replicated at a university like KU.

“It’s much harder to do at a large school,” he said.


1776attorney 7 years, 2 months ago

As I read this article I have to think that Baker has gone incredibly crazy. These are exactly the kind of crazy, lefty, wacko college classes that corporations and employers would find laughable and unimpressive.

Who gets the good job- a graduate of an established, reputable career educating university or a college that teaches this left-wing nonsense.

How about tough, structured, intense studies in technology, science, math and the arts, history and civilization? We're educating a generation of third class workers and followers, not leaders.

This sounds like an experiment from the 1960's that is destined to ruin students chances of learning, getting value for their money, and having their degree respected by potential employers.

It is no wonder the Chinese and Indians are soon to surpass the USA in economic strength and educational advancement.

Although I understand a lot can be lost in the translation of a newspaper article, this sounds like escaped mental patients or politically correct crazies have taken over the academic programs at Baker. This is downright scary.

$25,000 a year for this nuttiness? Are they serious?


greyghost 7 years, 2 months ago

I think it is great that Baker U. is devoting so much of its coursework to the study of our amazing little town in southwest Kansas. Please tell me that Liberal Studies 111 mostly has a concentration in Kelli McCarty -- Miss USA, 1991 and adult film star. Or, at least, about the construction of the world's largest house of mud!

Contrary to the attorney above, I think businesses would love to acquire graduates so well versed in Liberal, Kansas Studies.


ksrush 7 years, 2 months ago

Ghost, tell me your kidding. This is exactly what Baker does not need, KU rejects to " enlighten" our future with useless liberal garbage. Pat Long were you out of town while this was going on ?


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