Teaching Nonmajors: Advise for Liberal Arts Professors

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Last year, I graduated from a research-intensive university in southern Ontario and, after being wait-listed for a postdoctoral fellowship, I decided to cross the trenches and accept a tenure-track position at a small liberal arts college in Northern Georgia. Before my experience here, I heard about teaching-based positions at these kinds of institutions discussed in hushed tones in the hallways of my university. They had the connotation of being intellectual wastelands — places where the careers of scholars went to die.


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I might as well have been converting to scientology. For a long time now, there has been a stark division in academe, between the research institutions where faculty members often consider teaching to be a chore better left to those lower in the hierarchy and the small North American liberal arts colleges that pride themselves on student-teacher interactions and a well-rounded education.

I was led to expect low-achieving undergraduates who would leave me regretting my move to teach communication studies in this scenic Appalachian town on the border of North Carolina. Suffice it to say, I was surprised when I arrived on campus. First, I discovered that the other new hires, far from being underachievers, included film directors, international educators, and accomplished poets.

Early in the academic year, I found myself challenged by the questions students asked. Now, having experienced both the research-intensive university environment and the small liberal arts college, I can shed light on some of the misconceptions professors and their students may hold about the other side of the academic tracks. They were sincere expressions of confusion about why people would dedicate their lives to such seemingly trivial disagreements.

While no one was pulling out obscure quotes from Lacan or Foucault, I found my class discussions challenging and enriching for both the students and me. When I tell my colleagues at research universities that I teach eight classes a year, they are appalled. What about your freedom to do research? And, sure, I might take on less teaching if it became an option. But there is also much less pressure on me to be the expert in one particular niche, leaving the research questions I can pursue much more open.

When I was working on my dissertation about media representations of gangs in Canada, I found myself reading so narrowly that I could hardly talk about anything else. Suddenly, everything has become part of my research field. All of which I bring into my classes in one way or another. By contrast, students in China and India focus relentlessly on math and science from an early age.

While it still expects students to push their way through standard engineering and science classes, it ripped up its traditional curriculum in the s to make room for extensive research, design and social-service projects by juniors and seniors, including many conducted on trips with professors overseas. In , it added optional first-year projects — which a quarter of its freshmen do — focused on world problems like hunger or disease.

A VOICE AND A FORCE FOR LIBERAL EDUCATION

Heinricher, the dean of undergraduate studies. And so late this past summer, about 90 freshmen received e-mails asking if they typically received flu vaccines. The e-mails were not from the health services office, but from students measuring how widely flu spreads at different rates of vaccination.

Two of the students had spent part of their freshmen year researching diseases and devising a survey. Brenna Pugliese, one of the juniors and a biology major, says the two-day exercise raised awareness on campus of the need for more students to get the vaccine. Teachers say they have been surprised by the sophistication of some of the freshmen projects, like a device to harvest kinetic energy that is now being patented. But the main goals are to enable students to work closely with faculty members, build confidence and promote teamwork. Studies have shown that women, in particular, want to see their schoolwork is connected to helping people, and the projects help them feel more comfortable in STEM fields, where men far outnumber women everywhere except in biology.

Seventy-four percent of W. Most of the top state research universities have added at least a splash of design work in the freshman year. The University of Illinois began this fall to require freshmen engineering students to take a course on aspirations for the profession and encourages them to do a design project or take a leadership seminar. Most technical schools push students to seek summer internships and take semesters off to gain practical work experiences.

Applying for a Job at a Liberal Arts College

The hope is that the lure of high-paying jobs during an economic downturn will convince more students to stick with it. Some private schools have also adjusted their grading policies to ease some of the pressure on STEM students.

Any required courses would have to be repeated. But what really helps Ms. Graedel get through the rigors of STEM, she says, is hanging onto her aspirations. She grew up in a farming area in Washington State, the only student from her high school class of 26 pursuing a technology degree.

Liberal Studies B.A. (LIBA) Major - School of General Studies | Stockton University

The space program has been sharply cut back. As the article correctly noted elsewhere, he is Peter Kilpatrick, not Kirkpatrick. Tell us what you think. At Holy Cross we make a commitment to the education of the whole student. We also commit to the advising of the whole student—and fulfilling this promise takes dedication and diligence from all of us. Margaret Freije is the associate dean of the college and associate professor of mathematics at the College of the Holy Cross. Join our email list.

Otis Teaching Tips: Leading Classroom Discussions

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Centralizing Advising to Improve Student Outcomes. The Value of an Outdoor Education Experience. Peer Review. It Takes a College to Advise a Student Pursuing advising as monitoring and mentoring is time consuming. Advising First- through Senior-year Students Our students require different kinds of advising support for each of their four years at Holy Cross and the class deans are constants in this progression. Previous Issues. See All. Read more. While the pace of change in higher education can be slow, general education has emerged as a space Civic Learning in the Major by Design.

Educating students to be responsible, informed, and engaged citizens in their workplaces and the Faculty Collaboratives. Committing to Equity and Inclusive Excellence. Since , bachelor degree attainment among students from wealthy families nearly doubled, but it New Frontiers in Writing. This issue builds on and explores implications of findings from the National Census of Writing.

Your Dean Favors Experiential Liberal Arts: Now What?

Advancing Equity and Student Success through Eportfolios. Adoption of eportfolio pedagogies and practices in conjunction with Signature Work provide the Transparency and Problem-Centered Learning.


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This issue, funded by TG Philanthropy, explores the relationship between high-impact practices and Advancing Collaborative Roadmaps for Student Success. Sponsored by The Kresge Foundation, this issue focuses on campus, state, regional, and national In a world where college graduates spend the majority of their public lives engaged in work, this This issue, sponsored by the W.

Faculty Leadership for Integrative Liberal Learning. This issue, sponsored by the Teagle and Mellon foundations, offers insights about the central role Quantitative Reasoning.