According to the article Mapping General Education Outcomes in the Major: Intentionality and Transparency how do general education courses influence specialized programs of study?I need help making...

According to the article Mapping General Education Outcomes in the Major: Intentionality and Transparency how do general education courses influence specialized programs of study?

I need help making the connection between the question and what the article suggests.

See the article entitled "Mapping General Education Outcomes in the Major: Intentionality and Transparency." 

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herappleness's profile pic

M.P. Ossa | College Teacher | (Level 1) Distinguished Educator

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Cuevas, Matveev, and Miller's (2010) article Mapping General Education Outcomes in the Major: Intentionality and Transparency is a well-known proposal for curriculum development that advocates for the inclusion of General Education strands within the specialized programs of study of major educational institutions. The main issue that they want to resolve is summarized in that there is an

...increased intensity of employers' demands for institutions to significantly enhance efforts in facilitating and ensuring student development of transferable general education competencies. 

This is significant. It entails that somewhere along our rapidly-changing world, we have taken general education competencies for granted. Instead, we have moved on to specialized skills which will inevitably require the schema that can only be built with the core courses of general education.

The purpose of general education courses is to give the student-apprentice the opportunity to obtain a well-rounded education where all disciplines are re-visited. The skills learned in a general education program are the building blocks that strengthen our ability for critical thinking and basic problem solving. A well-rounded scholar must stimulate both sides of their brain, the technical and the non-technical, to create a balanced schema from which new ideas and creativity can surface. To use some famous last words: "If you always do what you have always done, you will always get what you have always got". Learning multiple skills makes us flexible, creative, and skilled to deal with different situations. Multi-tasking and malleability are the core of the well-rounded professional of the 21st century.

Although high school courses do cover most of the general education requirements that are taught during the freshman year of college, what many curriculum developers are trying to do is to include these disciplines as part of specialized plans of study without having to dedicate an entire year to it. This means that all courses will touch upon general competencies, or at least that is the idea. If current employers are begging for employees to "know the basics", it is definitely time to start doing it.

There is currently a growing need for skill-based work in the form of software development, computational linguistics, and instructional design- this is in academia. Even more strong is the need for other types of skill-based work such as plumbing, electrical engineering, and other fields of service. As a result, technical colleges are booming, as they are offering programs that will almost guarantee a job upon graduation. The article by Cuevas, Maveev and Miller states that these programs need to get back on GenEd courses as well.

Meanwhile, as curriculum developers try to find a way to connect general competencies with intensively-focused study programs, current graduates may be joining the workforce with plenty of knowledge about their particular skill, but lacking knowledge in anything else. Imagine working with someone who is extremely smart in computers but cannot read a book, or write a complete sentence. What does this say about the college preparation programs of the US Educational system? It says that we are only creating half-professionals, and that we are not wholly educating our students.Therefore, a balance must be created in curriculum design to help educate students completely.

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rrteacher | College Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

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The question that is really addressed in this article is whether assessment can help faculty to assist students in doing better in core courses in their major. The answer is yes, with some qualifications. If assessment, which is often viewed with rather intense suspicion by faculty, offers opportunities to change pedagogical practice within the department, it can have tangible benefits, because it can help to isolate those practices that work well and those that could use fine tuning. This is, in part, what the author means when she discusses "using findings as a means to an end" rather than an end in themselves. The author is addressing faculty concerns rather than student concern about assessments, and is suggesting that "gen ed" assessment can be a very useful tool if done correctly. 

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rrteacher's profile pic

rrteacher | College Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

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This article, written by Nurea Cuevas, Alexi Matveev, and Khadijah Miller, claims that the purpose of general education, or "gen ed" classes is to "prepare students for further studies in their major by developing a broad knowledge base, foundational intellectual skills, and dispositions for lifelong learning." The article seems to proceed from the assumption that general education courses do, in fact, provide these outcomes, but that colleges and universities do not necessarily do a good job in being transparent about these goals. Additionally, there is more pressure than ever from lawmakers, accreditators, and other external sources to show how general education courses are fostering skills across the curriculum that are useful to all students regardless of their major. Essentially what this article calls for is "intentionality," or deliberately designing courses to promote these skills; and "transparency," making it clear to psychology majors, for example, that the skills they acquire in any given gen ed course will be applicable and helpful in their major courses. The authors seem to take for granted that courses do include these skills, and list them in the first paragraph. What universities need to do better is actually showing students how their courses are fostering these skills.

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