Liberal Education

From the Editor

Back in June, the Chronicle of Higher Education published an especially thought-provoking article exploring the diversity of teaching formats and strategies that different faculty members at different institutions use in a widely taken course—in this case, microeconomics. Reprinted here, the article raises many questions about what, where, and how students learn in courses that are assumed to cover the same ground. To explore some of these questions, and to unsettle some of the assumptions, we asked Carol Geary Schneider and Stephen Ehrmann each to respond. Ehrmann is vice provost for teaching and learning and associate professor of educational technology leadership at George Washington University, one of the schools profiled in the Chronicle article.

This issue of Liberal Education also features the last in our “PKAL Perspective” series, which ran throughout 2012. In this stocktaking final article, Jeanne Narum, the founder and director emeritus of Project Kaleidoscope, reviews the original impetus for PKAL and reflects on the lessons learned from more than twenty years of work to improve undergraduate STEM education in the United States. Since 2008, PKAL has been AAC&U’s STEM leadership center.

Rounding out the issue is a diverse set of Perspectives articles. Tony Blair, the former British prime minister, provides a broad overview of the Tony Blair Faith Foundation, and his coauthor, Craig Bardsley, fills in details about the foundation’s evolving work with colleges and universities around the world. The next article focuses on the Personal and Social Responsibility Inventory, a national campus climate survey originally developed by AAC&U as part of the Core Commitments initiative and now administered through a partnership between AAC&U and the Research Institute for Studies in Education at Iowa State University. The author, Robert Reason, discusses some preliminary results from the most recent administration of the survey. This is followed by consideration of the difficulties community colleges face in designing—and finding curricular room for—general education programs that are grounded in the liberal arts. The subject of the final Perspectives article is a multi-campus, cross-disciplinary collaboration that sought ways of foregrounding and developing certain “habits of mind.” With funding from the Lumina Foundation, thirty developmental education instructors from three colleges in California worked together to create lesson exemplars that target intellectual capacities such as motivation and self-efficacy.

Finally, in this quarter’s My View article, an academic administrator reflects on his yearlong experience studying best practices in serving students with learning and other disabilities. What he learned has had a lasting effect on his thinking—not only about how best to serve these particular students, but also about how broadly beneficial many of the practices turn out to be.

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