Title

Blending to Help Students LEAP: Achieving Curricular Goals & Preserving Student Autonomy

Streaming Media

Submission Type

20-minute Presentation

Abstract

In the spring of 2015, Rollins College launched its Foundations program, an innovative new general education curriculum rooted in the AAC&U’s “Liberal Arts and America’s Promise” (LEAP) initiative. LEAP reframes how a classical liberal arts education can prepare students to face the challenges of our increasingly complex and globalized world. Its expansive goals include the reimagining of major learning outcomes, pedagogical approaches, extra-curricular learning experiences, and even campus culture.

As our first cohort of students prepare to complete their Foundations coursework, we’re taking stock of this new curriculum, and our assessment reveals that the final course in the sequence, a 300-level practicum, is particularly over-burdened. As a capstone, this inquiry-based, multi-disciplinary course must highlight connections between the students’ preceding general education classes and propel them into their major coursework. It must also produce concrete, assessable artifacts demonstrating student competency in all five of the LEAP Learning Outcomes (written communication, information literacy, critical thinking, ethical reasoning, and integrative learning).

While our hopes for this new program are high, faculty are frustrated by this seemingly insurmountable challenge, and though many of our students report having positive learning experiences in these new classes, some feel, rather than empowered and prepared “to deal with complexity, diversity, and change” (AAC&U), anywhere from “lost” to “processed” in these over-wrought courses that seek to do so much in the space of 15 short weeks.

To address these challenges, I created a blended course that makes the seemingly impossible demands of this curriculum not only possible but intellectually energizing and productive—for me and for my students. Broadly speaking, students use web-based programs like WordPress and Popplet to build intellectual communities (through peer and faculty collaboration), engage in knowledge production (rather than passive consumption), extend the course beyond the boundaries of our traditional classroom capabilities (and my disciplinary grounding), and demonstrate LEAP Learning Outcomes.

In this 20-minute panel talk, I will outline the course design, provide student-authored course materials and evaluations, and discuss how these web-based projects facilitate meaningful academic inquiry, preserve student autonomy, and achieve larger curricular goals. My aim is to share the successes of this blended course with colleagues facing similar programmatic challenges and to solicit feedback on how these ideas and practices might continue to evolve.

Session

Presentation

Location

Thomas 110

Start Date

5-17-2017 2:40 PM

End Date

5-17-2017 4:00 PM

Blending to Help Students LEAP_Lucy Littler_2017.pptx (3045 kB)
Ppt to accompany conference talk

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May 17th, 2:40 PM May 17th, 4:00 PM

Blending to Help Students LEAP: Achieving Curricular Goals & Preserving Student Autonomy

Thomas 110

In the spring of 2015, Rollins College launched its Foundations program, an innovative new general education curriculum rooted in the AAC&U’s “Liberal Arts and America’s Promise” (LEAP) initiative. LEAP reframes how a classical liberal arts education can prepare students to face the challenges of our increasingly complex and globalized world. Its expansive goals include the reimagining of major learning outcomes, pedagogical approaches, extra-curricular learning experiences, and even campus culture.

As our first cohort of students prepare to complete their Foundations coursework, we’re taking stock of this new curriculum, and our assessment reveals that the final course in the sequence, a 300-level practicum, is particularly over-burdened. As a capstone, this inquiry-based, multi-disciplinary course must highlight connections between the students’ preceding general education classes and propel them into their major coursework. It must also produce concrete, assessable artifacts demonstrating student competency in all five of the LEAP Learning Outcomes (written communication, information literacy, critical thinking, ethical reasoning, and integrative learning).

While our hopes for this new program are high, faculty are frustrated by this seemingly insurmountable challenge, and though many of our students report having positive learning experiences in these new classes, some feel, rather than empowered and prepared “to deal with complexity, diversity, and change” (AAC&U), anywhere from “lost” to “processed” in these over-wrought courses that seek to do so much in the space of 15 short weeks.

To address these challenges, I created a blended course that makes the seemingly impossible demands of this curriculum not only possible but intellectually energizing and productive—for me and for my students. Broadly speaking, students use web-based programs like WordPress and Popplet to build intellectual communities (through peer and faculty collaboration), engage in knowledge production (rather than passive consumption), extend the course beyond the boundaries of our traditional classroom capabilities (and my disciplinary grounding), and demonstrate LEAP Learning Outcomes.

In this 20-minute panel talk, I will outline the course design, provide student-authored course materials and evaluations, and discuss how these web-based projects facilitate meaningful academic inquiry, preserve student autonomy, and achieve larger curricular goals. My aim is to share the successes of this blended course with colleagues facing similar programmatic challenges and to solicit feedback on how these ideas and practices might continue to evolve.