UWO transforms General Education

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  • What about the students that wish to pursue non-liberal arts degrees? Where are the math and science and non-political options in this new “transformation”? To be brutally honest, the questions posed as examples in this article would not have helped prepare me for the career I was able to obtain as a graduate from the University. To be fair, I do agree with the comment about falsely constructed differences but the examples I see appear to perpetuate them versus exposing them as false choices. I will say that this article makes me question whether my children should select UW-O as their University of choice when they graduate.

  • The University Studies Program approach to general education includes math, science, history, literature, and a wide-range of courses that assist students in developing core knowledge and skills. A nation-wide study of employers just released (April 2013) affirms that the learning outcomes of the University Studies Program courses are right in line with job market expectations. While the article focused attention on three specific outcomes (civic knowledge, intercultural knowledge, and sustainability), the entire list of Essential Learning Outcomes includes the knowledge, skills, and responsibilities that are critical to college and career success. This new program is designed to enhance learning among as many students as possible – with peer mentors, alumni mentors, community experiences, and connections across classes. Those enhancements will be integrated into the core subjects as students make progress in essential skills and advance their knowledge. I encourage you to check the USP website for a complete list of courses (under “Explore”), the “Essential Learning Outcomes” (to see the full list including writing, speaking, critical thinking, problem solving, and more), the news section for the employer survey information I reference, and other specifics. I am so glad that your UW Oshkosh education has served you well. Given the research that supports these changes, I believe that your children also would be very well served by this program. Their success – and the success of all our students – is our number one priority. Hundreds of UW Oshkosh faculty and staff members have been working to enhance teaching and learning to create the USP, so that more students can succeed and be as well-prepared as possible for careers and challenges in the 21st century. I welcome you to learn more and to contact me personally if you have further questions or concerns.

  • I am excited to see the changes happening in the general education curriculum, and I really wish the University Studies Program had been there when I was starting at UWO. As a (somewhat) recent alum (’10), I still remember a lot of my general education courses. I remember a lot of students lamenting that they had to take the courses, “Why do I have to learn this? I’m never going to need it again. It’s not going to help me in my career!” which was strangely reminiscent of the complaining heard in high school. Sometimes, when there was a lack of focus or importance placed on the information in the course by both the students and professors, it did seem that some gen-eds were generally considered “jokes” and a waste of time and money. This always frustrated me, because I had such great experiences with other general education courses.

    I was very fortunate to have several general education courses that were very valuable to me, including a lot of classes that revolved around the three questions of the USP. Classes that from the outset I was disinterested in: Intro to African American Studies, Economic Statistics, Philosophy – Ethics, Intro to Philosophy, Geology 110, Biology 108, Religious Studies – Ethics, Speech 111, Poli Sci – American Government and Politics. I left these classes wanting to get a major in the discipline. Unfortunately I had to only pick two majors, otherwise I’d still be there working on my Economic Statistics and Philosophy majors. In each of these classes, the professor knew that they had something valuable to teach me, and they were excited to share it. These general education classes weren’t a waste of time, fillers, or designed to weed out students. They were designed by passionate professors who wanted to help students become prepared for both their professional careers and their place in society.

    Although I cannot say I specifically thought of Religious Studies or Intro to African American Studies any time while going about my day at work today, my education gained in these classes and classes like it did prepare me for my career. Every day, I use skills such as critical-thinking, evaluation of sources, research, advanced writing, ability to read and understand highly research orientated technical reports and studies, effectively communicating with a wide range of people who all have different goals. These skills can be developed by investigating the USP’s three questions, and these skills are applicable to most professional careers. The cohesiveness of the USP program will greatly increase the ability of these skills being further developed. fter gaining the building blocks in these 41 credits, the students will be better prepared to move on to their majors and apply the general skills emphasized in the USP, specifically to their specific discipline, and eventual career.

    One last thought: I took classes from three of the professors cited in the article who developed the program. I can attest to their dedication to the success of students in all fields. Based on my knowledge of them and the article, I am confident that the development of this program was exhaustive, comprehensive, and research-based. This stands in stark contrast with traditional, anecdotal/experience-based approach often used to develop policy. This approach is a breath of fresh air and should be a model for policy-making of all types.

    (You’ll have to excuse the length. Obviously, my concision and editing skills are rusty.)