Faculty convening discussion forums to bolster General Education

SUNY New Paltz faculty from across the disciplines have begun meeting to discuss an array of potential improvements to General Education (GE) curriculum, pedagogical practice, communication and assessment.

The forums aim to draw on the collective energy and experiences of faculty members who teach GE courses, in order to establish a GE model that supports and motivates students through meaningful intellectual exploration.

The conversation is in direct response to the spring 2016 approval of a new GE curriculum (GE IV). More than just a revision to course requirements for students, a central component of this GE reform is to promote wholesale cultural change in the ways that students, faculty and staff think and talk about the GE curriculum, its value, and the faculty’s ongoing efforts to improve it.

“One thing that emerged as essential during our efforts to reform our curriculum was that, regardless of what particular requirements we define, the faculty must clearly and intentionally articulate what our curriculum is, what its purpose is, what the ideal behind it is and what our particular practices are going to be,” said GE Board co-chair and Associate Professor of History Heather Morrison.

The first GE forum was held on Nov. 16, for faculty who teach courses in the Natural Sciences, Social Sciences, Humanities and Western World GE requirements.

Participants broke out into their category groups to discuss their experiences and share ideas for improving pedagogy, establishing meaningful assessment practices, and communicating the value and purpose of GE to current and prospective students.

“Our goal in these forums is to get talking about what we do, offer up our experiences of what it’s like to teach our students when they’re required to take our courses, and describe what’s inspirational about it and what challenges we face,” Morrison said.

Preliminary ideas discussed at this first forum included the empowerment of academic departments to determine what kinds of assignments best meet the standards of GE courses and content areas, and the creation of a new, more inclusive assessment model in which students submit portfolios of work demonstrating their fulfillment of GE learning outcomes.

The GE Board will continue to seek input from faculty members throughout the process of implementing GE IV. Information about future opportunities to contribute to this process will be shared with the faculty as it becomes available.

More information about General Education at SUNY New Paltz is available online.