A better way to meet students’ needs

Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota will launch a new General Education (Gen. Ed.) curriculum in 2018.

Dr. Carolyn Ayers, associate dean of general education, said next year’s incoming students will begin the new ‘First Year Experience,’ while current students will finish the program they’ve already started.

Through the new curriculum, Ayers said students who aren’t in the Lasallian Honors Program will pick one of four interdisciplinary minors.

In other words, future students will earn a minor simply by completing the Gen. Ed. portion of their Saint Mary’s coursework.  

Dr. Scott Sorvaag, another developer of the new curriculum, said there are two main ways the interdisciplinary minors will benefit students.

“The idea being that your general education ought to serve you in your full growth and development, but also that it’s something that can be put on your transcript to add an enhancement to your experience here,” he said.

Sorvaag also said the minors would better connect the general education with each student’s chosen field of study.

“Our education at Saint Mary’s would be moving towards something more integrative. This way general education becomes less separate from the majors; it becomes part of a whole package, a whole experience,” Sorvaag said.

Ayers said creating the new curriculum was a multi-year process and involved more than half of the faculty as well as outreach to other constituents: students, student affairs, co-curricular staff, and the student success center.

She said the developers of the new curriculum asked themselves, “How do we want the Saint Mary’s graduates to be as people?”

Developers came up with five big ideas they wanted each graduate to have: intellectual flexibility and imagination, identity development, community engagement, social responsibility, and search for meaning, Ayers said.

“The program itself is structurally providing intentional intersections around the big ideas,” she said.

Sorvaag hoped those intersections would change student’s perspective of general education.

“We want to help in a cultural shift from thinking about general education as a bunch of courses that people check off on a list to a fuller and more connected educational experience for our students,” he said.

 

Alex Gowan-Nuehring

Staff Writer

Author: macoll14

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