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FROM THE PRESIDENT Two Boxes

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Abstract

Thinking outside the box, we all know, is increasingly important if we want to improve student learning. But what, exactly, is the box, and how do we get out of it? "The accreditors are coming and they are insisting we start assessing student learning. " We hear that panicky cry for help quite frequently at the Teagle Foundation. It's understandable, I suppose, that in such situations faculty members (and deans and provosts) sometime react like C students, wondering, "How little can we do and still get a passing grade?" That's one box. At Teagle we are finding that getting out of it requires fresh thinking about how to turn accreditation (or similar demands for assessment) into something that really helps in the classroom. In doing that it helps to focus on the toughest part of accreditation requirements by having in place processes for the systematic improvement of student learning. That idea still sounds alien to the culture of academia, a foreign idea imported from manufacturing or other banausic activities. But it can no longer be avoided. Many smart institutions are working hard to achieve continuous improvements in quality with Teagle support, including: Thirteen research universities, under the leadership of Bob Thompson of Duke University, that are collaborating on projects focused on undergraduate writing and critical thinking; Fifteen liberal arts colleges that are working to systematically improve student learning in a wide range of areas. We expect to announce a new RFP later this year targeting liberal arts colleges for another round of such grants. Details will be posted on the Foundation's website. Another box is built on the assumption that students ' brain are pretty much fixed entities by the time they arrive at college. This and many other assumptions about memory, learning, etc. are being challenged by new work in the cognitive sciences. Two sets of new Teagle grants--one involving consortia of liberal arts colleges and another involving research universities--are encouraging institutions to set up interdisciplinary Collegia t

Year: 2011
OAI identifier: oai:CiteSeerX.psu:10.1.1.192.4958
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