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General Education Essentials: A Guide for College Faculty Paperback – May 29 2012
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“There are so many things I could say about this book:
- It is THE ONE BOOK for academics to get up to speed about reforming general education.
- It is written by a faculty member for faculty members who aspire to educational leadership.
- It is written in the language, and with the perspectives, of faculty.
- It is an excellent primer—short, easy to read, and eminently useful.
- Faculty leaders should be required to read this book before speaking publicly about curriculum change.
- Academic administrators ought to buy a copy for every faculty member serving on a general education review or revision committee.”
—Jerry Gaff, senior scholar at Association of American Colleges and Universities
“In this thoughtful and useful overview of general education, its premises, values, and practices, Paul Hanstedt offers a guide to framing programs that are engaging and effective for both students and faculty members. Thinking about general education and its role in liberal learning has come a long way within the past two decades, and Hanstedt enables us to follow and appreciate what has emerged as an increasingly broad consensus.”
—Paul Gaston, Trustees Professor, Kent State University, and author of The Challenge of Bologna
“Finally, a thoughtful book, designed specifically for faculty, on General Education curricula and programs. While much has been written about general education over the past several decades, Hanstedt cuts to the chase and speaks directly to faculty about the theoretical underpinnings and conceptualization of GE and the powerful opportunities for learning that it presents to undergraduate students.”
—Susan Gano-Phillips, professor and chair, Department of Psychology, University of Michigan - Flint, and author of A Process Approach to General Education Reform: Transforming Institutional Culture
“At last! For those of us in higher education who have struggled through attempted revisions of core curriculum with little or no success, Paul Hanstedt’s General Education Essentials provides a framework that blends theory and practice, helping us rethink the purpose and meaning of liberal education. Through curriculum that facilitates connections among the disciplines rather than the acquisition of knowledge isolated in proverbial 'silos,' Dr. Hanstedt describes ways to construct general education models as well as individual courses that hone the critical and creative thinking competencies needed to develop global citizens for the 21st century. Dr. Hanstedt’s intelligent approach is grounded in experience, and he speaks in an authentic voice that faculty will recognize of the opportunities inherent in a revitalized liberal education program. In outlining concrete models of integrated learning and meaningful assignments and assessments, Dr. Hanstedt’s research and practice can assist any campus in taking that first step into what can become a transformative experience for faculty and students alike.”
—Patricia Dwyer, Vice-President for Academic Affairs, Wesley College
About the Author
Paul Hanstedt is a professor of English at Roanoke College and the recipient of a FIPSE grant for sustainable faculty development, several teaching awards from three different institutions, and an Innovation Award for helping to create greater collaboration among faculty at his home institution.
Association of American Colleges and Universities (AAC&U) is the leading national association concerned with the quality, vitality, and public standing of undergraduate liberal education.
Inside This Book(Learn More)
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
The book is filled with plenty of helpful advice and a plethora of models to help facilitate and think about all these issues, and yet it avoids trying to give one size fits all programs that would ignore a university’s own institutional traditions and cultures.
This book will be helpful reading for anyone involved with a university system as a faculty member, adjunct professor, department chair, administrator or advisor, or as a member on a board of regents. It confronts many issues pertaining to college and university education and the needs of students and the world they are being prepared for. Those involved with Alumni organizations may also find this book helpful to understand the issues facing their alma maters in today’s world.
Parents who are beginning the search for universities to which to send their children will also find this book helpful in allowing them an understanding of the challenges facing university education and to better critique how individual universities are meeting those challenges while preparing students for the future.
This is an extremely comprehensive book about General Education classes in college -- what they should be, what they shouldn't try to be, and how they relate to "major" areas of study. When I say "comprehensive," I mean it -- the book goes into detail about the goals and considerations to use when creating assignments in these classes, for example.
One chapter titled "The chapter you'll want to skip" is about assessment. I'd like to lift the chapter on assessment and have everybody re-read it before they have any meetings about assessment. It's not revolutionary stuff, but it is a reminder of how assessment SHOULD work -- it should not be busywork for instructors, but should actually feed into structure for improving the course; it should not be 'extra' assignments but, since the assignments should be based on course objectives, the assessment should provide a useful measuring stick for how well the objectives are being met. And assessment should be drive by the instructors, not forced by administrators. Title of the chapter, notwithstanding, I liked this chapter best of all.
My lack of enthusiasm about the book overall is partly because it is rather pedantic... if you were a space alien who had never heard of Gen Ed, this would be the book for you. The other part is that I wish the book considered Gen Ed courses from OUTSIDE the discipline in question, i.e. if you are the Sociology instructor, what should your responsibility, concern and involvement be with those business classes? As an instructor in "Career and Technical Education" (that would be the new name for "Applied Science" and "Vocational Technology / Vo-Tech" in case you're like me and had no idea), one constant area of friction is that I get students who cannot read and process a technical article, and who cannot create an essay, but they have passed their Gen Ed courses, often with high marks. I would have liked to have seen more in the book about the responsibility that the Gen Ed courses have for setting foundation for everything else, and also about what expectations in unrelated disciplines should be with regard to students who have passed Gen Ed courses.
In this excellent book, Dr. Hanstedt makes a strong case for using general education courses as a means to introduce students to a liberal arts education, helping them appreciate its value while seeing the relationships and connections between various fields of study. He broadens the rationale for offering and taking the courses, and provides particularly valuable guidance by presenting syllabi from model courses around the country. For instance, one of the courses he highlights is called "Traveling Without Leaving: Global Sociology" and instead of just being a typical introduction to sociology, the course provides for an enlightening discussion of variations in cultural practices, an introduction to sociological methodology, the importance of developing a global perspective, and an opportunity for students to write about their own experiences in a different culture. The course also introduces students to key economic concepts as well as family and gender issues related to different cultures.
By providing such clear guidance and ideas, this book would be quite helpful particularly to new faculty who may not have received much pedagogical training during their graduate programs in the area of general education. In addition, as the general public increasingly dismisses or devalues a liberal arts education, this is a text that liberal arts institutions in particular should study because it will help shape courses which will clearly articulate the necessity of a cross-disciplinary liberal arts focus to understand broad societal issues.
A more recent model of general education known as the integrative model aims to go beyond the well-rounded education goal to more deliberately engaging students in reflecting upon the relevance and impact of areas of studies outside their major to their communities as well as their own development as practitioners of their chosen field of study. Integrative general education courses have a natural (as opposed to a forced) interdisciplinary bent, and assignments typically require students to think critically about the interrelatedness of these multi-disciplinary influences to their areas of study.
Discussing in greater detail the differences between the two above-mentioned models of general education and how they're addressing 21st century job requirements, this very well written book provides a few illustrative curricula, syllabi, and sample course descriptions. It also discusses some potential implementation problems and suggested ways to address or handle them.
It includes some suggested syllabi and course outlines for several different approaches. They are thoughtfully written and would be easily adapted. The focus is primarily on getting kids to have some more hands on and/or using assimilative learning techniques to more thoroughly understand, as well as higher order thinking. There is no rote memorization, but an approach towards learning that will only aid students.
The index is well-laid out and comprehensive. Overall, this is a fantastic resource for college admins and professors to consider during the yet another round of curricula redevelopment.