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Provost's Update

Sept. 2014

Review experts focus on General Education Program

Just as major curricular programs undergo periodic review, Eastern Michigan University is reviewing its General Education Program.

General EducationEastern revised its general education curriculum in 2007. Now, a committee comprised of faculty senate representatives and staff members with expertise in assessment and program review are considering the program and how it might be enhanced. Committee members currently are:

  • John Koolage – CAS and co-chair of the committee
  • Chris Foreman - Gen Ed Director and co-chair of the committee
  • COB – To Be Determined
  • Mary Rearick – COE representative
  • Gerald Newberry – CHHS representative
  • Konnie Kustron – COT representative
  • Bob Winning – Gen Ed Vetting subcommittee representative
  • Doug Baker – Gen Ed Assessment subcommittee representative
  • Chris Gardiner – Provost appointment
  • Peggy Liggit – Provost appointment
  • Winifred Martin – Administrative Support

"Any intellectual apparatus needs ongoing review," says General Education Program Director Chris Foreman. "This isn't about reconstructing the program. Instead, we're looking at what we've learned over the past seven years about what's working, what's not working, and how we can make it even better."

The General Education Review Committee started its work last fall by comparing Eastern's program against peer programs, using data from the Association of American Colleges and Universities (AAC&U).

"We're also looking at reports from higher education learning commissions about educational best practices," Foreman says. "AAC&U has data from employer surveys—we're also taking that into account in order to make sure we're providing students with the skills employers are seeking."

Initial data shows EMU's program compares favorably with peer institutions, says John Koolage, a review committee member and assistant professor of History and Philosophy.

"General education programs change rapidly when there is a high degree of dissatisfaction," Koolage says. "The better programs are ones that have been in place for a long time. That's just one measure. We're also comparing the types of courses other programs offer and examining how other schools solved their program problems."

This fall, the review committee will gather feedback about the program through faculty and student surveys, Foreman says.

"Once that data comes in, we'll bring in external consultants, including an expert in program review from the Higher Learning Commission," she says. "The consultants will review documents, interview different campus constituents and provide their own program recommendations."

After considering all the recommendations and supporting evidence, the review committee will send its final report to the Office of the Provost and campus community by January 30, 2015.

"At that point, the Provost will determine what action steps need to be taken, based on the recommendations and what processes need to be followed in consultation with faculty," Foreman says. "At this time, I anticipate there may be tweaks to certain processes, such as how we assess what students are learning."

Koolage says the review committee takes its responsibility very seriously and is open to suggestions on how to improve the program.

"We want people to feel that the program serves the best interests of EMU and our students," he says. "It's a great opportunity to look at what's working well and resolve any existing program problems. We have a lot of great thinkers on the committee who are very interested in what the campus community says about the program and how we can help make it better."

Visit the General Education Program website for more information about the program and its student requirements. To learn more about the program review process, visit the Academic & Student Affairs website.