Tuesday, May 20, 2008

First Draft of Liberal Education Goals

May Faculty College has begun, and this year's theme is "General Education 2.0: Exploring Essential Literacies." Our first assignment was to think about what we each regard as essential literacies. What do we hope that our students learn in their four years in college, and/or what skills do we think it is important that they develop? Here are my own preliminary thoughts.

Reasoning/Critical Thinking:
  • deductive and inductive reasoning
  • what counts as evidence in different fields
  • constructing arguments (ability to do so; also, understanding of processes for doing so in different disciplines -- e.g., the scientific method)
  • critiquing arguments (difference between finding problems in structure of reasoning vs. assessing quality and relevance of evidence)
  • also - ability to recognize, critique, and avoid fallacies
  • (note that quantitative reasoning fits into all of the above)
Good Communication Skills (perception and expression):
  • reading, writing, listening, speaking
  • other forms of creative expression and performance (e.g., visual, musical, kinesthetic)
  • ability to do the above in various settings: face-to-face/in person, or via technology/media
  • aesthetic awareness/aesthetic skill (in all aspects of perception and expression)
Understanding the World:
  • historically
  • different cultures, different religious traditions, different political systems
  • natural world (includes environmental awareness)
Understanding Oneself:
  • biologically, psychologically, sociologically
  • one's own interests and abilities
  • one's own values and ethical orientation

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