Liberal Education: A Survey Of Goals

Mark Valenzuela, James Allen, Brian Swenty
2008 Annual Conference & Exposition Proceedings   unpublished
In the fall of 2006 the authors' institution started a process of re-evaluating its general education program. And like many other masters-level institutions, the university's general education program was a curriculum common to all programs on campus, whether in the college of arts and sciences, engineering, education or business. As often happens at smaller universities, engineering faculty at the university had the opportunity (and took advantage of the opportunity) to help shape the general
more » ... p shape the general education curriculum, balancing the needs of its engineering students with the mission of the university to produce liberally educated men and women. This paper examines how 33 institutions try to resolve this tension of particular professional needs and overarching liberal education needs in their general education programs. Institutions in the study were chosen from the 2007 US News and World Report rankings of colleges and universities, focusing on high ranking schools in the category of undergraduate engineering programs and regional masters level universities with an engineering program. Previous studies in this area have focused primarily on the percentage of course work in general education for the engineering student, recognizing the constraints in an undergraduate engineering curriculum that prepares students for practice in four years. Secondarily, previous studies have focused on the courses (English, History, Art, etc) that comprise a general education program. In contrast, with the shift in assessment from a checklist of courses to an examination of outcomes, the study presented in this paper focuses primarily on the stated mission and goals of an institution's general education program as well as on the outcomes that relate to the general education component of the institution's engineering programs. Further, given the emphasis in assessment on transparency and public accountability, the institutions' websites were used as the primary sources of information for the mission of the general education program at the institution, whether through an online catalog or separate webpage for their general education program. It has been found that the most common goals for general education programs include writing and communication as well as civic responsibility. However, the survey of programs reveals other underlying issues that engineering programs may wish to consider as they provide input into the general education programs of their respective institutions, including globalism and diversity, the interconnectedness of learning areas, and attitudes for life-long learning. The results of the survey are examined in light of two perspectives, one from outside the profession
doi:10.18260/1-2--3604 fatcat:nmhdbsnylrguxlpek7kxwacqxi