Friday, October 05, 2007

What is liberal education?

Liberal education is more than a new approach to education, or even a new approach to a traditional education. Liberal education of today not only focuses on enhancing critical thinking and collaboration, but also on promoting and enhancing student engagement. Liberal education focuses on providing a foundation, a well-rounded foundation, upon which to build continuous, lifelong education.

Learning in this manner involves refocusing education. This learning challenges both students to become more involved in their learning and faculty to present learning in a manner that challenges students and engages them in the process of learning. We must refocus our assessments to be more holistic and comprehensive. No longer should assessments merely focus on single-course curriculum. Assessments must encourage a multi-disciplinary approach.

Students may be more focused, able to employ analysis, synthesis and evaluation, in this newer approach to learning. These attributes, coupled with critical thinking and problem solving, for example, may be observable over the course of one semester, or multiple semesters. Determining competency, rather than mastery, requires a different teaching style.

Teaching would require both a greater depth and breadth of curriculum. Instruction must not only focus on specific curricular material, but should also extend the curricular material, integrate the material in such a way that teaching becomes a blending of curricular content rather than an isolated perspective of curriculum. This is more than teaching a specific curriculum to a specific level; it is teaching, or rather integrating curriculum to produce a well-rounded individual who is adaptable to, and in, an evolving global economy, committed to improvement, and prepared to serve society.
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