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General Education Essentials: A Guide for College Faculty

ISBN: 978-1-118-32185-0
192 pages
May 2012, Jossey-Bass
General Education Essentials: A Guide for College Faculty (1118321855) cover image


General Education Essentials

"Full-time and part-time faculty in any discipline and at any size campus with any type of mission can pick up this volume and learn something that will help her or him improve teaching and learning.???"—From the Foreword by Terrel L. Rhodes, vice president for Curriculum, Quality, and Assessment, Association of American Colleges and Universities

Every year, hundreds of small colleges, state schools, and large, research-oriented universities across the United States (and, increasingly, Europe and Asia) revisit their core and general education curricula, often moving toward more integrative models. And every year, faculty members who are highly skilled in narrowly defined fields ask two simple questions: "Why?" and "How is this going to affect me?"

General Education Essentials seeks to answer these and other questions by providing a much-needed overview of and a rationale for the recent shift in general education curricular design, a sense of how this shift can affect a faculty member's teaching, and an understanding of how all of this might impact course and student assessment.

Filled with examples from a variety of disciplines that will spark insights, General Education Essentials explores the techniques that can be used to ensure that students are gaining the skills they need to be perceptive scholars and productive citizens.

"This is THE ONE BOOK for academics to get up to speed about reforming general education." —Jerry Gaff, senior scholar, Association of American Colleges and Universities

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Table of Contents

Foreword xi

About the Author xv

Acknowledgments xvii

Introduction 1


1 Structuring General Education 11

2 Some Examples of Integrative Curricular Models 25


3 Designing Effective General Education Courses 45

4 How the Purposes of General Education Can Reshape a Course: Case Studies 54


5 Designing Appropriate Assignments for General Education 75

6 The Chapter You May Want to Skip: Institutional Assessment and General Education 94

Conclusion 107

Appendix A: Syllabus for Artistic and Literary Responses to Science and Technology 109

Appendix B: Syllabus for The Way Things Work: Sky Diving and Deep Sea Diving 117

Appendix C: Syllabus for Traveling Without Leaving: Global Sociology 125

Appendix D: Syllabus for Elite Deviance: Crime in the Suites 137

Appendix E: Syllabus for Does Gun Control Save Lives? 145

Appendix F: Syllabus for Statistics and Botany 151

References 157

Index 161

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Author Information

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.

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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

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