Campus Life

Self-study reports UWF general studies are positive and supportive

A program review of the general studies curriculum at the University of West Florida completed recently revealed very positive results, according to Tom Westcott, dean of General Education.

At the beginning of the 2010-11 academic year, Provost Chula King charged the General Education Assessment and Reform (GEAR) Committee to complete a self-study of the curriculum in preparation for a program review. The self-study focused on strengths, weakness and opportunities with regard to the general studies program.

“We talked extensively to students, faculty and administration,” said Westcott. “We found that the curriculum was well received, the student learning outcomes were philosophically sound and that an impressive majority of the student body was satisfied with the quality of instruction.”

The self-study was followed by a program review.  Helen Chen of Stanford University chaired the program review committee, along with faculty representatives from each of the three colleges.

The GEAR Committee and General Studies committee are currently at work following through on the program review recommendations.

The committee has proposed a general studies pilot program to begin in fall of 2012 for a limited number of students. The pilot program involves students taking a sequence of four or five courses related to a specific theme addressed in all the courses.

“Basically, we’re looking at making general education classes more relevant and exciting for students,” said Westcott.

The thematic approach to courses is an approach already being used at many universities.  The solicitation of thematic stream proposals from faculty will begin in the early spring of 2012.

There were several other recommendations that emerged from the work of the GEAR Committee, including revisions to general studies learning outcomes and several minor changes to the curriculum itself.  Westcott sees the self-study, program review and ongoing work of the GEAR Committee as an important university initiative that will result in many positive changes at UWF.