ERIC Number: EJ824569
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2003
Reference Count: N/A
Assessing General Education Learning Outcomes Achieved in the Inquiry-Guided, Self-Designed Major at North Carolina State University
Greene, David B.
Journal of General Education, v52 n4 p304-316 2003
North Carolina State University (NCSU) is a Research Intensive (Research I) university located in Raleigh, the state capital. Increasingly over the past ten years, NCSU faculty interested in issues of teaching and learning have used the term "inquiry-guided learning" (IGL) to describe the kind of learning they are trying to promote. The term suggests classroom practices that help students to raise, sharpen, and follow through on their own questions, to respond to questions posed by the faculty member by asking further questions and seeking answers to them, and to develop a habitual sense of inquiry that will transcend the boundaries of the course. The assumption, and it is being continuously and self-consciously questioned in the IGL classroom, is that students retain information and concepts much better if they have internalized the related questions, and they learn better how to do research and evaluate evidence if they have made these questions their own. A further assumption is that students are more ready to apply the standards of critical thinking, such as accuracy, precision, clarity, breadth, depth, relevance and logic, to their work and thereby improve their critical thinking skills, if the work is propelled and guided by questions of importance to the students. Many departments in the university have one or two IGL courses for their majors, particularly as capstone courses, and three departments (Microbiology, Wood and Paper Science, and Multidisciplinary Studies) have designed a sequence of several IGL courses for their majors. This article reports on the self-designed major sponsored by the Division of Multidisciplinary Studies and procedures for assessing it. Since the entire program is inquiry-guided, and the outcomes of this learning coincide with general education learning outcomes, assessing the program amounts to assessing the extent to which general education objectives are achieved through the major. This article focuses on two specific outcomes, which are equally the desired outcomes of the major, of IGL, and of general education. The two are so interrelated that they could be considered a single outcome: developing a commitment to inquiry and being able to apply the standards of critical thinking to one's written and verbal presentations of an inquiry.
Descriptors: Majors (Students), General Education, Critical Thinking, Faculty, Inquiry, Curriculum Design, Interdisciplinary Approach, College Curriculum, Outcomes of Education, Educational Assessment, Program Evaluation, Educational Objectives, Program Descriptions, Evaluation Methods
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: Higher Education; Postsecondary Education
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: North Carolina