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  1. Quality Undergraduate Education Geoffrey Habron MSU Sociology Department Retreat May 10, 2006

  2. Outline • Office of Faculty and Organizational Development Resources • What is quality education? • A concrete assessment example

  3. But first a concern… “That's a fine idea in practice, but it will never work in theory.” – Harry Perlstadt

  4. A Theoretical Framework for Change: Choices within Constraints “The new institutionalism that is the focus of this essay is about the body. Its fundamental assertion is that actors pursue their interests by making choices within constraints. This assertion can be expanded to identify three characteristic elements of the theory. First, it holds that actors are boundedly rational in the sense that they pursue a broad set of self interests, but with limited knowledge and cognitive capacity. Second, institutions are defined as the rules, combined with their enforcement mechanisms, that constrain the choices of actors. These rules include the laws of states, the policies of organizations, and the norms of social groups. Third, institutions ideally constrain actors such that their best choices are consistent with the collective good, enabling, for example, mutually profitable exchange between actors.” (Ingram and Clay 2000:525-526) Ingram, P. And K. Clay. 2000. The choice-within-constraints new institutionalism and implications for sociology. Annual Review Of Sociology 2000. 26:525–46

  5. Office of Faculty and Organizational Development – Choices… • Dr. Patty Payette • What is quality education? How do we know? • Literature; research; SoTL • Resources provided • Seminars/workshops • Fellowships • Assessments • Web links • Suggestions for retreat follow-up

  6. Quality Education: Levels of Analysis • General Undergraduate Education • Sociological Education (ASA) • MSU Boldness by Design • MSU Department of Sociology • Course level (SOC 361) Second, institutions are defined as the rules, combined with their enforcement mechanisms, that constrain the choices of actors. These rules include the laws of states, the policies of organizations, and the norms of social groups. (Ingram and Clay 2000:525-526)

  7. I. General

  8. 7 Principles of Undergraduate Education • Encourage student-faculty contact; • Encourage cooperation among students; • Encourage active learning; • Give prompt feedback; • Emphasize time on task; • Communicate high expectations; and • Respect diverse talents and ways of learning. Chickering, A. and Z. Gamson. Seven Principles for Good Practice in Undergraduate Education.' American Association for Higher Education, 1986. http://honolulu.hawaii.edu/intranet/committees/FacDevCom/guidebk/teachtip/7princip.htm http://www.byu.edu/fc/pages/tchlrnpages/7princip.html

  9. Backward Design • Stage 1: Identify desired outcomes and results. • Stage 2: Determine what constitutes acceptable evidence of competency in the outcomes and results (assessment). • Stage 3: Plan instructional strategies and learning experiences that bring students to these competency levels. Wiggins, G., & McTighe, J.(1998). Understanding by design. Alexandria, VA:Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development. http://pixel.fhda.edu/id/six_facets.html http://www.ubdexchange.org/resources.html

  10. II. Sociology

  11. Meeting the Challenge of Teaching Sociology in the Twenty-First Century Report of the Task Force on the Undergraduate Major: Liberal Learning and the Sociology Major . American Sociological Association. January 2005. <http://www.asanet.org/governance/LiberalLearningUpdate.pdf>

  12. There is a wealth of research, theory, and practical ideas on important approaches to teaching and learning in higher education should inform discussions about, and choices made for, the sociology major and curricular or pedagogical reforms. Three of these are briefly discussed here: • learning-centered instruction, • deep learning, and • best practices. Pg. 44

  13. Student-centered Learning (ASA) • With such an approach, the impact on student learning is the key variable in all course, department, and institutional decisions. From this perspective, we must consider, for example, student variables and diversity, the impact of the environment on learning, learning styles, and the scaffolding for learning. Covering the content is not the important objective in this paradigm; rather, it is nurturing student learning. Pg. 44

  14. Deep Learning (ASA) • Relates previous knowledge to new knowledge; • Relates knowledge from different courses; • Relates theoretical ideas to everyday experience; • Relates and distinguishes evidence and argument; • Organizes and structures content into a coherent whole; and • Emphasis is internal, from within the student • Deep learning clearly implies increasing integration among topics, courses, and out-of-class experiences. Pg. 44

  15. Closer to Fine – Indigo Girls I went to the doctor, I went to the mountains I looked to the children, I drank from the fountain There's more than one answer to these questions pointing me in crooked line The less I seek my source for some definitive The closer I am to fine. I went to see the doctor of philosophy With a poster of Rasputin and a beard down to his knee He never did marry or see a B-grade movie He graded my performance, he said he could see through me I spent four years prostrate to the higher mind, got my paper And I was free. http://www.indigogirls.com/lyrics/byalbum/indigo.html Pop Culture View of Student College Experience

  16. Best Practices • Encourage student-faculty contact; • Encourage cooperation among students; • Encourage active learning; • Give prompt feedback; • Emphasize time on task; • Communicate high expectations; and • Respect diverse talents and ways of learning. Pg. 45 Refers to 7 principles of undergraduate learning

  17. ASA Senior Survey Findings • Some ideas for potential outcomes and assessment indicators

  18. Overall Satisfaction with Outcomes of Sociology Programs% Very satisfied • Note link to best practices

  19. Ten learning activities participated in by Graduating Sociology Majors% Participating as part of Sociology Major

  20. Top Eight Skills Gained by Graduating Sociology Majors% Strongly Agreeing

  21. Six Conceptual Abilities of Graduating Sociology Majors% Strongly Agreeing

  22. MSU Boldness by Design • http://strategicpositioning.msu.edu/default.asp

  23. Boldness Principles • http://strategicpositioning.msu.edu/Design_Glance.asp

  24. Enhancing the Undergraduate Experience: Task Force Recommendations • Enhance the first year experience; assist students in making a strong academic and social transition, and in creating appropriate expectations about their undergraduate education • Promote the improvement of and rewards for successful college teaching • Articulate, target and expand opportunities for undergraduate students to develop cultural competencies. • Promote and integrate more active and applied learning in undergraduate education • Modify the undergraduate curriculum and related policies so that our goals for undergraduate liberal learning are met • Enhance the physical environment in ways that support learning for the students, faculty and staff at MSU • Continue the review of graduate programs and graduate teaching and the mentoring of graduate students. http://strategicpositioning.msu.edu/documents/BbDImperative1_002.pdf G: addresses mostly choices, but few constraints

  25. Report of the Working Group on Improving Undergraduate Education: Goals for Liberal Learning 1. Integrated Judgment 2. Advanced Communication Skills (both writing and speaking) 3. Cultural Competence (addressed in recommendation 2) 4. Analytical Thinking 5. Literacy in Science and Mathematics 6. Effective Citizenship

  26. III. MSU Sociology

  27. MSU SOC Undergraduate Mission • Illustrate sociological perspectives • Help students develop skills in critical thinking • Introduce and explain strategies and methods for conducting sociological research GH: Need to reframe in terms of outcomes and add explanation for terms e.g. critical thinking Gold and Pyle. 2005. MSU Sociology Department assessment plan. January

  28. MSU SOC Undergraduate Principles • Student responsibility for learning • Active learning and research skills • Doing sociology • Team learning • Computers • Job skills • Life skills • World as a classroom • Integrate graduate and undergraduate education GH: some of these seem like outcomes e.g. research skills, computers. Gold and Pyle. 2005. MSU Sociology Department assessment plan. January

  29. Next Steps • Individual course adjustments • e.g. 7 principles, backward design • Departmental curriculum adjustments • backward design

  30. SOC 361 example • Contemporary Communities • Fall 2005 • Geoffrey Habron • 68 students Third, institutions ideally constrain actors such that their best choices are consistent with the collective good, enabling, for example, mutually profitable exchange between actors.” (Ingram and Clay 2000:525-526)

  31. SOC 361 Outcomes • Approaches to study community • Levels of complexity • Community Change • Community Development • Links to external institutions and factors

  32. Knowledge Comprehension Application Analysis Synthesis Evaluation Define, name, list describe, explain, arrange illustrate, demonstrate diagram, compare, criticize organize, propose, manage argue, assess, defend Outcome Proficiency

  33. SOC 361 Structure Outcomes Approaches Weekly Assignments 15% Complexity Flexible 5% Change Development Lecture Field Project 15% External Group Project 10% Participation 15% Doing sociology, research skills, world as classroom Portfolio 15% Exams 30%

  34. Best Practices • Encourage student-faculty contact; • Encourage cooperation among students; • Encourage active learning; • Give prompt feedback; • Emphasize time on task; • Communicate high expectations; and • Respect diverse talents and ways of learning. (SIRS) (presentations) (field project, presentations) (final feedback) * * (flexible 5%,presentations) Pg. 45 * Missing in SOC 361

  35. Deep Learning (ASA) • Relates previous knowledge to new knowledge; • Relates knowledge from different courses; • Relates theoretical ideas to everyday experience; • Relates and distinguishes evidence and argument; • Organizes and structures content into a coherent whole; and • Emphasis is internal, from within the student • Deep learning clearly implies increasing integration among topics, courses, and out-of-class experiences. Pg. 44

  36. Final Field Project Creativity Relates previous knowledge to new knowledge • Humorous look at bowling leagues • Historical and census analysis of hometown • Fairy tale depicting deeply personal critique of hometown • “Bridging the gap: the connections between the restaurant community and the field of social work” Relates and distinguishes evidence and argument integration among topics, courses, and out-of-class experiences

  37. Relates theoretical ideas to everyday experience Organizes and structures content into a coherent whole

  38. Field Project Reflections • “It was not until I began collecting research for this field project on my own community that I truly understood how to take charge of my education outside of a classroom setting. By making use of the tools that we are all equipped with, I was able to turn my everyday observations into an educational experience” (student a) Relates theoretical ideas to everyday experience

  39. Field Project Reflections • “People do not usually process or analyze the information that they gather from their observations and it is simply lost. A major concept behind learning is to be an active learner. Active learning means taking any situation and turning it into a valuable and educational experience on your own terms.” (student a) Emphasis is internal, from within the student

  40. Needs • Capacity • Structural • Cultural • Capital: • Human • Social • Financial • …

  41. Enhancing the Undergraduate Experience: Task Force Recommendations • Enhance the first year experience; assist students in making a strong academic and social transition, and in creating appropriate expectations about their undergraduate education • Promote the improvement of and rewards for successful college teaching • Articulate, target and expand opportunities for undergraduate students to develop cultural competencies. • Promote and integrate more active and applied learning in undergraduate education • Modify the undergraduate curriculum and related policies so that our goals for undergraduate liberal learning are met • Enhance the physical environment in ways that support learning for the students, faculty and staff at MSU • Continue the review of graduate programs and graduate teaching and the mentoring of graduate students. http://strategicpositioning.msu.edu/documents/BbDImperative1_002.pdf G: addresses mostly choices, but few constraints

  42. Faculty Startup Costs • Faculty • Letting go • Diligent monitoring of tension • Organization, instructions • Structure: assignment status; load; teaching style • Culture: routine, expectations, habitus • Agency: choice, decisions, motivation