General Education “Personal Stake”

As a current Penn State student as well as a Penn State dual-enrollment participant in high school, I have had a great deal of personal experience with Penn State University’s general education department.  In general, I disagree with the idea that college students should have to pay for general education credits.  Though it makes sense that students should be well-rounded upon entering the world as an independent thinker, I do not believe that universities should have the right to charge students to take classes outside of their desired career fields.  Through my time at Penn State, I have taken general education credits such as Greek and Roman Mythology, Sociology, and International Relations which, though interesting, have little to no use in my desired field: aerospace engineering.  If universities do indeed have to force unwanted classes on students, the courses should be free of charge.  Though this is incredibly unrealistic for today’s money-oriented world, I see it as the only fair option.

That being said, to me, Options 1 and 3 of the General Education Reform hold promise.  I do believe that, if general education credits are indeed necessary, they should offer the greatest amount of exploration for students as possible.  For example, the classes I chose to take have given me a greater understanding of the world, successfully achieving Penn State’s mission to develop a well-rounded student.  At the same time, however, it is my personal opinion that communication skills are the top most priority for any potential employee.  Again, the classes I took allowed me to improve my personal skills through class presentations and group projects.  In this way, I believe that an even split or combination of general education credits between exploration and skill based classes or ideas would be the best approach for reform.  However, Option 2 concerns me greatly.  In my opinion, integration of classes as a single theme defeats the purpose of general education.  By simply making students take classes within a focused set of topics, Penn State would not be broadening students’ minds to a world of knowledge.  Instead, they would be limiting students’ knowledge by focusing more broadly on one subject.  From the descriptions of the themes, though they value interdisciplinary work, they sound too similar to minors for me to comprehend changing the system.  The worst part of this option, though, is that the benefits are slim.  As I have stated, themes appear to be only slightly more general than minors are today.  How, then would taking classes focused solely on a theme benefit a student more than the student’s independently decided minor?  Overall, I do not see any value in Option 2, but Options 1 and 3 could be combined to create a better, more organized establishment of Penn State’s general education.

3 thoughts on “General Education “Personal Stake””

  1. Option 3: Skills Deliberation Notes

    Provide class options centric on writing, computer skills, and communicating skills.

    It’s a good idea to combine English classes to a one year thing but there is the question of: will there be enough material to cover in such a long period of time.

    Having classes to certify you in programs (i.e. solid works) will make the program worth more than just GenEd credits.

    Badges are a fun idea that might not be taken seriously. They are like stickers for college students and aren’t necessary.

    Want to see more required/ optional English/CAS classes?
    Technical classes earlier on would be more beneficial. There is a technical writing class but there should also be a technical talking class. To learn to interact with one another in a technical manner and to people who don’t understand the technical terms. The skill to be able to speak to people on your level and also bellow should be prioritized in order to interact with people from all aspects of an industry. Being able to interact with people of different sets of skills is just as important as technical talk.
    If you could take such classes earlier you can integrate those skills into your other classes.

    However executing a two semester class/ program may no cover all the content. The class should be able to cover using commonly needed programs. (Some ideas: how to use PowerPoint correctly and Excel.) You need a basis on these skills as well. An introductory class to teach these skills early on would be very helpful.

    Developing these technical skills and being up to date with the technology is very appealing not only to us as students but to recruiters as well.

    If you’re required too many of these classes though, you will be well rounded with communication and skills but not on other knowledge.
    General consensus: Approve of the skills option

    You can still take some random GenEds, however the skills related courses will be more necessary in the working world.
    Learning to bring your point across efficiently and properly should be an objective of this GenEd option. This is very important to getting a job and being successful at networking and interviews

    How to change the curriculum to fit skills?
    Having a yearlong writing/speaking course. They should be required (but not for entrance to major). Can replace some of our irrelevant GenEds.

    Badges System should have an incentive other than getting badges (like scholarships) and should be tied to your courses. It should be outside of class. However, how will they weigh in the real world?

    They will not be significant on any scale but It gives you a chance to be badged in things that employers could be interested in (ex: computer programs). They should be based on skills.

    There are lots of ways to get around being good for a badge. There are some kinks that need to be fixed and the program would have to be very specific in their instructions and grading. Criteria will be essential and difficult to narrow down.
    Essentially badges shouldn’t measure excellence but can measure proficiency.
    There is also the question of would the faculty be okay with the extra load of work.

  2. Deliberation Recording Option 1: Exploration

    Don’t see why explore in depth in other majors (NucE major)-not interested in other topics
    Exploring modernized majors (new tech); depends on major (ex: history major)
    New advances in music for exploration-never get this opportunity to explore a wide variety of topics; learn language, history, English skills, can’t access as easily after college. Prefers exploration as to gain diversity in education
    Front of that push of that upcoming generation-learn new ways, tech as they are constantly developing
    Execution of option 1 does not work-pick something related to your major so in essence you don’t really explore
    Broad range of GenEds will allow you to find what you want to do
    Explore to your stronger points and suits- explore off a branch of STEM or history/liberal arts: Explore within. Highlights strengths
    Finances come into play-don’t want to play for classes that you don’t want to take
    Something you’re interested in-wide range will greater your foundation
    400 level required GenEds-pick from a small pool of classes; should have space beforehand to explore.
    Would have more diversity if certain classes weren’t GenEds such as Econ
    Lower Level Gen Eds for certain majors such as NucE—limits choices and downplays time. Get exposure early so as to know how difficult that required 6-8th semester course will be
    Too general to begin with-brief overview of major would be a good GenEd. First Year Seminar does not satisfy and is “joke”
    1st Year Seminar lack REALITY—gives you a naïve point of view. Speak to people who change majors and ask them why you change.
    Have those aspirations they try to give us- in reality it will differ.
    Guidance Counselor Class to explore further
    Course Drops will not affect total drops to help students explore further
    Internships will be a life experience
    2nd Best Option would be Skills—communication aspect for employers is valued
    CAS/ECON more related to major.
    Getting your career at college not another major you don’t want—don’t want to pay for what we don’t want to take
    AP Courses- Yes! But some courses don’t count always
    2/3 Students, 1/3 University made schedule

  3. Deliberation for Option 2: Themes


    “Stupid,” “No point with minors,” “Waste of time,” “not enough information”
    Negative views
    Employers put emphasis on minors but would not care as much about/ do not recognize themes
    Would not know enough about a specific topic to be helpful in the workplace
    Do not think it will be beneficial
    Theme not a good idea for STEM but better for liberal arts majors or business majors (broader exposure to different languages, cultures, etc.)
    Theme should be optional but not required (Same thing as getting multiple minors)
    The concept is okay but the execution will not work- not worth is because same thing as Gen Ed now just naming and grouping them together
    With this system, the stress would not be worth the outcome

    How would this affect college? For a theme, what would be the criteria for credits?

    Theme would not be prioritized while minor and major would
    Again, employers would not recognize (could stand out but a minor is recognized more)
    Could increase freedom but hinders for employment
    However, does not need to be focused on major


    How would you go about choosing a theme? Who would regulate the themes? To what extent?

    Themes offer variety. Is this true?

    No, same topic just from different views
    Not diverse
    Take easier theme classes (not 400 level classes)

    General Information

    Themes are replacing Gen Ed classes
    About huge areas of inquiry that can be mapped onto several different disciplines
    3 class minimum but can take up to 7
    Possibly free up internships, study abroad, and replace GH, GA, etc.

    Without a credit reduction or the possibility of 400 level theme classes, how would this affect time?

    Wasting time
    Would get stuck going to college longer to complete a theme?
    No if themes just replace general education credits
    Might not have enough foundation to take difficult general education classes
    Not enough knowledge coming in to choose a theme
    Why does this matter compared to current?
    Not going to get a job based on a theme
    But could only help (would not put general education on resume but might put theme)
    Just a replacement/ different way of organizing the current system
    Just putting a name to the current system

    Is the theme more or less versatile than current?

    Not as versatile but a more focused way of exploring education
    A theme could be a “minor minor”
    A theme would not create well-rounded students- diverse understanding of a narrow education path
    But if only need 3 classes for a theme, would that still leave room for diversity/
    Could help in this way because can put on resume

    But does only 3 courses look better or worse than a more studied theme?

    This group thinks only in college to get the degree they need for a job
    Seems themes are more focused on students trying to “find themselves”
    Multiple themes could make you stand out but would it be more important than an extremely studied theme
    Minors would get more emphasized than themes for employers

    Would one theme going into 400 level courses be stronger or weaker than more themes?

    Stronger, but how would employers know how much effort was put into the theme?

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