After my group’s deliberation, I- along with the rest of my group- have decided that the best course of action for Penn State’s General Education reform would be to follow the guidelines laid out in Option 3 of the deliberation guide. To review, Option 3 focuses mainly on implementing skills-related courses into Penn State’s current General Education curriculum. Although, going into the deliberations, I agreed on the importance of skills, I had believed that a main focus on exploration (shown through Option 1) was the best option for creating Penn State’s desired well-rounded student. Now, however, I believe that a mainly skills approach would not only reflect Penn State’s wishes for versatile students, but would also be the most beneficial to students in their careers. Exploration is, of course, important for the individuality of student choices; students are, after all, paying for classes out of their own or their families’ pockets. However, skills-based classes offer real world payoff and can be directly applied to any career field.
My recommendation for Penn State’s General Education reform would be to create a central focus on skills-based classes with a sub-focus on exploration. I would change the 30 credit theme-focused template laid out on the General Education reform website to the following: 18 credits for skills-based classes, 12 credits for exploration-based classes, and have the idea for a combined six credit English 015 and CAS 100 year-long freshman experience be mandatory (not included in the General Education credit requirements). Specifically for the CAS 100 section of the combined course (which would be held during the student’s second semester), I would include an early introduction into technical writing to give students the skills they need to succeed in college before they are already seniors. The 18 credits of skills-based classes could include basic computer communication classes, such as detailed usage of Microsoft Excel, PowerPoint, and Publisher which are essential in today’s integrated society. They could also include more major-based courses such as usage of SolidWorks for engineers or Adobe Photoshop for photography students. They could even include non-computer-based skill sets such as classes dealing with social behavior (such as effective translation of ideas between students in varying majors). On a similar note, the exploration-based classes could also be more major focused. For example, instead of taking a Freshman Seminar, incoming students could take a class specifically designed as an “Introduction to Major” course. Each week students could learn about different fields of a specific field (such as fields in the College of Science) or even a wide range of topics from each college. Overall, the decisions of which skills-based classes and exploration classes to take (with the exception of the Freshman Seminar replacement) would be up to the student, but the classes would have a more organized layout to help lead the student to the right career path.