Kent campus professor to share knowledge about higher education reform

Victoria Manenti

Kent State University’s Trustees Professor Paul Gaston will address higher education reform issues during a three-part workshop event at Western Michigan University Thursday, March 18.

Gaston, a professor in the English department, visits about three or four colleges and universities each year to educate faculty members about current problems surrounding higher learning institutions. These problems may be generalized or specific to an institution, he said.    

Gaston’s first workshop “50 Potholes to Gen Ed Reform: The Politics and Promise of Campus Change” will focus on different actions higher learning institutions should avoid when looking to grow. During his second workshop “Scaffolding a New Curriculum: Current Best Practices” Gaston will discuss the benefits of connecting students’ general education courses with their major-specific courses, he said.

“So that there’s a lot of interplay there between the two, and so that the students can understand that the general education is valuable preparation and not, as we often hear, the phrase ‘something to get out of the way,’ ” Gaston said.

“The Classroom Paradigm Shift: From Content Delivering to Facilitating Learning,” Gaston’s final discussion, will explain how the definition of effective learning has changed from thirty years ago. He said that student learning should be educators’ main priority today, not focusing on covering everything in their syllabi, he said.   

“The consistent theme of all of these (workshops) will be the undergraduate curriculum and the creation of a curriculum that is easily understood and appreciated by undergraduates, and therefore, likely to encourage persistence to degree,” Gaston said.

A formal keynote presentation will follow the workshops, where Gaston will talk about the importance of communicating faculty values in the classroom. He said it is important for faculty members to inform their students about the specific goals and purposes of courses.

“I’m looking forward to the discussion with faculty members there,” Gaston said. “ I’m a faculty member myself, so I see this as a discussion among colleagues.”

Gaston is currently in the process of editing his latest study titled, “General Education Transformed: How We Can, Why We Must,” which will be available late spring 2015, he said.