Faculty seek input about proposed new LER models

Jamie Shearer

Workgroup unveils three proposals aimed at streamlining system

The Liberal Education Requirement Workgroup hosted its first of three townhall meetings Friday in the Student Center to discuss possible replacement models to the current LER system.

The workgroup has been exploring ways to simplify the LER process for students, such as spreading out the LERs over the course of a student’s college career. The current system restricts students to satisfy their LERs during their freshman and sophomore years.

Senior Associate Provost Tim Chandler opened the meeting with an explanation of the learning outcome approach, which focuses on a student’s knowledge, insight, engagement and responsibility, rather than students simply learning what professors teach them.

“If we don’t focus on learning outcomes, we’re going to be behind as an institution,” Chandler said.

Although the meeting was open to students and faculty alike, faculty dominated the meeting with their critiques and comments about the three LER models.

Model A received little criticism because of its similarity to the current model. It would make it easier for students to change majors without having to redo their LERs.

Model B would divide LERs into three areas: literacy, core and insight. The core area would require students to take two foreign language courses.

Academic Adviser Coordinator Holly Clark said she didn’t understand the purpose of making foreign language courses mandatory.

A humanities faculty member also said she wasn’t happy the core area only required one humanities course and one fine arts course, while it required two social science, basic science and foreign language courses.

Model C created the most uneasiness because it would completely redesign the LER system to include clusters of similar classes with themes. For example, one theme for the natural science cluster may be “Environmental Sustainability.”

Faculty members commented on how expensive and complicated it would be to implement Model C.

Associate Provost Stephane Booth, who helped facilitate the meeting, acknowledged that Model C would be a different shift and complex – for faculty, not for students. She said the models are designed to help students change majors easily.

“Students have been at the heart of this change,” she said.

Chandler said he was pleased with the balanced discussion of each model. The townhall meeting format helped encourage conversation.

“It’s a model that seems to work,” Chandler said, adding it allowed him to hear what people had to say.

The LER Workgroup’s next townhall meeting will be at 1:30 p.m. tomorrow in Room 204 of the Student Center.

Contact faculty affairs II reporter Jamie Shearer at [email protected].