Future changes to come to Kent Core program

Over the next few years, the Kent Core general education requirement will change and modernize to meet the needs of students. 

Associate Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences Mary Ann Haley said one of the major changes is how the Kent Core is assessed. Currently, individual courses are assessed, but there is not an overall look at what students are really getting out of the Kent Core program. 

The Higher Learning Commission, the institutional accreditor for universities in Ohio, has a standard for how it wants universities to assess each general education program.

“When you have individual course assessments, you can’t work up to the question of how the program is working overall,” Haley said. “(The Higher Learning Commission) wants an overarching assessment of what we’re doing, what we’re trying to accomplish and what’s working overall.”

Because Kent State is a public university, the recommendations and requirements of the state of Ohio also play an important role in the structure and assessment of the Kent Core.

Alison Smith, dean of the Honors College, said while some students may not notice a change for a while, many new models will be in the works over this year that will make a difference in students’ general education experience.

“The state would like more connection of gen-ed to the major… by the time May comes around, we’ll have all kinds of models on how that might look,” Smith said.

Therese Tillett, associate vice president for Curriculum Planning and Administration, said changing aspects of the general education program will make the Kent Core more modern and relevant and can further connect the required classes to students’ majors. 

“Research has shown that students, right when they come in, they want to be connected to their major,” Tillett said. “Students really are getting stuff out of (the Kent Core) but we really want to make that connection.”

Smith said student feedback is very important in the process. 

“We will be continuing (student surveys) this year, there will be student focus groups so they will hear about this,” she said. “We really hope that students will come forward and talk about their experience in gen-ed.”

Smith believes it is important to improve students’ experience in general education because it not only broadens students’ knowledge, but it can help students find new interests as well. 

“It helps to make you a broader more critically thinking citizen so you can figure stuff out, and it offers you this opportunity to explore things you never would have,” said Smith. “I had never realized … how many students have changed their major because of a relatively random gen-ed course they took.”

The proposed model of assessment will be presented at October’s faculty senate meeting.

Contact Katie Null at [email protected].