Jamestown Community College was one of four regional universities to receive a $230,000 grant to review its general education program.
Earlier this month, it was announced Hilbert College, St. Bonaventure University, Erie Community College and JCC would receive a grant from the Teagle Foundation to focus on ''a new structure for general education.'' The three-year grant will bring the four Western New York institutions together for the purpose of revising general education requirements that will help improve learning outcomes and processes for all students, including those who transfer among these institutions. The project seeks to rework the general education curricula to reflect a common set of learning outcomes and create a more coherent experience for all students.
Marilyn Zagora, JCC vice president of academic affairs, said a college's general education program is a cornerstone to any higher education experience.
''Students are very familiar with the important choice of a major, as most college degrees will include intensive studies in a particular area of study to create deep understanding in a particular area,'' she said. ''However, along with that focus on a major, college degrees typically include varying numbers of courses/credits in liberal arts and sciences which are designed to underpin all degrees, and to create a common foundation. General education focuses on assuring that all graduates have certain basic skills, such as a level of competency in writing and math, along with supporting the development of other skills such as critical thinking, scientific reasoning and exploration of diverse perspectives. Thus, the educated person should emerge from higher education with not only specific discipline skills, but also general skills and a broader appreciation for and understanding of the world around him/her.''
Zagora said the grant will allow JCC's faculty the opportunity to reflect on the learning outcomes they intend for the college's general education expectations, and whether they are satisfied that these are clear to students and being achieved as effectively as possible. The activities of the grant will bring faculty together on campus and across partner institutions to guide them through a process that will result in renewed confidence that the general education requirements are appropriately defined.
''Students will be the ultimate beneficiaries of the work of the grant, for students will be assured that the general education expectations at JCC are fully aligned,'' she said. ''Further, our project will result in even greater clarity for students regarding what we expect them to learn through these requirements and how that learning is linked to their educational and career goals. The ultimate outcome of the grant will be to assure the continuing high quality and excellence of the educational experiences JCC provides to its students.''
The grant is a logical extension of the ongoing work of JCC faculty, Zagora said. New requirements have been infused in the college's general education program, and they will be launching Web pages focused on general education in the near future.
''This grant will intensify and further support our efforts. When the grant is complete, we expect to be in a position to provide even more effective tools for students regarding these general education expectations and their intended benefits,'' she said.
The Teagle Foundation was established in 1944 by Walter C. Teagle, longtime president and chairman of the board of Standard Oil Company, now Exxon Mobil Corp.