- Editor’s Note
It is crucial that general education outcomes such as critical thinking and communication skills are integrated across the undergraduate curriculum. While most general education programs require introductory courses in English composition and/or oral communication, it is imperative that various majors or areas of specialization continue to address and build upon these important types of outcomes. When cultivated across the curriculum, such complex capabilities can be enhanced with higher levels of challenge for students and greater achievements (Association of American Colleges and Universities, 2008). Specific majors also give students a concrete context where they can apply their outcomes as they attempt to address real-world issues or solve problems.
The first article, “An Exploratory Investigation of the Assessment Practices of Selected Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business–Accredited Business Programs and Linkages with General Education Outcomes,” by Elizabeth Vitullo and me, examines these important connections. We found that schools of business do explicitly focus on essential general education outcomes in the context of the major and align assessment practices to gather information about student achievement of these types of outcomes. In this study, the business program faculty also used the results from these assessments to identify changes that need to be made to strengthen student learning experiences.
Class size can affect student participation and the levels of perceived student learning. Lauren Chapman and Larry Ludlow investigate these variables in their article, “Can Downsizing College Class Sizes Augment Student Outcomes?” They used data from course evaluations to identify the effect of class size on student learning. They found that class size persisted in having a significant negative relationship with perceived student learning. This finding emerges taking into account student effort and instructor quality.
Another factor affecting student learning is what actually transpires in the classroom. Justin White, Stefinee Pinnegar, and Patricia Esplin examine student learning in a problem-based learning (pbl) course. Their article, [End Page vii] “When Learning and Change Collide: Examining Student Claims to Have ‘Learned Nothing,’” presents interesting results from the analysis of final reflection papers. All students claimed to have learned from this course even if they were resistant to pbl in the beginning of the course.
The final contribution in this issue is a book review by Julie B. Walsh-Covarrubias examining the creation of entrepreneurial universities to support liberal education. We hope that you find this collection of material useful and invite you to join our dialogue.
Elizabeth A. Jones is a professor in the Department of Educational Leadership Studies in the College of Human Resources and Education at West Virginia University. Her research focuses on assessing student learning and development. She has published numerous journal articles and three assessment books.