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26 TEACHING IN THE FIELD OF HIGHER EDUCATION: INTRODUCTORY COURSES Samuel E. Kellams University of Virginia To examine the syllabii and other course materials of introductory courses in higher education is to witness the struggle of scholars of our field to deal with the many taxonomies of higher education. One finds basic or introductory courses with a variety of organizing frameworks. These in­ clude: Historical roots or antecedents; purposes and goals; people or actors (e.g., students, faculty, administrators, trustees); institutional types (e.g . , state colleges, universities, liberal arts colleges, community col­ leges, black colleges); processes or activities (e.g., curriculum and in­ struction, governance, financing, etc.); issues and themes (e.g., academic freedom, equal opportunity, diversity, accountability, etc.); outcomes or effects (e.g., what is gained from going to college? Who benefits? Etc.); future trends and directions (e.g., where are we going from here? How? Why? -Alternative scenarios for the future, etc.). Nearly every course deals in some way with the content suggested above. Each course adopts one or more of these organizing frameworks to structure the substance of the field. Most courses adopt an eclectic array of these frameworks with little apparent connection among the parts of the course. Some courses attempt to integrate these frameworks, making a variety of logi­ cal or conceptual connections. The problem of breadth vs. depth is reflected in these course materials. One of the purposes of the introductory course is to cover the domain of higher education. Given all of the ways of slicing the pie and limited time, this proves to be a difficult goal to meet. Solutions to this problem come in several forms. Some institutions (University of Washington, University of Denver) teach a full three quarter, year-long introductory sequence. Greater coverage and depth can be gained here, but at the expense of time for stu­ dents to concentrate on more specialized courses in the higher education pro­ gram. It appears that the single course is most often what is used for in­ troductory purposes. Here the choice is to be comprehensive as is done at Michigan but with no pretense to depth: "This course is extensive rather than intensive in its coverage and requires considerable reading. Students interested in intensive coverage of particular topics such as 'students', 'faculty', 'organization and administration', etc., should take the courses on those topics" (University of Michigan). Other courses are more selective and appear to treat certain topics in greater depth (Penn State University, Claremont Graduate School). Still others are designed for non-majors in higher education, for masters level candidates or for undergraduates. These courses appear to be broad surveys and are " . . . too elementary for most Higher Education doctoral candidates" (New York University). It is clear that the individual courses cannot be directly compared; they serve different clientele for different purposes and have different functions in the overall structure of the program of higher education at any given institution. Nevertheless, there are some common elements which characterize many of these courses. One of these is in the area of course objectives or purposes. Nearly every course expresses the cognitive objective of getting students ac­ quainted with the facts, the events, the themes, the issues, the elements--in short, to acquire an awareness, a knowledge and an understanding of higher education at various levels of sophistication. A second objective is one of particular skills: to be able to identify problems, analyze them, discuss and debate, take particular perspectives. Related to the second objective and found very frequently is the objective of acquainting the student with the literature and information sources in higher education. Assignments are typically designed to ensure that students will be introduced to the sources of knowledge and information needed for either further study or for future practice. Two other objectives are designed to get the individual student to relate personally and professionally to the subject matter and to the "field" 27 of higher education practice. The first of these, " . . . to formulate per­ sonal judgements regarding higher education issues . . . " (University of North Carolina— Greensboro) is seen occasionally as an explicit objective. The second is really a career development objective. Here are two character­ istic wordings: "To familiarize the student with...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1090-7009
Print ISSN
0162-5748
Pages
pp. 26-31
Launched on MUSE
2017-02-01
Open Access
No
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