The Academic Advisor’s perspective on General Education at WSU
Our academic advising staff here at WSU have a unique relationship with our undergraduate students. Working with students individually, advisors help them to navigate our myriad institutional requirements and regulations, and to set goals towards the successful completion of the degrees. This one-on-one relationship provides our advisors with a unique perspective on the undergraduate experience. They listen to students’ concerns and encounter first-hand the obstacles that can impede the progress or success of their advisees. Their unique and valuable perspective became clear to the General Education Reform Committee (GERC) during a focus group we scheduled for advisors–so much so that we felt that it was important to reach out to them for more of their input. We solicited additional feedback by contacting the leadership of the Academic Advising Council, and provided no directions or charge other than asking that they provide us their views on general education structured in any way that they saw fit. The AAC created an ad hoc committee led by Ryan Ferrante from Political Science, who was joined by Laura Hetzler from the University Advising Center, Casey Rue from Engineering, and Royanne Smith from English. This committee organized a series of structured interviews with advisors from across the university. The interview questions focused on strengths and weaknesses of the general education program and sought opinions on the values and expectations that should be part of general education.
The results of their effort is a report that was presented to the GERC on October 23 and is now available to view on our Engaging GenEd web site; it is located on the “Position Statements” section of our web site. We invite you to read the report and to share your own views on it, either by commenting on this blog or by contacting the GERC.
Beyond the valuable information contained in the report, an important outcome of this exercise was the stimulation of discussion both within the advising community, as well as between WSU advisors and the GERC. We hope that you will also join the conversation. It is our sincere hope that these discussions will help us to develop a general education program that enhances the experiences of our students and reflects the values and aspirations of the campus community.
For the General Education Reform Committee,
Tom Fischer, Associate Professor of Psychology and GERC co-chair