The Double Helix: A Pathway to Purposeful and Transformational Learning Dr. Mary-Beth Cooper Vice President for Student Affairs Rochester Institute of Technology Dr. Jeremy Haefner Provost and Senior Vice President Rochester Institute of Technology
A roadmap for the presentation The context • What are the issues and factors? • What the literature says … • Transformational and Purposeful Learning The Double Helix • The Co-major • Logistics • An example • Discussion and dialogue • Current partnerships between SA and AA
What are the factors? • Accountability – Provide evidence that students are learning • Access – Provide opportunity to all eligible students • Assessment – student learning outcomes as drivers How can institutions maximize the learning experience for undergraduates?
What are the issues? • New learning research • Disruptors: Factors that impact learning; e.g., distance education • Changing student demographics • Student engagementand success – how can students become active learners? How can institutions maximize the learning experience for undergraduates?
What is some of the literature saying about Accountability, Access, and Assessment? • Higher Education Reauthorization Act 2008 • Spellings Commission Report • College Learning for the New Global Century • Learning Reconsidered • National Survey of Student Engagement • Student Success in College • AAC&U: Purposeful Pathways – Helping students achieve key learning outcomes
What Really Matters in College: Student Engagement “Engagement is a critical factor in the educational process because the more time and energy students devote to desired activities, the more likely they are to develop the habits of the mind that are key to success after college.” George Kuh, NSSE Director (2005)
Why Engagement Matters… “The results clearly show that colleges and universities should do everything possible to encourage undergraduates to participate in at least two high-impact activities, one in the first year and one later in their studies.” George Kuh, NSSE Director (2005)
Keys to engagement … Three types of learning: • Intentional • Purposeful • Transformational
Intentional learning Intentionality refers to an alignment of actions with desired aims • empowered, informed, and responsible • Ex. Engineering major • Ex. General education
Purposeful Learning When a student intentionally has an educational experience that blends both intentionality and coherence, there is a purposeful pathway to their learning outcomes.
Transformational Learning • The entire campus is a learning environment • “A transformative education repeatedly exposes students to multiple opportunities for intentional learning through the formal academic curriculum, student life, collaborative co-curricular programming, community-based, and global experiences.” (Learning Reconsidered)
Student Success in College “Educational excellence would include academic excellence and rigor as traditionally viewed, but also would stress the development of the whole person and the lives of all people on campus [including] the development of healthy relationships between and among students, faculty, staff, and alumni.” (Learning Reconsidered)
Some Premises • Make the educational experience intentional • Purposeful learning combines intentional with structure (coherence) • Intentional Student Affairs partnering with Coherent Academic Affairs yields purposeful AND transformational experience • Maximize undergraduate experience through purposeful and transformational learning – give students a compass, map and a route through college; • The institution must itself be intentional.
The Co-major – making Student Affairs experience intentional • Establish student development learning outcomes • Develop Student Affairs Learning themes such as leadership, sustainability, civic responsibility • For each student, create a learning plan/compact (the ‘co-major’), that is: • Based on the student’s choice of a theme; • Built with Student Affairs programs, experiences, and activities; • Directed to the learning outcomes • Assessed • Where possible, connect the co-major to the major and its learning outcomes.
The Double Helix Metaphor • Major (‘coherence’) and Co-Major (‘intentional’) are backbone strands • Think of a ladder/path/route for student towards student learning outcomes • ‘Rungs’ become important programs of collaboration between Student Affairs and Academic Affairs • Outsourcing shares workload; adds value
The ‘rungs’ in the double helix model • The programs that are shared between the major and co-major form the rungs • Examples: • Internships • Student clubs • Tutoring • Share effort between Academic Affairs and Student Affairs
Logistics of implementing the co-major • Identify student centered themes that reflect the unique nature of the institution; • Map Student Affairs programs and activities under themes; • Devise a co-major for each student around a theme; support Student Affairs, major, and campus learning outcomes; • Partner with Academic Affairs to offer programs and activities; • Use electronic portfolio with a blog backbone to measure progress and growth of co-major
SLOs from Learning Reconsidered • cognitive complexity; • knowledge acquisition, • integration and application; • humanitarianism; • civic engagement; • interpersonal and intrapersonal competence; • practical competence, • persistence and academic achievement
An civic responsibility co-major example … • Develop a grid with outcomes on top and 4-year plan with programs on side; • Use SA and AA programs with civic-minded approach; use students experiences off-campus • E.g., church-related activities around civic responsibility • Attend campus lectures on topics related to civic and social responsibility • Build student portfolio with blog; assists with writing outcomes • Connect co-major to major; e.g., service learning in engineering fields
At the end of the day … The Co-major • Provides backbone to intentional learning • Combines with major to give purposeful and transformational experience to student • Fully utilizes university resources to achieve outcomes • Advances student success, retention • Student Affairs Professionals can lead nation in a bold institutional systemic approach to addressing the issue …
Learning in the 21st Century “The holistic process of learning that places the student at the center of the learning experience demands collaboration, and collaboration demands cultural change.” (Learning Reconsidered 2)
Learning in the 21st Century “Such a transformative approach to teaching and learning must include the full scope of a student’s life. It cannot be accomplished in the classroom alone or out of the classroom alone.” (Learning Reconsidered)
Current shared activities at RIT • Co-sponsored 14 member team to AAC&U ‘Greater Expectations’ – systemic redesign thinking of programs for undergraduates • Redesigning First Year Experience to engage students and faculty • Co-championing a substantive change to the academic calendar • Shared responsibility for AIM – Academic Intervention and Mentoring • Exploring shared approaches to curriculum; e.g., exercise science
What are the right questions to ask? • How can your institution build a culture of intentional and transformational learning? • Is the Co-major feasible? What are the road blocks? • What other opportunities exist for collaboration between Academic Affairs and Student Affairs?