The IDEA Blog



Read the thoughts and impressions on a variety of topics written by IDEA staff as well as occasional guest bloggers.

Teaching Methods in General Education
March 2, 2015
By Steve Benton and Pat Sullivan A little known fact is that seven of IDEA’s 12 learning outcomes align with AAC&U’s Liberal Education and America’s Promise (LEAP) Essential Learning Outcomes. We recently presented research on these outcomes at AAC&U’S Network for Academic Renewal conference: Empowering and Inclusive General Education Programs, held in Kansas City, Missouri. We analyzed IDEA student ratings collected in 123,801 general education classes from 2002 to 2011. The sample represented both public and private institutions from all levels of Carnegie classifications and all geographical regions of the U. S.. Ratings were collected on paper (n = 111,133) and online (n = 12,668) with response rates of 77% and 62%, respectively. Instructors teaching general education courses placed the greatest emphasis on LEAP-related outcomes of problem solving (67.4% of classes), critical thinking (55.8%), and oral/written communication (52.5%). They assigned relatively less emphasis to teamwork skills (24.7%) and creative thinking (21.7%). Students reported the greatest progress on information literacy and the least amount on teamwork skills. Several of IDEA’s 20 teaching methods are especially important for helping general education students achieve LEAP-related learning outcomes. Asking students to share ideas and experiences with others whose backgrounds and viewpoints differ from their own, involving students in hands-on projects, and explaining material clearly and concisely are strongly associated with student progress on creative thinking. Introducing stimulating ideas about the subject correlates positively with critical thinking and lifelong learning. With respect to problem solving, relating course material to real life situations, stimulating intellectual effort, and asking students to help each other understand ideas or concepts are especially important. You can learn more about each of these teaching methods and suggestions for implementing them in the classroom by reading POD-IDEA Notes on Instruction. One final note—new learning outcomes related to quantitative literacy, civic engagement, ethical reasoning and decision-making, and diverse perspectives and global awareness are currently being piloted for inclusion in the revised Diagnostic Feedback (2.0) instrument, which will be released in 2016. With the addition of these items, IDEA outcomes will align with all LEAP learning outcomes with the exception of Integrative Learning, which by design must be assessed across a general education curriculum, rather than in an individual course. This is quite exciting, because institutions using the LEAP outcomes and AAC&U VALUE rubrics will now have access to data from student ratings of outcomes that tie directly with these initiatives. Stay tuned for more information as we conclude our IDEA 2 Pilot and ready the updated Diagnostic Feedback instrument for release.
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