“Technology alone is not enough. It’s technology married with the liberal arts, married with the humanities, that yields us the results that make our hearts sing.” – Steve Jobs
Many traditional colleges require first-year students to complete all of their general education requirements before they can pursue classes in their major field of study. It is no surprise that students doubt the validity of these general education courses. “How is this relevant to my career?” is a question students often pose to educators.
“New students are concerned they will have to wait to take courses in their major until their foundation classes have been completed,” said Ethan Bishop, Program Director, General Education, Coleman University. “Coleman has responded to these concerns by developing an inverted curriculum, whereby students are allowed to immediately begin taking courses towards their respective majors,” said Bishop.
At Coleman, general education requirements for associate’s degree programs require students to take 6 courses: 2 in English and humanities, and 1 in each in sociology and mathematics. Bachelor’s degree programs require 11 upper division general education courses: 2 in English, humanities and sociology, 1 each in mathematics and science, and, 3 upper division general education electives. Bachelor’s-level courses are either integrated throughout a student’s enrollment at Coleman or taken later altogether. Learning opportunities that extend beyond the classroom are also available to students, so that they can gain valuable real world experience.
The curriculum for Coleman’s general education classes was created with their technology-focused programs in mind. At the associate’s level, the general education mission has been to establish critical thinking skills, written and oral communication proficiency, and quantitative analytic skills. At the bachelor’s level, the mission is to continue to develop students’ competencies in written and oral communication, critical thinking, quantitative analysis, and ethical reasoning along with leadership skills.
Employers’ responses from the 2013 nationwide online survey of more than 300 companies titled It Takes More than a Major: Employer Priorities for College Learning and Student Success1 reflect the importance of these skills:
- More than three in four employers say they want colleges to place more emphasis on helping students develop five key learning outcomes, including: critical thinking, complex problem-solving, written and oral communication, and applied knowledge in real-world settings.
In addition, the study found the need for both general knowledge and program-specific skills is also deemed important to employers:
- The majority of employers agree that having both field-specific knowledge and skills and a broad range of skills and knowledge is most important for recent college graduates to achieve long-term career success. Few think that having field-specific knowledge and skills alone is what is most needed for individuals’ career success.
“Locally, San Diego employers are looking for well-rounded individuals that can communicate with people at different levels and varying cultural backgrounds within an organization,” Bishop said. “In our discussions with the gaming, software and cybersecurity industries, the skill they believe is most critical for new hires to possess is communication proficiency,” said Bishop.
Ethan Bishop is the Program Director, General Education at Coleman University
1It Takes More Than a Major: Employer Priorities for College Learning and Student Success. (2013, April 10). Retrieved August 04, 2016, from https://www.aacu.org/publications-research/periodicals/it-takes-more-major-employer-priorities-college-learning-and