History And Meaning Of Liberal Arts Education

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A Liberal Arts education can be dated as far back to the Greece and Roman Empire. It was a course of study for citizens free from slavery. During those times to be awarded a liberal arts education about civic duties and developed them as human beings in the study of grammar, rhetoric, and logic (Liberal Arts College Review, n.d.). The higher education in America was just for wealthy white men during the colonial times. Today, they are catering to minority populations so they can have a diverse student body. As it was in the beginning today liberal arts education is general knowledge that will allows students to work in many fields. However, the liberal art spectrum is generally accepted as covering the following fields: Humanities, Social Sciences, Natural Sciences, and Formal Sciences (Haidar, 2014). If you have a liberal arts education, you are not tied into one area of study to work in. Which is helpful in the long run after you graduate because you have a vast knowledge of different skills and knowledge that can be beneficial to employers.

General Education

In general education, which is the first part that has to be completed before you chose a specific field of study. Most of the general education classes are standard at many universities from English, math, natural sciences, social sciences, humanities, and diversity. The reason schools have set up a general curriculum to give a great opportunity for students to try out different things to see if they like them (College Rank, n.d.). These courses could help the student in what type of major they want to study. It is best to select an area of studies in something that you like to do and have the ability to create a future for you in the field. By being more engaged with the subject matter, you may develop an interest or even passion in the subject (Slaymaker, 2019).

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General Education fits with Liberal Arts Education

It is true that general education can fit into a liberal arts education because they focus on the same types of course that will make the student a well-rounded in different areas. Both paths provide an excellent education that produces graduates with a deep understanding of social issues and the arts and sciences (Touro University Worldwide, n.d.). In a sense, students that take the core required curriculum include a range of liberal arts course and can lead them to getting a liberal arts degree if they do not know what major interests them. When freshmen attend college, it is a hard time for them to know what they want to do for the rest of their life as a career. Having course or major that give you a broad range of knowledge could help them down the road. The report of the Presidents Commission on higher education stated that “general education is liberal education with its matter and its method shifted from the original aristocratic intent to the service of democracy” (Pooley, 1952).

Course Level Assessment

There are many ways for institutions can administer assessments to their students during the school year. Teachers use a rubric for all assignments that give the students all the material the teacher wants in the assignment and can use those assignments to assess the student if they incorporate all of the elements in the rubric in their assignment. If they are not looking at the rubric, the teacher will know if they need to change something or improve on other ideas to help the student’s outcome from the assessment. Overall, the strategies are classified as direct (where actual student behavior is measured or assessed) or indirect (California State University Chico, n.d.). In a direct assessment, it includes written work, projects, capstone assignments, portfolios. All the assignments and activities that were in the class syllabus can be used for an assessment of the student’s performance outcome during the year. If the teacher sees an issue that students are having problems comprehending the assignment maybe the teacher need to switch or fix something to make it more understandable. Indirect assessment which includes self-evaluations, grades, surveys, interviews. But they can’t use the indirect assessment without having a direct assessment as it would not provide great results because most of the times student just want to get through the surveys, just answer good for everything, and don’t comment on any concerns they have from the course. For example, a grade of a B in an organic chemistry course where the student has probably learned a good deal about organic chemistry, but that grade alone cannot tell us exactly what aspects of organic chemistry he or she has or has not mastered (Suskie, 2009). Activities in the class room is another way to assess the student knowledge learned during the lesson. A class discussion, for example, remarks by some of the students may lead the teacher to believe that they do not understand the concept of energy conservation and because of that the teacher decides to revisit an earlier completed laboratory activity and in the process examine the connections between that activity and the discussion at hand (Atkin, Black, & Coffey, 2001). Teachers getting the students involved during the class in discussion where they can input their opinions in a way for them to get an assessment of what material the student learned from the exercise. Assessment tasks are the activities learners will undertake to confirm whether or not the outcome has in fact been achieved during and at the end of the learning process (York University, n.d.). The task has to be consistent with the course material or the student will not learn the materials that are on the assessment. For example, giving a test on history but the material studied is not the same as what is on the test or assignment.

Direct Methods of Assessment

Our people must also learn to engage in good deeds to meet pressing needs, so that they will not be unfruitful (Titus 3:14). There are many different direct methods of assessment that can show the outcome of the general education for both residential and distance education course. Some that could be beneficial to both are pre and posttest, group projects, and capstone projects. For the pre and posttest method students would be given on test on the first day of class so the teacher knows what type of knowledge they know about the course. This type of method will give the teacher ideas on what they have to do to change some of the assignments or ways to teach the class. At end of the course, the posttest will be given and will show the teacher if the student understood the course material. Group projects is method to see what debates start from the opinions of the group members but it could also show what student know about the material and leaders will take the group to achieve the outcome of the assignment. As a former law student, we had a capstone course project since our program was distances education. We would attend classes at night through an online skype system that Tulane School of Law created so we could see our classmates and professor. Our final course to graduate was the capstone which brought all the information we learned throughout the program to one final assignment which was a legal brief and union negotiation between a group of students. The results of the capstone project can educate the teacher on what the student learned over time during the course, which could be similar to the pre and posttest method. Capstone projects are generally designed to encourage students to think critically, solve challenging problems, and develop skills such as oral communication, public speaking, research skills, teamwork, and goal setting skills that will help prepare them for adult life (Great Schools Partnership, n.d.). Student engagement is a key factor in the assessment process and these direct methods will evaluation if the students learned the material during the course.


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  2. California State University Chico. (n.d.). https://www.csuchico.edu/assessment/assessment-planning-definitions/assessing-learning.shtml
  3. College Rank. (n.d.). Everything you need to know about general education courses. Retrieved from https://www.collegerank.net/general-education-courses/
  4. Great Schools Partnership. (n.d.). Capstone Project. The Glossary of Education Reform. Retrieved from https://www.edglossary.org/capstone-project/
  5. Haidar, H. (2014). What is liberal arts education? Retrieved from https://www.topuniversities.com/blog/what-liberal-arts-education
  6. Liberal Arts College Review. (n.d.). History of a liberal arts education. Retrieved from https://www.liberalartscollegereview.com/articles/11
  7. Pooley, R. C. (1952). The relation between liberal arts and general education. The Journal of General Education, 6(3). Retrieved from https://www.jstor.org/stable/27795387?seq=1#page_scan_tab_contents
  8. Slaymaker, K. (2019). Do’s and dont’s: General education classes. Retrieved from https://www.collegeraptor.com/find-colleges/articles/tips-tools-advice/dos-donts-general-education-classes/
  9. Suskie, L. (2009). Assessing student learning (3rd ed.). Retrieved from https://books.google.com/books?hl=en&lr=&id=7vhJDwAAQBAJ&oi=fnd&pg=PA13&dq=Suskie,+L.+(2009).+Assessing+Student+Learning:+A+Common+Sense+Guide.+San+Francisco,+CA:+Jossey-Bass.&ots=-i745BlD5r&sig=JQcw4eehupivUkoFWmtQizLQlME#v=onepage&q=Suskie%2C%20L.%20(2009).%20Assessing%20Student%20Learning%3A%20A%20Common%20Sense%20Guide.%20San%20Francisco%2C%20CA%3A%20Jossey-Bass.&f=false
  10. Touro University Worldwide. (n.d.). https://www.tuw.edu/program-resources/liberal-studies-vs-general-studies/
  11. York University. (n.d.). Identifying Learning outcomes and selecting assessment tasks. Retrieved from https://teachingcommons.yorku.ca/resources/elearning/elearning/identifying-learning-outcomes-and-selecting-assessment-tasks/
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