Weingarten blog on “learning outcomes”

Last week, Harvey Weingarten (president of the Higher Education Quality Council of Ontario, or HEQCO) published his thoughts on the current state of learning outcomes work, identifying three “phases”. Most of us will recognize these phases – and spend some time thinking of where our institution falls in this scheme.

Read Dr. Weingarten’s post here:¬†Three Phases of learning outcomes


University Affairs interviews David Helfand from Quest U.

After a long silence, I’m motivated to post something from the electronic version of the magazine University Affairs.

Dr. David Helfand, President of Quest University who is departing in August, was interviewed by UA and I just like some of the things he said, so I copied-and-pasted them into a Word document (attached below).

You will recall that Quest is the private, secular, non-profit university founded ten years ago in Squamish by former UBC President David Strangway. Their tuition is high, but they have a commitment to financial aid, based on need. They have a single degree, a Bachelor of Arts and Science, and they have no departments. And in terms of scheduling, they have adopted the “block” approach of students taking a single course at a time, for four weeks or so.

Now, I’m not going to suggest that VIU could adopt these features wholesale. But as you will see from the quotations I selected, some of Helfand’s responses seem appropriate to discussions and dialogues and practices currently underway.

There is a lot going on in May, as always, so I may be motivated to publish some further posts related to, oh, maybe learning outcomes, or an Aboriginal Education Plan, among other things.



Helfand interview quotes 2015

Happy New Year 2014!

As we begin another calendar year, I still bask in the warmth of the holiday season, with visits and meals and time with friends and Deborah and all of our children and grandchildren, as well as my parents.

The return to campus has been quiet, at least relative to the chaos of a September. Students seem to have figured out the routines and where to go, and there aren’t as many panicky looks around.

In addition to Winter Olympics and World Cup of soccer in the coming months, we have things like contract negotiations to look forward to in 2014. I certainly hope that negotiations are respectful and productive as they materialize.

Of course, in my work world, there are a number of new things just waiting to be developed. In November 2013, we did get a Framework for BA Honours degrees approved through Curriculum Committee and then Senate – now we will see if some departments develop such degree options. Other ideas under discussion include a First-Year Experience program; a General Studies degree; closer integration of degrees and trades training; enhanced experiential education; the degree-level learning outcomes; an Aboriginal Education Plan; and lots more.

By the way, just this morning I received an email from HEQCO (the Higher Education Quality Council of Ontario) that sent me to another blog post that was about learning outcomes – go here <http://heqco.ca/en-CA/blog/archive/2014/01/09/colleen-m-hanycz-outcomes-based-learning-articulating-the-fruits-of-a-liberal-arts-education.aspx&gt;. (The HEQCO email service, which gets delivered weekly, is another interesting and valuable resource by the way – if you visit the blog entry, consider subscribing).

In concluding, let me just say that I hope everyone has a good, productive semester.

Individualized Majors

When I began in this new role, I was interested to learn all I could about inter- and multi-disciplinary programs, structures, budgeting, and so on. One variety of degree program that I had heard of from colleague Terri Doughty and Marni Stanley was the Individualized Major Program (IMP) at Indiana University at Bloomington. So I explored a bit on-line, and found that they host an annual conference around such programs.

So, in March of 2012, I headed to the Hoosier state, flying to Indianapolis first, and from there driving down to Bloomington. Bloomington is a perfect example of the U.S. college town, it seems to me: a city of approx. 80,000, of which about 42,000 are students! Needless to say, it is a big campus.

It was an interesting conference, with lots of talk about both the individualized Major approach, and inter-disciplinarity (a common feature of an individualized Major, since they are usually pursued because a disciplinary Major does not quite fit the student’s interest).

To check out what Indiana-Bloomington does, go here: <http://www.indiana.edu/~imp/>. I have been in correspondence with the Program Director, and this is a serious degree option¬† with a rigorous process, designed for the student who is keen to pursue a “wicked problem” or to combine fields of study in a way no other programs are doing.

As we continue to explore new degree structures here at VIU, including possibly Honours programs in a limited number of departments, I thought I would make available here my report from that IMP conference.

IMP Report April 2012