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


Leaders on Learning (2016 series)

Just over a year ago (April of 2016), I participated in the VIU teaching and learning series called “Leaders on Learning”. This was part of the year-long exercise to define what student learning and student success looked like, and it was a series in which several deans, the provost, the president, and I each presented a one-hour talk about our thoughts and experiences around teaching and learning.

For anyone interested, I thought I would post the PowerPoint slides, and a link to the video of the presentation. For me, it became a bit of a “swan song”, as by the time I delivered my talk, my decision to retire from VIU was pretty much made. So, it gave me occasion to reflect on what I had learned in my 23+ years of classroom teaching, and my 11 years of supporting learning as an administrator, and anything else that I had learned about learning along the way.

LOL presentation April 2016 (the PowerPoint slides)

Video of the presentation (60 minutes)

Also, let me say that all of the presentations are valuable – I continued to learn from my colleagues during the series itself. So once you are at the link above, you can probably find all of the presentations.

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

High Impact Practices (HIPs)

The Association of American Colleges and Universities (AAC&U), of which we are a member, does a lot of good work on the value of a liberal education (even if it is clearly geared towards U.S. institutions, students, and politics).

One thing I have found thought-provoking is their promotion of George Kuh’s “High Impact Practices” in post-secondary learning. Of course, programs and departments at VIU employ many of these strategies already, believing in the impact for some time now. In addition, though, these practices come up as specific elements of discussions currently underway at VIU. Do not be surprised if future recommendations on a number of these will be forthcoming from various Academic Plan sub-committees.

High Impact Practices (HIPs)

(Adapted from George D. Kuh)

1.     First-Year Seminars and Experiences

2.     Common Intellectual Experiences

3.     Learning Communities

4.     Writing-Intensive Courses

5.     Undergraduate Research

6.     Collaborative Assignments and Projects

7.     Diversity and Global Learning

8.     Service Learning and Community-Based Learning

9.     Internships

10.Capstone Courses and Projects

Boyer’s Recommendations

Here at VIU, as well as at many post-secondary institutions across North America, we often invoke the work of Ernest Boyer and his categories of scholarship: scholarship of discovery; scholarship of integration; scholarship of application; and scholarship of teaching and learning. His 1990 publication Scholarship Reconsidered introduced these concepts of stretching/ supplementing the traditional view of “research”.

Recently, I found this set of ten recommendations from the posthumously-released Boyer Report of 1998.

Ten Ways to Change Undergraduate Education

1.     Make research-Based Learning the Standard

2.     Construct an Inquiry-based Freshman Year

3.     Build on the Freshman Foundation

4.     Remove Barriers to Interdisciplinary Education

5.     Link Communication Skills and Course Work

6.     Use Information Technology Creatively

7.     Culminate with a Capstone Experience

8.     Educate Graduate Students as Apprentice Teachers

9.     Change Faculty Reward Systems

10.Cultivate a Sense of Community