At Anderson University, the Liberal Arts Seminar is one of the first opportunities freshman receive to join in the unique learning experience at AU. During this first-semester course, students learn skills that will assist them throughout their college careers. Recently, the course underwent some improvements that are intended to keep the course relevant and reflective of the ever-changing culture of undergraduate studies.
A Liberal Arts Seminar revitalization committee was created to make such necessary additions. The team has worked to identify improvements that can be made to further integrate service-based learning and to expose new students to the AU culture.
“We have organized the course around a set of 10 critical thinking skills — intellectual proficiencies that we believe are essential to students' academic success and their future service to the world,” said Miller Fox. “Consequently, we have developed a detailed master course on Moodle that structures the readings, activities, and assignments according to these 10 skills. This Moodle course is really an organic, living textbook that incorporates readings, video clips, discussion tools, and interactive assignments. With this platform, we see wonderful possibilities to incorporate additional technologies in the future.”
One way the team was able to make such effective changes was through a survey that reflected the current curriculum for the course. It was sent to AU faculty, current AU sophomore students, and seniors in high school. The survey was intended to gain a well-rounded outlook on the course from individuals who have either participated in the course recently or will in the near future. The surveys were beneficial to the team as they began the process of revitalizing the course.
Carrie Clay, assistant professor of Spanish and also a graduate of AU, has put a great deal of time and energy toward the efforts to revitalize the Liberal Arts Seminar. She attends weekly meetings in which professors from each department bring fresh ideas from their individual backgrounds.
“The vision for the course is that it will foster creativity and allow freedom for instructors while maintaining rigor and consistency across the sections that it needs to have,” said Clay. “The goals for the course include developing critical thinking and communication skills and exploring the significance of community. The course will not necessarily be an entirely new experience, but my hope is that the purposeful and focused approach is reflected throughout the course.”
— Emmalee Strait is a junior from Anderson University, majoring in communication arts and minoring in marketing. Strait is an associate with Fifth Street Communications®, writing on behalf of the Anderson University Office of University Communications.
Anderson University is a private Christian university of about 2,600 undergraduate and graduate students in central Indiana. Anderson University continues to be recognized as one of America's top colleges by U.S. News and World Report, The Princeton Review, and Forbes. Established in 1917 by the Church of God, Anderson University offers more than 65 undergraduate majors and graduate programs in business, music, nursing, and theology.