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General Education Rethink Receives $1.1 Million in Funding

Faculty explore ways to make general education transfer courses more engaging and relevant

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(October 24, 2011) - At least 12 California State University campuses will partner with California Community Colleges on pilot projects that demonstrate high-impact learning in transferable general education courses.  High-impact practices include internships, service learning, peer mentoring, learning communities and collaboration in faculty research. 

The pilot projects are part of the national Give Students a Compass initiative.  Three of the Compass projects are currently underway, with funding from the Rosalinde and Arthur Gilbert Foundation ($200,000) and the Walter S. Johnson Foundation ($300,000).  The projects include:

  • Sacramento State and Consumnes River College – Carpool Lane on the 99
  • Cal State L.A. and East Los Angeles College – GE STEM Integration
  • CSU Channel Islands and Oxnard College – Seamless Sophomore Seminars

A $500,000 grant from the James Irvine Foundation will support eight more CSU/CCC partnerships.  A Lumina Foundation grant of $120,000 will support one additional project.

"Early student success depends on the perceived value of college that comes from engaging content and positive interactions with faculty," said John Tarjan, associate professor at CSU Bakersfield and chair of the Chancellor's General Education Advisory Committee.  "My hope is that we can design a general education program that has a greater impact on non-traditional students and helps them make the leap from community college to the CSU."

Compass projects focus on three essential parts: curriculum development, classroom application and evaluation.  The evaluation component is critical to expanding the Compass initiative since recommendations for improving the general education transfer curriculum will stem from project evaluations. 

"Compass brings transformative general education content out of the shadows and empowers faculty innovators," said Jean Mach, professor at the College of San Mateo.  "The initiative creates educational laboratories that help faculty better serve students by exploring new and exciting ways to learn."

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