Tom Schrand, Philadelphia University’s associate dean for general education, wrote about design thinking as a strategy for reaching consensus about general education learning goals in the summer issue of Peer Review.
The article explains how PhilaU faculty, staff and students applied design thinking techniques to identify a set of general education competencies that students could develop not only in the University’s undergraduate core curriculum, but also in their majors and in co-curricular experiences like internships and study abroad.
“When you are developing a new course, one recommended approach is to begin by defining your learning outcomes and then to work backwards from there to determine the appropriate course topics, materials, and assessment methods,” he wrote. “In 2011, as Philadelphia University prepared to launch an ambitious initiative for reforming general education, we wondered if we could apply the same ‘outcomes-first’ approach to a university-wide curriculum.”
The result was an innovative new approach to general education organized around these shared learning goals and an e-portfolio process that allows students to display samples of their work related to each goal.
The flagship publication of the Association of American Colleges and Universities, Peer Review covers emerging trends and key debates in undergraduate education. The editors commissioned the article after Schrand’s presentation on the topic at their annual conference this past winter.