Primary contact information: Tobie Sanders, 614-236-6321,
Seminar hosts: Jody Fournier, Tobie Sanders, and Carolyn Osborne

Purpose of seminar:

What is a college education and what should it mean in a person's life? Is it a credential leading to certain types of jobs or is it a record of the development of lifelong engagement with ideas and commitment to action based on this engagement?

Among the various calls to reform university approaches to education are two paradoxical strands. One is to set up conditions in universities that lead to deep learning and civic engagement. Not only does this approach contribute to greater individual and (presumably) community mental health, but it also sets students up for a lifetime of significant contributions towards community betterment.

The second strand comes from the Federal Government and its effort to avoid wasting tax dollars on groups who purport to provide post-high school education but who, in fact, are more interested in getting the dollars for their institution than providing students with high quality education. Toward this end, the Federal Government has defined a credit hour as 1 hour of class time per week along with two hours of out of class activities such as homework and reading assignments. Having a credit hour defined in these terms means that those who design and teach courses are likely to think about how much work students are doing rather than how proposed student activities set up conditions for high levels of engagement. Under the terms of this definition of a credit hour, a university education becomes an economic exchange. Students pay tuition and do a certain amount of work in order to complete a series of classes and get a particular type of degree.

How can we promote deep learning in the context of a push towards accountability based on spurious measures such as number of hours students spend on the course (or, concomitantly, number of pages students read or write)?

One way to deepen student learning and also to articulate the kind of rigor that will satisfy the needs of the Federal Government is to consider Bloom's Taxonomy of educational objectives. All three types of objectives, cognitive, affective, and psychomotor, are pertinent to the development of college-level courses that lead to engagement and deep learning.

We propose the development of a seminar for teachers across the curriculum at Capital University. The seminar will present information on deep learning as well as on Bloom's taxonomy. Following the informational portion of the seminar, participants will work with Bloom's taxonomy on specific classes they are teaching, in small groups. The materials for the informational portion of the seminar will be available online so they can be used in the seminar time to facilitate planning and also so they can be used post-seminar by participants and the colleagues of participants.

Two different types of pressure on colleges and universities create a challenge for curriculum development. One situation has to do with rising mental health concerns and the AACU's response to this in encouraging the development of courses that inspire engaged learning by students. The other is the new definition of a credit hour from the Federal Government as a means of ensuring that federal dollars are paying for a real education through grants and loans.

The federal definition of a credit hour is that each hour should represent one hour per week of contact time and two hours per week for student time outside the classroom in reading and homework. With this kind of framework, it would be all too easy to create courses that use up a certain amount of time regardless of whether the activities in that time are worthwhile. The pressure towards the development of a consistent concept of credit hour in these terms is antithetical to the concern for engaging students in deep learning because deep learning .

Bloom's taxonomy of education offers a way of thinking about engaged learning that at the same time may be able to address college-level credit hour concerns.