Adams State moves forward in preparing students

(12-14-2016)

Adams State Richardson Hall cupula and front entrance with blue sky

Adams State University is taking a step forward in adjusting educational needs to fit a new generation and preparing students for careers in an ever-changing world.

For the last year, the Essential Learning Task Force, a committee consisting of 50 faculty, staff, and students, has worked to create the "Adams Pathways." The Adams Pathways Project is a campus-wide endeavor that outlines and implements an undergraduate curriculum and assessment plan based on the framework of inclusive excellence. The goals of Pathways are to improve student learning and increase student engagement, retention, and graduation rates.

The cornerstone of the Adams Pathways Project has been identifying institutional and general education learning outcomes. Following suggestions by the American Association Colleges and Universities (AACU) and the Colorado Department of Education to realign educational outcomes for the Twenty-First Century, Adams State approved the "Adams Outcomes." These student learning outcomes specify the knowledge, skills, and abilities that Adams State students are expected to develop as a result of their overall experiences with any aspect of Adams State, including curricular (general education and the majors), co-curricular, and extracurricular opportunities.

The Essential Learning Task Force surveyed the campus and hosted outside expertise and then identified the four areas of focus to best serve Adams State students. The four overarching Adams Outcomes include Knowledge of Human Cultures and the Physical and Natural World; Intellectual and Practical Skills; Personal and Social Responsibility; and Integrative and Applied Learning.

Area I, Knowledge of Human Cultures and the Physical and Natural World, focuses on the content through study in the sciences and mathematics, social sciences, humanities, languages, and the arts; and engagement with big questions grounded in Place-based Education, which encourages the learner to contextualize knowledge within local, national, and global communities.

Area II will focus on critical thinking, creative thinking, written communication, oral communication, teamwork and problem-solving.

Through civic engagement and the foundations and skills for lifelong learning, Area III will develop a student's understanding of social responsibility. And Area IV will holistically put Adams Outcomes all together for students through synthesis and advanced accomplishment across general and specialized studies.

According to Dr. Lea Ann "Beez" Schell, chair of the Human Performance and Physical Education Department and co-chair of the Essential Learning Task Force, "the adoption of the Adams Outcomes represents ASU's commitment to ensuring quality educational experiences for all students." She added, "we are moving to a competency-based education model that will better prepare students for a range of careers and some of these careers don't yet exist."

Adams Outcomes will go into effect fall of 2017 with the Pathways Project continuing for another year. "The Adams Outcomes will give the Pathways Project more direction as we can now begin aligning and sequencing relevant and meaningful student experiences while at ASU," Schell said.