Thursday, October 22, 2009

The Best Schools for Student Learning

In response to a post last week, Lionofzion asked for more schools that had remade themselves in order to focus more intensely on student learning. I'll list some here, but I am interested in which schools you think are doing a good job with student learning, and why.

College rankings don't really get at student learning in any meaningful way, so you won't see many of these schools on those lists. And this list is idiosyncratic--just the ones that I know of and like. So weigh in...

Focus on student learning in response to crisis:

Portland State--Portland State was struggling to maintain enrollment and serve its urban population. They remade their curriculum to include huge amounts of service-learning and civic engagement. They are leaders in all sorts of other learning practices, as well as assessment.

Alverno College--Alverno, a private, Catholic women's school in Milwaukee was losing enrollment. The faculty re-made the curriculum around competencies. Students now all cerate portfolios as evidence of their learning. That act, along with revitalized student services, has brought Alverno back.

Focus on student learning from their creation:

CSU-Monterey Bay--CSUMB was created to serve underserved populations. They've done so through an innovative mix of general education and professional education. Again, service-learning and civic engagement are at the core of campus culture.

Evergreen State--Evergreen is the grandaddy of learning focused schools. From its creation in the 1970s it has been willing to constantly remake itself to focus on learning. No school is as willing as Evergreen to do this.

Roskilde University and Aalborg University--Roskilde and Aaborg are new-ish Danish universities, created in response to student activism in the 60s and 70s. They are intensely student-centered. Faculty play mush more of a consultative than teaching role. The curriculum is build around problem solving. Incredible schools.

4 comments:

Peter said...

Worcester Polytechnic Institute was not losing students but instead a group of faculty felt a need for a change in engineering curriculum. The WPI Plan was a major shift for them.
As a graduate I can tell you it was all about student learning.
You can read their story here.

http://www.wpi.edu/news/perspectives/groganessay08.html

gary said...

Here is another--The College of the Atlantic (www.coa.edu) distinguished by their curriculum. Every student takes the same major--human ecology--but every student also produces a distinctive senior project. Common curriculum, custom experiences.

Bryce said...

I would say that BYU-Idaho may fall into this category as well. Almost all of the changes they have made as of late seem to be focused on increasing engagement and learning.

gary said...

And we shouldn't forget the schools identified by Kuh et al in the DEEP Project: http://nsse.iub.edu/institute/?view=deep/schools