Ripon College’s Catalyst curriculum referenced by Inside Higher Ed

Ripon College and its Catalyst curriculum were featured in an article, “Beyond Box Checking,” Jan. 29, 2018, in Inside Higher Ed.

The article focused on a panel, “From Content to Inquiry: How Three Liberal Arts Colleges Radically Reimagined General Education,” presented Jan. 26 at the annual meeting of the Association of American Colleges and Universities.

Ripon College Vice President and Dean of Faculty Ed Wingenbach, Associate Professor of Mathematical Sciences Andrea Young, and representatives from Goucher College and the College of William & Mary spoke.

The article states that Wingenbach “described something of a backward design concept for Catalyst, in which faculty members thought of the skills students needed to do 15 weeks of independent research in the third-year seminar ‘and not be a disaster.’ Then they built the curriculum around that.

“At a retreat and regular meetings in the year leading up to Catalyst, professors and administrators regularly asked themselves, ‘What do we want students to be able to do?’ and ‘Does our current curriculum do any of those things?’ Wingenbach said. What faculty members thought students needed to learn was nearly identical to AAC&U’s data on what employers want from graduates, he noted, calling it a total, if not fortuitous, coincidence. …”

“Faculty members understand the curriculum continues to be a work in progress, he said, adding that there is ‘not a discrete difference between planning, designing and implementing.’ Yet the college has already heard that the new curriculum has made it a ‘distinguisher’ in terms of student opinion, he said.”


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