Office of Public Affairs

(315) 312-2265

Dec. 3, 2003

CONTACT: Dr. Sara Varhus, 312-2285


    OSWEGO -- SUNY Oswego will focus on how students integrate their learning under a prestigious grant from the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching and the Association of American Colleges and Universities.

    The $5,000 grant could enhance how students learn at SUNY Oswego, said Sara Varhus, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. Varhus, Associate Provost Rhonda Mandel, and School of Education Dean Linda Rae Markert will serve as the project team. Oswego was one of only 10 schools selected out of more than 100 institutions applying.

    "We seek to connect what students learn in major programs and in general education courses," Varhus said. "The grant will explore how that might be done."

    The three-year project will look at three components Oswego has implemented in the past few years -- the FirstChoice options for first-year students, intellectual issues courses designed to engage students in interdisciplinary learning and discussion, and capstone courses that culminate students' learning as they complete their majors.

    Analyzing the success of those signature programs and finding ways to improve them will serve as building blocks for the process, Varhus said.

    The first phase, starting in January, will be a qualitative study of how students connect learning in courses required for their major and general education classes.

    "We will explore questions such as 'how do we know when students are putting it all together?' and 'how do we help students acquire the skills to integrate knowledge from their major with what they learned in general education courses?'" Varhus explained.

    Better integrating transfer students into the academic flow is another goal, she added.

    Thanks to funding from the grant, the three team leaders will attend a conference on integrated learning in January that will help get the ball rolling and introduce Oswego representatives to a network of colleagues working on similar issues.

    The project also will involve campus-wide discussion of learning at Oswego next fall, followed by the implementation of a task force to address the findings of the qualitative study and campus feedback. The college will pilot and begin to assess the revised integrated core components in 2005 and 2006.

    "This is an opportunity to create a more engaging learning experience for all students," Varhus said.

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