Roles and Purposes
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Roles and Purposes Dimension Committee

Roles and Purposes

“Foundations Institutions promote student understanding of the various roles and purposes of higher education, both for the individual and society. These roles and purposes include knowledge acquisition for personal growth, learning to prepare for future employment, learning to become engaged citizens, and learning to serve the public good. Institutions encourage first-year students to examine systematically their motivation and goals with regard to higher education in general and to their own college/university. Students are exposed to the value of general education as well as to the value of more focused, in-depth study of a field or fields of knowledge (i.e., the major).”

                                             — John N. Gardner Institute for Excellence in Undergraduate Education

Executive Summary

The Austin Peay State University Roles and Purposes Dimension Committee has produced the following executive summary as part of the university self-study process for the Foundations of Excellence project. 

The roles and purposes of a college education are to provide students with knowledge and personal growth opportunities to develop a personalized set of goals to become engaged, well rounded, intellectually curious, and prepared for employment. The current academic environment favors degrees that prescribe specific jobs (particularly high paying jobs) in the least amount of credits, with the least exploration, at the fastest pace, for the lowest cost. The committee believes a student experience should include individual exploration and the development of a diverse skill set, despite the financial constraints that hinder this experience. Additionally, a more effective presentation of the roles and purposes of core courses taken will assist in helping the students see the value of these classes, their relevance to major classes, and the need for elective credits that provide the basis for a well-rounded education. More emphasis also needs to be placed on explaining a well-rounded education as the best method for long term job stability, personal satisfaction, and adaptability to changes in the workplace. The committee feels that there are areas in which serving the public good is highlighted and encouraged through examples such as APEX weekend and APSU 1000. Unfortunately, we need to improve our communication to freshmen more directly and with greater purpose. Students need personal exploration while selecting and completing core classes. This flexibility to learn about themselves, settle on a degree path, and eventually a career is important for student success. We recommend including new motivation centered objectives in APSU 1000 and perhaps a retooling of the core curriculum to focus on specific skills such as professional writing and speaking, reasoning, reading comprehension, and other skills instead of picking a defined set of core classes. APSU 1000 and our four year plans created by our departments provide a clear pathway for students, but more needs to be done to explain why these courses are present in the curriculum and how they will provide long term benefits to the student. We recognize it is difficult to initiate a discussion and recommend changes to the core curriculum of a liberal arts university during a state and national environment that focuses on job training. Despite these challenges the committee believes there are many faculty and staff committed to core values of a liberal arts education. We believe beneficial changes can be made in our university environment to improve our ability to communicate the roles and purposes of a liberal arts education.

Full report

The Austin Peay State University Roles and Purposes Dimension Committee has produced the following report as part of the university self-study process for the Foundations of Excellence project. You can find a full copy of the report here

Committee Members: 


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