Monday, February 6

Applications due for CIEE Faculty Development Seminars

4:00 - 5:00 PM - All LSFY Meeting
Wilson Center 

Tuesday, February 7

10:45 - General Student Recital
Wallenberg Hall, Denkmann Building 

11:30 - 11:50 AM - Tuesday Reflection - Megan Carter '12
Ascension Chapel, 2nd floor, Founders Hall

1:00 - 4:00 PM - Trinity HeartAware Info Desk
Trinity representatives will discuss the HeartAware program, answer questions and assist in taking the on-line screening
Olin 204 

4:00 PM - Happy 200th Birthday, Charles Dickens!
Tredway Library, 2nd floor 

4:30 - 5:30 PM - Ekklesia Study Group
Old Main 121

5:00 PM - After Hours Prose and Poetry
Tredway Library, Room 51

Wednesday, February 8

9:30 - 10:30 AM - Coffee and Conversation
CEC Conference Room, Sorensen Hall, 1st floor

12:00 - 12:50 PM - Faculty, Staff & Administrators' Bible Study
New Bible Study Series: "Justice for the Poor" featuring a 10-minute DVD introduction to each of the six sessions by Jim Wallis, editor-in-chief of Sojourners Magazine."
Bring your lunch and a Bible
Chicago Room, College Center

8:00 PM - Jazz Combo Soiree
Wallenberg Hall, Denkmann Building 

Thursday, February 9

10:30 - 11:30 AM - Convocation: "My Revolutionary Idea"
Brian "Fox" Ellis, storyteller, author and naturalist, will portray a young Charles Darwin recounting his adventures sailing on HMS Beagel and the evidence that led to his revolutionary theory.
Free admission
Centennial Hall 

11:30 AM - 12:30 PM - President's State of the College Meeting
Olin Auditorium 

7:00 PM - "Let's Talk About It: Making Sense of the American Civil War"
Steve Warren will lead this final session on the American Civil War.
For details or to register and obtain copies of program materials, visit 2nd fl. reference desk or call 309.524.2470. Free admission.
Moline Public Library, 3210 41st Street, Moline, Illinois

Friday, February 10

12:00 PM - Lunch and Learn with Dr. Sanjev Puri
Dr. Puri, a Trinity cardiologyst, shares the latest research on heart health
Board Room, College Center, 2nd floor 

4:00 PM - Friday Conversation: Principles of Inprovisation and Applying Them to Student Learning
Presented by Mark Salisbury
3:30 PM - Refreshments
Wilson Center

7:00 PM - The Vagina Monologues
The ninth annual production of Eve Englin's play will raise funds to prevent violence toward women.
Wallenberg Hall, Denkmann Building

Saturday, February 11

2:00 PM - Augustana Concert Band
Directed by Rick Jaeschke. Free admission.
Centennial Hall 

7:00 PM - The Vagina Monologues
The ninth annual production of Eve Englin's play will raise funds to prevent violence toward women.
Wallenberg Hall, Denkmann Building

8:00 PM - Augustana Symphony Orchestra Concert
The Augustana Symphony Orchestra presents a winter concert of Mozart repertoire to include Symphony No. 38 in D Major, Clarinet Concert in A Major, and the well-know Magic Flute Overture
Free Admission
Centennial Hall 

Sunday, February 12

2:00 PM - Quad City Symphony Orchestra Valentine's Day Masterworks IV
Guest conductor, Alondra de la Parra, and Robert Belinic, guitar
Tickets $11-$34. Order tickets
Centennial Hall 

4:00 PM - Nova Singers presents Sun & Moon, Sea & Sky
Admission is $16 for adults; $12 for seniors; students are free
St. Paul Lutheran Church, 2136 Brady Street, Davenport, Iowa 

Volume 9, Issue 21 - February 6, 2012

Delicious Ambiguity

At the Augustana Board Retreat a couple of weeks ago, Allen Bertsche (Director of International Programs) and I hosted a discussion with members of the Board, administrators, and faculty about a fundamental shift that has occurred in higher education over the past several decades. While a college education used to be primarily about acquiring content knowledge, today the most important outcomes of a college education are a broad range of complex cognitive, psychosocial, and interpersonal skills and dispositions. These outcomes transcend a student's major choice and are applicable in every facet of life. In short, although content is still necessary, it is no longer sufficient. In recent years Augustana has identified outcomes like critical thinking, collaborative leadership, and information literacy as fundamental skills that every student should develop before graduation.

During our conversation at the Board Retreat, Kent Barnds (Vice President of Enrollment, Communications, and Planning) pointed out that, while some of us might grasp the ramifications of this shift, perspective students and their families are still firmly entrenched in the belief that content acquisition is the primary goal of a college education. In their minds, a college's value is directly related to the amount of content knowledge it can deliver to its students. As many of you know, when prospective students and families visit, they often ask about opportunities to obtain multiple majors while participating in a host of experiences. By comparison, they rarely ask about the exact process by which we develop critical thinking or cross-cultural skills in students.

I think it would do us some good to consider what the current calendar discussion looks like to those who believe that the cost of tuition primarily buys access to content knowledge. The students quoted in the most recent Observer about the 4-1-4 calendar discussion exemplify this perspective. Their rationale for keeping the trimester system is clearly about maximizing content acquisition - more total courses required for graduation equals more total content acquired, and shorter trimesters allow students to minimize the time spent acquiring content that they don't need, don't like, or don't want. With tuition and fees set well over $40,000 next year, it's not hard to see their concerns.

Now please don't misunderstand me - I am much more interested in what we do within the calendar we choose than whether we continue on trimesters or move to semesters. Nor am I suggesting that student opinions should or should not influence this discussion. But if we're trying to have a conversation about student learning - with or without students - and we don't share a common definition of the term, then we are likely doomed to talk right past each other and miss a real opportunity to meaningfully improve what we do regardless of whether or not the faculty votes to alter the calendar. On the other hand, if we can more clearly spell out for students, parents, (and ourselves) what we mean when we talk about "student learning" and why our focus on complex skills and outcomes is better suited to prepare students for life after graduation, not only might it temper the tensions that seem to be bubbling up among our students, it might also allow us to help them more intentionally calibrate the relationship between their current activities and obligations and their post-graduate aspirations.

So no matter where you sit on the semester/trimester debate, and no matter what you think about the shift in emphasis from content acquisition to the development of skills and outcomes, I would respectfully suggest that we need to better understand the presumptions that undergird each assertion in the context of the calendar discussion. In my humble opinion, as Desi used to say to Lucy, we still "got some ‘splainin' to do."

Make it a good day,

Mark