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The Liberal Arts and Employee Skills

Posted on Friday November 18th 2011

What do employers want from college grads?  Rob Jenkins  makes a case that the first two years of liberal arts are critical for employment and that many of college students do these courses at community colleges.  The suggestions are based on the annually updated research by National Association of College and Employers [NACE].  Employers want teachers to engage students by having them write lots: many types of writing, from formal research papers, to journals and reflections to memo style.  Employers  also demand critical thinking experience that includes projects and assignments that draw inferences, make connections, reach and defend conclusions.  Furthermore, employers  want grads that emphasize real world problem solving through use of case studies, field experiences, guest lecturers and experiments.  Finally, Jenkins also suggests that faculty engage students in making connections between what they do in the classroom, such as group work, to what they will do in the workforce, such as teamwork. All of these suggestions are paramount to the liberal arts in the first years of college. Perhaps questions for assessment in the liberal arts can include:

  1.  How much and what types of writing do you assign over a semester?
  2. How does your course link to critical thinking in engaging students in thinking deeply and critically, making inferences from varied sources, drawing inferences and making tentative conclusions?
  3. How does your course link to real world challenges?  How does your subject matter engage students to think about life/death, the environment, human behavior, arts and culture, world financial issues, global poverty and more?
  4. How does your course engage students in ‘real work’ simulations such as teamwork, writing for business/organizations, and/or speaking/presenting about a topic?

 


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