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Student Success and Needs

by Vera Zdravkovich
(Vice President for Instruction)

We are near the end of another academic year, a good time to review and plan. In review, this year’s learning experiences for students have been both advanced and demonstrated. They were advanced with the awarding of NSF scholarships to 37 students and the initiation of five disciplinary Collegian Centers. They were publicly demonstrated at the sixth annual Science, Technology, and Research Training Conference (START). Additionally, this May we have the largest graduating class (566) in recent history. Further, we have received word that one of our Honors Academy graduates (2002), Ron Crouch, has been accepted by Rutgers Graduate School, and that another Honors Academy graduate (2003), Ravindra Gopaul, has a summer internship at Harvard. The success of our students is a credit to you, the faculty.

At the same time, we also know that our students seriously lack critical thinking skills, as demonstrated overwhelmingly by the results of the nationally normed, standardized Academic Profile. Just as we can take the well-deserved credit for the success of our students, so we must also recognize our role in strengthening their deficiencies.

We began addressing the need to improve critical thinking with our spring orientation panel discussion. We will continue to address the need by launching “The Year of Critical Thinking” beginning fall 2004. Faculty and staff who are interested will have the opportunity to engage in a review of the essence of critical reasoning through an online course taught by Alicia Juarrero. A faculty committee is planning to offer workshops and one-on-one collaboration as well as working with departments to find ways of strengthening critical thinking elements in courses.

I am aware that many of you have critical thinking as an integral part of your course and classroom assessments. We need to make this universal for all courses. To this end, the Academic Outcomes Assessment Committee (AOAC) will be requiring that the master syllabi for new courses and courses that will be assessed include objectives with critical thinking outcomes. I have no doubt that working together we can improve our students’ ability to think critically. We can advance our students’ ability to learn as we advance their ability to read, write, and think critically.

I thank you for your dedication, time, and energy that make us an exemplary college focused on student learning. I wish you a good summer and look forward to another successful year.


The Instructional Area Newsletter, Volume 19, No. 3

Spring 2004