Academic Plan Forum

Queen's University


Goal 4.1: The University as a Community of Learners

To provide transformative learning experiences that assist students in becoming self-directed, responsible, life-long learners.

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4 Responses to “Goal 4.1: The University as a Community of Learners”

  1. Paul Grogan says:

    For me, Goal 4.1 equates to the core philosophy that drives me in my teaching every day – Helping students move from being ‘dependent learners’ (as they so often are when they leave High School) toward being ‘independent learners’ when they graduate.
    I am heartened that the AWT team and presumably many others agree.

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  2. Mark Jones says:

    This central section on “The Learning Experience” makes heavy weather of a principle that most instructors and students will take as given: that learning is not and should not be treated as a passive activity. I can’t imagine that you will hear many objections to the abstract ideals invoked in the prologue: the aim that students become “self-directed…learners”; the idea that all members of the community are “active somewhere” on a “continuum of learning”; or the affirmations that “learners . . . have responsibilities in the process of knowledge acquisition” and need to “learn to learn.”

    On the other hand, it can be damaging to pretend that all of this is new or “different” (p. 18) from present assumptions, for it implies a false binary between those enlightened pedagogues who help students “learn,” and the “mongrel dogs who teach” (Bob Dylan) and view their students as passive vessels. Under bullet 1, on “Outcomes-based learning models,” it is claimed that using UUDLE can help “streamline curriculum development,
    *moving away from input or content-based models toward developing core competencies and skills*” (p. 19, emphasis added). This phrasing extends the false binary implicit in the prologue. It promotes a bias against “content” both by yoking it with “input” and by pitting the (bad) “content-based models” against the (good) development of “skills and competencies.” The implications are that anyone committed to “content-based” curricula (a) is not committed to developing “competencies and skills,” and (b) will regard pedagogy as “input,” students as tape-recorders.

    To begin our academic planning on the basis of such simplistic (and false, and unnecessary) binaries will be disastrous. Let’s admit instead that a commitment to curricular “content” is not tantamount to viewing pedagogy as “input,” and that it is perfectly consistent with the development of competencies and skills.

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    • Michael Cummings says:

      Thanks, Mark, for the valuable points. I have had some of the same worries, and it seems to me that some of the suggestions amount to the administration impinging on our academic freedom.

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