Learning at Harrisburg University
The goal of learning at Harrisburg University is to obtain the relevant knowledge, competence, and experiences to best be prepared for an enriching career. Learning is, therefore, a multi-faceted activity that occurs throughout and across the college experience; it integrates both academic learning (acquiring and applying new knowledge) and student development (learning about one’s self). Competency-based learning outcomes with programs that are intentionally designed to be engaging, integrative, and experiential are emphasized. There are four inter-dependent program characteristics that help define the Harrisburg University experience:
- Highly Available: The University provides learning experiences to meet the student’s needs. This is demonstrated, for example, through the use of technology inside and outside of the classroom, and the applied learning opportunities available.
- Highly Collaborative: The student develops knowledge and skills through shared experience, as opposed to learning in isolation or in competition with each other. The faculty is responsible for creating learning environments based upon the premise that knowledge can be gained from everyone. The student has the advantage of learning from the minds and experiences of classmates, business mentors, or employers.
- Highly Experiential: The University deliberately ensures that learning is highly-linked to both practical and professional experience. This represents a shift from one-way (faculty to student), text-heavy content delivery to a more robust learning model that deliberately values experience, both inside and outside the classroom.
- Highly Applied: The learning conversation focuses on the practical application of knowledge. The intention is to shift the question from “How do I remember this information?” to “How can I act on this information in order to create knowledge that is both useful and actionable?” In this way, learning becomes an exercise in both in preparation for a career and personal advancement.
Learning Assessment at Harrisburg University
Harrisburg University’s model for the assessment of student learning is structured to support learning goals. The goals of the programs and courses are clearly defined and are relevant to the mission of the University. Course syllabi establish specific learning objectives, articulate the instructor’s expectation of the student, and outline the standards against which the student’s learning is measured. Learning assessment of coursework and experiential learning is creative, in that it goes beyond instructor-driven evaluation through examinations and papers in most cases and is done both inside and outside the classroom by faculty, business and academic professionals. Further, student learning around each of the University competencies is a focus of assessment activities. The University is committed to improve its program offerings by comparing student assessment outcomes to the program and course goals.
Competency-Driven and Across-the-Curricula: A hallmark of the Harrisburg University experience is competency-driven education. The student is expected to demonstrate mastery of eight university-wide competencies:
Definition: Civic engagement is “working to make a difference in the civic life of our communities and developing the combination of knowledge, skills, values and motivation to make that difference. It means promoting the quality of life in a community through both political and non-political processes.” (Excerpted from Civic Responsibility and Higher Education, edited by Thomas Ehrlich, published by Oryx Press, 2000, Preface, page vi.). In addition, civic engagement is participation in personal and public activities that are both life-enriching and socially beneficial to the community.
Written and Oral Communication
Definition of Written Communication: Written communication is the development and expression of ideas in writing. It involves writing in a variety of styles, genres, and technologies and mixing text, data, and images. Written communication abilities develop through repeated writing experiences across the disciplines.
Definition: Critical thinking is the use of deliberative thought, characterized by the comprehensive exploration of topics, ideas, artifacts, or events before accepting or formulating an opinion or conclusion. Using reason and experience to form informed judgments, the critical thinker combines or synthesizes existing ideas, images, or expertise in original ways; and reacts to experience in imaginative ways, characterized by innovation, divergent thinking, and risktaking. The critical thinker solves problems by designing, evaluating, and implementing a strategy to answer an open-ended question or achieve a desired goal. Quantitative Literacy (QL) - also known as Numeracy or Quantitative Reasoning (QR) - is a “habit of mind,” competency, and comfort in working with numerical data. Individuals with strong QL skills possess the ability to reason and solve quantitative problems from a wide array of authentic contexts and everyday life situations. They understand and can create sophisticated arguments supported by quantitative evidence and they can clearly communicate those arguments in a variety of formats (using words, tables, graphs, mathematical equations, etc., as appropriate).
Definition: Entrepreneurship is the process of organizing tangible and intangible resources in order to pursue opportunities that generate value, meet an identified need, or satisfy an organizational or societal market (such as the creation of a business, organization, or laboratory). At Harrisburg University, entrepreneurship represents a “frame of mind” demonstrated by both thinking and action.
Ethical Awareness and Reasoning
Definition: Ethical decision making actualizes the realization and inclusion of the moral dimension for personal decision-making. “Reasoning about right and wrong human conduct requires students to be able to 1) assess their own ethical values and the social context of problems, 2) recognize ethical issues in a variety of settings, 3) think about how different ethical perspectives might be applied to ethical dilemmas, and, 4) consider the ramifications of alternative actions.” Ethical self-identity evolves both on individual and organizational (e.g., corporate) levels. * Source: AAC&U / VALUE rubric
Definition: Global awareness is knowledge of the world citizenry’s common interests in community, social, political, information, and financial systems of different scales; appreciation and respect for diversity, culture, and environment; and the interactions and impacts of individuals, global systems, and cultures.
Definition: Information literacy encompasses knowledge and familiarity with different media types, efficient data storage, retrieval methods, and research techniques. For the purposes of this rubric, “information” is not only text-based information, but also includes images, sounds, data sets, databases, artifacts, numerical and statistical data.
Teamwork and Collaboration
Definition: Teamwork and Collaboration encompass the ability to work effectively with others in a concerted effort toward a common goal. “Behaviors under the control of individual team members” include efforts put into team tasks, manner of interacting with others on the team, and the quantity and quality of contributions to team discussions. * Source: AAC&U / VALUE rubric
Regardless of the student’s program of study, employers and community leaders desire these competencies; they also serve the broader purpose of preparation for life and citizenship.