At Lynchburg College, students will learn to: Inquire, Explore, Conclude, Persuade, Engage. These are the five goals of a new initiative recently adopted by LC faculty, based on the work of a Curriculum Task Force headed by Dr. Richard Burke, professor of English.
“It’s about helping the students develop into capable and self-aware critical thinkers by the time they graduate from LC,” Dr. Burke said. “We let students know, even before they come here, what the essential purpose of the LC education is.”
Dr. Burke noted that many faculty members already work toward these goals, but this will be a systematic approach by all faculty to ensure that every student receives extensive and ongoing instruction in critical thinking. Secondly, this approach will make it relatively easy for students to see connections and draw distinctions among different disciplines.
“We will be giving student learning a prominence in our promotional materials that it doesn’t quite have at the moment,” Dr. Burke said. “Frankly that sets us apart from most other colleges.”
The goals, to be implemented in fall 2010, reflect the faculty’s desire “to see our students develop into independent thinkers,” he said.
While critical thinking skills have long been central to LC’s capstone Senior Symposium, this emphasis from freshman year onward will help students be ready for their senior year, Dr. Burke said.
The larger point, he added, is for students to be able to think critically once they graduate – to decide, for example, whether a particular job is a good fit, whether a particular politician deserves support, or whether a health challenge is best addressed by surgery. “This initiative creates the sort of graduates employers want to hire,” Dr. Burke said.