The PSU General Education Committee is starting the conversation in earnest about what Gen Ed thematic pathways might look like. I wrote about this earlier this month, placing my thoughts in a larger context.
Here’s a more succinct definition of a thematic pathway:
A thematic pathway in General Education is a set of courses in which the connections between them are made explicit to the students via the pedagogy of the classes. In addition, to participate in a thematic pathway, a student must be able to articulate both the connections between the classes as well as the material/concepts/skills learned in those classes that can be transferred to other contexts.
The connections in the pathway can be made explicit in many ways. For example, a set of courses may be offered during the same semester and have a common meeting time in which the students explain to those in other courses what they are learning. Or several courses might be offered over several semesters with a focus on a particular approach to learning or inquiry. An individual student could take the series of courses and build on a project or some other assignment in each of the courses so that the final project has gone through several iterations, each layering a depth of understanding gained from revisiting the approach in the current course. Or a set of courses could be offered over several semesters with a focus on common content rather than a common approach. In each subsequent semester, an individual student would demonstrate a deeper understanding of the content through a project or some other assignment. These are just examples of the ways in which the connections could be made explicit. There are probably many other ways that we have not yet thought of.
This might be the topic of one of the sessions at PSU’s January Jamboree. The General Education Committee is still trying to decide which of the many possible Gen Ed-related topics we are going to focus on.
The thoughts in this post are my own and in no way represent settled policy at PSU.