General Education courses came into existence after the loss of thorough coordination and coherence in graduate programs. As a result, there were myriad of reform programs that were put in place which would make students more knowledgeable in many disciplines. This came into being since there was minimal need for specialization especially towards the end of the nineteenth onwards. As a result, college entrant students were forced to undertake general education in order to effectively fit into the job market.
Additionally, general education was also meant to pool together a wide array of knowledge for learners bearing in mind that specialization was perceived to be a narrow and more constraint way of attaining job competence. Furthermore, the aspect of specialization did not map itself much in major universities during the 19th century period. Therefore, after realization that there was lack of commonness in sets of electives in university courses, admission of more students into higher learning institutions began.
This was mainly fuelled by the perception that colleges and universities figured out that in order to meet the needs of these students, there was also need for creation of special programs that would suffice their needs by servicing as an open door in every field. These courses were intended to be introductory in all disciplines and thus created a structure that was to be distributed to all colleges (Gray 28).
Upon acceptance in the early twentieth century, implementation methods exhibited wide variances especially in regard to societal needs of that time. Gray (36) asserts that there were exclusions as regards contemporary issues that led to generalized perception of the whole society.
This type of education therefore lost relevance to immediate societal demands and thus became more generalized as the name suggests. Over a period some years, dimensions of general education provisions have remained unchanged and thus been likely subjected to challenges.
Due to this stagnation in education provision and ignorance of immediate societal demands, including student relevance, general education has been faced with a lot of emerging issues in curriculum, both to students and teachers. Students have been widely affected by the challenges in general education. In this light, this paper discusses the types of issues, in relation to content, requirements and impacts of general education as a program and its relevance to both student and the general society.
Content of general education
General education entails provision of a generalized form of education, usually offered immediately after high school and junior years of university. This type of education has no specialization and considers a wide approach in its curriculum. Under general education, there is emphasis of attaining knowledge from all academic disciplines. Although this might sound as one of the most important forms of education, it actually offers a system of education which can be considered as basic in all disciplines.
Thus, general education primarily provides a basic form of education aimed at making its students conversant of general affairs in all disciples. With this approach, the content provided does not therefore make an individual highly valuable to the society or economy but rather equips the student with basic skills and knowledge in handling the immediate environment (Gray 58).
General education entails learning of all sciences and arts. For instance, mathematical education provided is aimed at providing basic mathematics skills which include algebra and basic calculus to students for advanced applications in universities or colleges. Additionally, basic sciences and humanities are taught which include, biology, chemistry and physics in the field of science while humanities entail history, geography and religious education. These sciences also offer introductory topics to detailed studies in universities or colleges.
Biology offered can not however render a student fit for study of medical sciences in advanced learning processes but makes the student conversant with medical and other biology-related fields’ terms. Similarly, humanities offered, as previously mentioned, include geography, history and religious studies which all center on lighting information on matters of the world.
Geography entails physical knowledge of the world; history entails origin of man and past notable events in the lives of human beings while religious studies offer knowledge in matter relating to supernaturalism, morality and a possible explanation of the origin of earth and the universe at large (Gray 57).
With this scope of knowledge, one ought to be greatly conversant with environmental challenges and thus be able to solve them as they keep arising in society from time to time. This is one of the perceptions whenever the provision of general education comes on board. Another perception of this type of education is to make students be relevant to the society as well. With such limited knowledge, matters of societal practicability become a challenge after its implementation (Thornton 45).
Requirements of general education
As any other course out there, general education demands specific requirements before admission acceptance. Indeed, it is worth noting that for a long period of time, the entry requirements for general education has been perceived by many as relatively flexible and perhaps not very demanding.
Contrastingly, the latter scenario may not always be the case since general education, similar to any other While the requirements do not indicate rigidity in their statements, general education insists on prerequisite education, mainly primary or elementary education.
With good elementary education, admission to general education course is instant and fast. This is a major pre-admission requirement. In-course requirements include mastering of concepts provided therein. This requirement is met through various stage tests. Before procession to the next level of general education, various tests are administered. Administration of these tests takes place in person, unlike many other courses which administer tests online.
These tests are aimed at checking the level of knowledge concepts in a student. There are also measures in place to guide these tests while undergoing administration (Wehlburg 70).
Thorough knowledge of general education forms a foundation for specialization at university level. General education thus provides requirements necessary for advanced education.
For instance, liberal education, which is provided with an aim of familiarizing students with concepts in social sciences, is aimed at providing knowledge to students wishing to pursue their education in social sciences.
While it provides such familiarization platforms for future majoring in universities and other specialization colleges, general education requires students to be conversant in stated categories.
These categories or areas include communication and critical thinking, natural sciences, quantitative reasoning, humanities and social sciences. Communication entails oral communication and written communication while critical thinking involves application of basic philosophical concepts in reasoning. Natural sciences entail introductory topics into pure and applied sciences which include physical sciences, life sciences, laboratory sciences and elective sciences suitable for advanced learning.
Quantitative reasoning entails mathematical introductory skills necessary for computations in all fields. These skills greatly impact students’ arithmetic skills in a positive way while at the same time proving to be too limited to be applied deeply as standalone material (Wehlburg 85). The issue of transfers and its impacts on students’ performance related to attaining general education requirements.
Over the years, researchers and policymakers have expressed their concerns over the phenomenon of poor performance in general education among schools in the US as well as in international schools, due to the issues of students’ transferring or being required to transfer from a major subject area to another.
Indeed, whether internationally or locally, all schools have a similar mandate that they have been entrusted with of academic achievement. Impey et al. posits that a good and stable learning environment has been considered imperative for students’ achievement gains (32).
From the plethora of schools, as well as their improvement initiatives, of critical importance is managing the issue of transfer of students to units within a major subject area which may affect a student’s success. Inasmuch as that fact in itself may not be enough to justify the problem of student performance, studies indicate that in the US, poor levels of liberal art students performances are positively correlated to transfer of courses.
O’Leary, Quinlan and Richards point out in the US and in international schools, the learning opportunities and performance of most liberal studies students have been over the years disrupted by the potentially high transfer cases (100).
Pierre et al. point out that in general education, the transfer of students from a particular school to another or a specific study to another, with emphasis on liberal art students, provokes immeasurable loss of productivity (53). This is seen by the manner in which students are forced to shift from their normal study duties to spend their inordinate time dealing with registration issues. Besides, the issue of transfer impacts on performance of other students as they are sometimes called upon to provide guidance to new students.
This indeed is a setback to the industries effort and goal of promoting students’ achievement due to excessive loss of time. Besides, it consumes a lot of energy that individuals devote in order to have learning programs stabilize after some students leave their courses or study units. Scholars appear in agreement that this shift in focus causes students to take a temporary dip in the first and second semesters.
Insufficient resources and economic issues
Most schools locally and internationally have not been left out by the effects of the many students who quit school or transfer from one school to another due to insufficient resources or economic difficulties.
Insufficient resources and economic hardships are some of the factors that hinder them from meeting general education requirements like, paying for their studies. The contemporary local and international student transfers and drop-out rates vary in different countries and are brought about by diverse issues that include: economic factors, poor learning environments and racism.
Power, Hobbs and Ober point out that economically, students in most schools are greatly affected by relational decisions involving payment of education fee, joining better performing schools and studying in schools that have adequate learning facilities for their major subject areas (95).
For instance, students taking liberal arts study consider their course to be very critical as it prepares them for better professions in any economy. With their work requiring greater commitment, further advancement in training, and sacrifice, most liberal arts students feel the need to shift to other areas of studies which offer better learning facilities or other schools with adequate infrastructure.
Poor learning conditions in some schools are mediated by lack of adequate infrastructure and uncooperative stakeholders. These also propel students to seek other areas that would give them greater peace of mind.
Ineffective management of educational systems
In his theory of change management, Kurt Lewin argues that an organization should create structures that allow its people to not only to be effective, but to map their operations that suggest their value recognition (Yoder-Wise 51).
Indeed, the problem of ineffective management of educational systems and inconsistent curriculums creates a problem which affects the ability of students to attain academic requirements. Therefore, education bodies concerned with administration in the US and in bilingual schools should come up with measures that will change structures that aid students in meeting the general education requirements.
By adopting Kurt Lewin’s model of freezing-refreezing in organization management, students should be brought closer to administrations to encourage them to reflect issues that affect them. This would greatly create the needed interlink between teachers and students and the sense of progress in addressing their issues that repel them from attaining their educational requirements. Though this is not easy, it is achievable.
To shed more light, Power, Hobbs and Ober use the example of liberal arts students who are used to a teacher who is practical and more interactive after they are shifted to a new one with a totally different style of teaching (96). The students would take a lot of time before they adjust to the new style while others may be unable to adjust completely.
Effects of general education
General education, in its course, greatly impacts the life of a student. The impact is so eminent that it largely affects the future of an individual. The effects are thus long lasting and consequently bound to be felt all along a lifetime of an individual. In this determination, the effects remain varied. Under this perception therefore, the effects of general education, specifically liberal arts can be classified as either positive or negative since they directly relate to a student.
While the effects of general education may be varied and versatile both to students and tutors, it is imperative to note that the outcomes of acquiring this form o education largely depends on how it is articulated in the actual work environment. In simple terms, general education should be well harnessed especially after it has been acquired in order to be fruitful to users.
General education can greatly affect the life of a student positively. To begin with, general education creates a foundation for future majoring in courses relating to the interest of the involved student. For instance, liberal arts in general education provides relevant knowledge for specialization in courses offered in the faculty of social sciences. This foundation is vital for provision of requirements such as premises that form a prerequisite of the majors to be undertaken by the student.
Secondly, this form of education provides necessary skill for understanding the environment and thus being in a position to solve immediate challenges which people encounter. Since our immediate environments are full of challenging situations, provisions acquired from general education prove essential when crafting solutions to these challenges.
Background information provided at these levels of study presents great knowledge tools for solution arrivals. This is a positive effect because lack of information or skills necessary for challenge solutions would lead to creation of bigger problems in society (Howard 31).
The basic communication and critical thinking skills provided in general education are aimed at effective communication in spoken and written contents and thus lead to effective self-expressions.
Without effective communication, understanding and interpreting messages would be highly strenuous and thus they would be limited and greatly biased (Stickler 75). With such biases, it would be hard for someone in achieving goals in life especially as regards liberal arts and possible future majors in social sciences. Therefore this is a great positive effect of general education.
The quantitative techniques provided under the curriculum of general education provide a great platform for computational analysis and interpretation of research statistics at higher levels of learning. Since the purpose of learning is to continue researching specific contents, data collection is highly inevitable.
Analyzing the data collected and providing accurate interpretations require quantitative understanding provided in the general education program. Thus acquisition of such quantitative skills positively impacts required skills in the area of research (Thornton 46).
Like many other forms of schedule or programs, generalized education does not escape provision of negative effects. To begin with, general education-for lack of specialization- provides too much content, most of which becomes highly irrelevant at specialization levels.
This content become forgotten and lack use in immediate environments and thus only remains useful to the individual and not the society. Secondly, accredited grades can limit individual interests in future persuasions. Each individual has an interest in a field of academic pursuit but with limitations, acquired from general education such as low grades in specific subjects, might limit this interest if not prevention (Allen 10).
Thirdly, general education does not seem to solve environmental challenges. The skills provided at general education level are of elementary form and thus not suitable for provision of accurate solutions to environmental problematic situations. Immediate environmental problems seem more technical and thus require slightly advanced skills in crafting of appropriate and effective solutions, which general education programs do not provide (Allen 14).
From the discussion, it is evident that general education entails provision of a generalized form of education, usually offered immediately after high school and junior years of university, which greatly impacts educational needs of a student.
Along study lines of general education, there is inevitable encounter of issues associated with content, requirements and impacts on a student. Since the aim of general education is to open minds of students with a perspective preparation for majors in advanced education, it however brings with it issues and challenges.
The economic issues encountered become a challenge to successful completion of the general education course. Transfer issues complicate the progress of the course while academic issues related to content bring confusion to the mind of the student as regards choice of specialization. It also has both positive and negative effects, all of which create other issues in the completion of education and relevance to the society.
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