The students in Professor Cathy N. Davidson's face-to-face course at Duke University have created a first draft of some basic, preliminary ideas for their collaborative project on "Designing Higher Education from Scratch." Please find below a "napkin sketch" for your comments and feedback, created by a project team in the Duke "History and Future of Higher Education" course. For more information about this project, please see this post.
Motto: “Helping students engineer bridges toward our future…”
Background: In today’s world, landing a good job and a secure income often depends on graduating from a four year college. Unfortunately college completion rates for students from low-income families are significantly lower than their higher-income counterparts. While the reasons for this are complex, it is partially due to the fact that students from low-income families often do not have access to quality high school education and therefore are not equipped with the skills needed to thrive in college.
Mission: Our College is a small low-cost junior/community college aimed at equipping promising students with the skills they need to succeed in a rigorous higher education environment. Our College targets the underserved population of low-income students [in the city where we are located] who enter college without the skills and support they need to succeed.
- Developing student’s abilities for self-teaching and critical thinking
- Students engaging their teachers as well as their peers
- Innovative effective teaching
- Intellectual freedom for students and teachers
We intervene by:
- Providing underprivileged, promising students of all ages from the community where we are located low-cost access to quality learning experiences
- Emphasizing Service Learning
- Real-world capstone project
- Structured mentorship (peer/professor)
- Offering salaries and working conditions that inspire and support professors who excel at innovative and dynamic teaching
- Come from low-income families based in the region where we are located
- Are intelligent and motivated to succeed through advancing into higher education.
- Come from educational backgrounds that did not fully prepare them for the challenges of college
- In order to keep costs down, Our College does not have a university campus, but rather is located in a low-cost office building in an area convenient to our student body.
- It is a commuter school; there are no on-campus housing options.
- With the exception of college counseling, our student resources are kept to a minimum in order to keep administration small and tuition at a very affordable level.
- Part of our administration needs would be met through a work-study program for students who would serve the university while attending classes.
- Tenure is not a feature of Our College. In lieu of tenure, all professors are paid high salaries and good benefits. Teaching performance is evaluated every three years through a combination of peer-to-peer evaluations, teaching portfolios, student outcomes, self-evaluation, and other yet-to-be-determined forms of evaluation. If a teacher receives a negative teaching evaluation, they are given one year to improve their performance.
- Our College focuses on the delivery of transferrable skills instead of the traditional silos or disciplines of higher education.
- Since the focus of Our College is learning how to learn, classes focus on critical thinking, rhetoric and communication, language and composition, mathematical reasoning, scientific exploration, and aesthetic interpretation.
- Our College intends to foster an environment dedicated to student learning. Teachers at Our College recognize that students learn in a variety of ways, and they are dedicated to a constant review of teaching methods and practices.