October 19, 2007

Case Western Reserve University’s undergraduate curriculum sharpens students’ communications skills, prepares them for future challenges

Per Aage Brandt teaches a SAGES seminar

SAGES' distinctive approach highlighted in higher education report

Case Western Reserve University's Seminar Approach to General Education and Scholarship (SAGES) is one of 13 college programs featured in a recent report celebrating innovative teaching approaches in higher education. SAGES, which emphasizes the development of strong communications skills, is featured in the Association of American Colleges and Universities report "Assessment in Cycles of Improvement: Faculty Designs for Essential Learning Outcomes," written by Ross Miller.

The report describes how selected colleges and universities "foster and assess student learning in 12 liberal education outcome areas, including writing, quantitative literacy, critical thinking, ethics, intercultural knowledge and information literacy.

SAGES is featured as a program that addresses intellectual and practical skills, especially oral communication.

"In SAGES seminars, students refine their ability to speak persuasively," explains Peter Whiting, associate dean of the College of Arts and Sciences and director of SAGES. "Persuasion can happen in informal discussion as well as in more formal oral presentations.

The SAGES approach represents a shift away from lecture-based lessons, relying instead on interactive learning and collaboration. The SAGES curriculum interweaves communications throughout a four-year sequence of seminars. Each student selects:

  • a First Seminar on an interdisciplinary topic;
  • two University Seminars on topics related to the social world, the symbolic world and the natural or technological world;
  • a departmental seminar, taken in the third year, that focuses on the student’s major area of study; and
  • a senior capstone project that requires in-depth research.

Since, as Miller notes, SAGES is "not just a first-year seminar program," students are continually developing their analytical, collaborative and communications skills. After they complete their senior capstone project—the culmination of the SAGES experience—they share their findings in a public oral presentation. "In this way," Miller writes, "Case builds a culture of communication across the entire undergraduate degree program."

For more information, contact Susan Griffith, 216-368-1004.

Posted by: Marsha Bragg, October 19, 2007 11:10 AM | News Topics: Campus Life, College of Arts and Sciences, Faculty, HeadlinesMain, Provost Initiatives, Students

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