Faculty invited to apply to General Education Scholar Program

April 10, 2021

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — The Office for General Education is inviting applications for the seven open positions in the General Education Faculty Scholars Program.

First piloted in 2016, the General Education Scholars serve in an advisory capacity and help to build the capacity of faculty to use educational change initiatives to advance greater intentionality in curricular and course design, learning outcomes and assessment, and high-impact teaching and learning practices in general education. Scholars typically serve three-year terms.

For the current application cycle, General Education is looking for faculty scholars to represent various parts of the University:

  • one each from University Park representing the natural sciences, quantification and health and wellness domains
  • one from Penn State Harrisburg
  • one from Penn State Abington
  • two faculty from either Penn State Beaver, DuBois, Fayette, Greater Allegheny, Hazleton, New Kensington, Scranton, Shenango or Wilkes-Barre.

Applications are due by April 20 and require a letter of support from an academic administrator. The application and contact information can be found here.

Nikki Andel, associate teaching professor of English and humanities at Penn State Schuylkill, was among the first faculty scholars to be accepted into the program. She has collaborated with four different groups, working on various aspects of general education outreach to instructors at Penn State. She called it “the most collegial experience I have had in my professional career.”

The projects Andel worked on covered the creation of a portal for general education information; development of a rubric currently used to assess general education integrative thinking courses; and development of a course in collaboration with the Schreyer Institute for Teaching Excellence and Penn State World Campus, to introduce faculty to integrative thinking, teaching and learning, and integrative-thinking course design.

“I had a blast meeting and working with colleagues from other campuses and in other disciplines who shared many of the same trials and triumphs as I have in the classroom while teaching Gen Eds,” Andel said. “I learned how to write a mean rubric during my time with the Scholars and, because it is so new, I have been able to contribute to how integrative thinking is perceived and assessed across the University.”

Jennifer Hillman, professor of psychology at Penn State Berks, has also been with the Faculty Scholar program since its inception in 2017.

“Along the way I have learned so much about so many things — from the process of getting new courses approved by the Faculty Senate, to how college accreditation, curricular development and assessment really works,” she said. “It’s so important to me that I have been able to help recognize and support the myriad faculty who teach Gen Ed and often serve as the unsung heroes who make up the very foundation of our University.”

Hillman’s work includes the development of the Gen Ed Faculty Hub, assistance with grant proposals for new integrative studies courses, the piloting of “Teaching Squares” (a low-stakes, formative approach to peer evaluation) at Penn State Berks and the adaptation of nationally recognized rubrics for curricular development and integrative learning.

Tim Robicheaux, associate teaching professor of sociology and criminology, served on one of the subcommittees within the Faculty Scholars that focused on peer review of general education courses, as well as other upcoming projects.

“This is a laid back, truly collaborative program that never feels like work,” Robicheaux said. “I mean that — I never found the program to be a chore.”

He said being a Faculty Scholar gave him the opportunity to work with others outside of his college while at the same time seeing some of the inner workings of University policy and procedure. This also gave him contact with colleagues serving on the University Faculty Senate.

“This motivated me to run for the senate, and that led to my current role as the chair of the Student Life Committee,” he said. “That, too, has been fulfilling. It has been an honor to serve as a Scholar, and as good as it felt to be recognized for my contributions to general education, the people I have met and what I learned from them, has been an incredible experience.”

The Office for General Education is part of the Penn State Office of Undergraduate Education, the academic administrative unit that provides leadership and coordination for University-wide programs and initiatives in support of undergraduate teaching and learning at Penn State. Learn more about Undergraduate Education at undergrad.psu.edu.

Last Updated April 10, 2021