Susan Kress becomes SMU Director of Engaged Learning Oct. 1, 2011

Unbridled Learning

Susan Kress becomes SMU Director of Engaged Learning Oct. 1, 2011

Susan Kress, SMU Director of Engaged LearningSusan Kress of the SMU International Center will become the University’s new Director of Engaged Learning effective Oct. 1, 2011. Her office is in the General Education suite in the lower level of Clements Hall, adjacent to the Scholars’ Den honors community commons. She reports to James Quick, Associate Vice President for Research.

Kress has been with SMU since 2008 in her role as Director of Education Abroad. She received her B.F.A. degree from Saint Mary’s College, Notre Dame, and her M.F.A. degree from Southern Illinois University-Carbondale. Prior to accepting her position at SMU, she was assistant director of The International Center and coordinator of study abroad and national student exchange at Winthrop University.

Her new position was created to provide institutional support for the University’s Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP), created as part of SMU’s reaccreditation by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS). “Unbridled Learning: Engaged Learning Beyond the Classroom” will allow all SMU undergraduate students to participate in at least one extensive experiential learning activity prior to graduation, according to the plan set forth by SMU’s QEP Committee in January 2011.

The oversight infrastructure will include the Engaged Learning Advisory Committee, as well as community partners and mentors, and a new website to keep track of experiential learning opportunities for students.

> Learn more about the University’s Quality Enhancement Plan

Kress will start by working with Quick to assemble an advisory committee of SMU campus community members, she says. By spring 2012, they hope to have an external advisory committee of community and national leaders and friends of SMU, she adds.

The committees’ advice will help establish priorities for the program, Kress says. “We will focus on bringing together different constituencies and talking to students to find out what they want.”

Kress sees the Office of Engaged Learning as serving as “an umbrella that will bring together the people behind the myriad experiential learning activities already happening on campus, making it easy for students to know where to go to practice the knowledge and skills they are learning in the classroom in a real-world context,” she says. “Students, based on their needs and interests, are already asking for it. A big part of my job is to establish the business practices needed for a coordinated and exciting program that underscores the value of active learning as a distinctive component of a SMU education.

“The University is looking at the next 100 years. As we go forward, this engaged learning will be part and parcel of the academic experience, not something separate.”

> Visit SMU’s “Unbridled Learning” homepage

September 28, 2011|News|

Tune In: Getting connected with ‘Unbridled Learning’

SMU is answering students’ calls for learning opportunities outside the classroom with a new program that will provide both structure and funding for their endeavors.

The University’s Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP) – “Unbridled Learning: Engaged Learning Beyond the Classroom” – will allow all SMU undergraduate students to participate in at least one extensive experiential learning activity prior to graduation. The program will allow undergraduates to build on their formal education through participation in structured experiential learning beyond the classroom.

Click the YouTube screen to learn more, or watch the Unbridled Learning video in a new window. video

> Visit SMU’s Unbridled Learning homepage

March 22, 2011|Tune In|

SMU unveils new plan for ‘Unbridled Learning’

Outdoor class at Dallas HallSMU is answering students’ calls for learning opportunities outside the classroom with a new program that will provide both structure and funding for their endeavors.

The University’s Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP) – “Unbridled Learning: Engaged Learning Beyond the Classroom” – will allow all SMU undergraduate students to participate in at least one extensive experiential learning activity prior to graduation, according to the plan released by SMU’s QEP Committee. It also meets requirements for the University’s upcoming reaccreditation with the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS).

The program will allow undergraduates to “build on their formal classroom education through participation in structured experiential learning beyond the classroom, which will help them to develop a significant and sophisticated understanding of the ways in which the context of the world community intersects with disciplinary knowledge,” according to the QEP Committee’s executive summary.

The committee’s discussions have centered on experiential learning since its formation in summer 2009, says chair Maggie Dunham, professor of computer science and engineering in the Lyle School of Engineering.

“The QEP part of our reaccreditation process is pretty much wide open for schools to determine. The committee’s main job was to come up with an implementation plan,” Dunham says. “Experiential learning is the area where we think students will gain the most from their University experience. They value this kind of activity and have told us as much.”

Indeed, a survey of SMU students conducted by the Temerlin Advertising Institute, led by Professor Brice Campbell, in Meadows School of the Arts found that more than 80 percent of them “find that it is important to experience life outside the classroom.”

The QEP will provide opportunities – and University support, including funding – for undergraduate students to choose an out-of-classroom experiential learning activity in the community focus area of their choice:

  • Research
  • Creative
  • Civic
  • Professional

QEP experiences will also have specific requirements that may not be satisfied by existing SMU experiential learning activities, according to the committee. A key feature is that each student will be in charge of identifying, defining, completing and reporting on his or her work.

All experiences will be approved by an advisory committee and overseen by SMU faculty with other qualified internal and external mentors. A QEP experience can be undertaken anywhere, but must include extensive involvement with a learning community.

All QEP participants will be required to write a reflective article about their experiences, to be published in a new SMU online journal. In addition, new Undergraduate Engaged Learning Conferences will be held annually to showcase student QEP experiences.

The committee found that many SMU students already pursue experiential activities beyond the classroom, but many more are confused about how to go about doing it, Dunham says. The recommendations for the QEP grant program and other support mechanisms should address that problem, she adds.

SMU institutional support for the QEP will include:

  • Monetary support
  • A new position for a Director of Engaged Learning
  • A new Director of Undergraduate Research

The oversight infrastructure will include the Engaged Learning Advisory Committee, as well as community partners and mentors, and a new website to keep track of experiential learning opportunities for students.

In addition, QEP projects will build on and augment important elements of the new University Curriculum (UC), to be offered beginning in 2012. The program will allow students to pursue the community and global requirements of the UC in more depth.

Finally, the QEP will increase faculty awareness of the importance of and participation in undergraduate experiential learning outside the classroom.

“It’s important that these experiences become part of our University culture,” Dunham says. “Our plan will help facilitate that.”

> Read more about the University Curriculum
> Learn more from SMU’s Quality Enhancement Plan information site
> Visit the SACS Reaffirmation of Accreditation for SMU homepage

January 27, 2011|News|

Four professors honored at Spring 2011 General Faculty Meeting

SMU Provost Paul Ludden opened the 2011 Spring Faculty Meeting by presenting awards to four outstanding faculty members.

Assistant Professor of Art History Amy Buono and Assistant Professor of Sociology Sheri Kunovich received 2009-10 Golden Mustang Faculty Awards. The Golden Mustang honors junior faculty members who sustain high achievement as both teachers and scholars.

The 2009-10 President’s Associates Outstanding Faculty Awards were presented to Associate Professor of Philosophy Robert Howell and Associate Professor of Art History Pamela Patton. The awards honor tenured faculty who have sustained high achievement as both teachers and scholars in their professions.

Ludden announced SMU’s latest Carnegie Foundation research classification and unveiled the University’s new Quality Enhancement Plan at the Jan. 19 meeting. He also provided updates on the 10-year accreditation review by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS), next year’s budget standings and a proposed new structure for undergraduate admissions.

Read more under the link below.

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January 26, 2011|News|
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