The California State University has a rich and secure tradition of providing educational programs of great depth and value, and of regularly assessing and assuring the quality of those programs. There is a great diversity among our campuses, and a deep respect for the judgments of campus faculty empowered to define curricula in response to local purposes as well as national and international standards. Students demonstrate their learning in the CSU in a variety of ways, and many faculty are involved in exploring both new methods of classroom work and a wide variety of alternatives. Cornerstones affirms the faculty's role in determining what is awarded credit for a CSU degree.
Much of our intellectual strength in undergraduate education comes from a balance between the specific identities of individual programs and the broader goals of providing a comprehensive general education to undergraduates. In recognition of this balance, the CSU system Academic Senate, representing the community of campuses which defines the system, has undertaken a thorough review of the broad purposes and specific intellectual elements of the baccalaureate degree. At the same time, Cornerstones sought to clarify those educational results to which the community of campuses might commit itself for all CSU graduates.
The California State University seeks to ensure that each graduate of the university meets high expectations regarding what graduates should know and do. We should be held accountable to achieve these expectations. At the same time we commit ourselves to those things most difficult to assess: the search for reasoned judgment, rich imagination, personal integrity, and civic engagement.
Providing educational excellence, the California State University will respond to the needs of Californians, including both the young and the wide range of older and working adults returning to school. Higher education is an intellectual experience preparing the whole person, not merely for the labor market, but also for a fulfilled life. Through teaching, research, scholarly activities, and service, the university is a powerful force for individual development and the improvement of a democratic society. CSU is committed to innovation in the use of its facilities, the methods of teaching and learning, the development of flexible academic schedules, the nature and duration of programs, the locations where education takes place, and the ease with which students get services.
Some of the changes proposed by Cornerstones are operational: consolidated, accessible student services, including admissions, records review, and financial aid, for both state-supported and fee-supported programs.
Some of the changes are organizational: the expanded use of our campuses throughout the calendar year, more flexible course schedules, course meeting times, enhanced community college--CSU transfer programs, and better integration of continuing and extended learning programs into the programmatic planning of our campuses.
Some of the changes are programmatic: developing more programs in areas of special relevance for California's economic and social future--including both traditional fields like nursing and teaching, and new areas like multimedia and biotechnology.
All of the proposals are grounded in the recognition that the primary purpose of the university is to serve students. The CSU declares that determining students' educational needs, meeting them, and advancing student learning is its paramount purpose. Regularly assessing student educational needs and aspirations, and systematically measuring the extent to which we are meeting them are central to the CSU academic process. This vision depends on the commitment and intelligence of the university's central asset: its faculty. To continue the California State University's powerful faculty record of teaching, scholarship, public service, and creative activity will require nurturing and support.
PRINCIPLE 1: The California State University will award the baccalaureate on the basis of demonstrated learning as determined by our faculty. The CSU will state explicitly what a graduate of the California State University is expected to know, and will assure that our graduates possess a certain breadth and depth of knowledge together with a certain level of skills, and are exposed to experiences that encourage the development of sound personal values.
The specific recommendations supporting this principle are:
1a. The commitment to require a faculty-determined, comprehensive set of general educational "outcomes" that is sufficiently specific to support a public declaration of educational results, and sufficiently general to allow each campus to develop its own mission and each college and department to develop its own educational outcomes.
1b. The commitment to develop--on each campus--systems of learning assessment that enable students to demonstrate learning in both courses and programs. These assessment tools need to be developed with a broad consensus as to their proper use, and will vary substantially among the disciplines.
1c. The commitment to devote sufficient resources to faculty development and the resources and time required to develop appropriate assessment techniques, redesign programs, and to shape definitions of credit.
1d. The commitment to develop indicators of institutional accountability that demonstrate the university's achievement of the outcomes to which it is publicly committed.
The specific expectations of the undergraduate curriculum are elaborated in a major report of the Academic Senate of the CSU, (Baccalaureate Education in the CSU), the following provide an outline of those forms of knowledge and ability expected from any graduate:
PRINCIPLE 2: Students are the focus of the academic enterprise. Each campus will shape the provision of its academic programs and support services to meet better the diverse needs of its students and society.
The specific recommendations supporting this principle are:
2a. The regular surveying of student educational needs, aspirations, and priorities, and the assessment of the extent to which we are meeting them.
2b. The redesign of academic calendars to maximize the availability of courses in a significantly wider range of times and modes, both with regard to the weekly schedule of courses and the very concept of the academic year.
2c. The redesign of current standards and processes of facilities utilization, so that the campuses can offer courses when appropriate throughout the year and throughout the hours of every day of every week, to enhance student-faculty contact, advising, and instruction. This, in turn, will require developing support for plant operations beyond the current schedules.
2d. The development of a technological infrastructure to support faculty offering instruction to students at a wide range of sites--homes, community and business locations--and with attention to the challenge of maintaining a collegiate experience.
2e. The development of adequate student services--and all other elements of the academic infrastructure, including increased staffing--to support students with non-traditional schedules, giving particular attention to the needs of older and working adults.
PRINCIPLE 3: Students will be expected to be active partners with faculty in the learning process, and the university will provide opportunities for active learning throughout the curriculum.
The recommendations in support of this principle are:
3a. The requirement that each student work with faculty and staff in planning their academic careers to include taking a more active role in their own learning, including self-paced and self-directed study.
3b. The commitment to facilitate practices of active learning (such as collaborative learning, problem solving, and the use of interactive technology), and to develop systemwide and campus arrangements needed for students to engage in a community service-learning experience before graduation.
3c. A commitment to encourage student involvement in scholarship, research and creative activity under faculty guidance, because these activities are central to the teaching mission of a comprehensive university.
3d. A commitment to facilitate greater student involvement in academic program development and assessment.
PRINCIPLE 4: The California State University will reinvest in its faculty to maintain its primary mission as a teaching-centered comprehensive university. Faculty scholarship, research and creative activity are essential components of that mission.
The recommendations in support of this principle direct the university to the following:
4a. A commitment to a systemwide faculty development and reinvestment plan, including steps to define and address the faculty salary gap, investment in faculty reinvestment and development, improvement of the faculty role in shared governance, strengthening the diversity of the faculty, and strengthening the system of peer review for faculty, including faculty determination of improved measures for recognizing a wider range of engaged scholarship in addition to teaching, research, and creative activity. The Academic Senate, the faculty union, and CSU administration must be appropriately involved in developing this plan.
4b. A commitment to develop system and campus policies guiding decisions on the replacement of retiring faculty.
4c. A commitment to support research, scholarly and creative activities for the faculty as a central element of a rich learning environment for our students.
4d. A commitment to work with graduate schools (especially in California)
to develop criteria that ensure prospective CSU faculty have sound training
in teaching and learning, particularly in modes of active learning.