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Moravian College Receives Teagle Foundation Grant to Study Student-Faculty Interaction

Moravian to administer project in collaboration with Drew University, Muhlenberg College, Roanoke College and Susquehanna University

Bethlehem, Pa., June 12, 2006—Moravian College was awarded a $300,000 grant from The Teagle Foundation to administer a new project aimed at assessing selected programs of intense student-faculty interaction for their contributions to the liberal education goal of developing intentional learners. Moravian also will participate in the project, titled “Value Added Assessment of Programs of Intense Student-Faculty Interaction: Developing Intentional Learners,” working in collaboration with Drew University, Muhlenberg College, Roanoke College, and Susquehanna University.

 Representatives from Moravian College, Curtis A. Keim, Ph.D., dean of the faculty and vice president for academic affairs, and Ann Stehney, Ph.D., vice president for planning and research, will be the co-principal investigators for the project. The award follows a $25,000 planning grant received last year from The Teagle Foundation.

“This project brings together five private liberal arts colleges and universities committed to small classes, accessible faculty members, and the development of intentional learners.” said Dr. Curt Keim. “As expressed by the Greater Expectations program of the Association of American Colleges and Universities, intentional learners understand the value and process of learning, integrate knowledge from multiple disciplines, and apply skills from one context to others. The collaborative partners will explore whether and how selected programs foster program-specific goals and the broader liberal arts goal of student growth from being passive recipients of information to full practitioners of intentional learning.”

“Collaboratively and separately, the institutions will develop tools to assess various programs of intense student-faculty interaction: first-year seminars (Drew), lower- and upper-level writing-intensive courses (Moravian), capstone courses and student-faculty research (Muhlenberg) freshman orientation and first-year seminar (Roanoke), and first-year core and senior capstone courses (Susquehanna),” Keim explained.  “Using national and local surveys, direct assessment of student work, and focus groups, the collaborative will develop assessment protocols compatible with the personal, student-oriented environment of the liberal arts college. In the broadest sense, our goal is to foster a community of practice that promotes assessment-based inquiry and decision-making and the value of liberal education.”

“This effort will enable collaborating institutions to assess the value added by programs of intense student-faculty interaction in regard to program-specific goals and the development of intentional learners,” said Dr. Ann Stehney.  “Our project will include the full assessment cycle, thus leading to improvements in goals, pedagogies, curricula, support structures, and methods of assessment. Our results also will affect programs that are not in our studies, including majors and general education, by providing workable assessment protocols and by increasing our understanding of effective programs and of our students. At the broadest level, each member of the collaborative is interested in re-examining its institutional learning goals as it prepares and assesses its strategic and academic plans, and the focus on intentional learning will certainly inform that process,” she continued.

Stehney explained how the project will benefit liberal arts institutions and others, “At the conclusion of the project we will explore ways to explain to constituencies within and beyond the academy what we discover about assessment and the value created by our programs. We are acutely aware that many outside the academy are calling for external measures of accountability and we believe that liberal arts institutions can demonstrate our significant worth through value added assessment appropriate to our mission. Thus we want to ensure that others—academics, trustees, alumni, donors, potential students, parents, legislators, the media—understand our efforts at self improvement and our contributions to our students’ lives,” she said.         

The grant to Moravian College was one of 14 new grants announced today by The Teagle Foundation, which is committed to providing intellectual and financial leadership in the effort to promote and strengthen liberal education.  The Foundation announced grants totaling over $2.5 million to fund collaborative projects involving over 50 colleges, universities and educational institutions. The funding will extend the Foundation’s Outcomes and Assessment initiative, which explores the potential of faculty-led value-added assessment, and its Fresh Thinking initiative, which supports Working Groups intended to bring new ideas to the liberal arts.

Over the last two years, the Teagle Foundation has made over $5.6 million in grants through its Outcomes and Assessment initiative and over $1.9 million through its Fresh Thinking initiative.  Results from Teagle’s fall 2004 Forum and Working Group grants will be available in the fall of 2006. Detailed descriptions for these projects as well as additional information about the Foundation and all of its programs can be accessed at www.teaglefoundation.org.

The Teagle Foundation was established in 1944 by Walter C. Teagle (1878 – 1962), longtime president and later chairman of the board of Standard Oil Company (New Jersey), now ExxonMobil Corporation.  Mr. Teagle gave the foundation a broad mandate, “to advance the well-being and general good of mankind throughout the world,” mentioning many areas of concern and possible recipients of its support.

Moravian College is a private, coeducational, selective liberal arts college located in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. Tracing its founding to 1742, it is recognized as America's sixth-oldest college. Visit the Web site at www.moravian.edu