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Integrating Liberal Studies at the Assignment Level – A Case Study

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2013 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Atlanta, Georgia

Publication Date

June 23, 2013

Start Date

June 23, 2013

End Date

June 26, 2013



Conference Session

Integrating Engineering & Liberal Education

Tagged Division

Liberal Education/Engineering & Society

Page Count


Page Numbers

23.776.1 - 23.776.9



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Paper Authors


Bill D. Bailey Southern Polytechnic State University

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Dr. Bill Bailey is currently an assistant professor of industrial engineering technology and quality assurance at Southern Polytechnic State University. He holds a Ph.D. in Technology Management (Quality Systems Specialization) from Indiana State University. He also holds a Master of Science in Industrial Technology degree from North Carolina A&T State University, and a Baccalaureate degree in Psychology and English.
Dr. Bailey has extensive manufacturing experience, including lean implementation and training and development. His experience in program and course development and teaching includes work in industry, community colleges, and at the university level. He has served as an examiner for several Baldrige based quality award processes, including The Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award, and state awards in North Carolina and Georgia. His research and consulting interests include the improvement of organizational performance through quality initiatives such as the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award Process, Six Sigma, Lean, etc., and the application of these initiatives to education, manufacturing, services and healthcare.

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Integrating Liberal Studies at the Assignment Level – A Case StudyThe definition of liberal arts has evolved from its Roman origins, and its renaissance expansion.While there are many modern interpretations of what constitutes a liberal arts curriculum, onedistinction has remained throughout; a focus on and value of intellectual rather than vocationalskills. This paper demonstrates an approach to integrating those intellectual skills to enhancevocational ones.As a result of industry feedback, a community college adopted four workforce skills to beintegrated into the entire curriculum. Multiple ways of measuring each competency were alsoidentified for each competency.The skills identified were: • Communication - Communicate effectively through speaking, listening, and writing. • Critical Thinking - Use critical thinking to analyze and solve problems. • Technical Skills - Demonstrate knowledge and competence in academic and technical fields of study. • Teamwork - Demonstrate positive, effective, and appropriate interpersonal skills.With the exception of technical skills, these fall within the modern definition of liberal studies.This case study describes how one technical program integrated these skills into its laboratoryintensive program. The subject of this study was a Tool, Die and Mold Making program, leadingto an Associate of Applied Science degree.Identifying linkage to outcomes such as these is fairly common at the program and course level.In this study, the relevant skills are integrated at the assignment level as well. In courses whereassignments did not support these skills, assignments were added or modified as appropriate.For example: communication, critical thinking, and teamwork were integrated into laboratory(machining) sections through the use of individual and team based projects. These projectsrequired written plans, written evaluations at the conclusion, a reflective paper to cementlearning, and a presentation to the class and others.This paper will provide a detailed description of how this integration and the demonstration ofthese competencies were achieved. Linkages between all assignments and the relevant liberalstudies items (workforce skills) will be identified. The paper will also discuss the how theintegration of each of these liberal studies skills enhances the application of technical skills andjob readiness.

Bailey, B. D. (2013, June), Integrating Liberal Studies at the Assignment Level – A Case Study Paper presented at 2013 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Atlanta, Georgia. 10.18260/1-2--19790

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