Asee peer logo

Lean Learning: Professional Education And General Education Join Forces

Download Paper |


2008 Annual Conference & Exposition


Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Publication Date

June 22, 2008

Start Date

June 22, 2008

End Date

June 25, 2008



Conference Session

Blurring the Boundary between Content Knowledge and Professional Knowledge

Tagged Division

Liberal Education

Page Count


Page Numbers

13.841.1 - 13.841.6



Permanent URL

Download Count


Request a correction

Paper Authors


Verna Fitzsimmons Kent State University - Kent

visit author page

Verna M. Fitzsimmons, Ph.D., Associate Professor and Assistant Dean for Academic Affairs, College of Technology,
Kent State University. Dr. Fitzsimmons received her Ph.D. from the University of Cincinnati majoring in Industrial Engineering. She has over 15 years of experience working with businesses (both manufacturing and service sectors). She has also taught at several universities in Ohio and Wisconsin. She currently teaches courses in both the Baccalaureate and the Master of Technology programs and is now involved in applied research in several areas including rapid prototyping, process improvement, quality management systems, and automated manufacturing.

visit author page


Stephane Booth Kent State University - Kent

visit author page

Stephane E. Booth, Doctor of Arts, Associate Provost for Academic Quality Improvement, Associate Professor, Department of History, Kent State University. Dr. Booth received her doctorate from Illinois State University. She has over 30 years of experience in teaching students of all ages. Currently she provides leadership in the areas of student learning assessment and continuous improvement initiatives at Kent State University. She continues to teach in the Department of History and her research areas include U.S. Womes History, U.S. Labor History and assessment of student learning outcomes in higher education.

visit author page

Download Paper |

NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Professional Education and General Education Join Forces? Abstract

The rapid pace at which technology is changing makes it imperative that students develop the skills that will enable them to be proactive and reflective rather than reactive. This will require them as professionals and responsible citizens to integrate the content knowledge that they have learned in their professional education with the abilities valued in general education and by employers. These include critical thinking, reflective practice, valuing diversity, ethical behavior, and civic responsibility. How can this be effectively accomplished? How do we model for the students everything that is worthy in professional education as well as general education? One way is for faculty to see their mission as one that converges. Application of this convergence needs to be modeled for the students throughout their program of study in order for them to be able to make connections among professional education outcomes, general education outcomes and life experience.

Body of the Paper

Professional education (for example: engineering, architecture, nursing) is seeing a demand to increase the content and depth of knowledge as technology and the various fields evolves. Thereby the number of courses required in undergraduate programs has a tendency to increase. The increased professional coursework demands combined with a university’s general education requirements tends to lengthen students’ time to complete the degree. At the same time accessibility and timely degree completion is high on stakeholders’ agendas. Added to these circumstances, state legislators are considering regulatory efforts to limit the number of credit hours needed for a baccalaureate degree for subsidy calculations. This situation lead us to ask the question: Is there a way to integrate the learning opportunities provided through professional and general education that would reduce the number of courses but do so in a pedagogically sound way?

One answer to this question might be to integrate the learning objectives of general education and professional education and not see them or treat them as separate entities. We began this discussion by comparing the student learning objectives of the baccalaureate degree in technology and the learning objectives of university’s Liberal Education Requirements (LERs). (Table 1) Through this comparison it became evident that several objectives from both lists overlap. Because there is such an overlap, the immediate question was one of redundancy and differentiation. Based on conversations with members of our Liberal Education faculty as well as out Technology faculty, it became apparent that the learning outcomes form each of their perspective more aligned than different. However, the structure and context was different. The Liberal Education faculty expected that students could take the “learning” and apply it to any situation, including professional situations. The Technology faculty expected the students to be able to apply the outcomes to any technical situation. It became apparent that the differences were one of perspectives. Liberal education was expected to have a broad

Fitzsimmons, V., & Booth, S. (2008, June), Lean Learning: Professional Education And General Education Join Forces Paper presented at 2008 Annual Conference & Exposition, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. 10.18260/1-2--3467

ASEE holds the copyright on this document. It may be read by the public free of charge. Authors may archive their work on personal websites or in institutional repositories with the following citation: © 2008 American Society for Engineering Education. Other scholars may excerpt or quote from these materials with the same citation. When excerpting or quoting from Conference Proceedings, authors should, in addition to noting the ASEE copyright, list all the original authors and their institutions and name the host city of the conference. - Last updated April 1, 2015