CASTL Program - Opportunities for Students at SJSU

A university education provides learning opportunities for students in three key areas:

  • General education courses where students gain broad knowledge in the sciences, social sciences, humanities and human development.
  • Major courses which provide opportunities for gaining in-depth knowledge in a specific area.
  • Co-curricular experiences, such as club leadership, lectures, sports, discussion groups and other activities that provide opportunities for learning and self-development.

The structure of most universities is often at odds with helping students to become strong integrative learners. Universities are organized by disciplines where, for example, the accounting professors may rarely interact with the English professors. Faculty and staff must be versed in the learning objectives of the general education curriculum so as to bring it into the courses they teach to help students to make the connections that broaden learning. Current events should be brought into classes. Students should be asked how they think, for example, a biologist might interpret a literary work. Such activities will help students in building the important connections in their knowledge base that will expand and enrich what they know and what they can do with that knowledge.

San José State has some longstanding practices to help foster integrative and liberal learning and as part of its current strategic planning activities, has others in the developmental stage. Our integrative and liberal learning practices and activities include:

  • SJSU Studies - upper division general education courses that are organized around a theme to promote integrative learning and deeper understanding of lower division general education knowledge
    1. See page 35 - 43 of SJSU's GE Program [pdf]
  • Service Learning Courses - several courses are identified as service learning that must meet certain requirements to ensure that the service component is meaningful.
    1. Center for Service Learning
    2. University Policy S02-3 Policies and Procedures for Designating Service-Learning Courses
  • MUSE and Success in Science - First Year Experience ( FYE) program for students.
  • Humanities Honors Program- this four-semester sequence for freshmen also includes a living community option.
  • Campus Reading Program - many faculty use the selected book in their classes which enables students to view the book from multiple perspectives. There are a variety of activities about the book including discussion groups, lectures, workshops and other media forms including a dramatic production.
  • Mosaic Cross Cultural Center - this center provides students with a range of activities and programs that help them to better understand people different from themselves, develop leadership skills and gain a better understanding of themselves and today's world.
  • Center for Faculty Development - offers a variety of programs and workshops including strategies for promoting integrative learning
  • Team SJSU Studies - a Fall 2007 pilot project that is part of SJSU's strategic planning. Cohorts of upper division students will be placed in integrated two-course sequences that meet all of the SJSU Studies (advanced GE) learning objectives. Each cohort will focus on a theme, such as global warming or social justice. There will be a culminating project that requires problem solving and community involvement.
  • Students Actively Integrating Learning (SAIL) Plan - another strategic planning program will prepare students to conduct their own reflective assessments of themselves as integrative learners. They will begin their SAIL plan in their FYE, review it again in the mid-point of their studies and again in a culminating experience. An additional benefit of the SAIL Program is the opportunity for students, faculty, and staff to learn more about the relationship and co-evolution of learning and belonging in college. SAIL will be implemented in selected FYE courses in Fall 2007.
  • Partnerships - SJSU is also involved with higher educational organizations working to promote understanding and effective use of integrated and liberal learning strategies. Examples:
    1. Carnegie Foundation's CASTL  Leadership Project ( Carnegie Academy for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning -SJSU is a participant in this project
      - SJSU Project Proposal [pdf]
    2. AAC&U's Liberal Education and America 's Promise ( LEAP) Campaign - SJSU is a partner in this project.