Wabash Receives Teagle Foundation Grant

by Jim Amidon

June 9, 2006

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Wabash Launches National Study of Liberal Arts Education

$300,000 grant will make educational assessment programs available to liberal arts colleges

Wabash College has received a $300,000 three-year grant from the Teagle Foundation that will allow its Center of Inquiry in the Liberal Arts to become the leading resource for providing assessment assistance for America’s liberal arts colleges.

Founded in 1944, the Teagle Foundation provides leadership for liberal education, marshalling the intellectual and financial resources necessary to ensure that today’s students have access to challenging, wide-ranging, and enriching college educations. It believes that the benefits of such learning are best achieved when colleges develop broad and intellectually stimulating curricula, engage their students in active learning, explore questions of deep social and personal significance, set clear goals, and—crucially—systematically measure progress toward them.

Since 2000, the Center of Inquiry in the Liberal Arts at Wabash College has studied liberal arts education, American liberal arts colleges, and has begun to measure learning outcomes at liberal arts colleges. The goal of the Teagle Foundation grant will be to use the Center of Inquiry as the primary contact in helping liberal arts colleges develop assessment programs that take advantage of the strengths and navigate the challenges intrinsic to liberal arts institutions.

The Teagle Foundation has a long history of funding liberal arts consortia in the development of a variety of assessment programs.

"With this grant, we hope to create a program that combines the expertise of the Teagle Foundation consortia and the Center of Inquiry programs to create a national assessment support program for liberal arts colleges," said Charles Blaich, director of inquiries at the Center of Inquiry in the Liberal Arts. "We’re excited to have the opportunity to create and promote an array of unique programs to strengthen liberal arts colleges. We are grateful to the Teagle Foundation and looking forward to our partnership."

The Center of Inquiry will use support from the Teagle Foundation to create the infrastructure necessary to develop a comprehensive assessment support program for liberal arts colleges. Resources that will be used include:

The establishment of "Teagle Assessment Scholars," who will comprise the extended assessment team to work with Center of Inquiry staff on site visits and at workshops and conferences.

The evaluation of Teagle’s assessment initiative grants to discover the institutional conditions that seem to facilitate or inhibit effective assessment and determine whether funded assessment projects in the future have the potential to affect the practices at other institutions.

Through the 18-institution, five-year Wabash National Study of Liberal Arts Education, the Teagle Foundation grant will provide resources to consider the Study’s results and disseminate them through journal articles, conference presentations, videoconferences, and onsite workshops at the Center of Inquiry’s Trippet Hall.

The Center of Inquiry in the Liberal Arts at Wabash College was founded through a $20.5 million grant from Lilly Endowment Inc. The Center of Inquiry received an additional $12.5 million in December 2005 that, among other initiatives, provides resources for the National Study of Liberal Arts Education. The groundbreaking study will track 5,500 students from 18 colleges and universities of all types to determine the effects of their education and discover effective pedagogical practices that lead to positive learning outcomes. The Teagle Foundation grant will allow researchers to analyze data from the study and apply it to existing assessment programs in use across higher education.

 


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