Bowling Green State University
What does it mean to provide a holistic learning experience?
Bowling Green has the opportunity to shape the experiences of its students and even its employees by being intentional in how it creates those experiences. One of the themes identified for discussion at the upcoming dialogues is the value of a BGSU degree and the creation of a campus culture that fosters “lifelong learning” and that consciously integrates academic, cultural and social experiences.
In this learning environment, co-curricular activities complement classroom activities, and interdisciplinary studies help forge connections between subject areas so students graduate with a more coherent worldview. Helping students develop ways of thinking and transportable skills will also help carry them into the future.
Students’ curricular and co-curricular activities are structured deliberately around three key transitions in college life: the transition into college, the transition into a major field of study, and the transition out of college and into professional life.
Even in the area of admissions, a holistic approach means basing decisions on the whole person, going beyond grades and test scores to find students who will contribute to the life of the campus.
BGSU has been a leader in learning communities and values exploration, important means of developing students’ characters as well as their social and leadership skills. An increased focus on study abroad and internationalizing the campus also help give students a better sense of their place in the world and the skills to function in a more global environment.
An emphasis on critical thinking helps sharpen students’ analytical skills so they become more independent and able to form their own judgments in a world that increasingly bombards us with stimulation and rhetoric. The hope is that BGSU graduates will also be citizens who make use of their powers of discernment to fully participate in the democracy.
BGSU’s Office of Service-Learning, led by Dr. Jane Rosser, helps facilitate experiences that integrate a number of components of holistic education. “Service-learning really gets into the question of how to be a citizen in a democratic society,” Rosser said.
Beyond benefiting the community, participating in service-learning also greatly benefits students by giving them the opportunity to engage in hands-on learning. “We know that we learn more by doing,” Rosser said. One of the core ideas is to “use service-learning to more effectively deliver the course content. This is a different way of teaching,” she added.
"Service-learning has been demonstrated to be very effective at getting students engaged in learning,” said Dr. Mark Gromko, senior vice provost. “Because they can see the significance of what they’re doing to important social problems and causes, they can be drawn into subject matter with an enthusiasm that’s difficult to achieve in the classroom.”
Service-learning also offers instructors and students the opportunity to become closer as they work together on meaningful projects, according to Bonnie Fink, director of the Center for Teaching and Learning, “It allows faculty to model the behavior we are trying to teach.”