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General Education Plan Adopted : Curriculum: New Pomona College program is aimed at developing more active, hands-on learning.

October 06, 1994|CYNTHIA WALKER | TIMES STAFF WRITER

After a two-year process of rethinking the fundamentals of a liberal education, the Pomona College faculty has adopted an innovative general education program designed to prepare students for lives and professions in a rapidly changing world.

The new requirements, which went into effect Sept. 1 with this year's freshman class, are a major shift from lecture-driven course requirements in the humanities, social sciences and natural sciences, to requiring courses aimed at developing more active, hands-on learning.

"Students should be generating ideas instead of just receiving them," said Betsy Crighton, professor of politics at Pomona College. "We're trying to get students away from merely regurgitating information and getting them to discuss ideas."

Physics professor Thomas Moore, who served on the curriculum committee that drew up the framework, said the old models of teaching just don't cut it any more.

"Students need to be flexible thinkers," Moore said. "Most students gain some skills learning how to research textbooks, but not skills for the everyday world."

The plan calls on professors to focus on encouraging students to acquire specific intellectual capacities in each class, rather than absorb a series of facts.

"I don't know how to pull that off yet," Crighton said. "I have to become more single-minded and most of us professors have a lot of agendas in mind."

The new focus requires Pomona College's 1,400 students to gain 10 intellectual capacities aimed at equipping a person for a life of intellectual resilience:

* Read literature critically.

* Use and understand the scientific method.

* Use and understand formal reasoning.

* Understand and analyze data.

* Analyze creative art critically.

* Perform or produce creative art.

* Explore and understand human behavior.

* Explore and understand a historical culture.

* Compare and contrast contemporary cultures.

* Think critically about values and rationality.

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