South African Visitors Study Assessment, Curriculum, and Engaged Learning at Hendrix

Durban University of Technology Visitors

CONWAY, Ark. (November 29, 2012) - Representatives of Durban University of Technology (DUT) in South Africa visited Hendrix this week on a two-week fact finding trip to study assessment, general education curriculum, and engaged learning.

"We're interested in hearing colleges share practices on general education and engaged learning," said Lesley Cooke, specialist for DUT's Centre for Quality Promotion and Assurance.

With a traditional curricular emphasis on workforce development, DUT is looking at American institutions as models for change. In 2011, the university launched a curriculum renewal project to broaden the educational experience of each student beyond their discipline and prepare graduates for employment, while simultaneously preparing them for critical citizenship incorporating social justice concerns or issues in an emergent and still fragile democracy, Cooke said.

DUT Vice Chancellor Dr. Ahmed Bawa, a physicist and Durban native educated in the United States, is very passionate about becoming more student-focused, Cooke said. Bawa has articulated graduate attributes including critical thinking, economics, history, politics, science, life and well-being, and ethics.

Hendrix was recommended to Cooke and her colleague Bella Sattar, director of DUT's quality promotion and assurance program, by Dr. George Kuh, founding director of the National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE). Cooke and Sattar will also visit other institutions, including Hunter College in New York and Miami University of Ohio.

"It's a nice mix of institution types in terms of public, private, large and small," Sattar said. "Because general education is so new, it would help us enhance our system and learn from best practices here."

The Durban representatives began their Hendrix visit with a student-led campus tour.

"It was very revealing," Cooke said. "The student was articulate and passionate."

With a 23,000-student enrollment, mostly from rural areas, DUT students have a very different first contact experience, Cooke said.

The visitors were impressed by the student guide, an English major, who described the purpose of a pendulum on display in a Hendrix science building.

"It's obvious that there's a passion for teaching," Cooke said. "She [the student guide] couldn't say enough about the interaction between faculty and students."

Founded in 1876, Hendrix College is a national leader in engaged liberal arts and sciences education. For the fifth consecutive year, Hendrix was named one of the country's "Up and Coming" liberal arts colleges by U.S. News and World Report. Hendrix is featured in the 2012 edition of the Princeton Review as one of the country's best 377 colleges, the latest edition of Colleges That Change Lives: 40 Schools That Will Change the Way You Think about Colleges, Forbes magazine's annual list of America's Top 650 Colleges, and the 2013 edition of the Fiske Guide to Colleges. Hendrix has been affiliated with the United Methodist Church since 1884. For more information, visit www.hendrix.edu.