AGLS Award for the Improvement of General Education
Exemplary Program Award

National and international education officials, accreditors, and faculty leaders increasingly associate “quality” education with student learning outcomes and continuous quality improvement processes.  Moving away from the view of education as a simple act of passing a static body of knowledge from faculty to students, they value education practiced as a commitment to a set of collectively-practiced, ongoing activities: making institutional choices about the most important goals for student learning and defining the learning in terms of desired outcomes; developing a shared faculty commitment to actions such as high impact, active learning strategies and faculty development designed to increase student achievement; making informed judgments about student achievement and the impact of various general education program support processes; and ensuring continuous improvements in the educational program.  Despite the commitment of academic leaders and accreditors to these processes, too few institutions have documented their success in applying systematic improvement processes to the general education program.  As a result, discussions about higher education accountability and improvement conclude that higher education can benefit from models of innovative, effective, and systematic general education program improvements and assessments.

The Association for General and Liberal Studies is the national organization whose mission is singularly committed to quality general education programs and their central role in the liberal education of students. The organization invites institutions to apply for the 2014 AGLS Award for Improving General Education: Exemplary Program Processes. The Award is grounded in the systems analysis questions found in the AGLS publication, Improving Learning in General Education: An AGLS Guide to Assessment and Program Review, and it promotes institutional commitment to continuous quality improvement processes, recognizes faculty and institutions that practice these quality behaviors, and provides much needed examples of effective improvement processes. (See links below to review previously recognized exemplary programs) .

The 2014 Award gives institutions recognition options.  Applications describing quality general education program work can be submitted for any one of the following learning improvement processes:

Building Faculty Ownership of the Program (see “Guide” question A4)

Achieving General Education Goals Using Co-Curricular Programming (A7)

Providing Evidence of General Education Learning Though Assessment (J2 and I1)

Judges will identify model program processes for each of three options. An Awards presentation will recognize recipients during the 2014 Annual AGLS Conference, September 25-27, in Atlanta, GA. Representatives from recognized institutions will be asked to present their exemplary processes in an identified special session and, if possible, provide a poster presentation for display throughout the conference; they will also have the opportunity to share their process in AGLS e-publications. Recognized institutions will receive a plaque; acknowledgment on the AGLS website; two half-priced registrations for the 2014 conference, which include AGLS membership for 2014-15; and a half-priced institutional membership for the 2014-15 year.  

The Association issues a call for applications in early spring, with a deadline for receipt of submissions in mid-June.  Application forms and evaluation rubrics for the 2014 cycle are below.

2014 Application Packets (includes Rubrics)

  Building Faculty Ownership
Co-Curricular Programming
Learning Through Assessment Application


AGLS 2012 Exemplary Program Medallion2012 Exemplary Program Award for Improving General Education
Effective Assessment Process

Wofford College

From the Judges' Comments:

The judges gave high praise to Wofford biology faculty for their thorough and creative work in assessing scientific learning, especially considering how many students pursue degrees in biology and how important learning in biology is to so many additional majors.  While the application is written with modesty, the effort and results are outstanding.  One judge noted that Wofford approached the assessment of biology as if it were a scientific problem.  All the judges praised the department’s use of multiple means of assessment that validate student learning, and they appreciated the quality and value of the poster project, the deep analysis of the results, and the honest reporting of the mixed feelings of the students. See Wofford's application here.

The 2013 Awards Committee

Stephen Bowen, Oxford College

Jerry Gaff, recently retired as Senior Scholar at AAC&U

Michael Gress, Vincennes University; Chair of the Awards Committee

John Nichols, St. Joseph’s College, Rensellaer, IN
Lynn Priddy, Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association

Lenore Rodicio, Miami Dade College

Stephen Spangehl, Director of the Higher Education division of Plexus International

Marcy Stoll, Southern Association of Colleges and Schools

Barbara Wright, Western Association of Schools and Colleges


Previous Exemplary Program Winners*

2013   no award given 
2012  Wofford College
2011  George Mason University and Stetson University
2010  Carleton CollegeChamplain College and Wright State University
2009  James Madison University
2008  Miami Dade College and University of North Dakota
2007 Portland State UniversityEastern Michigan University and University of North Carolina at Asheville

 *click on winner to see application


This page was updated March 22, 2014