I started with Founders "How we are different"
Founders is based on a revolutionary idea: A college education should be an integrated, logical whole that trains your mind to think clearly and incisively. The experience should inspire in you a lifelong passion for knowledge. College should not be a hash of disconnected, propaganda-filled courses that are lacking in meaningful content. Most of all, it should not be boring; it should be intellectually challenging and thrilling. Our revolutionary teaching methods and unique, structured curriculum produce a learning experience like no other.Well, besides the marketing hype, using such words as "revolutionary", there is promise to the idea behind Founders pedagogy. Yes, education should be integrated and logical. Yes, minds should be trained to think clearly and incisively. No, education should not be a hash of disconnected, propaganda-filled courses without meaningful content. I have no problem with this. The real question is whether or not Founders actually fulfill these promises. Well, it is simply impossible to determine this from their website. I have never meet any of the professors, nor does the website address why their choice of class sequence is logical and integrated. They merely state that it is. For example, why is the first philosophy class primarily about ethics? I can imagine some reasons, but I'm not sure if my reasons reflect the thinking behind the curriculum committee. Why does science education wait till the 2nd year? Why not the first year? You see, there are a lot of decisions that have been made, but very little explanation as to why this curriculum is integrated and logical. I'm not saying they are bad decisions, but I don't have enough information to judge it one way or another. At best, I can say they have a good start by recognizing the importance of integration.
Founders also claims to provide a classroom environment that is far superior to other schools, where classes are not "boring". Here, they have done a better job recently explaining how that will come true. I remember seeing their claim that all faculty must take 60 hours of training in how to teach. A year ago they didn't discuss what was involved. They have finally posted something of substance about this training. Again, ignoring the marketing hype "superlative", "revolutionary", "rigorous", they finally describe some of things that go into the training (although interestingly, they no longer claim it is 60 hours). Topics covered include "the selection of course content, student motivation, structuring knowledge so that students can retain and use it, appropriate use of examples, how to answer questions most effectively, and how to lead students from one concept to the next in an effective manner". These are all important topics. I would agree that these topics should be taught to professors and gets a hardy two thumbs up from me. Is the content of these topics the best pedagogy? I have no idea, but imagine it couldn't be horrible. The fact that they are required to receive some pedagogical training is far better than what most schools require. As new faculty at Louisiana Tech, I was required to attend sessions on advising, sexually harassment, the student information system, and had the option to attend several other sessions, none of which had anything to do with learning how to teach better. The fact that Founders requires this training is a huge plus.
So, what is my overall evaluation of Founders College? Overall, on the positive side, but with a lot of unanswered questions. I do not like their marketing tactics, as if that wasn't evident from my comments on this page and in my other post. However, I distinguish those tactics from the content. If someone is interested in a liberal arts education, I would recommend they check out Founders College and see if they live up to the hype. The real measure for success will be how Founders graduates perform several years down the road. But that will not be observed for many years to come. Until then, I wish them luck and hope to learn more about their program in order to form a better idea what they have to offer.