PHILADELPHIA, PA, August 20, 2013 /24-7PressRelease/
-- Evon Walters
, a noted higher education executive, has long dedicated his time and energy to developing programs that cater to the needs of his students. Institutions are continually working to identify best practices that would inspire student success, improve academic performance, and prepare students for the roles they are expected to play when they enter the professional world. But the truth is that there are numerous factors to consider when developing such programs--and it is not always possible to implement them due to differences in opinion, curricula, funding and local regulations. A new approach, though, shows a great deal of promise. A recent article in the Huffington Post has highlighted the LEAP principals, or the principles associated with the Liberal Education and America's Promise Vision for Effective Learning.
Developed by the Association of American Colleges and Universities, or AAC&U, LEAP is a program that strives to provide modern education to students who will be leading the world tomorrow. According to the article, "this is not just a traditional liberal--or liberal arts--education rehashed. This is liberal education with a 21st century focus on meaningful outcomes. The publication outlines seven principles of excellence and several essential learning outcomes that the AAC&U deems critical for our students' success in the coming decades. These principles are worth reviewing for all of those interested in the future and relevancy of American higher education in the [sic] today's global marketplace."
The seven principles of the LEAP program are aimed at focusing educational activities on overarching goals that support the ability of students to thrive both in the classroom and in the professional world. Evon Walters explains that the first principle is to create an inclusive education experience with high standards. The article explains: "Students will gain knowledge of human cultures and the physical and natural world; intellectual and practical skills; personal and social responsibility; and integrative and applied learning." These ideas are to be interwoven in the educational experience, and "starting by meeting students where they are [...] helps to best position them for success in all aspects of their education, inside and outside the classroom."
The second principle is to ensure that students have a defined direction and that their outcomes are in accordance with the goals that are set. The article explains that, at Stevenson University, students are provided "personal direction, professional know-how, and discipline expertise." This allows students to understand how their education will play into their professional future and, ultimately, help them stay focused on their goals. Walters shares that this is principle is especially important to the issue of student persistence. "Engaging and empowering students upfront provides a foundational basis to them having a better understanding of the purpose of the degree and the multiple academic and professional options that comes along with it. It in essence is a motivational tool that can be used for inspiring focus".
The third principle is to encourage students to be innovative and curious. Evon Walters reflects upon the transformative 1995 article that was done by Barr and Tagg. The article "From Teaching to Learning" represents a paradigm shift within the classroom setting that puts the student at the center of the learning activities and embraces utilizing a more dynamic approach to engaging them in the learning process. Walters views this type of active learning as central to cultivating a learning environment that taps into the creative genius of our students.
Fourth, the LEAP method advocates for asking the questions that really matter. While a staple of liberal education, asking the "big questions" is something that keeps students engaged, allows them to develop critical thinking skills, and encourages them to consider their place in the world and, ultimately, the impact that they can have on a personal level.
The fifth principle is to create a connection between the knowledge that people possess and the choices that they make. This is extremely focused on real world applications, as it is important for students to understand that education does play a role in how people behave in the professional sphere.
The sixth principle is to encourage a multicultural understanding of the world. Evon Walters explains that the world is more diverse than ever before, and it is important for students to learn how to interact with different people in order to excel in their careers.
Finally, the seventh principle focuses on helping students to learn how to practically apply their education. This means using the information they have learned to solve problems, analyze situations, etc.
Evon Walters believes that the LEAP method could help improve the performance and outcomes of the education system if implemented correctly.
Evon Walters Encourages Use of the LEAP Approach
"LEAP's seven principles represent an essential approach to holistically engaging and developing our students in meeting the personal, professional, and economic needs of the present, while also ensuring that there is a foundational base in place for them to best deal with the market needs of the future," comments Evon Walters. "The principles draw upon many well researched theories on student development that place an emphasis on the student being at the center of the educational experience."
Walters is particularly interested in the idea of meeting students where they are. He concedes that this is not an easy task for institutions to achieve, particularly given the existing fiscal climate and the need to allocate sufficient resources, revise old policies, align programs, and assure that assessment systems are in place. Despite these challenges, though, Walters asserts that "this approach represents what should be the aspirational desire or vision of any institution that is genuinely committed to becoming a student and learning centered institution."
Walters hopes that institutions will keep the LEAP principles in mind as they develop their various academic and other programs because, ultimately, he believes that this system will provide a high degree of value to educational organizations and the students whom they serve. Evon Walters urges anyone who is interested in this particular model to research the ways in which it can benefit their academic environment and the future achievement of their student body.
A senior executive in the higher education industry, Evon Walters
holds a doctor of education in higher education administration, a master of education in staff development in higher education, and a bachelor of arts in health care administration. Walters has shouldered numerous executive responsibilities in the academic arena. In particular, Walters has provided leadership in the institutional areas of student retention, student success, enrollment management and has provided entrepreneurial national leadership in the One Stop concept, and the use of technology with regard to academic and student services functions.