Closing the Gap: Increasing Student Voice on Campus to Improve Understanding of a General Education Program's Goals

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This article traces the efforts made by Boise State's General Education program—University Foundations—and an undergraduate researcher to improve understanding of general education on campus. Undergraduate students often struggle to understand general education's goals. In order to improve this understanding, University Foundations committed itself to increasing the student voice on campus. It began by adding three different pieces of experiential learning—an undergraduate research team, a mentor program, and reflection in capstone courses—to build the student voice within the program. University Foundations then changed the language of the program to make it more accessible, created mottos to help in understanding general education's purpose, and made presentations to student and faculty groups. This would lead to further presentations that explained the purpose of general education to the universal freshman seminar course. Finally, University Foundations founded an annual faculty summit to help instructors better understand and articulate the purpose of general education to their students. By adding and sustaining the student voice, University Foundations worked to close the gap in understanding of the program's goals.