Whittier College is part of a new consortium of five West Coast liberal arts colleges tasked with developing an educational model that combines high impact, face-to-face teaching practices with technologically-based instruction. The effort, led by Dominican University of California, is backed by a planning grant from the Teagle Foundation.

“This project flips the discourse offered daily in the media about the impact of technology on learning by showcasing the tremendous value of blending new technology-based teaching practices with the faculty-student interaction and more personal instruction delivered by Whittier and other liberal arts colleges,” said President Sharon Herzberger.

In addition to Dominican and Whittier, the consortium includes Whitman College, the University of Puget Sound, and Mills College. The goal of the group is to test the impact of integrating innovative technology with “high impact practices”—such as undergraduate research opportunities, internships, service learning, group and capstone projects—that involve close faculty-student interaction and that actively engage students in the educational process in and out of the classroom. Such practices, emblematic of a liberal arts education, have been shown to improve student learning, retention, and graduation rates.

According to Dominican University, very little research to date has focused on aligning the rapid growth in technological approaches to education with a model grounded firmly in high impact practices.

The $25,000 Teagle grant will enable the five participating schools to convene representatives to discuss potential experiments to test how our typical models of delivering education would improve outcomes over models that only employ online learning.

The goals of the consortium are in line with work already underway at Whittier College. This spring, Whittier will  launch a Digital Liberal Arts Collaboratory, a center designed to provide faculty, students, and staff with a cutting-edge technology space in which to engage in the collaborative and imaginative work of digital scholarship within the traditional liberal arts curriculum. Professor of English Andrea Rehn, Instructional Technologist Sonia Chaidez, Professor in the Film Studies Program John Bak, and other faculty involved in the Digital Liberal Arts committee at Whittier will take the lead in shaping the College’s participation in the consortium.