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Psychology chair collaborates in three-state regional "tuning" project


November 16, 2011

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KANSAS CITY, Mo - - Marcia Pasqualini, Ph.D., chair of Avila University's Department of Psychology, traveled to Indianapolis Nov. 4 for a one-day kickoff meeting of psychology educators from across Missouri, Indiana and Illinois with the purpose of evaluating and "tuning" college psychology programs.

"Tuning" is defined as a process through which faculty members create shared understandings of the knowledge and transferable skills students in specific academic disciplines and professional fields must demonstrate upon completion of their degrees. The process helps to clarify to students, parents and policymakers what degree holders know, understand and are able to do.

The meeting came about after the Midwestern Higher Education Compact (MHEC), which works to maximize performance in higher education, received a $415,000, two-year grant from the Lumina Foundation to work with college and university faculty on this initiative, bringing together higher ed faculty from the three-state area. The event brought together a total of 30 faculty members along with representatives of MHEC, the Lumina Foundation and the Institute for Evidence-Based Change to discuss the foundation, process and logistics of the tuning initiative.

According to Pasqualini, much of this work centers around an initiative of the Lumina Foundation called "Goal 2025," which has a stated purpose of increasing the proportion of Americans with high-quality degrees or credentials to 60 percent by 2025. Pasqualini said that percentage has hovered below 40 percent for the last 40 years.

"Our work is very discipline specific," Pasqualini said. "Basically, what are the knowledge and skill sets students in psychology should be able to demonstrate once they graduate? We want our psychology graduates to have a clear career pathway … to be able to get a job."

The Nov. 4 meeting basically was an introduction, a chance to learn about the initiative and grant and meet other members of their respective teams they'll work with over the next 18 months. Pasqualini said the group will meet again in Chicago in January and then meet once a month for the next year and a half.

She said they hope to have a final product in the spring of 2013.

"Our discussions were not course-based," Pasqualini said. "It was about having to have a set of skills.

"One thing that'll be helpful to me is getting to know teachers from two-year community colleges and gain an understanding of what they're teaching."



Avila University is a private, co-educational, values-based liberal arts institution founded by the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet, offering undergraduate, graduate, and adult degree programs. Avila University is located at 119th and Wornall Rd in southwest suburban Kansas City, Mo.