Dr. Blassingame holds two master’s degrees and earned her Ph.D. in English from TCU. For the past three years, she has led cross-discipline, campus-wide “critical thinking” initiatives. She is also conducting research and writing a book exploring the popularity of Richard Nixon in works of fiction.
In any discussion of the state of higher education, the conversation eventually turns to the topic of the level of preparation that students receive. We often hear remarks about how students can’t read or write well. Employers and graduate schools complain that too many college graduates are not critical thinkers. The National Commission on Writing estimates that over three billion dollars each year is spent on retraining employees who can’t seem to communicate clearly and thoughtfully in writing or speaking. In a report prepared by the National Education Association, “Preparing 21st Century Students for a Global Society,” we read that critical thinking and problem solving go hand-in-hand with good communication skills and are necessary traits for succeeding in the world. Whether our students become teachers, writers, lawyers, worship leaders, musicians, or artists – every field demands good writers/thinkers/communicators.
One of our most daunting tasks at Lubbock Christian University is making sure that our graduates are well-prepared for their futures once they leave LCU. To meet this challenge, the LCU faculty are continually examining our curriculum and assignments, ensuring that our students are trained to work to the best of their abilities when they enter the work force or proceed to graduate school. At LCU, we encourage professors to set high standards for students, to assign and discuss challenging material from history and from contemporary thinkers. We want our students to write in a variety of formats – scholarly essays, business proposals, reflection journals – and to realize that good writing skills are important no matter where they go when they leave LCU. We want them to be intellectually prepared people of integrity who represent the quality education they receive at LCU.
What we know about our students is that while they are at LCU, as they grow intellectually and in maturity, they will discover new areas they want to explore. Many students, historically around 25%, change majors at least once while they are in college. Once they leave LCU, our graduates will probably change jobs at least twice in their lifetimes. People trained in critical thinking, who have solid reading and writing skills, and who are good communicators will have the flexibility they need as they encounter the challenges they will face in the 21st Century workforce.
The faculty of the Hancock College of Liberal Arts and Education know well the challenges facing our students at LCU and in their futures. We want their education to be grounded in concepts and theory but also to help students put theory into practice. In the School of Education, students are in the field, working with students and teachers in schools around Lubbock and in our region, from the moment they take their first classes at LCU. They enjoy the practical experience they receive as they learn about pedagogical theories in classes taught by former school teachers, principals, and superintendents. In communication, students take their classroom experiences in rhetorical analysis and communication theory with them as they work in Chap Radio or in internships at companies here in West Texas. In music and theater, students are involved in productions both behind the scenes and in front of the audience. In art, students mount exhibitions in the galleries in the CAA and the new art studio and go into the community to work with people of all ages, especially children, in special art projects. In foreign languages, students prepare for a global society that demands knowledge of languages and cultures beyond our own. In humanities, history, government, and English, students prepare for teaching fields in public schools and universities and focus on developing writing skills that will help them as they pursue careers as varied as novelists, public servants, and lawyers. Some of our humanities majors create specializations that will help them enter medical and veterinary schools or go into missions. All of these students, no matter their disciplines, use technology, internships, research projects, and jobs to help them prepare for what we have always called, “the real world.” Through regular class work and special undergraduate research projects, the faculty of HCLAE foster mentoring relationships that will sustain our students for years to come. At LCU, we want our students, no matter their discipline, to gain the knowledge and skills that will serve them well in whatever they do and wherever they go in the future.