Monica Chavan: Investigating a CWRU Education

Behind the Podium

Case Western Reserve University is first and foremost an institution of higher education. Sure the sports, diverse student groups, think[box] and even the shiny new Tinkham Veale University Center attract new students, but the main reason we all came here was for the education. But what exactly does it mean to obtain a CWRU education? Can a CWRU education be categorized as “liberal arts,” does it fit into the box of being “research-oriented” or is it something else entirely, undeserving of the limits of a particular label?

Above all, how does an institution with such a diverse student population manage to provide an education that fits all of our different learning styles, academic needs and personal interests?

Admissions officers and public relations staff will tout the school’s small class sizes, ample research opportunities and overall campus diversity as selling points for CWRU, but how legitimate are these claims? Do introductory biology classes containing 300-plus students really prepare biology majors for the smaller and more advanced classes later on in their track? Do life science labs, which appear to be woefully disconnected from their corresponding lectures, reinforce class material or simply serve to confuse students? Does SAGES—a program designed to promote intensive writing and critical thinking skills—actually equip students to become future “leaders in their fields”? Also do the efforts of campus-wide campaigns for inclusion, such as those presented to entering first-year students in Diversity 360 seminars, really have an effect on how comfortable students feel both inside and outside the classroom?

This column will seek to explore answers to these questions and many others related to CWRU’s philosophy of education. Examining aspects of education such as teaching style, classroom organization, student-professor interactions and feedback systems will peel back the curtain between professor and student. It will allow students to see exactly what happens—and why—behind the scenes of our lecture halls, our lab stations and our classrooms. Furthermore these investigations will provide a higher resolution picture of how a CWRU student learns, how a CWRU professor teaches and most importantly, what a CWRU education entails.

If you have suggestions for topics this column should explore, or have comments about any of its articles, please feel free to email the author with your feedback.

Monica Chavan is a freshman who attended high school in Carmel, Indiana. Her interests include sports, education and cats. If you have suggestions for her column or are giving away free food, feel free to contact her at any time.