In 2002, Goddard College became an institution that offers only intensive-residency (or low-residency) academic programs. We pioneered this model more than 45 years ago, based on the principles of progressive education and the newly emerging understanding of the special needs and gifts of adult learners. Today Goddard looks different from every kind of more conventional institution.
- We have a campus with a library, dormitories, and meeting spaces, but for long stretches of the year it is populated only by administrators and staff.
- Students and faculty are dispersed, but students enjoy intense relationships with their faculty advisors, which both students and faculty experience as rewarding and intimate, in the best sense of that word.
- We rely on web-based communications to connect the dispersed Goddard community, but we do not offer distance learning as such; rather we offer a completely individualized curriculum, with as many curricula as we have students.
- We have individualized curricula, but all students must meet specific degree criteria in order to graduate.
- We do not give grades, students receive thorough narrative evaluations.
Principles of Goddard’s Degree Programs
All of Goddard’s degree programs are highly individualized, guided by students’ particular learning needs and professional goals. All studies combine theory, content, and practice aimed at deepening self-knowledge and mastering skills and academic knowledge. These broad principles are consistent across our programs, though their particular interpretations reflect the norms of each program.
Theory: Students demonstrate familiarity with existing theory pertaining to their focus of inquiry including: the broad historical development of these theories; accepted and relevant sources of theory (including academic journals); appropriate research methods and means of documenting research; and appropriate methods of presenting and documenting theoretical knowledge.
Practice: Students demonstrate ability to apply theory in competent and ethical practice. This may involve action research, qualitative or quantitative research, experimental research, professional practice, community workshops.
Integration: In the required culminating product, senior study, or thesis, students link the theory and practice of their study with its contemporary significance and relevance.
Accountability and Assessment
As the inventor of the intensive-residency adult degree program format in 1963 and a committed practitioner since then, Goddard has spent the last four decades assessing and refining this innovative approach to education. All of our programs embody values and beliefs grounded in the philosophy of John Dewey and other progressive educators: the most effective education occurs when it is shaped around the student’s interests, experiences, and goals and the student is an active participant.
Learning is a student-centered process that takes place under the mentorship of a highly-qualified faculty advisor, and in collaboration with peers and other program faculty members. Instead of completing a pre-determined curriculum, graduates must demonstrate successful fulfillment of the degree criteria. These criteria are broadly defined at the degree level and more specifically articulated at the program level. While the format is generally consistent across all the intensive residency programs, as the College grows, our academic offerings are expanding.
This format gives coherence to:
- Curriculum — Knowledge, skills, and dispositions articulated within the program-defined degree criteria, which students uniquely address through their study plans;
- Individualized instruction — Directed by the student and facilitated by the faculty in study packets/course work, residency workshops, field and internship assignments, others; and
- Assessment — Portfolios, progress reviews, reports from field experiences, the final product, and semester narrative evaluations by advisor and student.
Goddard’s academic programs offer full-time and part-time study in two 17-week semesters each academic year and assumes a minimum of 30 hours of student work per week for full-time study (weekly time commitment for part-time study varies and is detailed in the Student Handbook).
Residencies: Each semester starts with an eight-day intensive residency that brings together students and faculty from all over the country, Canada, and abroad. Students can participate in residencies virtually from home or onsite at Goddard’s campus in Plainfield, Vermont.
Residency activities include:
- Individual and group advising sessions
- New-student orientation
- Faculty, student, and guest workshops/presentations, mini-courses
- Peer work groups
- Informational sessions (how to do research, how to access the college’s email and online resources, orientations to the Canvas and the Student Information System, orientation to the Library, etc.)
- Public readings, artistic presentations, panels, exhibitions
- Co-curricular activities (support groups, recreational events, art shows, cabarets, film series, movement workshops, meditation space, art space, etc.).
Graduating students participate in a three-day commencement residency embedded within the full residency (virtually or onsite), during which they present their work to the program community, meet with their faculty advisors, and participate in commencement (the highlight of the week).
At the conclusion of the residency, both students and faculty return to their homes and lives, and the period of individualized study and advising begins.
Study Plans: At students’ first residency, their faculty advisors work with them individually and in small groups to articulate educational and personal goals for their studies within the context of degree criteria and program requirements. Students detail their learning goals in a written study plan, reviewed and approved by the faculty advisor. In some graduate programs, students in their first residency also write a degree plan (a “study plan as a whole”) in which they describe their goals for the degree, and contextualize them in relation to program requirements.
Writing the semester study plan is a primary goal of a residency. Each study plan includes:
- The semester’s learning goals
- The resources the student plans to draw on (e.g., books, journals, conferences)
- The methodology the student plans to use (e.g., library or field research, interviews, creative production)
- The specific learning activities the student will undertake (e.g., creative and critical reading and writing, observations, field work, keeping a journal)
- The academic work the student will produce (e.g. essays, visual art work, workshop reports, poems, interview transcriptions, annotations)
- A bibliography of reading the student plans to do during the semester
Each subsequent semester’s study plan incorporates review of the student’s overall goals and the semester-by-semester progress toward fulfillment of degree criteria. All students, graduate and undergraduate, create study plans for their final semester that include a detailed description of their final product (a research-based thesis/senior study or a creative/narrative/experiential project with a process paper).
The semester study plan, as well as the study plan as a whole (when required), is approved by the advisor and submitted electronically via the Student Information System (SIS), where it becomes a permanent part of the student’s file.
Advising: The individual advisor/student relationship is the core of Goddard’s education. It ensures that our individualized education is, in fact, a process that fosters risk-taking, alleviates isolation, and renders the learning process dynamic, creative, engaging, holistic, and collaborative. Students learn to express their ideas clearly in writing, to think, to listen to another’s opinion, to look at themselves and their work from a different perspective; they are challenged to grow, to take risks, to stretch; and they are heard, supported and encouraged.
The development of the student’s work over the course of the semester through the exchange of ideas and feedback with the advisor and/or mentor is essential to the student’s learning. Semester study materials are the primary means of documenting a student’s studies in a packet/course. The content and format of the materials will be determined by the student’s studies and will be detailed in the semester study plan and/or course contract within program-specified style requirements if so noted in the program-specific addendum. Specific plans should be made for documenting artwork, presentations, dance, musical performances, etc. Irrespective of the format of student work, there is always a written reflective and/or critical component. In turn, the advisor/mentor responds to the student’s work with written and other forms of feedback.
Work is exchanged with the advisor/mentor based on the program’s requirements. In some programs, work is due every three weeks, five times a semester (affectionately called packets). In other programs work is due quarterly (every 4 weeks). Students and advisors may also establish alternative due dates so long as work is submitted in a timely manner over the course of the semester. Alternative due dates are documented in the student’s study plan. Due dates are adjusted for part-time students. Evidence of the work completed can include essays, creative and critical writing, materials related to practica, documentation of art practice/works, book annotations, and a cover letter in which the student reflects on the learning process. The advisor responds promptly in writing to the student’s packet with a detailed letter addressing the various components of the packet and containing appraisal, feedback, and suggestions. Through the regular exchange work and responses, a sustained meaningful dialogue takes place, centered on the student’s learning.
End-of-Semester Evaluation: The semester study plan is the basis of the narrative end-of semester evaluation. The student and the advisor each write an end-of-semester evaluation; both are submitted electronically via the Student Information System and become part of the student’s permanent record. This assessment, in turn, provides a starting point for the following semester’s study plan.
Student-Faculty Interaction: Students and faculty interact through shared time at the residency, written packet/course work exchanges, and between-submission check-ins and clarifications via email, video conferencing and/or phone. Faculty occasionally meet advisees face-to-face if they live nearby. Academic Affairs and Lead Faculty monitoring advisor-student relationships and work closely with new faculty members, reviewing their packet/course-work responses and checking in with them frequently. Faculty typically work with six to eight students.
Goddard uses email and browser-based computing to connect its global community of students faculty, and staff during the semester. The Goddard intranet offers online access, no matter where students and faculty are, to academic and institutional information, discussion and networking forums, information systems, and virtual workspaces. Packet/course work and advisor/mentor feedback can be exchanged electronically through email, online document and media sharing on the College’s intranet, and through student websites and blogs.
Student and Academic Support Services
During the residency and throughout the semester, every student has access to a network of support systems that can assist with academic and student life needs. Please read through the following section to learn about the variety of support that is available to you as a student during the residency and throughout the semester. If you have any questions that are not answered here, you may contact directly the offices listed below prior to your first residency (see Section VI. Residency Contact Information). You will also receive more information about student and academic support services during your orientation sessions.
Student Life: During the residency, Student Life staff are available 24 hours a day to provide support to students and faculty with a variety of concerns. Student Life staff can offer emotional support during the residency, whether it is to simply listen and provide support or assistance is needed with a more acute emotional matter. They can also help you find and access medical resources and support you if you become sick while on campus. Please don’t hesitate to use this resource and inform Student Life as soon as possible if you have any health issues while you are at residency. In addition to the residency, you may also contact Student Life for additional support needs that may arise throughout the semester at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Access and Disability Support: Goddard College upholds the requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act Amendments Act, and the Rehabilitation Act (Section 504). The College does not discriminate on the basis of disability and makes reasonable accommodations in the learning and living environments to meet the documented needs of eligible students with disabilities. Examples of qualifying conditions include (but are not limited to) medical and psychiatric diagnoses, food sensitivities or allergies, recovery from substance abuse/addiction and processing/learning disorders.
Accommodations: Goddard uses the term “accommodation” to mean the provision of architectural access, aids, and services, as well as appropriate modifications to practices and procedures, to ensure equal access to our educational programs. It is essentially about “leveling the playing field.” An accommodation request may be considered unreasonable if it fundamentally alters the essential nature of the service, program, curriculum, or activity; poses a direct threat to the health or safety of others; or creates an undue financial or administrative burden for the College.
Confidentiality: The ADS Office maintains strict confidentiality to the fullest extent permitted by law. All contacts with the office are kept confidential. All documentation and diagnostic information is kept strictly confidential by the ADS Office and is not released to other Goddard staff or faculty. Staff and faculty with a “need to know” will be told WHAT a student’s accommodations are but not WHY those accommodations are needed. Students are not compelled to disclose disabilities or follow up on referrals to the ADS office. However, if students do not choose to complete the process and release their accommodations plan, we cannot implement the accommodations.
Requests for accommodations can be made at any time. However, we recommend that students have their accommodations in place before they are needed as to better integrate the plan with the students program. Students should allow at least two weeks from our receipt of your completed documentation to put accommodations in place. Some accommodations, such as Sign Language interpreters, will take longer. Further information is available on the Access and Disability Support page.
Writing Support: The Writing Center at Goddard is staffed by several writing coaches who are available to assist students with all types of writing during the residency and throughout the semester. Writing coaches offer many services to help writers improve their skills, including online tutorials and live conferencing. The Writing Center website has many writing resources for students including exemplar papers from Goddard students. Students will learn more about the Writing Center and how to make a request for writing support during orientation.
Library and Information Technology Support: Goddard’s Library and Information Technology Services are designed to provide information resources and technology support for students and the broader college community. We provide access to quality information resources and services. We recognize that the use of technology is an integral part of library and information research. It is our collective mission to provide authoritative information resources, learner-centered services and instruction as well as reliable systems that support academic research & enhance intellectual activity.
- IT Support: The Information Technology (IT) team provides a number of services to students and faculty at the residency. All new students will attend an orientation session with the IT staff in order to become familiar with Goddard’s intranet site, the Student Information System (SIS), and other general computing use and requirements.
- Library Services: The Eliot D. Pratt Library offers services and resources in support of education and research in a hybrid in-person/virtual environment. The collection includes printed books, eBooks, and electronic access to journal publications. The Goddard Authors Special Collection includes 1,600+ titles by faculty, staff, trustees, current students, and alumni. The Archives house a collection of documents and artifacts about the history of Goddard College. The Art Gallery features work of students and local artists. The library is committed to a user-centered approach in all aspects of services in the physical and virtual environment.
Our low-residency structure means that you only have to clear your schedule for a week each semester. You can join us on campus or you can attend the residency virtually from your home.
At the start of the semester, students attend an intensive eight-day residency in Vermont, followed by 16 weeks of independent work and self-reflection in close collaboration with a faculty advisor. Goddard pioneered this format nearly a half century ago to meet the needs of adult students with professional, family, and other obligations seeking learning experiences grounded in the real-world.
Residencies are a time to explore, network, learn, witness, and share with peers, staff, and faculty. Students work with advisors and peers in close-knit advising groups to forge individualized study plans that describe their learning objectives for the semester.
Working closely with their faculty advisors, and supported by fellow learners, students identify areas of study, personal goals, relevant resources, and avenues to achieve these goals. Students also attend and are invited to help organize workshops, keynote addresses, celebrations and other events intended to stimulate, inspire, and challenge.
This low-residency model combines the breadth of a collaborative community with the focus of personalized learning, enhanced by insightful exchanges with a faculty advisor.