What is Holistic Education?


What is Holistic Education?

Holistic education is an approach to learning typically seen in early childhood education. This methodology is designed to educate the student, as a whole, through focusing on his/her psychological, social, and emotional growth in addition to scholastic performance. Kettering University Online (KUO) extends this notion of holistic education and applies it to graduate students both before and during their enrollment in a Kettering University Online program.

When a prospective student contacts a KUO Professional Advisor, it becomes evident that KUO cares about the person as a whole and not just as a potential enrollment number. For example, The KUO Professional Advisor initiates a conversation about whether online learning is a good match for the person, which program may best fit his/her goals, and what types of supports are available that will help ensure the person’s success. If, by the end of the conversation, it appears that KUO is not right for the person, the advisor may suggest a non-KUO alternative.

While mastery of academic content is imperative for success in all of KUO programs, other areas of development are considered when designing courses and implementing policies and procedures. Students in all KUO programs have multiple opportunities to hone additional skill-sets that will benefit them in their professional and personal life. Example of these skills sets are organization and time management, being able to work well independently and as part of a team, critical thinking, and consistently improving their soft-skills.  

Organization and Time Management

KUO understands that students have full  lives, both personally and professionally and in addition to wanting to further their education. Further, some students beginning online courses  may struggle with organization and time management. We assist students in this area in two ways. The first way is by providing students access to their courses 10 days before the course officially begins. Once students have access to the course, they can review the Course Overview. The Course Overview provides information about the work due for each week of the entire course. At a glance, students can see when discussion question responses, assignment, exams, and projects are due for the entirety of the course. If they have a scheduling conflict between an assignment due and a project at work, they can work ahead on the assignment. The second way we assist students in organizing and managing their time is by keeping the same due dates every week. For most courses, all discussion posts are due by Day 2, responses to discussion posts are due on Day 5, and assignments are due on Day 7. This allows students to plan their schedules accordingly to accommodate for busy times at work or family obligations.

Working Independently and with Teams

Successful online students have the capacity to self-motivate and work independently while also having the ability to thrive on a team. It is true that many people abhor team projects, whether it is for a class or for work. The fact is, it is nearly impossible today to work without being a member of a team and it is important for students to learn these skills in the classroom. It is also true that many of us today work with people who are not in the same physical location where we work, so understanding how to work with remote individuals is imperative. There are many benefits from participating on a team. , improving communication, learning how to delegate, and facilitate projects with different individuals with diverse skills as well as learning how to manage conflict quickly and efficiently. KUO offers opportunities for students to succeed in their team projects by adding extra material to help ensure success. When participating in a team project, students must sign a team contract specifying team procedures, reviewing member expectations, and clearly articulating tasks and deadlines. The team contract provides a way to both minimize misunderstanding and keep team members accountable.

Additionally, all students have access to a document called Guidelines for Constructive Feedback. Being able to give constructive feedback is a skill that is useful in a variety of personal and professional scenarios. Learning how to give and receive feedback is a valuable aspect of online learning, allowing learners to share their work with peers for feedback and then use the feedback to revise and improve assignments.

Finally, each team member grades all other team members in terms of their participation and how active they worked as a team member. This review is 20% of each member’s grade so it helps to motivate everyone to be active and do their part to ensure team success[A1] .

When working on teams, learners understand that team project success depends upon each team member’s ability to deliver quality work on time, as well as making significant contributions to the overall completion of work assigned.

Critical Thinking Skills

Teaching students how to be critical thinkers is an integral part of KUO’s instructional design. In his book, The Art of Public Speaking, author Stephen Lucas defines critical thinking as the ability[A2]  to: assess the logic of others’ arguments (for example spotting weakness in their arguments and avoiding them in your own), distinguish fact from opinion, judge the credibility of people and statements, and assess the soundness of evidence. Lucas further suggests that well-honed critical thinking skills mark the difference between the A student and a C student, the coin-tosser and the thoughtful voter, and the impulse buyer and careful consumer. Through well-designed discussion questions, assignments, and projects, regardless of the program of study, students are honing their critical thinking skills daily (2012).

Soft- Skills

At the beginning of their career, STEM professionals are hired for their technical expertise. After they have proven their ability, the next logical step is usually a promotion to management. There is often a disconnect when a promotion happens because STEM professionals do not necessarily have the skills required to be successful managers. The skill-set required for success in technical positions are not necessarily those necessary in management positions.  Still, companies expect engineers, and other science professionals, to navigate and succeed in unfamiliar and unpredictable terrain. KUO understands this dilemma and, as such, weaves concepts of various soft skills throughout each of their courses to prepare learners for a wide range of successes. Examples of soft skills are creative thinking, decision-making, problem solving, and conflict resolution as well as learning ways to more effectively articulate points to bring home a win.

Other Services and Student Supports

All students enrolled in KUO programs have access to additional supports such as counseling services, disability services, career services, a writing lab, and tutoring services. Evidence that KUO supports the whole student. Our Professional Advisors are available to guide you through the admissions process and offer support through the duration of your program. When you are ready to have a holistic and transformative educational experience contact one of our Professional Advisors now at online.kettering.edu or Call 1.855.418.0201


Lucas, S.E. (2012). The art of public speaking. New York, NY: McGraw Hill Education.