(This report was created for the September Council on Undergraduate Studies meeting, but has been posted to the blog for the sake of transparency.)
The General Education Committee has been hard at work over the past month, ready to get back to the work of improving our curriculum and the structures that support it!
We had over 150 faculty, staff, students, and guests in attendance. The energy and discussions were fantastic! The blog page for the event has handouts and data sets that were used at the retreat, and we plan to make this an annual event.
We created new student learning outcomes and rubrics last year for a portion of the General Education curriculum, and around 80 faculty participated in collaborative faculty development around assignment design.
We will be initiating a process of regular review of existing courses in the General Education curriculum this year, using a transparent and open form in Curriculog. The purpose of the review is to ensure that our curriculum “delivers high value, challenges students intellectually, and fully prepares them to engage and succeed in upper-level course work and careers after graduation” (ClemsonForward, 2016). All courses in the General Education curriculum should have explicit connections to a student learning outcome. Department Chairs and Department or Interdisciplinary Curriculum Committees will be contacted on a regular and pre-established basis about the review.
“A General Education curriculum should be more than a list of courses.” This seemed to be a common theme from the August retreat, and the General Education Committee is working to make it a practice.
But we need to determine: what IS a General Education course? We know that the courses must draw on and connect to the common student learning outcomes, as described above, but are there other criteria that faculty utilize? Are these good and robust criteria? Are they transparent? Are we using the same criteria for evaluation of transfer credits and transfer courses? The General Education Committee is working on this issue now with an eye toward transparent curricular processes, and the work of the Transfer Credit Task Force will also be important.
The August retreat included a first presentation of the idea of Global Challenges and Information Literacy areas within the General Education curriculum. The Committee members received much excellent feedback from attendees and are working now to shape a potential curriculum, with careful attention to all of the underlying factors.