WSU’s general education program—University Common Requirements, or UCORE—helps students acquire broad knowledge of the wider world that complements their specific areas of study. This is based on the Association of American Colleges & Universities (AAC&U’s) LEAP framework. Through this broad exposure to multiple disciplines, students will develop intellectual and civic competencies, practical skills and the ability to apply knowledge and skills in real-world settings. WSU graduates will be prepared to address diverse, complex issues for the benefit of themselves, their communities, their employers, and for society at large.
The common undergraduate experience
While the greater part of a student’s course of study is devoted to their major field, the UCORE curriculum provides balance between the specialized focus of the major and the broader traditional objectives of higher education. UCORE offers a wide variety of elective choices and provides many individual pathways through the curriculum, including introductory, advanced, and integrative forms of learning.
A marker of UCORE’s importance is that it encompasses more than a quarter of the total credits (34 of the total 120) a student must earn to receive a WSU bachelor’s degree, equaling the credit weight of most majors.
The UCORE curriculum is bookended by a first-year course [ROOT] and a senior capstone course [CAPS]. Foundational courses and inquiry-based learning in the disciplines are complemented by a diversity requirement that embraces both American and global issues. The program’s structure includes coursework in contemporary issues, social sciences, humanities, creative or professional arts, quantitative reasoning, natural sciences, and diversity, as well as communication, computation, and human relations, to support achievement of WSU’s Learning Goals.
In addition to playing an important role in each student’s degree, UCORE courses merit particular attention for several other reasons. UCORE courses may comprise a student’s full course load in their first semester or first year at the university. In many cases, the particular UCORE course that a student takes in a given designation will be the only college-level course taken from that disciplinary perspective. For these non-majors, UCORE courses not only introduce students to the specific topic of a given course but also to the modes of inquiry, evidence, and critical thought that govern the wider disciplinary area.
Moreover, many of the 100-level UCORE courses function to transition students into academic discourse and inquiry more generally, often doing so with the challenge of large class size. The capstones, on the other hand, function to transition students out into applying their full range of learning in their professional, personal, and civic lives.
Ultimately, all UCORE courses focus on the development of student learning: enhancement of the knowledge, skills, and abilities articulated in the WSU Learning Goals, which encourage the development of lifelong learning skills of integrating and synthesizing concepts in order to solve real problems.
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WSU Learning Goals. All graduation requirements for earning a bachelor’s degree, including UCORE, are rooted in the WSU Learning Goals:
- Critical and Creative Thinking
- Quantitative Reasoning
- Scientific Literacy
- Information Literacy
- Depth, Breadth, and Integration of Learning