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Vision of General Education at WSU
Based on the AAC&U’s LEAP framework, WSU’s general education program helps students acquire broad knowledge of the wider world that complements their specific areas of study.
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.
University Common Requirements (UCORE). WSU’s general education program, known as UCORE, is the centerpiece of the undergraduate curriculum supporting the WSU Learning Goals and Outcomes. 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.
UCORE is bookended by a required first-year course [ROOT] and a senior capstone experience [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 and Outcomes.
WSU Learning Goals and Outcomes. All bachelor’s degree requirements are rooted in the WSU Learning Goals and Outcomes:
- Critical and Creative Thinking
- Quantitative Reasoning
- Scientific Literacy
- Information Literacy
- Depth, Breadth and Integration of Learning
Brief History of General Education at WSU
2012: New General Education Program (UCORE) Launched
Vision for General Education.
Based on the AAC&U’s LEAP framework, WSU’s general education program helps students acquire broad knowledge of the wider world that complements their specific areas of study. 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. (See the UCORE Handbook for more information).
2011: Faculty Senate approval of UCORE (4/14/11)
GEVC VISION: WSU fosters educational outcomes that include knowledge of human cultures, of the arts, and of the natural and physical world. Students develop their intellectual and practical skills through integrated learning experiences that prepare them to be responsible local and global citizens and leaders. They reach this through a broad liberal education, specialization in a major, and community and field-based experiences that explore the world’s major questions.
The following University Common Requirements assist students in meeting that vision while also adhering to the set of design principles recommended by the General Education Visioning Committee, including that they be: based on learning goals; simple, yet flexible enough to work for all students (including transfer students), all majors, and on all campuses; integrated with the major and vertically throughout the undergraduate experience; provide for a coherent first year experience and culminate in a meaningful integrative and applied “capstone” experience; and assessable.
2008-2011: WSU’s Revisioning Process
2009 Faculty Committee Report: “GEVC advocates a vision of general education that supports the goals of WSU’s 2008‐13 strategic plan to ‘provide a premier education and transformative experience that prepares students to excel in a global society’ by providing ‘high‐impact learning experiences that engage students’ and by fostering ‘core competencies in our learners.’ It is in line with a national consensus on General Education as embodied in the American Association of Colleges & Universities’ documents on liberal learning included in this report. The GEVC vision for General Education at WSU can be summarized as follows:
WSU fosters educational outcomes that include knowledge of human cultures, of the arts, and of the natural and physical world. Students develop their intellectual and practical skills through integrated learning experiences that prepare them to be responsible local and global citizens and leaders. They reach this through a broad liberal education, specialization in a major, and community and field‐based experiences that explore the world’s major questions.
“The outcomes of a baccalaureate degree should be reached through coordinated and integrated pathways. Courses and experiences in the major and outside the major, elective and required, contribute to students’ achievement of outcomes. The ‘re‐envisioning’ will only be complete when outcomes become embodied in curricula, and pathways emerge through general education and major requirements.
“Three fundamental issues must be addressed if changes to general education requirements or courses are to have meaning and impact. These are:
- Budget reform as the sine qua non of general education reform.
- Awareness, buy‐in and ‘marketing’ of General Education to faculty and students. The committee recommendations for revision of program elements can be discussed as part of raising general awareness around the issue. They include:
- Make the General Education program simpler and more flexible
- Create coherent pathways through all four years and engage with the major
- Consider crediting co‐curricular learning
- Re‐examine first‐year and capstone experiences
- A shift to an outcomes‐driven paradigm.
“The committee’s research into the experience of other universities that have successfully overhauled their general education programs shows that it is a multi‐year process. To assure faculty buy‐in and resolve potential conflicting needs, the committee recommends that during the 2009‐2010 academic year, some form of the current committee (with possible additions/changes) focus on two areas in particular:
- Outreach to various constituencies to engage in dialogue regarding the report and its different elements. There needs to be frank and open conversations with Senate leadership; deans, associate deans, chairs and program directors, faculty; regional campuses; advisors; and students through ASWSU and other forums.
- Outcomes are central to the restructuring of the General Education program. Faculty must be engaged from the beginning in the process of re‐examining the learning goals and writing assessable outcomes for them. We need to engage faculty, the Teaching Academy, and experts from all campuses, AAC&U, and professional departments. This discussion will inevitably include consideration of potential changes to the program.
“The committee foresees a third year to continue dialogue with all of the constituent groups to finalize a new program, and a fourth year to begin implementation. Should consensus emerge more rapidly, this timeline could be accelerated. The committee stresses that a four‐year timeline is normal for an inclusive, faculty‐driven process.”
WSU’s General Education Program through 2008
2006: New General Education Program and WSU’s Six Goals of the Baccalaureate. After intensive study of general education models in the 1980s, WSU arrived at a compromise model of general education that embodied strengths of different models current at the time. From the notion of a core curriculum, a type in which all students follow a common set of general education courses intended to provide a common intellectual experience (as one instance, the “Great Books” model at such places as Chicago or St. John’s), WSU developed the core World Civilizations courses that all students took upon entry. From the distribution model, intended to guarantee breadth of study outside the major, WSU developed the distributional areas. From the integrative model, which focuses on integration of subject areas and skills, WSU developed “Areas of Coherence” and the general education capstone (Tier III). Using a developmental model, the GE requirements included a transitional course as the academic backbone of the first year (World Civilizations, “A” requirement); they built writing into multiple levels of the curriculum; and the curriculum was originally structured in tiers intended to be of progressive intellectual sophistication.