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Teaching a UCORE Course

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Below we hope to address your most common questions about teaching a UCORE course. For additional questions, clarification, and strategies for communicating with students about UCORE, contact the UCORE Director, Clif Stratton.

What is UCORE?

WSU’s University Common Requirements course sequence, required of all incoming first-year and transfer students, is designed to help students acquire broad knowledge of the world to complement their major programs of study. By exposure to multiple disciplines and methods of inquiry, students will develop intellectual and civic competencies, practical skills, and the ability to apply knowledge and skills in real world settings.

With sustained emphasis on critical and creative thinking, information literacy, communication, integration and application of knowledge, UCORE prepares students to address diverse, complex issues and to act as responsible, informed citizens. They won’t be an expert in any single UCORE course or area, but they will graduate from WSU with the tools needed to seek out necessary information; interpret, apply, and share it; and make reasoned and ethical judgements on a wide array of issues we face today and in the future. In short, students will develop the capacity for adaptability and lifelong learning in a complex, diverse, and rapidly changing world.

Inherent personal enrichment and fulfillment aside, employers who seek to drive innovation and change also highly value these qualities in their employees and leaders. They continue to demand that we graduate students who are clear communicators, collaborative problem solvers, and ethical and informed decision-makers. Help fulfill WSU’s land-grant mission of sending curious, engaged, and motivated graduates into our communities by imparting to students the intrinsic value of a well-rounded university education.

How do UCORE courses relate to the WSU Learning Goals?

Each UCORE course forms part of a coherent plan for broad education and skill development common to all WSU undergraduates. It is therefore essential that faculty teaching UCORE courses clearly communicate the course’s purpose vis-a-vis UCORE and WSU’s learning goals to students in the syllabus and associated assignment prompts.

Students can expect that every UCORE course they take will at a minimum help them cultivate and develop the following skills: critical and creative thinking, information literacy, and communication. Depending on the designation, UCORE courses will also help students gain competency in understanding diversity, scientific literacy, quantitative reasoning, and/or integrative and applied learning.

What do I do if I’m teaching a UCORE course for the first time?

If you are teaching an existing UCORE course for the first time, obtain a copy of the most recently-approved syllabus from your department chair/director or a colleague that has taught the course recently. For 2019-2023, check the UCORE renewal schedule to see when a particular course is up for renewal to ensure you have the most recent version.

In addition, please review:

  • UCORE handbook for detailed information on teaching UCORE courses, including specifics about requirements for the particular course designation (e.g., HUM, QUAN, CAPS, etc.) and for requirements for all UCORE courses.
  • Syllabus Components Checklist: before adjusting a syllabus, please review the current Syllabus Components Checklist for requirements, recommendations, and additional resources related to course planning and syllabi.
  • Assessment expectations: make sure you are familiar with your assessment responsibilities as the instructor of a UCORE course.
  • Additional requirements for CAPS courses: consult the UCORE handbook for details. In addition, resources for designing capstone assignments are available from the Office of Assessment of Teaching and Learning.
How can I communicate the value of UCORE to students?

UCORE’s value is not often immediately obvious to students. Faculty are critical in moving students away from thinking about UCORE (or really any graduation requirement) as simply a box to check and instead toward thinking of UCORE as an experience to embrace for the purposes of exploration, intellectual growth, and the acquisition and development of broadly-applicable skills. As the American Association of Colleges & Universities reports, employers frequently cite adaptability, innovation, and broad engagement with the world as more important than one’s chosen major. Consider the following strategies when communicating with students:

Communicate the post-graduation return on investment. Technological priorities and modes of operation constantly change. Employers want adaptable thinkers, not narrow ones. Encourage students to begin thinking about marketing themselves with WSU’s undergraduate learning outcomes in mind. 

Whenever possible, design assignments that prioritize or incorporate student interest and discovery. Discuss with students their interests and goals. What are they curious about? What social, philosophical, scientific, or technological issues do they care about? Help them navigate your course and its various components with those at the center.

Empower students to take ownership over their learning. UCORE offers a scaffolded set of skills and areas of knowledge. It is in large part up to students to chart courses that help them reach their intellectual goals. But they have to know that that is possible. Help them develop a sense of their interests to carry into other UCORE courses.