New Common Baccalaureate Requirements

We propose the following outline for the new Common Baccalaureate  Requirements at UAF. Associates Degrees will use a subset of these requirements.

Note that in addition to the Common Baccalaureate  Requirements outlined here, specific  degree programs  and  majors  have their own additional requirements. The entire package of “common baccalaureate requirements” includes “general education requirements” as a subset.

The new requirements facilitate students achieving the learning outcomes approved by faculty senate.

A comparison between the new proposal and the current core is available.

Learning Outcome 1: Build knowledge of Human Institutions, Socio-Cultural Processes, and the Physical and Natural World

Fulfilled by taking the following:

  • One course in the Natural Sciences (4 credits; includes a lab); draft  course  list
  • One course in Mathematics (3-4 credits); draft  course  list
  • One course in the Arts (3 credits; may combine theory and practice); draft  course  list
  • One  courses in the Social Sciences (3 credits); draft  course  list
  • One  courses in the Humanities (3  credits); draft  course  list
  • Two other courses (6 credits) in the areas of Social Sciences, Humanities, Arts, or a combination (e.g., an interdisciplinary course in those areas)
Total credits to satisfy Learning Outcome 1:  22-23 credits.

Learning Outcome 2: Develop intellectual and practical skills across the curriculum.

Fulfilled by taking the following:

Total credits to satisfy Learning Outcome 2:  12 – 13 credits.

[Note: The combination of courses required for Learning Outcomes 1 and 2 comprises the “general education requirements”.]

Learning Outcome 3: Acquire tools for effective civic engagement

Fulfilled by taking one course per attribute  anywhere across the curriculum with each of the following attributes:

Note: Courses whose attributes satisfy Learning Outcome 3 may also satisfy Learning Outcomes 1 or 2; they may satisfy a student’s specific degree requirements; they may satisfy a student’s major requirements.

These requirements will not necessitate taking additional credits to satisfy a student’s general education requirements, although depending on the choices, the courses may increase that total.

We expect that many students will choose to take courses for Outcomes 1 and 2 that also are marked A, E, or D, thus satisfying the requirements for Outcome 3 with the same courses.

Total credits to satisfy Learning Outcome 3:  0 – 9 credits.

Total credits to satisfy the new GER: 34 — 45 credits, depending on attribute choices.

Learning Outcome 4: Integrate and apply learning

Fulfilled by:

  • A capstone course or experiential learning opportunity (e.g. internship) in student’s major (0 – 3 credits?)
  • Fulfilment of the Communications Learning Outcomes:

    • Explain disciplinary content using a variety of modes of communication.
    • Communicate to audiences in the discipline using appropriate disciplinary conventions.
    • Translate disciplinary content to audiences outside the discipline, making disciplinary knowledge relevant to broader communities.
    • Integrate feedback from others to enhance or revise communication.
  • by satisfying the requirements listed in the  degree’s Communications Plan, which describes how that  degree program meets those learning outcomes via the requirements  of the degree.

[This is a change from the 2013-4  proposal, which said: 3  courses marked C that integrate several kinds of communication practices with upper-division content, typically in a student’s major.]

 Total credits to satisfy Learning Outcome 4:  6 – 9 credits.

Note that courses that satisfy Learning Outcome 4 occur at the upper-division level and are not typically counted as adding to the credit load of the “core”.

9 Replies to “New Common Baccalaureate Requirements”

  1. I just looked at the suggested courses for Math under Learning Outcome one, and am very concerned to see that there are still no alternatives to the currently required list of acceptable Math options. I find it most unfortunate that we seem to be unable to look outside the “STEM” box and recognize that we have students who are going into fields where they will never need this level of math. I really hope that as part of this revitalization of the core we can find some alternatives such as ABUSF155, Business Math, CTT F106 Construction Math or perhaps even PHIL F104 Logic and Reasoning, that will allow students who are not that mathematically inclined and will not be using math in their professional lives to satisfy this requirement with less expenditure of time and money than they must currently use to get into the required course.
    I am sickened when I see otherwise very capable students blocked from graduation because of the current math requirements. If students have a desire to become good at math via multiple DEVE courses and then required MATH courses, by all means they should have the opportunity to do so, and currently they do. Adding a few more choices would not prevent this. If they are going into a profession that requires they be good at MATH then the courses currently required are a must. But if what they really are going to need is a good grasp of day to day arithmetical business transactions then please let them take ABUS 155, pass it and move on with their lives. We should not be forcing students to spend so much time on something they really do not need for their career, and I hope we can accomplish something more flexible through this GERC process.

    • Good comment on more choices for math, but I couldn’t disagree more on whether rudimentary math is needed. Let’s just start by saying that other countries teach their students Calc I as part of the normal curriculum in High School. Why? Because math matters, especially how it relates to personal finance.

      Students absolutely need more choices when it comes to which math courses to take, but math is everywhere. Most students who graduate college either don’t know or cannot adequately explain/calculate compound interest. Yet understanding compound interest is one of the most fundamental skills students need in their personal and professional lives.

      We teach students too little math, not too much. The reason we teach them too little is that if we were try to teach them more even fewer students would actually graduate college because they come out of High School without any math foundation and fail in college because they do not have the prerequisite knowledge. Not something we can really fix in college anyway, so the answer is to just require less math and keep graduation rates up.

    • I disagree strongly with some of the comments about the math requirement in the first posting. While I am chair of Mathematics and Statistics, and no doubt have my own biases on this issue, I think the comments indicate a misreading of the first proposed requirement. It is is not focused on job or career skills, but on developing a college-level understanding of some of the major areas of human knowledge. Mathematics is one of these, and students, whether mathematically inclined or not, need to understand something about it if they are to have a balanced education. This is not staying inside a STEM box; it’s trying to give students a deeper understanding of the intellectual approaches and domains of knowledge that can shed light on their world. Just as we can and should reasonably require students who are not artistically inclined, and who do not expect to work in the arts, to take courses in the arts, we can and should do so for mathematics.
      UAF has long offered a course (Math 103) that is not focused on developing technical computational skills, but rather on how mathematical reasoning can be used
      in less obvious domains than business and construction. For instance, it analyses different voting systems, so students can better understand that the method by which we make democratic choices affects how competing views are balanced. It exposes students to basic probability and statistics, so that they might better interpret such things as outcomes of medical tests. For students who struggle with mathematics computations, this course is a good alternative exploration of the power of mathematical reasoning. If this offering is inadequate for the students the writer describes, then we should all be advocating for the development of new courses with a similar flavor, and for the faculty positions to staff those courses.
      Finally, while courses such as Business Mathematics and Construction Mathematics are certainly appropriate for some degree programs, I do not know of any peer institutions that would include them in a general education requirement for a Bachelor’s degree program. Having a “good grasp of day to day arithmetical business transactions” is an appallingly low standard in mathematics for a college education.

  2. I am particularly bothered by ENGL 111/211/213 and COMM 131/14X showing up once again. If you recall, these courses were part of the reason we are even talking about a new core.

    I was part of GERC when the outcomes were defined and passed by the Senate. The understanding at that time was that units would be able to choose courses to meet outcomes, or even get to create courses if they so chose. I would rather see something like ENGL 314 instead of ENGL 111/211/213. Also, why force students to take COMM 131/141X? My students will do just as fine without those courses. Many universities do not require a COMM type class. Instead, they require more ‘O’ classes. I believe this is more effective.

    The focus should be on intended outcomes, not the courses.

    I think the new GERC fails the moment it starts mandating particular sets of courses. I would rather the new GERC focus on defining the performance metrics for each outcomes (as done for communication). For example, how do we demonstrate that students have adequate communication skills? If we did that, programs may choose COMM 131/141X, or they can use one of their existing courses. BOR policies are also not a constraint. For example, it mandates oral communication skills, not COMM. One must distinguish between the two.

    Moving forward, we could define performance metrics for each outcome. Then, every program should be asked how they meet the outcomes. There will be many different paths taken. That is how it should be.

  3. I was also on the GERC committee during spring of 2011 when we designed the learning outcomes that were eventually passed by the Faculty Senate, and the claim that the committee was planning during that time to abolish requirements for ENGL 111X, 211X, 213X and COMM 131X/141X is simply not true. During spring of 2011 we were focusing on general curricular outcomes, and it was stated repeatedly that we were _not_ making any decisions about specific courses (though it is certainly true that individual committee members had strong–diverse and decidedly non-unanimous–opinions about some of the existing courses and made those personal opinions known). When we adopted the new learning outcomes, we were not committing to razing particular courses but rather were deciding on general goals for all UAF students, and leaving decisions about specific courses for later. Thus there is no reason that existing courses should _not_ be turning up again if they continue to meet the spirit of the new learning outcomes for general education. The real questions are whether the existing courses still do meet those objectives and whether additional courses also do so and could be added as possibilities. (And yes, it _was_ stated that new courses could be developed to allow greater flexibility in meeting the new learning outcomes–so there’s no need to take the existing list as exhaustive of all possibilities.)

    But here we need to return to the fact that the word “university” has the stem word “universe” in it, which means that a university is not the same thing as a vocational-technical institute. A university engages the entire universe, going beyond specific disciplines and their associated career paths. This, in turn, means that all students seeking BA and BS degrees in a university context need a broadly based general education, not just a vocational-technical education. (For this reason I, as an English professor, sometimes find myself reminding my advisees that their required courses in math and science are important components of their general education.) This basic principle of the need for all students to be given a broadly based general education is affirmed by the LEAP philosophy that formed the basis of the new learning outcomes that GERC (and ultimately the Senate) adopted in spring of 2011. All LEAP and GERC do (in distinction from the existing Core curriculum) is create more pathways for allowing students to achieve these broadly based outcomes.

    For these reasons I, personally, am against allowing vocationally-driven courses in technical writing (ex. the existing ENGL 314 or anything similar) to count for General Education requirements in writing. This would be an appropriate elective for students in some disciplines, but technical writing does not engage sufficiently broad questions to be an appropriate option for a general education requirement.

    – Chris Coffman, Associate Professor of English

  4. It’s great to see this moving toward fruition. One concern I’m hearing is about potentially very appropriate courses *not* appearing in various draft lists. I would urge you to stress in your communications that the draft lists are examples, not meant to be nearly complete, and that there will be a process for vetting and adding courses to the final lists.

  5. A key consideration is how these new general education requirements compare with those at UAA and UAS. BOR policy 10.04.062 states that “A student who has completed the general education requirements at one university system university or community college and transfers to another system university or community college will be considered to have completed the general education requirements at all University of Alaska universities and community colleges.” So the UAF requirements should be kept on par with those at the other UA campuses, or else an unintended consequence might be to encourage students to pursue study at other campuses.

    • Ginny’s comment is right on target. The financial situation at UAF is becoming increasingly drastic and alarming. We have to be realistic. If we are really going to add all these letters to “W” and “O” requirements (A, E, D, Q, C etc.) then I am very concerned that this will be a big barrier to attract students, especially transfer students. In my opinion there is a real concern that this plan is going to drive away potential students. Finally, I am not looking forward to the infighting over which courses are “in” and which ones “out”. This is going to lead to serious revenue reallocations and, if not accounted for, is going to lead to substantial financial hardships for some units.

  6. A couple comments – I am unsure why there is a need to completely replace the old core with a plan that I see is really large (ie workload intensive for faculty and students just to keep track of), confusing, and unwieldy? Why not take the more efficient and probably a lot more cost effective (time and money) approach of improving known problems in the existing Core, at least at first? I’m skeptical that replacing it wholesale with the new, much more complicated plan is actually going to improve things for the students to the extent the faculty think it will. How is the University actually going to keep track of the student learning outcomes from the additional letter requirements? Without feasible metrics, we may never know if the new GER actually works or not for the students. For example, I doubt that all the extra letter requirements are going to help UAF grads land better jobs, or more easily find employment, over what they learn according to the existing (or an improved) Core.

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