HI Michelle -
Our gen ed program (we call it "Essential Studies") is conceptualized as having four broad goals (communication, thinking & reasoning, info literacy, social-cultural diversity) achieved through the two curricular components.
The first curricular component is breadth, and that's both the traditional focus of GE (thus valued by most of our faculty) and mandated by our state board as part of a plan to ensure ready transferability among state institutions. So that's basically a distribution system within which students take specified numbers of credits in each of four areas, working from a list of courses approved for GE within each of those disciplinary areas. The second curricular component is what we call special emphasis courses, and those are specific courses that were designed to provide extra (special) focus on key GE outcomes. This component was invented because there was real concern that some of our goals were unlikely to be met for all students via serendipity - some students avoid oral communication, some avoid quantitative reasoning, many didn't get much emphasis on diversity. So we created the special emphasis component with that in mind. Most of the special emphasis courses (but not all) are also part of the breadth piece of GE, so I could take a course, for example, that is approved for social science breadth and also is approved as addressing global diversity in an especially focused, intentional way. Conversely, I might take a course taught within my discipline that was approved for that same global diversity special emphasis but isn't approved as a breadth course.
So that's the program structure.
We have traditionally assessed at two levels. The first is at the course level, and that's done primarily for purposes of course improvement but also as a strategy for ensuring that faculty understand and pay attention to the GE outcomes they claim for the course. (This course-level assessment requirement may be replaced with another strategy for meeting the same needs - this is an in-process discuss.) We also do GE outcomes assessment, using work products from a mix of graduating seniors that are scored by faculty from across campus. We assess two outcomes each year. But although we have four broad goals, we break a couple of them down so our assessment cycle has included six outcomes and thus a 3-year cycle for conducting outcomes assessments on them all.
That's our plan, and we do indeed implement it as described - i.e., we have been adhering to that cycle.
I'm not claiming that this is the ideal GE plan or assessment strategy, or that I'd invent it all exactly this way if I were queen of the universe (or, in this case, the university). It's all about what fits and can occur within a specific institutional culture and context - so everything about our program and our assessments has a history and a story. And that history/story are probably different from your own! But I wish you lots of luck in finding the right mix of pieces for your own campus.
University of North Dakota
From: Assessment in Higher Education [mailto:[log in to unmask]] On Behalf Of Michelle Rogers
Sent: Friday, August 28, 2015 10:40 AM
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: [ASSESS:] General Education Curriculum
I'm interested in finding out about different models of general education curriculum and ways to assess the curriculum. Drake currently has a model with 10 areas of inquiry (e.g. critical thinking, written communication, quantitative literacy, information literacy, etc). Each inquiry has several outcomes. Originally, our goal was to assess two areas of inquiry each year. But what we've found is that the cycle for assessing the whole curriculum is much too long. It's taken us longer than expected to assess each inquiry (2-3 years as opposed to one year).
We recognize that it's way too many outcomes and are considering adopting an integrated core curriculum, but know this will take some time to implement. Until we get there, we want to continue to assess the existing curriculum to make sure we service students who have to go through the current curriculum.
If you could share information about the structure of general education curriculum you have in place, how you assess the curriculum, time cycle, challenges and benefits to the model you use that would be great.
ASSESS is brought to you by the Association for Assessment of Learning in Higher Education. Visit us at http://aalhe.org/
To subscribe to ASSESS please follow the directions on http://www.coe.uky.edu/lists/helists.php
Information on other assessment-related sites can be found at http://www.assessmentcommons.org/
Visit the UK Office of Assessment
The oral history of ASSESS and instructions for subscribing and unsubscribing are available at http://lsv.uky.edu/archives/assess.html
ASSESS is brought to you by the Association for
Assessment of Learning in Higher Education. Visit us at
To subscribe to ASSESS please follow the directions
Information on other assessment-related sites can be
found at http://www.assessmentcommons.org/
Visit the UK Office of Assessment
The oral history of ASSESS and instructions for
subscribing and unsubscribing are available at