Establishing a general education curriculum for all baccalaureate students
Every Temple student currently pursuing a baccalaureate degree must meet specific core curriculum requirements. The attached new General Education curriculum will replace the present core curriculum in fall 2007.
Present Core Curriculum
The University’s present Core Curriculum was approved in 1986 and implemented for all undergraduate majors between Fall, 1988 and Fall, 1992. This Core Curriculum was revised in part in 1993 (adding a “Studies in Race” requirement) and again in 1996 (with revisions in the “International Studies” and the “Quantitative Reasoning” requirements).
The Core Curriculum requires students to satisfy the following areas of requirements: a library orientation (no credits), a course in College Composition (3 credits), two courses in Intellectual Heritage (6 credits), a course in American Culture (3 credits), a course in the Arts (3 credits), a course in Individual and Society (3 credits), coursework in International Studies (3-6 credits), two courses in Quantitative Reasoning (6-8 credits), two courses in Science and Technology (6-8 credits), and a course in Studies in Race (3 credits). Three “writing-intensive” courses are also required in addition to the two courses in Intellectual Heritage. Within each of the above areas (other than College Composition and Intellectual Heritage), a student may choose from lists of approved courses to meet the category requirements. On average, students fulfill the Core Curriculum requirements by taking between 39 and 52 credits.
Limitations of the previous Core Curriculum
Almost 20 years old, the present Core Curriculum has several limitations. The core areas are very loosely defined. There has been substantial growth in the number of courses that are included in each core area, and this proliferation of courses has significantly reduced the coherence in each core area. For example, in the Science and Technology area, there are 55 courses offered by 15 different academic departments; also, the writing intensive requirement is met by enrollment in at least 158 different courses and 111 capstone courses. Over time, the interests of departmental majors have been imported into the Core Curriculum by including within the core more and more courses that count toward the major (or college requirements).
Moreover, some core courses meet more than a single Core Curriculum requirement, thereby producing widespread calculation by students and departments about how to limit the number of core courses by selecting courses that allow a student to double or triple up. Manipulation of rules has become one of the values students learn as they fulfill their core requirements. Finally, it has become clear that there has not been effective monitoring of the fidelity of core courses to the purposes of the core program. For these and other reasons, many students and faculty find the current core curriculum overly complex and well in need of a complete overhaul.
New General Education Curriculum
The General Education Curriculum requires that students take a total of 11 courses totaling 36 credits in eight categories, as follows: a course on analytical reading and writing, including identification and evaluation of sources of information (4 credits); a two-course sequence about great thinkers (6 credits); a course in quantitative literacy (4 credits); two courses in natural science or technology (6 credits); a course in the arts (4 credits); a course in human behavior (3 credits); two courses about the structures and conduct of society (6 credits), one focusing on American society and the other on societies in other nations of the world; and a course on race and diversity in the United States (3 credits). In addition, each undergraduate major shall designate two courses as “writing intensive,” which will require writing and rewriting with evaluation by the instructor.
In order to promote common intellectual experiences among students, only a small number of courses (usually not exceeding five and never more than eight) will be authorized in any of the above categories. The only exceptions are the course in analytical reading and writing and the two courses focusing on the great thinkers. These three courses will be common to all students.
Students who enter the University as freshmen will be required to meet all General Education requirements before earning 62 credit hours.
Under the new curriculum, a General Education course taught in multiple sections will have a common syllabus and readings, as well as a common exam to promote evaluation of whether the course is meeting stated objectives. Also, honors sections will be offered in each category for students enrolled in the Honors Program. All colleges and schools are encouraged to identify General Education categories to which they can contribute, solely or jointly, and to develop and submit courses that will meet the requirements for those categories.
There will be a limited number of waivers permissible under this program. Students who declare a major in one of the natural sciences or in mathematics will not be required to take the General Education courses respectively in those fields. Waiver of other general requirements is strongly discouraged and only with the approval of the chief academic officer for compelling educational reasons.
The program includes provision for governance of the General Education program. There will be a General Education Executive Committee made up of not more than nine faculty, three students and a presiding officer, all appointed by the chief academic officer after consultation with the appropriate faculty and student governance bodies. There will also be a director of the General Education program, appointed by the University’s chief academic officer after consultation with the above executive committee and the Faculty Senate Steering Committee.
Each category will have a faculty coordinator, who will be appointed by the chief academic officer after consultation with the General Education Executive Committee, except that there will be a single coordinator for the human behavior and structure and conduct of society categories.
Process for development of the General Education program
In May, 2004, the Faculty Senate presented to the faculty at large a proposal for a new General Education curriculum. This proposal was the result of three years of planning by faculty subgroups. During an open meeting, several amendments were made to that proposal, and an amended proposal was sent out for a vote by the full faculty. That amended proposal was rejected by a vote of 204 to 170.
Thereafter, the University Administration developed a new proposal that was submitted on October 3, 2004, to the Faculty Senate for its review. The Faculty Senate Steering Committee brought the Administration’s proposal to the Faculty Senate in a meeting on October 27, 2004.
At that meeting, the Faculty Senate directed its leadership to develop a new proposal based on the original (May 4, 2004) proposal. After discussions with the University President and Provost, the Faculty Senate Steering Committee developed new proposal, which was adopted by the Faculty Senate at its meeting of November 23, 2004.
The University Administration has revised its original proposal to take into account the actions of the Faculty Senate. In deference to faculty judgment, the attached final program reflects revisions on several issues, such as the addition of a second science course in the requirements and the permissible number of courses within a General Education category.
Temple’s new general education program
Purposes and goals
The program of general education at Temple University should be designed to achieve the following purposes:
• To assist students with the development of certain basic skills, specifically (1) analytical reading and interpretation of texts, well organized and analytical writing, and identification and evaluation of information, and (2) quantitative thinking and reasoning;
• To introduce students to the intellectual paradigms and ways of discovering and affirming knowledge in the broad fields of contemporary life—specifically in the natural sciences, the social sciences, the humanities, and the arts;
• To offer students an opportunity to develop basic knowledge in those four fields while also applying the skills learned as part of the program of general education;
• To prepare students with basic knowledge, as known today, about natural phenomena and human institutions and relations;
• To create common learning experiences among students that will allow them to share ideas and intellectual experiences outside the classroom and raise the intellectual level of student life.
To achieve these purposes and goals, the program of general education will be organized along the following lines:
• Students who enter as freshmen should be required to complete the program of general education before earning 62 credit hours.
• The program of general education should be limited to a small number of courses to assure common learning experiences for students.
• Courses in general education should be developed specifically to carry out the purposes and goals of the program and should be distinct from courses intended as a first step in the preparation of specialists in particular fields.
• To emphasize the distinctive purposes and nature of the general education program, the statement of general education purposes, the specification of general education requirements, and the listing of general education courses will appear as a separate section of the Undergraduate Bulletin, in the same fashion as majors and other academic programs are now listed.
• Except for the introductory course in writing and the two semester-sequence in great thinkers/Intellectual Heritage, both long taught effectively by both presidential faculty and dedicated deans’ appointees, the program of general education should, to the fullest extent possible, be taught by the University’s core faculty who are tenured or on the tenure track.
• The program of general education should be compact in the number of credit hours to assure that an undergraduate student, pursuing a normal bachelor’s degree within a range of 120 to 124 credit hours, is able to fulfill three goals of undergraduate education: (1) meeting the general education requirements, (2) fulfilling reasonable requirements for a major achieved in four years, and (3) having substantial opportunity to pursue courses outside of general education and the major that may reflect or stimulate a student’s interests in other fields of knowledge and that will contribute to citizenship, personal growth and relationships, avocational interests that deepen life’s satisfactions, and/or fulfill other intellectual purposes that a student may set for himself/herself.
Specific requirements to achieve the purposes of general education
• All students should be required to take a four-credit course that focuses on analytical reading and writing and on the identification and evaluation of sources of information. Emphasis should be placed in this course on clear exposition, on rewriting and editing of the student’s own compositions, on finding materials and learning how to evaluate them, on attribution to sources, and on ethical principles and practices in the use of materials not of the student’s creation. Specifically, this course in exposition should be taught in multiple sections of moderate or small size, should have a common syllabus of readings and requirements, and should use the fourth course hour, to the extent necessary, for learning how to find materials, evaluate them, and properly attribute to them. Instructors in the course should have some professional development and preparation in evaluating and critiquing student writing and in coaching writers. After the second year in which this course shall be offered, instructors who teach the course shall have participated in University-sponsored programs in evaluating writing and coaching student writers, unless an instructor is professionally trained in these matters.
• A two-course sequence of three-credit courses about great thinkers who have had broad influence on the thinking of others and/or who have elaborated and broadly made known the main currents of thought in their own time. The courses will focus on reading the original writings of these thinkers, although it may include some narrative and/or analytical works that comment on these writings, put them into perspective or comment on their impact. The courses should reinforce student writing skills by requiring regular, short analytical and expository essays by students. The University’s present program in Intellectual Heritage is a beginning point for this requirement, but it will require some modification to fully serve the purpose. The courses should operate with a common syllabus in all sections, including requirements for written assignments and a common final exam. The course may be taught in large lectures supported by reasonably small sections or in small sections, either format organized to assure that instructors and/or staff in the courses can coach students in analytical reading and in writing. The specific readings should be drawn heavily from both western and non-western traditions and, within the American tradition, from viewpoints and perspectives of diverse groups. After the second year in which the course in great thinkers shall be offered, those who teach the course shall have participated in University-sponsored programs in evaluating writing and coaching student writers, unless an instructor is professionally trained in these matters.
• A four-credit course in quantitative literacy. The purpose of this course is to help students think in quantitative terms and to understand how quantification of phenomena can assist human understanding. Misuses as well as proper uses of quantification should be emphasized. This course may be taught in three large lectures per week with one small discussion section per week or entirely in small sections. It is not a course in formulas or calculations or applied uses of numbers. All sections of the course should use a common syllabus and readings and should have a common final exam. The course in quantitative literacy should be taken by students prior to their enrollment in the general education courses in natural science or technology, which are described in the next paragraph.
• Two-three credit courses in natural science or technology. The purpose of these courses is to help students understand the method of scientific thinking and to be exposed to how the understanding of scientific phenomena and/or technology may affect human life. The intersections of ethics and science should be illustrated in these courses. Each course should ordinarily be organized in large lectures supported by small sections to allow for demonstrations, field trips, or basic experiments that elucidate the larger purpose of the course; but it may be organized entirely in small sections when that would facilitate its purpose. It is anticipated that courses may be offered in physical science, life science, and the applications of science through technology.
• A four-credit course in the arts. This course should introduce students at a minimum to visual arts and music. Other art forms should be included in the course to the extent feasible. The course should emphasize how to approach these arts to appreciate and understand them as well as to provide knowledge about the historical development of major styles and genres in the arts. The course may be structured as lectures supported by discussion sections or entirely in a lecture format.
• A three-credit course in human behavior that focuses on current understandings of both individual and group behavior, individual self concepts and how they develop as well as their impact on individuals, relationships between individuals in small and large groups and how those relationships shape individuals, and the development of group and societal norms that guide human behavior and the different approaches that human groups have toward those who depart from expected or traditional behaviors. The courses meeting this criterion may be in lecture or section mode or in a mixed mode with lectures supported by smaller sections. Multi-section courses should have a common syllabus and common final exam.
• Two three-credit courses about the structures and conduct of society. One course would be required from each of two categories of general education courses: one category would focus on the structures and conduct of American society, the other on the structures and conduct of societies in other nations in the world. The government and politics, social structures and social arrangements, the histories, the impact of geographic locations and features, and the impact of economics may be emphasized in the courses in each category. Each course should also illustrate how nations are organized and governed in light of their different histories, origins, or cultures and should consider the relations of nations with other nations. The courses in these categories should also elucidate for students the methods by which social sciences seek to understand and explain social phenomena. The courses meeting the criteria for these categories may be in lecture or section mode or in mixed modes with lectures supported by smaller sections. Multi-section courses should have common syllabi and common final exams.
• A three-credit course on race and diversity in the United States. A principal emphasis of the course should be the impact that America’s history of race relations has on the current condition of the United States, on an understanding of the differences between groups (not limited to race), how those differences are viewed in America and by the nation’s dominant forces, groups, and institutions, and what the relationship is between the diversity of groups within the United States and its ability to govern itself and to fulfill its declared values. Courses meeting this criterion may be in lecture or section mode or in a mixed mode with lectures supported by smaller sections. Multi-section courses should have a common syllabus and common final exam.
Framework for general education courses
• In order to promote common intellectual experiences among students, only a small number of courses, usually not exceeding five, should be authorized in any of the categories. The only exceptions are that only a single multi-section course would exist in the analytical reading and writing course and in the two-semester sequence of courses focusing on great thinkers. The general education executive committee may recommend to the University’s chief academic officer that additional courses be included in any category but shall do so only for compelling educational reasons and shall not, in any case, recommend additional courses that would place the total number of courses in a category at more than eight.
• Except as noted in the descriptions of specific categories, general education courses may be taught in large lectures, in small sections, or in large lectures supported by small sections.
• A general education course taught in multiple sections will have a common syllabus and readings. Each such course will also have a common final exam to promote evaluation of whether the course is meeting stated objectives.
• To the extent possible, general education courses should be interdisciplinary in character. Deans are encouraged to promote and support means by which faculty members from various disciplines may participate in teaching the same course, including rotation of faculty among different sections of the course for specific segments of the course.
• All general education courses will be included in the category of courses that require early evaluation of students. These evaluations will be reported to the appropriate University office which will provide “early warning” to students whose performance is deficient and will indicate to students the available sources of support for their learning in the course.
• Honors sections will be offered in each general education category for students enrolled in the Honors Program. Separate policies will be developed to govern the Honors program, and those policies will include provisions pertaining to Honors sections in the general education program.
• The general education program will constitute a separate program of courses in the University, and its courses will be listed by category in a general education section of the Undergraduate Bulletin. This emphasizes the distinctive nature of the general education program as well as the distinction between the character and purpose of general education courses and courses designed to prepare majors in particular disciplines.
• General education courses may not be introductory courses to specific majors.
• Any school or college may offer a general education course in any category of general education, as long as the proposed course is approved in the manner specified below. Indeed, all colleges and schools are urged to identify general education categories to which they can contribute, solely or jointly, and then to develop and submit courses that will meet the requirements for those categories.
• Students who declare a major in one of the natural sciences or in mathematics will not be required to take the general education courses respectively in those fields. Implementation of this provision, including the identification of majors that will qualify for waivers of these requirements, will be undertaken by the University’s chief academic officer, after consultation with the general education executive committee. Waiver of other general education requirements for students is strongly discouraged and shall be authorized only for compelling educational reasons. Such waivers shall be granted only when recommended by the general education executive committee and approved by the University’s chief academic officer. Because waivers are intended to avoid duplication of substantive educational material in a student’s major, only one waiver of a general education course shall be allowed for any student, except for students majoring in mathematics or science as provided in the first sentence of this paragraph.
• Because general education is a separate category of courses constituting a student’s total degree curriculum, general education courses may not be included among the courses specifically required for a major; nor may general education courses be included among the required prerequisite courses for a major. However, an academic unit may, upon recommendation of the general education executive committee and approval of the University’s chief academic officer, award credit toward the major, as an elective course, of one or more general education courses that it defines as contributing to the knowledge base for the major program.
• All general education courses will be reviewed after the fourth year in which they are taught to assure that they continue to meet the criteria for general education and to assess their effectiveness in meeting those criteria.
Governance of the gen-ed program
• Each category of general education courses will have a coordinator who will be a faculty member teaching one or more general education courses in that category each semester. The coordinator will work with appropriate University offices to monitor and evaluate each general education course in that category to assure that it continues to meet the criteria for general education. The coordinator will also encourage colleges and schools to consider offering courses in the general education program and may assist those units to develop courses that meet the criteria required for general education courses. Coordinators should also communicate to the University’s academic administration and to deans the resources that faculty who teach or may propose to teach general education courses will need to make such courses successful. The University’s chief academic officer will seek nominations for coordinators in the various general education categories from the deans, from the general education executive committee, from the Faculty Senate, and from interested individuals and will appoint coordinators only after consultation with the general education executive committee.
• There will be a director of the general education program who will work with the coordinators, the deans, the general education executive committee, and appropriate university offices to stimulate the creation of general education courses and to evaluate the effectiveness of such courses and of the overall program. The director will be appointed by the University’s chief academic officer after consultation with the general education executive committee and the Faculty Senate Steering Committee. The director should continue to teach at least one course each semester, preferably in the general education program, and will be part of the staff of the University’s chief academic officer while serving as director.
• A general education executive committee of not more than nine faculty members, three students, and its presiding officer shall have the following responsibilities: (1) to coordinate broadly the work of the general education program, (2) to evaluate courses proposed to meet general education requirements for their conformity with the general education criteria, (3) to oversee the periodic fifth-year reviews of approved general education courses to determine whether they continue to meet general education criteria and whether they are effectively carrying out the purposes of general education, (4) to nominate coordinators to the chief academic officer of the University, (5) to advise the chief academic officer of the University on the appointment of the director of the general education program, and (6) to conduct such other studies and recommend such changes in policy as may be necessary to maintain the purposes and vibrancy of the general education program.
• The general education executive committee will be chaired by the University’s chief academic officer or his/her designee. The chairperson of the Faculty Senate’s Educational Policies and Practices Committee or his/her designee shall be ex officio one of the nine faculty members. The remaining eight faculty members will be nominated by the Faculty Senate from among faculty experienced in the general education program and broadly drawn from those colleges offering courses as part of the general education program. The director and coordinators of the general education program shall not be eligible to serve as members of the general education executive committee. Not more than two faculty members of the committee shall be from the same college or school. The chief academic officer of the University shall accept the Faculty Senate’s nominees to the general education executive committee unless he/she has substantive objection that will be discussed with the Steering Committee of the Faculty Senate, in which case the Senate shall nominate other persons to be considered by the chief academic officer. Faculty members of the general education executive committee shall serve two-year staggered terms and may be reappointed to a second term, but after serving a second term shall not again be eligible to serve on the committee for a period of four years. One student member of the committee shall be nominated by the Temple Student Government, a second shall be an Honors student selected by the director(s) of the Honors Program, and the third shall be a graduate student who is teaching a course or section in the general education program and shall be appointed by the Graduate Dean after consultation with the Graduate Board. The student members will be nominated for one-year terms and may not serve a total of more than two years on the committee, including possible membership as first an undergraduate and later as a graduate student.
• The area coordinators and director of the general education program may be invited by the General Education Executive Committee to sit as non-voting ex officio members for all or selected meetings of the Committee.
• The University administration shall endeavor to provide substantial resources for the development of general education courses, for released time for the coordinators of the respective segments of the program, for the director of the entire program, for released time or summer grants for faculty members who are developing general education courses, for the evaluation of the effectiveness of courses and the program, and for the development/ selection of innovative course materials that may be necessary from time to time to meet the objectives of the General Education program.
Related policies, issues
• Each undergraduate major shall designate two courses as writing-intensive courses. The designated writing-intensive courses shall require that students edit and rewrite papers to achieve a high level of clarity and cogency, use a variety of methods to find appropriate materials to support their written work, and make proper attribution to those sources. After the third year in which such writing-intensive courses shall be offered, faculty members who teach them shall have participated in University-sponsored programs in evaluating writing and coaching student writers, unless a faculty member is professionally trained in these matters. Deans shall assure that writing-intensive courses are small enough to allow the faculty member to read student written work, comment on it, assist students to improve their work through editing and rewriting, and coach students to improve their writing skills.
• The University administration will develop a policy, after consultation with the Faculty Senate, that will limit the number of credit hours, both in the major field and in prerequisites to the major, that may be required for a total academic curriculum that will allow a student to graduate with a total program of 124 credit hours. This limit shall assure that students, in addition to completing a major and its prerequisites, will be able to complete the program of general education and to have a significant opportunity to pursue studies in courses outside of the major and the general education program. In order to insure institutional integrity and candor in relations with students, majors that require more than the maximum number of credits set by this policy shall be designated as majors requiring more than 124 credit hours to complete and shall be so identified and explained in all course catalogues and other written materials of the University as well as by advisers in the departments, schools, and colleges.
• The University administration will work with academic advisers in all colleges and schools as well as advisers in the University’s advising centers to advise freshmen students to complete the required general education courses in analytical reading and writing, in quantitative literacy, and in great thinkers (the current courses in Intellectual Heritage as modified to conform to this policy), during their first two semesters of study at Temple University.
• The University administration will work with academic advisers in all colleges and schools to enforce the policy that a student, who enters as a freshman, shall complete the general education program before attaining 62 credit hours toward a Temple degree.
• The University’s chief academic officer, after consulting with the general education executive committee, may designate certain Advanced Placement courses, when passed with specified scores, as fulfilling general education course requirements.
• The University administration shall begin immediately upon adoption of this program of general education to consult with community colleges that have core-to-core agreements with Temple to recommend modification of those agreements to include courses that meet Temple’s requirements for general education. The University administration shall, to the extent necessary, work with the general education director and coordinators to assist community colleges to develop such courses and prepare their faculty to teach them.
• The University’s chief academic officer, after consulting with the General Education Executive Committee, will develop guidelines for determining any appropriate amount and/or type of waiver available to transfer students not covered by the core to core agreements.