2.7.3 General Education

Core Requirement 2.7.3: General Education

In each undergraduate degree program, the institution requires the successful completion of a general education component at the collegiate level that

  1. is a substantial component of each undergraduate degree,
  2. ensures breadth of knowledge, and
  3. is based on a coherent rationale. 

For degree completion in associate programs, the component constitutes a minimum of 15 semester hours or the equivalent; for baccalaureate programs, a minimum of 30 semester hours or the equivalent. These credit hours are to be drawn from and include at least one course from each of the following areas: humanities/fine arts; social/behavioral sciences; and natural science/mathematics. The courses do not narrowly focus on those skills, techniques, and procedures specific to a particular occupation or profession. The institution provides a written justification and rationale for course equivalency. The institution also provides a justification if it allows for fewer than the required number of semester credit hours or its equivalent unit of general education courses.

Compliance Partial Compliance Non-compliance

NARRATIVE

The University of South Florida (USF Sarasota-Manatee) Core Curriculum is a substantial component of each undergraduate degree. Students who enter as freshmen take 48 semester credits in the Core Curriculum out of 120: 36 credit hours of General Education and 3 credits in Foundations of Success at the lower level and 9 credits in Pillars of Intellectual Engagement at the upper level. Students who transfer as juniors take 9 upper level credits in Pillars of Intellectual Engagement courses. Note that students in the Elementary Education program have the six Pillars assessed throughout their curriculum. Therefore, they do not take specific Pillar courses in addition to their major course of study.

USF Sarasota-Manatee’s Core Curriculum (Academic Catalog – Core Curriculum Section)

The USF Sarasota-Manatee Core Curriculum ensures breadth of knowledge. Each undergraduate degree at USF Sarasota-Manatee requires a 36 credit-hour general education program with course offerings in five areas: communication, mathematics, social sciences, humanities, and natural sciences. Florida Statute 1007.25, Section 3 and Section 8, and Florida Board of Governors’ (BOG) Regulation 6.017(1)(a)called the Gordon Rule, mandate the number of hours and content areas for general education at state universities in Florida. The Florida State University System (SUS) and the State College System used the General Education Steering and Faculty Committees Final Recommendations to select courses that meet state requirements.

At the lower level, USF Sarasota-Manatee’s Core Curriculum consists of twelve courses (36 credits) as Florida’s General Education (Gen Ed) and two courses (3 credits) as USF Sarasota-Manatee’s Foundations of Success (Foundations). At the upper-level, USF Sarasota-Manatee students take three Pillars of Intellectual Engagement courses (9 credits): one Communication and Critical Thinking course, one Leadership and Ethics course, and one Community Engagement and Diversity course.

Florida’s Gordon Rule requires students to successfully complete four writing-intensive courses (12 credits) and two math-intensive courses (6 credits) in order to receive a bachelor’s degree within the State University System (SUS).

General Education (Academic Catalog – General Education Section)

Communication (2 courses, 6 credits)

This requirement consists of a minimum of six (6) semester credits of approved course work in Communication. The state mandates that students take ENC 1101: English Composition I (3 credits).  USF Sarasota-Manatee students also take ENC 1102: English Composition II (3 credits).  Students may elect to take Public Speaking (SPC 2608) as a general education elective course within the Communication discipline.

All USF Sarasota-Manatee Communications courses assess the following student learning outcomes:

  1. Communication: Students will communicate effectively by means of written and/or oral modalities.
    • USF Sarasota-Manatee Core “Communication” Learning Outcome
    • Florida DOE Statewide General Education Communications Learning Outcome #1
  2. Students will demonstrate the skills necessary to be proficient critical thinkers.
    • USF Sarasota-Manatee Core “Critical Thinking” Learning Outcome
    • Florida DOE Statewide General Education Communications Learning Outcome #2

Mathematics (2 courses, 6 credits)

This requirement consists of a minimum of six (6) semester credits of approved course work in mathematics. At least three credits must come from the State-mandated General Education list of mathematics courses 3 credits:  MAC 1105 College Algebra, MGF 1106 Finite Mathematics, STA 2023 Introductory Statistics I.  Additional courses offered for this requirement include MAC 1147 Precalculus Algebra & Trigonometry (4 credits), MAC 2233 Business Calculus (3 credits), and MAC 2241 Life Sciences Calculus I (3 credits).

All USF Sarasota-Manatee Mathematics courses assess the following student learning outcomes:

  1. Students will demonstrate the skills necessary to be proficient critical thinkers.
    • USF Sarasota-Manatee Core “Critical Thinking” Learning Outcome
  2. Students will determine appropriate mathematical and computational models and methods in problem solving, and demonstrate an understanding of mathematical concepts.
    • Florida Statewide General Education Mathematics Learning Outcome #1
  3. Students will apply appropriate mathematical and computational models and methods in problem solving.
    • Florida Statewide General Education Mathematics Learning Outcome #2

Natural Sciences (2 courses, 6 credits)

Courses in the natural sciences deal with the content, theories, history, presuppositions, and methods involved in study of natural phenomena.  They include demonstrations and address problems, ambiguities, and different perspectives in the natural sciences. They also provide students with an appreciation of how their discipline fits within the natural sciences and relates to their own lives as well as the broader human experience.

This requirement consists of a minimum of six (6) semester credits of approved course work in the natural sciences. At least three credits must come from the State-mandated General Education Natural Sciences Course list (See Academic Catalog – Natural Sciences). Students consult with their advisor about the best course options for their degree and career aspirations.

Students awarded college credit in an approved natural science course through dual enrollment, advanced placement, or international baccalaureate satisfy this requirement to the extent of the college credit awarded.  However, science majors and science minors are not exempt from lower-level requirements of their programs through testing.

All USF Sarasota-Manatee Natural Science courses assess the following student learning outcomes:

  1. Students will apply ethical perspectives and concepts to situations and justify the implications of their applications.
    • USF Sarasota-Manatee Core “Ethics” Learning Outcome
  2. Students will demonstrate the ability to critically examine and evaluate scientific observation, hypothesis, or model construction, and the use of scientific method to explain the natural world.
    • Florida DOE Statewide General Education Natural Sciences Learning Outcome #1
  3. Students will successfully recognize and comprehend fundamental concepts, principles, and processes about the natural world.
    • Florida DOE Statewide General Education Natural Sciences Learning Outcome #2

Social Sciences (2 courses, 6 credits)

Courses in the social sciences deal theoretically and empirically with individuals and their relationships to each other and to society. Courses introduce the content, theories, history, presuppositions, and methods of the discipline. They also address problems, ambiguities, and different perspectives in the discipline. These courses provide students with an appreciation of how the discipline fits within the social sciences and relates to their own lives and the broader human experience.

This requirement consists of a minimum of six (6) semester credits of approved course work in the social sciences.  At least three credits must come from the State-mandated General Education Social Sciences Course list (See Academic Catalog – Social Sciences). Students consult with their academic advisors about the best course options for their degree and career aspirations.

Students awarded college credit in an approved social science course through dual enrollment, advanced placement, or international baccalaureate shall be considered to have satisfied this requirement to the extent of the college credit awarded.

All USF Sarasota-Manatee Social Science courses assess the following student learning outcomes:

  1. Students will demonstrate and integrate an understanding of the complexity of elements important to various cultures, groups, beliefs, and/or practices.
    • USF Sarasota-Manatee Core “Diversity” Learning Outcome
  2. Students will demonstrate the ability to examine behavioral, social, and/or cultural issues from a variety of points of view.
    • Florida DOE Statewide General Education Social Sciences Learning Outcome #1
  3. Students will demonstrate an understanding of basic social and/or behavioral science concepts and principles used in the analysis of behavioral, social, and/or cultural issues – past and/or present, local and/or global.
    • Florida DOE Statewide General Education Social Sciences Learning Outcome #2

Humanities (2 courses, 6 credits)

Courses in the humanities deal theoretically and experimentally with the aesthetic dimensions of culture, contemporary and historical.  Approaching the interaction between artist and public through analysis, critique, and speculation, humanities courses explore the problems, ambiguities, and different perspectives in human creative response to lived experience.

This requirement consists of a minimum of six (6) semester credits of approved course work in the humanities.  At least three credits must come from the State-mandated General Education Humanities Course list (See Academic Catalog – Humanities). Students consult with their advisors about the best course options for their degree and career aspirations.

Students awarded college credit in an approved humanities course through dual enrollment, advanced placement, or international baccalaureate satisfy this requirement to the extent of the college credit awarded.

All USF Sarasota-Manatee Humanities courses assess the following student learning outcomes:

  1. Students will communicate effectively by means of written and/or oral modalities.
    • USF Sarasota-Manatee Core “Communication” Outcome
  2. Through demonstrating interpretive ability and cultural literacy, the student will confirm the ability to think critically.
    • Florida DOE Statewide General Education Humanities Learning Outcome#1
  3. The student will acquire competence in reflecting critically upon the human condition.
    • Florida DOE Statewide General Education Humanities Learning Outcome#2

Electives (2 courses, 6 credits)

To complete the required 12 courses (36 credits) in General Education coursework students select two additional courses (6 credits) from within the approved list of courses in any of the five categories: communications, mathematics, natural sciences, social sciences, or humanities. Additional course options can satisfy the elective. Students are asked to consult with their academic advisory to select courses that may be helpful to their major.

The Core Curriculum is based on a coherent rationale.  As explained and documented above, the General Education Curriculum complies with Florida Statute 1007.25(3) and Florida Statute 1007.23 (8), which assure articulation through all of Florida’s public universities and colleges. The faculty developed the Foundations requirement (2 lower-level courses) and the Pillars requirements (3 upper-level courses) to address learning considered essential by all faculty and reflective of USF Sarasota-Manatee’s mission and values: effective communication, critical thinking, leadership, ethics, diversity, and community engagement. Oversight of all elements of the USF Sarasota-Manatee Core Curriculum (curriculum and assessment) is the responsibility of a constitutionally charged faculty committee of the Faculty Senate.

Foundations of Success (Academic Catalog – Foundations Section)

The two Foundations of Success courses are SLS 1107: Foundations of University Success (1 credit) and SLS 2122: Foundations of Professional Success (2 credits). They emphasize all six Pillars of Intellectual Engagement through discussion and reflective writing as they develop the skills needed for academic and professional success.  Each Foundations of Success course includes projects that develop and assess the following outcomes:

  1. Community Engagement: Students will provide evidence of community engagement and discuss their civic identity.
  2. Leadership: Students will exemplify effective and authentic leadership through planning, achieving goals, collaboration, and influential communication.

Upper-level Pillars (Academic Catalog – Pillars Section)

At USF Sarasota-Manatee, students continue to take courses that develop the Pillars of Intellectual Engagement at the upper-level.

Students may not take a Pillars course until they are classified as juniors, having earned at least 60 credits.  As juniors and seniors, students have been previously introduced to the pillars values and competencies and are able to reflect upon them at a more sophisticated level.

In the Colleges of Arts and Sciences, Business, and Hospitality and Technology Leadership, the six Pillars of Intellectual Engagement are developed at the advanced level in three courses. These courses couple two pillar values and competencies as approached through a disciplinary field of inquiry:

Communication and Critical Thinking This Pillar is addressed in each student’s degree capstone course.
Leadership and Ethics Depending on a student’s degree program offerings, this Pillar course may be taken within the major or outside of it.
Community Engagement and Diversity Depending on a student’s degree program offerings, this Pillar course may be taken within the major or outside of it.

In the College of Education, the Pillars are developed and assessed throughout the curriculum, so students do not take specific Pillar courses in addition to their major course of study.

Pillars courses are all numbered 3000-4999 and can count toward the required minimum of 48 upper-level credits for a bachelor’s degree.  Students are required to meet their upper-level pillar course requirements with USF Sarasota-Manatee courses, therefore no transfer credit can be used to satisfy the Pillars requirements.  All students must achieve a grade of “C-” or better in each of the upper-level Pillar courses.

Communication and Critical Thinking Pillar Courses (1 course, 3 credits)

The capstone course in a student’s major counts for this requirement. The degree capstones all require advanced competency in communication and critical thinking as students apply and synthesize the learning outcomes that shape their degree.  In Communication and Critical Thinking courses, a significant portion of the student’s grade is based on assignments that allow students to demonstrate mastery of the following Core Outcomes:

  1. Communication: Students will communicate effectively by means of written and/or oral modalities.
  2. Critical Thinking: Students will demonstrate the skills necessary to be proficient critical thinkers.

Leadership and Ethics Pillar Courses (1 course, 3 credits)

Students will take one upper-level Pillars course designed to develop and evaluate advanced application of principles and methods of leadership and ethics through interdisciplinary examination of a topic.

In Leadership and Ethics Pillar courses, a significant portion of the student’s grade is based on assignments that allow students to demonstrate mastery of the following Core Outcomes:

  1. Leadership: Students will exemplify effective and authentic leadership through planning, achieving goals, collaboration, and influential communication.
  2. Ethics: Students will apply ethical perspectives and concepts to situations and justify the implications of their applications.

Community Engagement and Diversity Pillar Courses (1 course, 3 credits)

Students will take one upper-level Pillars course designed to develop and evaluate advanced application of principles and methods of community engagement and diversity through interdisciplinary examination of a topic.  This course will be experiential as student engage in course-relevant local and/or global community involvement.

In Community Engagement and Diversity Pillar courses, a significant portion of the student’s grade is based on assignments that allow students to demonstrate mastery of the following Core Outcomes:

  1. Community Engagement: Students will provide evidence of community engagement and discuss their civic identity.
  2. Diversity: Students will demonstrate and integrate an understanding of the complexity of elements important to various cultures, groups, beliefs, and/or practices.

Gordon Rule (Academic Catalog – Gordon Rule)

Florida’s Gordon Rule requires students to successfully complete four writing-intensive courses (12 credits) and two math-intensive courses (6 credits) prior to receipt of an associate in arts degree or entry into the upper division of a Florida public university or college.

Gordon Rule Communication courses develop and assess competency in college-level writing skills through multiple assignments. At a minimum, USF Sarasota-Manatee requires students in Gordon Rule communication courses to write 4,500 words that receive instructional feedback that relates to writing effectiveness. At least one assignment must include submission of a revision in response to previous feedback. In such cases both the original draft and the revised draft can count toward the 4500 word minimum. The Gordon Rule Communications requirement is met by the following courses:

  • Two courses (6 credits) of English Composition, taken as part of General Education
  • Two courses (6 credits) of additional coursework that require college-level writing skills through multiple assignments. At USF Sarasota-Manatee General Education Humanities courses fulfill this part of the writing requirements.

Gordon Rule Computation courses develop and assess competency in college-level mathematics skills. The Computation requirement is met by the following courses:

  • Two courses (6 credits) of approved General Education mathematics coursework.

Policies regarding the Gordon Rule include the following:

  • Gordon Rule credit requires earning a course grade of at least C-.
  • Students must maintain a grade point average of at least 2.0 in courses meeting the Gordon Rule requirement.
  • Students with certain types of disabilities may request test accommodations in Gordon Rule courses.
  • The Gordon Rule communication and computation requirements are considered met for any student entering USF Saraosta-Manatee with an A.A. from a Florida public institution.
  • The Gordon Rule communication requirement is considered met for any student entering USF Sarasota-Manatee with 60 or more semester hours.
  • Students shall receive Gordon Rule credit for specific courses upon entering USF Sarasota-Manatee in the following situations:
    • Students awarded college credit in English composition or mathematics at the level of College Algebra or higher, based on having taken a dual enrollment course, Advanced Placement, or International Baccalaureate.
    • Students who transfer in with Gordon Rule credit, awarded at another public Florida institution.

The Gordon Rule requirement should be fulfilled at the lower level; however, faculty have approved some Pillars courses to meet this requirement for transfer students who have already taken a version of the qualifying lower-level courses and thus need another option to meet the Gordon Rule requirement. 

Upper-Level Pillars Courses Approved for Gordon Rule Credit

General Education Outcomes and Assessment

USF Sarasota-Manatee Core Curriculum provides all of its students with the broad knowledge base and skills necessary to solve modern interdisciplinary problems in the vast array of careers open to college graduates.  All undergraduate degree programs at USF Sarasota-Manatee develop in students the abilities to communicate well and think critically. Further, all students enter their major having completed an approved general education curriculum that assures competency in basic academic skills (reading, writing, critical thinking, and mathematics), as well as broad conversance in the liberal arts (humanities, natural sciences, and social sciences).

The General Education Learning Outcomes include the following:

Basic Academic Skill Sets

  1. Reading: Read critically, with appreciation of structure and nuance in works of fiction and nonfiction.
  2. Writing: Write correct, clear, and cogent academic prose.
  3. Critical Thinking: Analyze the argument of others and develop effective argument.
  4. Mathematics: Perform college-level competency in mathematics.

Breadth of Knowledge Fields

  1. Humanities: Demonstrate conversance in the essential facts, theories, and principles of the Humanities, which includes history and the fine arts.
  2. Social Sciences: Demonstrate conversance in the essential facts, theories, and principles of the Social Sciences.
  3. Natural Sciences: Demonstrate conversance in the essential facts, theories, and principles of the Natural Sciences.

The Faculty Senate’s Core Curriculum Committee assesses these outcomes annually through USF Sarasota-Manatee’s Annual Assessment Cycle for Academic Programs: General Education Assessment Plan.

Pillars of Intellectual Engagement Outcomes and Assessment

All undergraduate degree programs at USF Sarasota-Manatee develop in students the following Pillars of Intellectual Engagement (Pillars): communication, critical thinking, leadership, ethics, diversity, and community engagement. The Pillars competencies arise from the mission of USF Sarasota-Manatee to provide “high quality bachelor’s and graduate‐level education and scholarly activity in a personalized learning community that prepares successful leaders and responsible citizens.” The Pillars also reflect the characteristics most sought by employers.  At the upper level, students take at least three courses specifically focused on development of Pillars competencies. This emphasis is demonstrated by the student learning outcomes used to measure the effectiveness of the Core Curriculum:

  1. Communication: Students will communicate effectively by means of written and/or oral modalities.
  2. Critical Thinking: Students will demonstrate the skills necessary to be proficient critical thinkers.
  3. Leadership: Students will exemplify effective and authentic leadership through planning, achieving goals, collaboration, and influential communication.
  4. Ethics: Students will apply ethical perspectives and concepts to situations and justify the implications of their applications.
  5. Community Engagement: Students will provide evidence of community engagement and reflect on their civic identity.
  6. Diversity: Students will demonstrate and integrate an understanding of the complexity of elements important to various cultures, groups, beliefs, and/or practices.

The Core Curriculum Committee assesses these outcomes annually through USF Sarasota-Manatee’s Annual Assessment Cycle for Academic Programs: Core Curriculum Pillars of Intellectual Engagement Assessment Plan.

Historical Development of General Education at USF Sarasota-Manatee

It is important to point out that USF Sarasota-Manatee was an upper-division and master’s degree institution until Fall Semester 2013. Until then, most entering students had already completed their general education requirements. Therefore, USF Sarasota-Manatee used Florida’s General Education Curriculum as its own. With the admission of freshmen for the first time in fall 2013, USF Sarasota-Manatee’s faculty implemented the Core Curriculum, an expansion of the state’s General Education Curriculum. The Core Curriculum went through the typical curriculum development process at USF Sarasota-Manatee, starting with establishment of a General Education Committee under the guidance of the Faculty Coordinator for General Education in Fall Semester 2012.

It is also important to note that, through House Bill No. 7135, the Florida Legislature during its 2012 session revised the state-wide general education requirements, mandating that the state board rules undergo revisions to the credit hour requirements in education courses, effective Fall Semester 2014 (Statewide Articulation Manual, September 2014). To address these legislative changes, the Regional Vice Chancellor for Academic & Student Affairs and the Dean of the College of Arts & Sciences charged the General Education Task Force to review and revise the University’s general education requirements. During the 2012-13 academic year, the General Education Task Force became the General Education Committee, a standing committee of USF Sarasota-Manatee’s Faculty Senate. Then the Core Curriculum Committee replaced the General Education Committee following approval of the Core Curriculum itself. The Core Curriculum Faculty Coordinator chairs the Core Curriculum Committee, which is comprised of eight (8) faculty, two (2) representing each of the four (4) colleges.

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