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2. Core requirements

Core Requirement:

2.7.3 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 occupation or profession. If an institution uses a unit other than semester credit hours, it provides an explanation for the 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. (General Education)

Statement of Compliance:   In Compliance.

Narrative:

Undergraduate general education in Georgia must conform to Board of Regents Policy 3.3.1 on the Core Curriculum.  The rationale for the core curriculum and for its structure is stated thus: 

“The USG core curriculum was developed with the goals of assuring institutional accountability for learning, incorporating learning requirements in global perspectives and critical thinking, allowing institutions some flexibility in tailoring courses to their institutional mission, while ensuring that core curriculum courses completed at one USG institution are fully transferable to another USG institution” [1].

Of the 120 total credit hours (minimum) that Georgia undergraduate programs must require, at least 60 credit hours must be taken in the core.  These 60 credit hours are distributed across 42 credit hours in general education and 18 additional credit hours in lower division “courses applicable to the major.”  The University of West Georgia core curriculum exceeds the minimum SACS criterion for number of hours, and demonstrates the “substantial component” requirement of SACS policy since the Board of Regents criteria for all baccalaureate programs constitute 50% of the total 120 credit hour requirements.

The core curriculum in Georgia is organized to require students to successfully complete coursework in each of five general education areas (Areas A-E) and in a sixth area associated with lower division requirements specific to particular majors (Area F).  These six areas are inclusive of and, also, exceed the minimum standards for the three areas defined in Core Requirement 2.7.3 and Federal Requirement 4.2.  The six areas (A-F) and the minimum hours (49) required by Board of Regents policy in each area are presented in the table below.  Detailed explanation of the Board of Regents intent for each Area and its rationale are provided in Section 2.4 of the Board of Regents Academic and Student Handbook [2].

Area

Name

Hours

Area A1

Communication Skills

At least 6 hours

Area A2

Quantitative Skills

At least 3 hours

Area B

Institutional Options

At least 3 hours

Area C

Humanities, Fine Arts, and Ethics

At least 6 hours

Area D

Natural Sciences, Mathematics, and Technology

* At least 4 of these must be in a lab science course

At least 7 hours*

Area E

Social Sciences

At least 6 hours

Area F

Lower Division Major Requirements

18 hours

 

At the University of West Georgia the core curriculum "ensures breadth of knowledge" by requiring students in every undergraduate program to take courses from every discipline specified in the SACS mandate.  The importance of this crucial portion of each undergraduate degree is conveyed in the Undergraduate Catalog:

"The Core Curriculum of the University System of Georgia was established for the purpose of facilitating the educational progress of students as they pursue baccalaureate degrees within and among the units of the University System.

The Core Curriculum of the University System of Georgia establishes the philosophy that ‘General Education’ is the foundation of all degree programs, and, as such, the Core is composed of courses providing a foundation of knowledge and intellectual skills reflecting the University's judgment of what is essential to being an educated person”  [3], [4]

As defined and stipulated by the University of West Georgia, the core curriculum requires at least one and frequently multiple courses in each of the six. The University of West Georgia core curriculum policy satisfies stipulations (1-3) in Core Requirements 2.7.3 (UWG Core Curriculum: see link below). Core Areas A1 and A2 (Essential Skills),  require  students to take six credit hours of English composition and a three-credit hour math course.  To fulfill the requirements for Core Area B (Institutional Priorities), students must take five credit hours of communication and critical thinking courses (which may include courses on public speaking, foreign languages, theater, music, or computer science, among other subjects).  Core Area C (Humanities and Fine Arts) requires students to take a three credit  hour fine arts class (e.g., art, music, or theater) and a three credit hour humanities course (which may be a course in English, foreign languages and literatures, or philosophy).  Core Area D (Mathematics, Science, and Quantitative Technology) requires students to complete ten credit hours of courses in science and mathematics, including at least one course with a laboratory component.  Core Area E (Social Sciences) requires students to complete twelve credit hours in the social sciences, including a world history survey course, an American history survey course, a political science course on American government, and one additional course in the social sciences (which might be a course in anthropology, economics, geography, world religions, political science, psychology, or sociology).  The University of West Georgia’s core program designates an additional eighteen credit hours for “courses applicable to the major,” an area known as Core Area F.  These courses vary by program, but generally reflect additional general education prerequisites that are deemed important in preparation for a particular major by that program’s faculty.  As an example of what Core Area F may entail, the history department’s Core Area F for the Bachelor of Arts  in History degree requires two second-year foreign language courses, two 1000 and 2000-level history survey courses, a 2000-level course in historical methodology, and additional coursework in the social sciences [5].         

It is important to note that the entirety of the core curriculum can be completed online through the State’s eCore program [6].  This program is housed at the University of West Georgia and provides the opportunity for any student registered in a participating eCore institution to enroll and complete online all courses necessary to meet the general education requirements (Areas A-F) of the core curriculum. The eCore courses maintain the same rigor and expectations for contact hours and participation as do University of West Georgia courses delivered in the brick-and-mortar classroom, i.e. face-to-face.  Like all University of West Georgia courses and programs, eCore courses are in compliance with SACS “Distance and Correspondence Education” policy  [6], [7], [8].

Student learning in core courses is assessed against the student learning objectives which have been established for each area (A-F).  Beginning in the 2011-2012 academic year, all areas of the core initiated assessment of students using learning outcomes approved by the UWG Faculty Senate and the USG System Council on General Education.  Core course assessments are uploaded into the SACS Assessment System by the course directors. 

The Institution employs a number of measures both to inform students and faculty of the requirements of the core curriculum, and to ensure that each student successfully and fully completes these requirements.  Core curriculum requirements and options are published in the Undergraduate Catalog [4] and in the “Scoop” an online publication of the Registrar’s Office [9].

Each undergraduate student has an assigned academic advisor who is fully knowledgeable concerning the requirements of the core curriculum, and who both informs students of these requirements and guides them toward their completion. An important tool for insuring students’ progress in completing all program requirements, including those of the core curriculum, is “Wolf Watch”  [10].  Launched by the Registrar’s office this web-based program allows students and advisors to monitor the student’s progression toward degree completion in real-time.  “Wolf Watch” tracks degree progress, facilitates preparation for registration, and promotes planning for graduation. This degree audit system combines UWG’s degree requirements and students' completed coursework in a user friendly worksheet.  In addition, it maintains a record of advisement notes and schedules.  

The requirements of the core curriculum are applied to transfer students according to the University System of Georgia's policies and procedures for transfer of credit [11], [12].The Registrar's office handles transfer assessments from University System of Georgia (USG) institutions. Transfers from non-USG institutions are made by the Registrar's office in consultation with the relevant in consultation with academic departments. Ultimately, the Board of Regents authorizes the Office of the Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs to make decisions about exceptions on a case-by-case basis when questions arise about course substitutions in the core curriculum [13], [14] (see #11). The “E-mail from the BOR Regarding Transfer Exceptions on a case-by-case basis and examples of transfer exception cases provide additional information [15], [16]

The report for Comprehensive Standard 3.5.1 provides additional details on the general education competencies, and the report for Comprehensive Standard 3.5.3 covers all undergraduate program requirements, including the core curriculum requirements. The report for Federal Requirement 4.2 discusses UWG program curriculum and how it supports the institution’s mission.  General education is a part of this discussion.         

Supporting Documentation: