2007 Reaffirmation Teams :: 2.7.3 - 2007 Reaffirmation Teams

2007 Reaffirmation Teams

2.7.3 - 2007 Reaffirmation Teams

The institution requires in each undergraduate degree program the successful completion of a general education component at the collegiate level that is (1) 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. 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 for a degree.

Compliance Judgment



Description of General Education Program

The University of Texas at Dallas (UT Dallas) requires all undergraduate students graduating from UT Dallas to complete successfully a general education core curriculum [1] comprised of courses in eight component areas [2]. These courses represent a substantial component of each undergraduate degree: 42 semester credit hours of degrees ranging from 120 to 128 hours, or roughly 30-35% of total course work [3] [4] [5]. The core curriculum ensures breadth of knowledge in writing, math, natural science, government, history, humanities, arts, and social-behavioral science. The courses that satisfy core curriculum requirements do not narrowly focus on skills, techniques, and procedures specific to particular professions, but rather are designed to ensure that graduates are broadly educated members of society.

Texas Senate Bill 148 required the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board (THECB) to develop rules for all state-funded higher education institutions regarding general education core curriculum [6]. The resulting THECB rules require that all state-funded institutions of higher education design and implement a core curriculum of no less than 42 and no more than 48 semester credit hours, with courses distributed across eight specific component areas [7]. These rules also outline basic intellectual competencies and exemplary educational objectives which should be encompassed in institutions’ core curricula [8] to ensure that state-funded institutions of higher education in Texas offer appropriate college-level general education.

As a member institution of The University of Texas System (UT System), UT Dallas necessarily has a core curriculum that complies with these mandates. A representative committee of faculty members was appointed by the Academic Senate; this body, with input from the general faculty and administrators, developed the core curriculum. The Academic Senate and the provost approved the core curriculum. A more detailed description of the genesis of UT Dallas’ core curriculum is available in the response to Principle 3.5.1 [9]. The core curriculum is published in the Undergraduate Catalog [2], and the specific courses that fulfill the core curriculum requirement are published each semester in the online schedule of classes [10]. The eight components of UT Dallas’ core curriculum are: (a) six hours Rhetoric and Composition, (b) six hours Mathematics and Quantitative Analysis, (c) nine hours Natural Science, (d) three hours Humanities, (e) three hours Fine Arts, (f) six hours US History, (g) six hours Texas and US Government, and (h) three hours of Social/Behavioral Science.

Rationale for General Education Program

UT Dallas’ Core Curriculum Report 1999-2004 to the THECB details the goals for the core curriculum and the assessment thereof [11]. As evidenced in the annual reports of the Core Curriculum Committee (CCC) [12], the committee followed a coherent rationale when designing and implementing UT Dallas’ core curriculum [13], using the THECB’s Core Curriculum: Assumptions and Defining Characteristics [8] as a beginning point. The aims of UT Dallas’ core curriculum are to ensure that graduates: (a) communicate effectively in clear and correct prose in a style appropriate to the subject, occasion, and audience; (b) be able to apply basic mathematical tools in the solution of real-world problems; (c) understand and evaluate relationships in the natural sciences, and to understand the bases for building and testing theories; (d) appreciate the human condition and human cultures, especially in relation to behaviors, ideas, and values expressed in works of human imagination and thought, and (e) understand how social and behavioral scientists discover, describe, and explain the behaviors and interactions among individuals, groups, institutions, events, and ideas.

In designing the core curriculum, a distinction was made between “foundation” competencies and “breadth” knowledge. Foundation competencies are viewed as universal building blocks upon which more advanced knowledge and skill build. Writing, mathematics, and understanding of government were viewed as foundation competencies. All students are required to demonstrate mastery of prescribed learning objectives by completing specific foundation courses. For writing competence, all students take an accelerated rhetoric/composition course, RHET 1302, plus at least one advanced writing-intensive course. All students must master (at least) college algebra (MATH 1306/14) plus a more advanced level of calculus or inferential statistics. All students must master the fundamentals of US and Texas constitutions and political institutions (GOVT 2301 & 2302). Breadth knowledge, in contrast, requires that students gain significant exposure to fields representative of different component domains. All students are not required to take the same courses, but rather are allowed to select from a menu of faculty- and CCC-approved [14] introductory-level courses in each domain. Students gain breadth knowledge by completing representative courses in natural science (biology, chemistry, geosciences, neuroscience or physics), fine arts (art history, dance, drama, film, or music), history (varies by period and country/state), humanities (humanities, world literature, or philosophy), and social/behavioral science (economics, psychology, sociology, or criminal justice). The CCC reviews the menu of approved courses annually to ensure that they meet the core curriculum’s objectives [15] [16] [17] [18] and must formally approve the core curriculum every two years as part of the catalog process. Additionally as outlined in the discussion of Principle 3.5.1, [9], by using UT Dallas’ assessment tool, AT6, individual faculty members assess all core curriculum courses each fall and spring semester based upon the learning objectives that have been identified by the CCC and report the results of the assessment to the CCC, who in turn report the results to the Academic Senate.

In accordance with the recommendation from the Core Curriculum Evaluation Report 1999-2004 to the THECB that the CCC devote 2005-2006 to designing a comprehensive assessment program for the core curriculum [11], the CCC carefully reviewed THECB’s exemplary educational objectives [8] for clarity and compatibility with UT Dallas’ unique mission [19]. Based on this review, clear and measurable student learning objectives were created for each of the eight component areas of the core curriculum [20]. For each component, the committee specified three to four student learning objectives. These objectives serve the dual purpose of guiding course learning activities and specifying the foci of assessments needed to evaluate student success in achieving the objectives [15] [16] [17] [18] [21] [22].

Course Equivalency

THECB Rule 4.28 (sections c-f) [7] requires that core curriculum courses be completely transferable among all Texas’ state institutions, either separately or as an entire block, and that students completing the entire core curriculum at one institution shall not be required to take additional core curriculum courses at any state institution to which they transfer. State institutions in Texas are required to indicate completed core curriculum courses on transcripts by way of standard code numbers. Receiving institutions are required to accept these courses as fulfilling the respective component of their core curriculum. Courses of students transferring from non-Texas state institutions are evaluated for equivalency against a comprehensive list of Texas Common Course Number titles and catalog descriptions that has been reviewed and approved by the CCC. For courses not covered by the transfer equivalency list, unit heads in the relevant academic disciplines review catalog descriptions and course syllabi to determine equivalency. Resident UT Dallas students may only satisfy core curriculum requirements by completing courses from the standard approved menu of courses and cannot petition for other UT Dallas courses to be accepted as equivalent.

Supporting Documents

Footnote Document
[1]UT Dallas UG Catalog, Degree Requirements
PDF Document, 1 Page, 11.99 KB (catalog1026)
[2]UT Dallas UG Catalog Core Curriculum
PDF Document, 2 Pages, 17.80 KB (catalog1027)
[3]Minimum Number of Hours to Graduate by Program AY 2006-2007
PDF Document, 3 Pages, 25.56 KB (spreadsheet1006)
[4]UT Dallas EPPS Sample BA Political Science Degree Plan Showing Core Requirements
PDF Document, 2 Pages, 35.67 KB (form1051)
[5]UT Dallas NSM Sample BA BS Chemistry Degree Plan Showing Core Requirements
PDF Document, 2 Pages, 38.10 KB (publication1112)
[6]Texas Senate Bill 148 Transferable Curriculum
PDF Document, 2 Pages, 16.29 KB (law1007)
[7]THECB Rule 4.28 Core Curriculum
PDF Document, 4 Pages, 26.02 KB (rule1059)
[8]THECB Core Curriculum Assumptions and Defining Characteristics 1999
PDF Document, 7 Pages, 39.28 KB (rule1058)
[9]Principle 3.5.1 - General Ed Competencies (u337)
Link to UT Dallas 2007-ccr Compliance Certification Report
[10]UT Dallas Course Lookup Core Curriculum
PDF Document, 1 Page, 178.48 KB (list1017)
[11]Core Curriculum Evaluation Report 1999-2004 submitted to THECB
PDF Document, 22 Pages, 815.18 KB (report1055)
[12]POLICY MEMORANDUM 95-III.21-66 - Committee on the Core Curriculum Charge
PDF Document, 2 Pages, 65.22 KB (policy1060)
[13]UT Dallas CCC 1999 Annual Report
PDF Document, 17 Pages, 85.90 KB (report1083)
[14]Course Inventory Form Add/Drop to Core Curriculum
PDF Document, 1 Page, 27.51 KB (form1037)
[15]Core Curriculum Committee 2007-04-04
PDF Document, 3 Pages, 19.08 KB (minutes1035)
[16]Core Curriculum Committee 2006-11-15
PDF Document, 3 Pages, 19.29 KB (minutes1036)
[17]Core Curriculum Committee 2007-01-10
PDF Document, 1 Page, 15.10 KB (minutes1037)
[18]Core Curriculum Committee 2006-11-01
PDF Document, 3 Pages, 19.02 KB (minutes1038)
[19]UT Dallas Mission Statement
PDF Document, 2 Pages, 11.70 KB (statement1017)
[20]UT Dallas Core Curriculum Components and Objectives 2007
PDF Document, 4 Pages, 19.07 KB (rule1056)
[21]Core Curriculum Committee 2006-10-04
PDF Document, 2 Pages, 15.84 KB (minutes1045)
[22]Core Curriculum Committee 2006-09-13
PDF Document, 3 Pages, 28.64 KB (minutes1046)