Frequently Asked Questions
- Why is the core curriculum being changed?
The Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board (THECB) approved significant changes in the state-mandated core curriculum in October 2011. Those changes eliminated the exemplary educational objectives that were part of the original statewide core curriculum implemented in 1999 and substituted Core Curriculum Objectives. It also eliminated the university option to add up to 6 hours of courses to the 42-hour state-mandated core (new limit is 42 hours) and now will approve our core curriculum, including any changes we may propose locally.
- When does the new core curriculum become effective?
The THECB requires that all affected institutions of higher education (all Texas public institutions of higher education) submit their core curriculum no later than November 30, 2013. The new requirements are effective as of fall semester 2014.
- My program currently has a course that is in the TTU core curriculum. Does this course
have to be approved for the new TTU core curriculum?
Yes, all courses included in the new core curriculum must go through the approval process. This ensures that all courses in the new core curriculum are suitable for the core and that they meet the THECB objectives and the TTU student learning outcomes for the relevant component area.
- How do I submit a course for the core curriculum and what are the deadlines?
An online course application form has been developed by the Office of Institutional Research: Launch the Core Curriculum Course Application.
Because this is an online application, all the applicant needs to do is enter and/or download the required information onto the form and click “Submit.” Instructions for completing the application are available on the Core Course Requirements page. Details about the application timeline can be found on the Core Course Approval Process page.
The College of Arts and Sciences has a separate timeline for submissions to ASCAP that is available from Associate Dean David Roach.
- Is a course syllabus required with the core course application?
There are two phases of approval for core curriculum courses. Syllabi are not required for phase 1, but are required for phase 2. In phase 1 course applications will go to a special subcommittee of the Core Curriculum Committee in May 2012. The special committee will review applications and inform submitting departments of any corrections, amendments or other changes that are required for the pending course to be moved to phase 2, which begins in September 2012, when courses approved by the special committee are sent to the appropriate Component Area Committee. Course syllabi are required for phase 2 review. As with phase 1, any issues with a course application will be communicated to the submitting department, along with information on changes that are required for approval. Visit the Core Curriculum Course Approval Process page for additional information.
- How will multicultural courses be handled?
The multicultural requirement is not part of the core curriculum; it is a TTU graduation requirement. Therefore, it is not subject to the Coordinating Board core curriculum objectives or its deadlines. The TTU mission statement refers specifically to “preparing learners to be ethical leaders for a diverse and globally competitive workforce.” Because the multicultural requirement directly addresses diversity within the United States and globally, it is an important component in achievement of the TTU mission. The multicultural student learning outcomes are being revised, and details on those as well as a timetable for submitting courses for approval will be forthcoming before the end of the semester.
- What will happen to the technology and applied science core curriculum requirement?The technology and applied science core curriculum requirement is eliminated effective with the fall 2012 semester entering class. Students who will graduate from Texas Tech University under older catalogs will still have to complete this requirement, but new students do not.
- What courses are suitable for the core curriculum?
The first step is to determine if the course can meet the required THECB Core Curriculum Objectives and TTU student learning outcomes without compromising program-level outcomes. If the above criterion is met, the course characteristics listed below should be considered.
- Introductory survey courses are preferable to courses that focus on a narrow sub-discipline or area of inquiry.
- Core courses generally should be accessible to students who have limited familiarity with the area of study, so courses with prerequisites should be avoided unless the prerequisite is the first course in a two-course sequence.
- Specialized courses that appeal largely or exclusively to program majors normally will be considered unsuitable for the core curriculum.
- Do we have to include all THECB core curriculum objectives and TTU student learning
outcomes in every course in the core curriculum?
Yes. The THECB requires that all objectives specified for each area of the core curriculum be covered in each course in the area in question. For a listing of the objectives required in a core curriculum area, please visit the Component Area Criteria page. We are also requiring that all TTU student learning outcomes and the college-level outcome be included. In some cases there may be duplication among the THECB objectives and the TTU outcomes.
- How will courses in the university options (oral communication and mathematics and
logic) be handled?
The university options are now called Component Area Options. They have the same objectives as the primary component areas to which they belong (Communication for oral communication and Mathematics for mathematics and logic). Courses intended to satisfy a component area option requirement should be submitted under either Communication or Mathematics, as appropriate.
- The course application form asks for an estimate of the number of sections to be offered
each year and the anticipated student enrollment in the proposed course. Does this
mean that large-enrollment courses will be favored over small-enrollment ones?
The section and enrollment data will not be used as factors in determining the suitability of any course for the core curriculum. However, there will be an effort to reduce the number of courses in some areas of the core, and departments that propose several small-enrollment courses may be encouraged to consider focusing on fewer classes.
- Our program has several 3000 courses in the current core curriculum. Will these courses
be accepted in the new core curriculum?
The core curriculum is intended to provide students with a general overview of or introduction to specified areas of knowledge (Component Areas). Freshman- or sophomore-level courses are usually best suited to provide this content. Enrollment data shows that relatively few students needing core curriculum credit enroll in upper-level courses. Therefore, courses above the sophomore level are strongly discouraged. Rare exceptions will be considered based on the justifications provided by the unit in which the course is housed; however, the more acceptable approach is to revise the course to lower the content level and convert the number to 1000 or 2000.
- We are planning to offer a course in the life and physical sciences category. How
should we handle laboratory sections?
The THECB limits the life and physical sciences to 6 SCH. TTU will create a graduation requirement that requires 8 SCH of science, including 2 SCH of laboratory. Therefore, we are suggesting that life and physical sciences courses separate the lecture and laboratory segments of their courses. (i.e., BIOL 1301/1302 and BIOL 1101/1102, with the latter being the laboratory sections.). Only the lecture sections will be included in the core curriculum. This is because 4 SCH courses will exceed the Coordinating Board SCH for the Life and Physical Sciences Component Area.
- What kinds of assessment strategies should we include in our course applications?
There are many different ways to determine how well students have attained learning objectives/outcomes:
- Questions related to specific outcomes may be embedded in examinations or course assignments
- Non-credit or extra-credit assessment questions can be appended to midterm or final examinations
- Before and after instruments may be developed that assess student knowledge or skills related to core objectives/outcomes at the beginning of the class and at the end to evaluate the contribution of the course to student learning during the semester
- Students may be asked to write short essays in class or do in-class or homework exercises that address course objectives/outcomes
- Role-playing, service-learning or other types of experiential learning may be assigned and assessed to determine the extent to which students have attained the core objectives/outcomes.
- Course grades generally are not accepted as good assessments of student mastery of course material.
Additional information on assessment strategies may be found in a manual developed several years ago by the TLTC: Writing and Assessing Course-Level Student Learning Outcomes Handbook.
- How should we record and post assessment results?
The most effective way to post results is to list each objective or outcome and indicate the assessment technique(s) used for each one. Then list the benchmark (i.e., the lowest percentage of student attainment that is considered acceptable for the objective or outcome) and the actual percentage of students who performed at or above the benchmark. It is permissible to have more categories such as "excellent," "good," "acceptable," or "unacceptable/below benchmark score" if this is useful for your course, program or department. Results should be identified by the appropriate Component Area and reported on TracDat (accessed on the Office of Planning and Assessment website). If you have problems uploading to TracDat, please contact OPA for help.