The "New" Texas Tech University Core Curriculum Project
On October 27, 2011, the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board approved major revisions to the rules that apply to the core curriculum for Texas public institutions of higher education.
These changes include deletion of the exemplary educational objectives that laid out what students were supposed to learn from the core curriculum and placed a 42-student-credit-hour limit on the core. Six Component Area Objectives were established to replace the exemplary educational objectives, and several component areas were renamed (see the new core curriculum's Component Area Criteria). These new rules require substantial changes in the existing Texas Tech University core curriculum by November 30, 2013, when it must be submitted to the Coordinating Board for review. The new core will be implemented in fall 2014. However, we will also be required to retain the former core for several years with sufficient courses to accommodate students who have entered the university prior to fall 2014.
Because of the magnitude of the changes required to comply with the new rules, and in view of the deficiencies apparent in the existing core curriculum, the Core Curriculum Steering Committee has decided to require a new core curriculum course proposal for ALL courses that will be included in the new core curriculum, regardless of their current core curriculum status. Preliminary requests for core curriculum status for courses will be accepted between February 15, 2012, and May 4, 2012, with final proposals due no later than September 7, 2012.
An Opportunity to Improve the Texas Tech University Core Curriculum
The Core Curriculum Committee sees creation of a new core curriculum as an opportunity to make the Texas Tech University core curriculum a more effective tool for preparing students to enter the job market, participate thoughtfully in public discourse, engage with a diverse and global society, and meet the personal and social challenges of the future. The new Coordinating Board Component Area (core curriculum) Outcomes are based on the Liberal Education and America's Promise (LEAP) initiative of the Association of American Colleges and Universities (AAC&U). Specifically, the new core objectives aim to provide students with the following:
Knowledge of Human Cultures and the Natural and Physical World
- grounded in study of the sciences and mathematics, social sciences, humanities, histories, languages, and the arts
- focused through engagement with big questions, both contemporary and enduring
- Intellectual and Practical Skills
Inquiry, Critical and Creative Thinking
- written and oral communication
- quantitative literacy
- information literacy
- teamwork and problem solving
Individual and Social Responsibilities
- civic knowledge and engagement—local and global
- intercultural knowledge and competence
- ethical reasoning and action
Foundations and Skills for Lifelong Learning
- integrative learning
- synthesis and advanced accomplishment across general and specialized studies
- demonstrated capacity to adapt knowledge, skills, and responsibilities to new settings and questions
(Extracted from Debra Humphreys, Making the Case for Liberal Education: Responding to Challenges. Association of American Colleges and Universities, 2006)
A set of rubrics has been developed by AAC&U to facilitate implementation of the LEAP objectives. Because the new component area objectives developed by the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board parallel to a large extent those rubrics, they may be useful in developing strategies to implement and assess student learning in the new core. The VALUE rubrics (Valid Assessment of Learning in Undergraduate Education) may be accessed and downloaded at www.aacu.org/value/index.cfm.
Core curriculum preliminary course requests may be submitted by academic departments/colleges between February 15, 2012, and May 4, 2012. To submit or review a course proposal, Launch the Core Curriculum Course Application.
Each course proposal must include:
- a cover sheet
- a list of the learning objectives that will be included in the course
- an explanation of how they will be addressed
- a description of strategies proposed for assessing the level at which students have achieved them.
Questions may be addressed to Dr. Gary S. Elbow, Associate Vice Provost for Academic Affairs, Office of the Provost, Texas Tech University (firstname.lastname@example.org). Proposals should be submitted online through the above application site.
Preliminary proposals will be reviewed during summer 2012 by a special subcommittee of the Core Curriculum Committee. Academic units that have submitted course proposals will be informed during the summer if there are questions about a course proposal and asked to submit revisions. In cases where a course is judged to be inappropriate for the core curriculum, the proposal may be rejected and the submitting unit will be provided with an explanation of why the course is not suited for inclusion in the core curriculum.
Final proposals, including required revisions and a complete syllabus, are due on September 7, 2012. These proposals will be reviewed by the relevant Component Area Committee. Questions related to a core course proposal will be referred to the academic unit that submitted the proposal along with suggestions for proposal revision no later than December 3, 2012. Revisions must be submitted no later than March 18, 2013.
Submittal to the Coordinating Board
A final list of approved courses will be sent to the Core Curriculum Steering Committee on May 3, 2013. The Steering Committee will review the lists of courses and make a recommendation to the Academic Council no later than September 2, 2013. The Academic Council will review the lists and submit a recommendation to Provost Bob Smith no later than October 15, 2013. The approved list will be submitted to the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board no later than the November 30, 2013 deadline. The Coordinating Board will review the core curriculum and may require changes in the list of courses submitted by the university. A firm timeline has not yet been published, but the university should be notified of any required changes in time for the new core curriculum to be included in the 2014-2015 University Catalog.
The Coordinating Board is preparing guidelines for the core curriculum, and these should be posted on their website in the near future. In the meantime, the Coordinating Board's FAQ page may be helpful.