In Spring 2005, after at least two years of debate, the Academic Senate’s Educational Policies Board resolved to review the College’s Core Curriculum.
That year, a formal proposal was submitted to the Senate that initiated the formation of a Core Curriculum Task Force, a group that included faculty, students, and administrators. The Task Force was given a three-year charge to undertake “a thorough review of the general education aspects of the curriculum and to do so in the context of maintaining SMC values while taking into account ‘best practices’ across the nation.” This work began in Spring 2006 with the expectation that recommendations would be made annually to the Senate and that the Senate would ultimately guide the process.
The Task Force’s first step was to determine the campus’ values and vision and to develop student learning outcomes based on these values; the Core was to be outcome based. As a means of asking the campus community how the Core reflects our Catholic, Lasallian, and liberal arts missions, the Task Force held open forums and general meetings with departments and programs for the next three years. In Spring 2009, after soliciting input from all campus constituencies and reviewing multiple curricular models, the Senate approved the current, learning goal-based Core Curriculum.
In Spring 2009, the Senate created the Core Curriculum Implementation Committee, giving it a three-year charge to work with the Senate’s Undergraduate Educational Policies Committee to “determine what is the best structure for a permanent core curriculum committee once a new model has been developed and implemented.” Its responsibilities included: establishing benchmarks for each of the learning goals; facilitating the development of new courses or the modification of existing courses to meet the learning goals, and determining what other, if any, means will be appropriate for satisfying learning goals; facilitating implementation of assessment plans for each learning goal; and planning a review/assessment schedule for the Core Curriculum. This Implementation Committee disbanded Spring 2012 having made progress on these tasks. Its establishment of permanent faculty working groups for each of the three learning areas and of a course designation process for existing and new Core courses prepared the groundwork for assessment of student learning.
Since 2005 then, we’ve accomplished a review and revision of our Core Curriculum, having collectively defined our core proficiencies and developed student learning outcomes for each of these proficiencies. This was a major, multiyear undertaking conducted in a manner consistent with shared governance and community involvement. Our next step is to systematically collect, analyze, and use student learning evidence in relation to each of the Core’s learning goals, a task that will be acted upon for the next several years.