UNC System General Education Council Update

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September 5, 2013 

Dear Colleagues, 

In April 2013, President Ross announced appointments to the three system-wide committees formed to assist with implementation of UNC strategic planning initiatives. The General Education Council, the Efficiencies Workgroup, and the e-Learning Workgroup are comprised of faculty, deans, and chief academic officers nominated by Faculty Assembly and Provosts from each campus.   As co- chairs of the General Education Council, we would like to share our charge, information on the activities of this council to date, and our plans for the future which include soliciting feedback from our colleagues across the UNC System. 

The General Education Council (GEC) is comprised of faculty and administration from each of the institutions in the UNC System. As a council, President Ross has charged us with undertaking a comprehensive review of existing general education architecture and recommending a limited set of student learning outcomes appropriate to all UNC institutions. The GEC is to also explore qualitative and quantitative methodologies appropriate to assessing these outcomes, and will make its first set of recommendations to President Ross by January 2014. 

In order to best accomplish our tasks, the GEC has balanced its membership across five subcommittees (Core Competencies, Engaging Experts/Quantitative Assessment, College Learning Assessment (CLA) Pilot, Qualitative Analysis, and Communications). As co-chairs, we developed charges and timelines, and appointed chairs for each of these subcommittees in the early summer.  Since mid-June each of the subcommittees has been working independently on their charges, and the Council held a follow-up meeting in Chapel Hill on July 30, 2013. 

Our first priority is to identify a short list of (five or fewer) core competencies to be shared across the general education programs of all UNC institutions. These shared learning outcomes will form only part of each institution’s general education program and be supplemented locally to address each institution’s mission.  The Core Competencies Subcommittee will be sending a message in the near future outlining the background of their work and their initial recommendations, and asking for feedback and suggestions. Although there is no slow portion of your week, please make time to share your comments, suggestions, and concerns with the GEC through an online survey that will be made available, or through communication to members of the GEC.  The Faculty Advisory Council on Strategic Directions included recommendations for core competencies in Section II of its November 2012 report to the Strategic Directions committee.  Those recommendations were discussed and endorsed by the Faculty Assembly, the Association of Student Governments, the Staff Assembly, and at least 15 of the 17 campus senates. It is vital that the GEC’s recommendations are informed by this work and are vetted by the faculty, staff, and administration who support these programs. The GEC hopes to have recommendations ready to share with the campuses and the Faculty Assembly in October or November. 

Other subcommittees are working in parallel with the Core Competencies Subcommittee.   The CLA subcommittee is working with representatives from the five campuses (ASU, FSU, ECU, WCU, and UNCP) participating in the Collegiate Learning Assessment (CLA+) pilot this year, The Qualitative Assessment Subcommittee has recommended funding for an e-portfolio pilot in 2014 into 2015, with a call for proposals to come this fall.  GA has agreed to provide the necessary funding for this pilot.  The Engaging Experts and Qualitative Assessment Subcommittees are working to identify existing methods of assessment in general education programs across the system as well as identifying experts, both internal and external, to develop assessment strategies that best reflect and support the student learning outcomes to be shared across the system.  Finally, our Communication Subcommittee is organizing an informational website (an Active Collab site at https://collab.northcarolina.edu/public/index.php?path_info=projects/general-education-council-feedback/files that will require you to log in using your campus credentials) to provide updates on the work of the GEC as well as avenues for feedback to the Council. 

Though this council of thirty members has been charged with recommending a set of student learning outcomes appropriate to all UNC institutions to President Ross, it is important that its recommendations reflect the overall intentions and vision of the faculty of the constituent institutions of the UNC System, respecting each institutions identity and mission. We need your help to assure our recommendations reflect this.  Thank you for your help in making this process work for all of us. 

Sincerely, 

Joan Lorden
Provost
UNC-Charlotte
Co-chair, General Education Council
Erin McNelis
Associate Professor of Mathematics
Western Carolina University
Co-chair, General Education Council