General Education Program Description

California State University, Fresno’s General Education Program is an introduction to the breadth and depth of the dynamics of human experience. It provides students with a foundation in the liberal arts and sciences and prepares them for specialized study in a particular discipline or program.

The overall objective of General Education is to create a context wherein basic skills are developed and strengthened, scholarship and disciplined thinking emerge, awareness and reflection occur, and ultimately--the integration of knowledge begins.

Foundation, Breadth, and Integration

The General Education Program is an integrated curriculum of courses organized into three phases:

  • Foundation (Area A and Subarea B4), is the basic foundation of a student’s university education and consists of courses in fundamental skills and knowledge.
  • Breadth (Subareas B1, B2, B3, C1, and C2, and Areas D and E) exposes students to a variety of disciplines within a structured framework that develops knowledge and skills representative of all areas of human endeavor.
  • Integration (Upper division courses in Areas B, C, and D) concludes the General Education Program by providing an integrative or interdisciplinary experience at the upper-division level in which the skills and knowledge developed in Foundation and Breadth are integrated, bringing their interrelationships into focus.

General Education Area A
Communication in the English Language and Critical Thinking

Executive Order Goals and Objectives

Executive Order 595 requires a minimum of 6 semester units in the English language, to include three units from Oral Communication and three units from Written Communication. Instruction approved for fulfillment of the requirement in communication is to be designed to emphasize the content of communication as well as the form and should provide an understanding of the psychological basis and social significance of communication, including how communication operates in various situations. Applicable course(s) should view communication as the process of human symbolic interaction focusing on the communicative process from the rhetorical perspective: reasoning and advocacy, organization, accuracy; the discovery, critical evaluation and reporting of information; reading and listening effectively as well as speaking and writing. This must include active participation and practice in written communication and oral communication.

Executive Order 595 requires a minimum of 3 semester units of critical thinking. Instruction in critical thinking is to be designed to achieve an understanding of the relationship of language to logic, which should lead to the ability to analyze, criticize, and advocate ideas, to reason inductively and deductively, and to reach factual or judgmental conclusions based on sound inferences drawn from unambiguous statements of knowledge or belief. The minimal competence to be expected at the successful conclusion of instruction in critical thinking should be the demonstration of skills in elementary inductive and deductive processes, including an understanding of the formal and informal fallacies of language and thought, and the ability to distinguish matters of fact from issues of judgment or opinion.

Oral Communication (A1) and
Written Communication (A2)

All courses must, in addition to congruence with the Area A goals and objectives, observe the appropriate subarea specifications.

A1 and A2 Specifications

All courses must include all of the following elements:

  1. Emphasize the form and the content of communication.
  2. Provide an understanding of the theory of human symbolic interaction in a variety of contexts and situations, including psychological and social significance of communication.
  3. Provide theory and practice in the canons of effective communication: discovering ideas and arguments, including advocacy and reasoning with evidence; organization of ideas and arguments; clear, appropriate, and creative use of language; and preparation for and techniques of extemporaneous delivery and critical evaluation and reporting of information.
  4. Provide theory and practice in effective listening and/or criticism of oral or written communication.
  5. Require students to prepare at least three major oral presentations or at least six written presentations which will receive oral or written critiques by the instructor. For A2 courses, at least one written presentation must utilize a manual of style for preparing a term paper.

Critical Thinking (A3)

All critical thinking courses must observe the subarea goal, objectives and specifications.

Specifications:

All courses must include all of the following elements:

  1. Provide theory and practice in reaching factual or judgmental conclusions based on sound inferences drawn from unambiguous statements of knowledge or belief.
  2. Provide theory and practice in identifying the relationship of language and logic.
  3. Provide theory and practice in the structure of informal arguments and development of deductive and inductive reasoning skills with oral or written critiques by the instructor.
  4. Provide theory and practice in identifying and distinguishing the most common formal and informal fallacies of language and reasoning with oral or written critiques by the instructor, and
  5. Provide theory and practice in identifying and providing examples of the role of critical thinking in society.

It is expected that courses from a number of different departments and disciplines shall meet these guidelines. To ensure adequate coordination of standards and satisfaction of these guidelines, the coordinating committee for subarea A3 (Critical Thinking) (See General Notes for Area A, #2, below) shall be made up of all the Critical Thinking instructors.

  1. This committee shall meet regularly, at least once a semester.
  2. In order to keep informed about issues related to teaching Critical Thinking, the coordinating committee shall maintain an on-going collaboration with the Center for the Enhancement of Teaching & Learning, the Statewide Critical Thinking Council, and with other such bodies whose goal is to keep the teaching of Critical Thinking at the state of the art.
  3.  All syllabi for Critical Thinking courses (i.e., courses offered for General Education credit under subarea A3) must be reviewed by the coordinating committee.
  4. The coordinating committee shall compile and maintain a test bank of questions appropriate for Critical Thinking courses.
  5. In order to provide appropriate assessment of student achievement in Critical Thinking courses, at least one hour of the final exam in Critical Thinking courses shall consist of questions from the test bank compiled by the coordinating committee.  Acceptable format for questions will be determined by the coordinating committee.  All instructors may submit questions for this test bank, but the coordinating committee will have the ultimate say in determining acceptability of questions.

General Notes For Area A

  1. Courses in Area A must meet the current mode and level standards set for lecture discussion courses. Larger class size may be permitted based on the ability of the course to meet the criteria and by outcome assessment measures (see note 2). Exceptions to the enrollment size limits will be considered by the General Education Committee if they are consistent with the interactive, active learning model of lecture/discussion (C4) courses. Small enrollment may be necessary to achieve the required objectives in some courses, while labs, break-out groups, or other means of providing individual student-instructor communication and feedback may work well in other courses. In some courses, enrollment may be limited by available facilities (i.e. computer stations). While differences in pedagogy and methodology exist between and within instructors, departments, and schools, course (enrollment) size is an important consideration in achieving educational objectives.
  2.  To help ensure that all courses satisfying the Area A requirement are adequately directed towards achieving the stated objectives of Executive Order 595, and to provide reasonable assessment of fulfilled goals, faculty involved in the teaching of each subarea (A1, A2, and A3) will form a coordinating committee for that subarea. Each coordinating committee will keep informed about issues related to teaching in that area, coordinate content and evaluation standards for the courses, review syllabi from all sections of the courses, and be responsible for appropriate assessment of the skills being taught.
  3. No General Education credit will be given for any Area A course in which the student received less than a "C" grade.
  4. These courses are part of the foundation for the student's university education. Students must complete all Area A courses by the time they have completed 30 semester units. If students fail to complete successfully (C or better) any of the courses in this area, they must continuously register for an appropriate course until they remediate that deficiency.
  5. All courses in subareas A1, A2, and A3 must be lower division.
  6. Courses in each subarea of Area A (Foundation) must have substantially similar goals and content.

General Education Area B - Physical Universe and Its Life Forms

Executive Order Goals and Objectives

Executive Order 595 requires a minimum of 12 semester units in Area B, to include three units from Physical Science (B1), three units from Life Science (B2), including mandatory laboratory activities (referred to as B3), and three units of quantitative methods (B4). Three upper division Area B units are also mandated. Instruction approved for the fulfillment of this requirement is intended to impart knowledge of the facts and principles which form the foundations of living and non-living systems. Such studies should promote understanding and appreciation of the methodologies of science as investigative tools, the limitations of scientific endeavors: namely, what is the evidence and how was it derived? In addition, particular attention should be given to the influence which the acquisition of scientific knowledge has had on the development of the world's civilizations, not only as expressed in the past but also in present times. The nature and extent of laboratory experience is to be determined by each campus through its established curricular procedures.

All courses must, in addition to congruence with the Area goals, objectives and specifications, observe the appropriate subarea specifications and purpose.

Physical Science (B1)

Purpose: To understand and actively explore fundamental principles in the Physical Sciences and the methods of developing and testing hypotheses used in the analysis of the physical universe.

Specifications:

  1. Physical Science courses must provide instruction in the fundamental principles and methods of the science being studied, and the development and testing of hypotheses; and
  2. Instruction in the Physical Sciences must involve understanding and active exploration of the fundamental principles which govern the materials of the physical universe as well as the distribution of those materials and the processes applicable to them, together with an understanding of and ability to employ the experimental and mathematical methods used in science.
  3. General education courses in the Physical Sciences must engage students in understanding the fundamental principles and laws of Physical Science, exploring the analytical and quantitative methods of inquiry, and clearly demonstrating the use of the scientific method. Students should exit these courses with clear insight into what science is, its methods, and its limits of inquiry.
  4. The university requires that its general education instruction in Physical Science utilize and emphasize the physical principles and math necessary for complete understanding of the analytical techniques utilized in scientific inquiry.
  5. Courses in B1, the physical sciences must:
  • Explore the content and methodology of the Physical Sciences, including the necessity of math in much of its methodology.
  •  Teach students how to critically evaluate information presented as “scientific” (i.e., expose students to the different types of empirical inquiry).
  • By using tools of science, encourage students to enter into major scientific debates that affect our democratic society, economic systems, and our quality of life, e.g., nuclear power, genetic engineering, the purity of our drinking water, environmental issues, and science education. Students should learn how to develop informed judgments, and therefore be able to influence societal views about science technology.
  • Examine the structure and implications of major scientific disputes in their historical context.
  •  Include discussion of ethical issues.
  • Strive to develop a lasting curiosity and sense of wonder in the universe by actively engaging students in the scientific process.

Note: All courses in B1 Physical Science must make use of the knowledge and skills students learn in the B4 courses. Therefore all students must complete the B4 Quantitative Reasoning requirement or be concurrently registered for precalculus or beyond prior to completing the B1 Physical Science requirement.

Life Science (B2)

Purpose: To understand basic concepts of living things, the nature of scientific knowledge, and the relevance of biological knowledge to human affairs. Courses in Life Science must provide:

Specifications:

  1. Instruction in the fundamental principles and methods of the biological systems being studied, and the development and testing of hypotheses; and
  2. Instruction in the fundamental features and unifying theories of living things, including the chemical and physical bases of life and the relationships between living and nonliving materials; or
  3. Instruction pertaining to a substantial rather than a narrowly limited number of organisms; or a linkage among the biological sciences to further the understanding of human behavior.

Laboratory Activity (B3)

1. Integral laboratory components must be associated with all courses in Subareas B1 and B2.

Quantitative Reasoning (B4)

Executive Order Goals and Objectives

Executive Order 595 requires a minimum of 3 semester units of quantitative methods to include inquiry into mathematical concepts and quantitative reasoning and their applications. In specifying inquiry into mathematical concepts and quantitative reasoning and their application, the intention is not to imply merely basic computational skills, but to encourage as well the understanding of basic mathematical concepts.

Specifications:

  1. All courses offered in Quantitative Reasoning must have a prerequisite of at least Intermediate Algebra, and must use a level of mathematics beyond that of Intermediate Algebra.
  2. In addition the following four conditions must be met:
  • A course should attempt to explain the function of mathematical language and formal reasoning, using a range of examples from a variety of diverse disciplines and provide the appropriate practice, and
  • It must demonstrate and provide practice in a variety of methods, such as, for example, the use of abstract symbols, numerical techniques, logical reasoning, geometry, etc., and
  • It must aim at developing the student’s ability to comprehend and utilize the power and broad utility of the quantitative models presented, rather than merely teaching computational algorithmic and statistical skills, and
  • It should provide, as required of other courses in Area B, some historical perspective on the role which the mathematical approach has played in development of human knowledge and of our understanding of the world.

General Notes For Area B

  1. Courses in Subarea B4 must meet the current mode and level standards set for lecture-discussion courses. Larger class size may be permitted based on the ability of the course to meet the criteria and by outcome assessment measures (see note 2). Exceptions to the enrollment size limits will be considered by the General Education Committee. Small enrollment may be necessary to achieve the required objectives in some courses, while labs, break out groups, or other means of providing individual student-instructor communication and feedback may work well in other courses. In some courses, enrollment may be limited by available facilities (i.e., computer stations). The General Education Committee recognizes that while differences in pedagogy and methodology exist between and within instructors, departments, and schools, course (enrollment) size is an important consideration in achieving educational objectives. 
  2. To help ensure that all courses satisfying the subarea B4 requirement are adequately directed towards achieving the stated objectives of Executive Order 595, and to provide reasonable assessment of fulfilled goals, there will be an exit exam developed and administered by all instructors teaching in this Subarea. This exam must have at least 50% common content and format. Calculus level courses shall have their own exit exams.
  3. Courses in subarea B4 (Quantitative Reasoning) must have substantially similar goals.
  4. No General Education credit will be given in any B4 courses in which the student received less than a "C" grade.
  5. Courses in B4 are part of the foundation for the student's university education. A student must complete a B4 course by the time the student has completed thirty (30) semester units. If students fail to complete successfully (C or better) a course in this subarea, they must continuously register for an appropriate course until they remediate that deficiency.
  6. All courses in B1, B2, and B4 must be lower division.
  7. Area B also requires 3 upper division units in Integration. See “Guidelines and Procedures for General Education Proposal Submission” and “Policies for Inclusion of General Education Courses” for additional requirements.

General Education Area C
Arts (Art, Dance, Music, Theatre) and Humanities
(Literature, Philosophy, Foreign Languages)

Executive Order Goals and Objectives Executive Order 595 requires a minimum of 12 semester units in Area C to include at least 3 units in the Arts (Art, Dance, Music, Theatre) (C1) and at least 3 units in Humanities (Literature, Philosophy, Foreign Languages) (C2). Three upper division units are also mandated.

Instruction approved for the fulfillment of this requirement should cultivate intellect, imagination, sensibility and sensitivity. It is meant in part to encourage students to respond subjectively as well as objectively to experience and to develop a sense of the integrity of emotional and intellectual response. Students should be motivated to cultivate and refine their affective as well as cognitive and physical faculties through studying great works of the human imagination, which could include active participation in individual aesthetic, creative experience. Equally important is the intellectual examination of the subjective response, thereby increasing awareness and appreciation in the traditional humanistic disciplines such as art, dance, drama, literature and music. The requirement should result in the student's better understanding of the interrelationship between the creative arts, the humanities and self.

All courses must, in addition to congruence with the area goals, objectives and specifications, observe the appropriate subarea specifications and purpose.

Arts (Art, Dance, Music, Theatre) (C1)

Purpose: To develop an appreciation and understanding of and to stimulate imagination and creativity through study and participation in art, dance, music, theatre.

Specifications:

Courses in the arts (C1) must promote the:

  1. Awareness and understanding of shape, surface, mass, pattern, and/or sound as elements in art; and
  2. Development of the capacity to experience art at many levels of response including intellectual, emotional, physical and cultural through studying significant works of the human imagination (the study may include active participation in individual aesthetic, creative experience); and
  3. Awareness of the universality of art, as well as the understanding of art in a cultural context.

Humanities (Literature, Philosophy, Foreign Languages) (C2)

Purpose: Through the study of the humanities (Literature, Philosophy, Foreign Language), to understand, appreciate, and analyze the meaning of our civilization, its cultural background, and the nature and role of language. To study the humanities (Literature, Philosophy, Foreign Language) from a variety of historical perspectives and cultures by analyzing individual works.

Specifications:

Courses in the humanities (C2) must:

Promote an understanding of the development of contemporary civilization through studies of its historical roots in the principal humanistic endeavors, e.g., literature, philosophy, and foreign languages.

Reflect critically and systematically on questions concerning beliefs, values and the nature of existence; or

Include a survey of the various types and styles of literature from a variety of historical perspectives and cultures, including instruction in the techniques of literary criticism, or

Foster skills in listening, speaking, reading and writing a language other than English within a cultural and artistic context.

Note: Studies in these areas should include exposure to diverse Western and non-Western cultural perspectives.

General Notes for Area C

  1. Students must take a minimum of three units in the arts (Art, Dance, Music, Theatre) and a minimum of three units in the humanities (Literature, Philosophy, Foreign Languages).
  2. No more than six units from any one department or program may be applied to the area requirements.
  3. All courses in Subareas C1 and C2 must be lower division.
  4.  Area C requires 3 upper division units in Integration. See “Guidelines and Procedures for General Education Proposal Submission” and “Policies for Inclusion of General Education Courses” for additional requirements.

General Education Area D
Social, Political, and Economic Institutions and Behavior, Historical Background

Executive Order Goals and Objectives

Executive Order 595 requires a minimum of 12 semester units in Area D, dealing with human social, political, and economic institutions and behavior and their historical background. Instruction approved for fulfillment of this requirement should reflect the fact that human social, political and economic institutions and behavior are inextricably interwoven. Problems and issues in these areas should be examined in their contemporary as well as historical setting, including both Western and non-Western contexts.

Executive Order 405 delegates to the individual CSU campuses authority regarding graduation requirements in United States History, Constitution, and American Ideals and makes optional the inclusion of these requirements in a General Education program. The campus “Plan for the ‘’90s” encouraged an international aspect to each student’s education and supported study that will foster an environment in which students learn to live in a culturally diverse and changing society. Finally, the CSU statewide Academic Senate has argued that campuses must ensure that students are prepared to function in an international, multicultural society.

All courses must, in addition to congruence with the area goals, objectives and specifications, observe the appropriate subarea specifications and purpose.

Purpose: To understand and analyze the basic principles underlying human social behavior.

Specifications:

Courses in Social, Political, and Economic Institutions and Behavior, Historical Background must:

  1. Introduce students to the methodologies and analytical concepts necessary to evaluate society today and promote more effective participation in the human community; and either
  2. Study the influence of major social, cultural, economic and political forces on societal behavior and institutions; or
  3. Provide an understanding of different cultures and ethnic diversity through the use of comparative methods and a cross-cultural perspective.

Given the mandates of E.O. 595 and 405, Area D will contain 15 units, divided as follows:

  1. Six lower division units that ensure that students acquire knowledge and skills that will help them to comprehend the workings of American Democracy and of the society in which they live to enable them to contribute to that society as responsible and constructive citizens. Courses satisfying this requirement shall provide for comprehensive study of American history and American government including the history of historical development of American institutions and ideals, the Constitution of the United States and the operation of representative democratic government under that Constitution, and the processes of state and local government.
  2. Three lower division social science units selected from the subject areas of Anthropology and Archeology, economics, ethnic studies, gender studies, geography, history, political science, government, and legal institutions, psychology, sociology and criminology, interdisciplinary social or behavioral science. Courses approved to meet this requirement must introduce students to the methodologies and analytical concepts necessary to evaluate society today and to promote more effective participation in the human community; or study the influence of major social, cultural, economic and political forces on social behaviors and institutions.
  3. Area D also requires 3 upper division units in Integration that expose the students to the diversity of the social sciences. See “Guidelines and Procedures for General Education Proposal Submission” and “Policies for Inclusion of General Education Courses” for additional requirements.
  4. Three upper division units, which ensure that students are prepared to live in an international multicultural world. Each student must take one course that prepares the student to function in an international multicultural society or that addresses the roles of specific cultures or subcultures, ethnic groups, or gender in contemporary America . If the course has an international focus, it must contain a comparison of that culture to other cultures as well as to American society. Every course that meets this requirement must contain relevant course content in such areas as discrimination and stereotyping. Note: No student may take more than two courses from a single department or program to satisfy the requirements of Area D. No single course can be used to meet the requirements of both (3) and (4) above.

General Education Area E
Lifelong Understanding and Self-Development

Executive Order Goals and Objectives

Executive Order 595 requires a minimum of three semester units in study designed to equip human beings for lifelong understanding and development of themselves as integrated physiological and psychological entities. Instruction approved for fulfillment of this requirement should facilitate understanding of the human being as an integrated physiological, social and psychological organism. Courses developed to meet this requirement are intended to include selective consideration of such matters as human behavior, sexuality, nutrition, health, stress, key relationships of humankind to the social and physical environment, and implications of death and dying. Physical activity could be included, provided that it is an integral part of the study described herein.

All courses must, in addition to giving significant attention to a number of the issues or aspects of living mentioned in the area objectives and specifications, observe the appropriate subarea specifications and purpose.

Purpose: To equip human beings for lifelong understanding and development of themselves as integrated physiological and psychological entities.

Specifications:

Courses in Lifelong Understanding and Self-Development must promote:

  1. An understanding of linkages among the physiological, sociological and psychological functions of the topics addressed in the course; and either
  2. An understanding of changes in the above functions during the lifespan of the individual; or
  3. Experiences which integrate activity and theory to heighten the student’s awareness and understanding of life-long potentials for creativity and growth which may include alternative methods (such as non-verbal, non-linear, kinesthetic) of perception, learning, and problem solving.

Note: Course content must give significant attention to a number of the issues or aspects of living mentioned above. “Selective consideration” as used in the objective statement should be construed as meaning giving significant attention to a significant number of the issues or aspects of living mentioned in the area goals, objectives or specifications. The language of the objective statement makes clear that physical activity or skills acquisition alone cannot meet this requirement. Thus such content should be integrated into courses with broader purpose or the amount of such credit applicable to the requirement should be limited.

Area A-E General Notes

  1. Courses in each Foundation subarea must have substantially similar goals and content.
  2. All areas and subareas must contain a substantial number of 3 unit courses in order to assure that students do not face a de facto increase in the minimum required General Education units.
  3. Only rarely shall departments or programs have courses in more than one General Education Area B, C, D, or E
  4. A student must complete the lower division course requirements before receiving upper division Integration course credit in that same area.
  5. The Academic Senate endorses the findings and recommendations of the General Education Review Group #5 on Campus Exceptions (contained in Academic Senate Minutes, February 29, 1988, attachment #2 and General Education Review Bulletin, No. 2, approved by President Harold Haak, March 2, 1988). The recommendations have not been fully implemented. The Academic Senate recommends the creation of guidelines and procedures for exceptions during a review of campus exceptions.
  6. A maximum of two courses from one department or program may be applied to satisfy the Breadth requirements. However, a department or program may prohibit any Breadth course from simultaneously satisfying its own departmental or programmatic requirements.

Guidelines and Procedures for General Education Proposal Submission

Guidelines for Course Submission

A. Guidelines for Lower and Upper Division Proposal Submission

General Education course proposals should include the following:

  1. A title.
  2. A brief description (catalog entry).
  3. An indication of prerequisites.
  4. A justification of the course, as meeting the goals, criteria, and specifications of General Education (Areas A-E as required) as well as the applicable sections of Policies for Inclusion and Evaluation of General Education Courses. Upper division courses require an explanation of the manner in which the course integrates area and subarea goals and objectives.
  5. Frequency of course offering.
  6. Additional operating money required beyond present levels.
  7. Additional instructional equipment required.
  8. Course syllabus for each section taught should normally include:
    • Name of the instructor, office location, telephone number.
    • Course title and number, number of units, and brief course description.
    •  Course objectives.
    • Course calendar with approximate dates, deadlines, and/or periods of time for topics, readings, projects, exams, etc.
    • Course requirements and basis for final grade.
  9. Textbooks, equipment, etc.
  10. Specific writing or performance requirements (typical paper assignments, research projects or performance requirements).
  11. The approval of the departments involved, the school curriculum committee, and the school dean.

B. Guidelines for Interdisciplinary Course Submission

Interdisciplinary courses, designated IntD, will contribute to the goals of General Education.

All interdisciplinary courses must be upper division and are listed separately in the catalog. They are not listed as, nor considered to be, departmental offerings.

Interdisciplinary courses should be designed to provide avenues for integration of the skills and knowledge imparted in Foundation and Breadth.

Justification of the course, as meeting the goals, criteria, and specifications of General Education (Areas B-D as required) as well as the applicable sections of “Policies for Inclusion and Evaluation of General Education Courses.” Upper division courses require an explanation of the manner in which the course integrates area and subarea goals and objectives.

General Education encourages proposals involving faculty from all instructional areas. Ordinarily one of the proposers should be from the schools of Arts and Humanities, Natural Sciences, or Social Sciences.

Interdisciplinary courses may be team taught by faculty from at least two different departments, programs, or schools.

When two faculty are involved in the development and teaching of a specific interdisciplinary course, each will receive one-half of the appropriate WTU for the course as direct instruction WTU, and one-half of the appropriate WTU as Provost/Vice President for Academic Affairs assigned time WTU.

All courses should require a written paper, research project, or performance equivalent.

All IntD courses, including service-learning courses, must be identified with Area B, C, or D.

II. Procedures for Course Submission

A. Procedures for Submitting New Course Proposals

A request for a course to be added to the General Education Program is made through the submission of an Undergraduate GE Course Proposal form. Following a substantive review of the request by the department, appropriate school committee, and approval by the school dean, the request is submitted to the General Education Committee through the Provost or Provost’s designee. Proposals must be approved by the General Education Committee as well as the Provost or Provost’s designee. If approved, the course is incorporated into the next year’s catalog, and it may be scheduled for offering during the academic year covered by the catalog. Existing courses for General Education do not need to be submitted to the Undergraduate Curriculum Subcommittee.

The procedures for submission of new General Education courses to each school are as follows:

The school committee will examine the quality of each proposal and shall forward to the dean a list of proposed courses along with the rationale containing the comparative merits of each course in relation to the area and subarea.

The dean shall review the proposals as well as the recommendations of the department and school committee. If the dean does not agree with the recommendations of the school committee the dean shall attempt to reconcile those differences within the school.

The dean shall make a final decision on each proposal and shall notify, in writing, each department of that decision.

B. Procedures for Submitting Proposed Changes in Existing GE Courses

Deletions or changes in existing courses involving unit value, lecture/laboratory format, distance/mediated learning, prerequisites, class size, content, and title or description are requested on the Undergraduate GE Course Change Request form. Following a review of the request (substantive or procedural, as required) by the department, review and recommendation by the appropriate school committee, and approval by the school dean, the request is submitted to the General Education Committee through the Provost or Provost’s designee. If approved, the course is incorporated into the next year’s catalog, and it may be scheduled for offering during the academic year covered by the catalog.

The procedures for school submission of existing course proposals are as follows:

The procedures for existing course proposals shall be the same as those described for new course proposals with the understanding that the depth of the review is contingent upon the extent of the proposed change.

C. Procedures for Submitting Interdisciplinary Course Proposals

A request for an interdisciplinary course to be added to the General Education Program is made through the submission of an undergraduate General Education course proposal form. Following substantive review of the request by the departments, appropriate school committees, and approval by the school deans, the request is submitted for review to the General Education Committee through the Office of the Provost or the Provost’s designee. All proposals must include a justification of the course as a legitimate interdisciplinary offering consistent with Area goals. 

Notes:

  1. When a new course or a proposed change affects another program or department, it must be cleared by the affected program or department. Such clearance, as evidenced by the appropriate signatures on the request form, must be secured by the department requesting the change. If clearance is denied, then resolution of the issues can be sought before the General Education Committee. If a change affects other courses or programs within the department making the request, the necessary adjustments should also be indicated on the form. Information on current course interrelationships may be obtained from the Provost or Provost’s designee.
  2. The General Education Committee will be responsible for recommending to the Provost or Provost’s designee amendments to the list of courses included in the General Education Program. 
  3. All courses in General Education must be resubmitted and reapproved every five years during a review performed by the General Education Committee to ensure the courses continue to meet the objectives and intent of the program.

Policies for Inclusion and Evaluation of General Education Courses

I. Goals Guiding General Education

The General Education Program expands the student’s intellectual horizons, fosters lifelong learning, prepares them for further professional study and instills within them an appreciation of cultures other than their own. The University will remain committed to providing a quality general education experience for all students and make it clear that such an experience is the foundation of all applied and professional programs.

II. Criteria for Evaluation

A. Criteria Applying to All Areas

  1. Courses proposed for, or under review in, General Education are expected to meet the following criteria:
  2. Courses in General Education are grounded in the Liberal Arts and Sciences, through professional courses that meet the guidelines may be included.
  3. Courses must cover the subjects by exploring major ideas, themes, and concepts consistent with the intent of the subarea goals, objectives and specifications. The area goals, objectives, and specifications should be integrated into the course in meaningful way.
  4.  Faculty must assign to students and incorporate into their General Education courses significant non-textbook readings. As the readings assigned vary from dense research articles to comparatively lighter popular books, the number of pages assigned should provide students an opportunity for sustained reading that enhances their command of language, rhetoric, and argumentation.
  5. A course may only use prerequisites which are also in General Education, though courses may require work normally completed in high school to meet CSU admission requirements.
  6. The General Education Writing Requirements must be integrated into each course.

B. Criteria Applying to Integration Upper Division Courses of Areas B, C, and D

These courses are designed to provide opportunities for the student to discover a variety of ways in which specific areas of human knowledge are related.

All upper division Integration courses must:

  1. Be congruent with an Area (B, C, or D) goal, as well as the appropriate subarea purpose, objective(s) and specification(s).
  2.  Be integrative, aiming toward a genuine appreciation of the linkages among subareas as well as the area goal.
  3. Be taken outside the student's major department unless the course is part of an interdisciplinary package between two or more areas.
  4. Have a 2,000 word iterative writing requirement.
  5. Be limited to the maximum enrollment allowed for lecture/discussion classes but not to exceed 50 students in any section. Exceptions may be granted by the General Education Committee in consultation with the appropriate departments if:
    • A larger class can be shown to satisfy the goals and objectives of upper division General Education,
    • The larger class size will not create an imbalance in the distribution of enrollment in an area that adversely affects the other participating courses in the same area (for example, by decreasing their enrollment so that their contribution to the area is incidentally reduced),
    • The exception must be renewed every two years to ensure that the General Education Committee has the opportunity to gauge the impact of large sections on the area.
  6. Be taught at least once in four consecutive semesters or be dropped from the list of General Education upper division Integration offerings.
  7. Be submitted for review every five years or be dropped from the list of General Education courses.

Note: A student must satisfy at least one subarea before receiving credit for an upper division course in the parent area.

C. Area Enrollment Management Criteria

The following ensures that area offerings maintain a breadth of alternatives:

  1. Courses should be offered in a sufficient balance within each area (B, C, D and E) so that students have a choice among a solid range of courses in each area. The distribution of course sections and enrollment in sections of each area shall be monitored by the General Education Committee.
  2. School curriculum committees, school deans, and the Provost or Provost’s designee shall support the goals of breadth in each area by assuring that no individual course is offered with sufficient frequency (for example, through a large number of sections or multiple sections of large classes) as to dominate the enrollment in the area.
  3. If necessary to restore enrollment diversity in an area, upon the recommendation of the General Education Committee, schools that allow multiple sections of a course to dominate the distribution of enrollment in an area may be restricted by the Provost or Provost’s designee with regard to the number of sections they may conduct.

Approved by Academic Senate 12/1/97

General Education Writing Requirements

Approved by Academic Senate on May 9, 2005

I. Goals of the General Education Writing Requirement

  • To improve our students’ competence in writing clearly and communicating effectively.
  • To enhance learning of the subject matters represented in the General Education areas by the addition of writing to the other typical methods of interaction with the subject content and other typical methods of evaluation.
  • To encourage students, through appropriate writing assignments, to take increasingly greater responsibility for their own learning and to engage in disciplined, independent thinking about complex subject matters.
  • To expose students to the written analytical and critical aspects of the methodologies of the General Education subject disciplines, and to give students an appropriate opportunity to participate in the writing aspect of the methodology of the discipline.
  • To impress upon students the advantage and power they gain from developing a strong competence in writing, with respect not only to successful and satisfying completion of their university education but also to meeting their own career goals.

II. Writing Guidelines

  • Every lower division General Education course requires a minimum of 1,000 words of writing in original student text (except for courses used to satisfy the quantitative reasoning requirement). One writing requirement must be a minimum of 3 pages in length on which faculty will provide meaningful, feedback so that students may improve their writing abilities during the course (see II.B. for examples of writing assignments that would meet this requirement). Faculty (not readers, teaching assistants, etc.) should provide ample suggestions for improvement, and in doing so, should consider using the General Education scoring guide for writing developed on campus in 2002. (http://academicaffairs.csufresno.edu/undergrad_studies/general_ed.htm)  Note: Class notes taken during the course of the semester cannot be used to satisfy this requirement.
  •  Every upper division General Education course requires a minimum of 2,000 words of writing in original student text. A substantial portion of the writing must be handled in one multipage assignment on which faculty will provide meaningful, feedback so that students may improve their writing abilities during the course (see II.B. for examples of writing assignments that would meet this requirement). Faculty (not readers, teaching assistants, etc.) should provide ample suggestions for improvement, and in doing so, should consider using the General Education scoring guide for writing developed on campus in 2002. (http://academicaffairs.csufresno.edu/undergrad_studies/general_ed.htm)

Note: Class notes taken during the course of the semester cannot be used to satisfy this requirement.

The intent of the requirement is to insure that a significant writing component to which faculty have responded in a meaningful fashion will be included in and integrated into the scheduled assignments.

At least half of the minimum writing requirement will consist of a sustained, multipage assignments (expository, critical, or both) of a particular subject matter. Such a sustained treatment of a subject matter can take on a wide variety of forms.

The content of these assignments should be both rigorous in the use and application of the content and methodology of a subject matter, and relevant to the concerns of our students.

Writing assignments and instructor response to student writing should stress the conventions and expectations of writing in the academic setting as well as in the business and professional world, including attention to audience and purpose, discipline-specific conventions of style and organization, and mastery of standard grammar and mechanics. Instructor response should reference the General Education scoring guide for writing developed on campus in 2002.

III. Clarifications

A. Definitions

  1. “1,000 words” translates into approximately 3½ to 4 double-spaced typed pages (250-300 words per page), varying with margins and size and style of font. “2,000 words” translates into approximately 7 to 8 double-spaced typed pages (250-300 words per page), varying with margins and size and style of font.
  2. This word-count/page-count refers to total minimum words or pages over the course of a semester.

B. Interpretation

  1. The requirement could be satisfied by a single assignment provided there are multiple drafts with feedback from the instructor.
  2. An instructor who judges that a student needs more help in the mechanics of writing than the instructor is able/willing to provide should take the following steps:
    •  In notifying the students early of deficiencies in their writing skills, the instructor could stress that doing well in the course will require that the student get assistance.
    •  Inform the student of the offices on campus that provide writing instruction. (See Section V.)
    • Some learning assistance labs or writing workshops require very early enrollment.
Some examples of writing assignments that would satisfy the writing requirement are:

An essay on an assigned or student-selected topic, where the goals, structure, and methods of the essay are clearly specified by the instructor b. A complete write-up and analysis of a laboratory experiment c. A report of a data-gathering session (observational or interview-based) d. An ethnography e. An analysis of works of literature in traditional literary genres f. An analysis of the ethical, social, and economic implications of a local or global geologic, geographic, or meteorological trend g. A critique of a current political movement, national or international h. An analysis of a social problem such as racism or sexism in a particular context or locale from a scientifically-based methodology, e.g., sociology, political science, psychology i. An ethical analysis of a contemporary moral problem j. A report of interactions with works of art, music, theatre or dance and k. A description and analysis of the effects of verbal or nonverbal communication upon specific kinds of human relationships; such as those between persons of different sexes, races, or nationalities. l. Written answers to complex essay questions involving application of a subject matter on an in-class or take-home exam m. A full-sentence preparation outline for a major oral presentation. IV. Strategies for Assisting Faculty in the Use of Writing Assignments in General Education General Education Courses A. Preliminary comment: It is the charge and the commitment of the General Education Committee to construct a General Education Program that has maximum possible benefit to our students inasmuch as it provides the foundation of their university experience as an education for life. In addition, the committee is fully aware of the present workload of faculty. Considering all factors, it remains the conviction of the committee that the writing requirement in General Education courses adds significantly to the value of the General Education courses which students are required to take. In response to well-justified faculty concerns about quality of education and workload pressures, the committee is open to hearing suggestions from faculty and eager to provide assistance and suggestions to faculty toward the goal of successfully meeting the requirement in a way which is truly beneficial to our students and at the same time does not inappropriately burden faculty. B. Constructing writing assignments 1. It is the belief of the committee that one of the best and most creative contributions faculty can make to enhance the value to our students of General Education courses, with respect to satisfying the writing requirement, is in the constructing of exciting and relevant writing assignments. Such an assignment is more interesting to grade as well as more interesting to complete. An assignment can be both exciting and intellectually rigorous. All faculty know that this is so, because we are all directly aware of the intellectual pleasures we experience in the practice of our disciplines. We remember the excitement we felt when we became captivated by our chosen fields and committed our professional lives to them. We surely can construct an assignment that gives our students a glimpse of how our subject discipline can engage the mind and life of a well-educated person and citizen, whether or not the student decides to enter into one’s own discipline as a career. 2. Writing assignments should contain a complete description of the components, methodology, and goals of the assignment, as well as the criteria/standards against which they shall be evaluated. 3. Many faculty find journal assignments helpful to the students; and where this is so, such a journal assignment would constitute a partial satisfaction of the General Education writing requirement. Journals comprised primarily of class notes may not be used to meet this requirement. Instructor feedback must be provided throughout the semester. 4. Long before the end of the semester, faculty should comment on and return to students writing assignments or drafts of assignments to insure that students will have the opportunity to improve their writing abilities during the course. Such assignments may take the form of iterative assignments, a portfolio or revised work, or other forms that allow faculty to assess whether feedback has been effective. Faculty are encouraged to utilize resources available through Teaching, Learning & Technology (TLT) to develop appropriate and effective writing assignments for General Education courses. C. Evaluating writing assignments 1. Faculty will structure writing assignments so as to maximize the amount of meaningful feedback students will receive over the duration of the course. 2. Comments and feedback by faculty on writing assignments need not be lengthy, but should be given to students in a timely fashion, so that students have the possibility of improving their writing abilities during the course. 3. The focus of the feedback should be on content, accuracy, completeness, and clarity of expression. Feedback on organization, style, grammar, and mechanical aspects of composition is also necessary. Students should become familiar with the manual style of the course. 4. Instructor response should reference the General Education scoring guide for writing developed on campus in 2002. (http://academicaffairs.csufresno.edu/undergrad_studies/general_ed.htm) The advantages of such an evaluation technique are as follows: it provides a standard against which all papers in a given assignment are evaluated, thus promoting fairness and uniformity in grading; it allows faculty to give comprehensive feedback on all aspects of the assignment quickly and clearly; it gives students an evaluation of the quality of their work on every aspect of the assignment, even if that evaluation is only a check mark in a box on the grid. 5. Positive reinforcement for work well done should always be included in evaluations of assignments, along with the criticism and suggestions for improvement. Consistent with the aims of the requirement, faculty should impress upon students the value of good writing skills. Positive feedback, as well as suggestions for improvement, are essential for providing this encouragement. Ideally, after receiving an evaluation of their writing, students should still want to write and want to write better. V. Sources of Additional Help A. For students who need help in basic writing: 1. English Writing Center, c/o Department of English, Ext. 8-0334. Early enrollment typically is required. 2. Developmental Learning Resources Center, drop-in tutorial services (Lab School 137), Ext. 8-3052. 3. University Tutorial Services, Ext. 8-3052. B. For faculty: Annual writing workshops, available to a limited number of faculty by reservation, usually held mid-August. Faculty have rated these workshops as very helpful in several ways, including specific suggestions for the construction of challenging assignments which will meet the writing requirement and the development of evaluation techniques which do not require excessive faculty time.